Today, Nintendo released Paper Mario: Sticker Star in North America. Purchase a physical copy of the game from a retailer near you, or simply purchase the downloadable version for $39.99 from the Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the very first handheld title in the Paper Mario series.
The Wii U GamePad has “all the functions of a handheld,” according to Nintendo. The new controller boasts several features, including a 6.2 inch touchscreen, traditional button controls, two analog sticks, a front-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, motion control and rumble support. Unlike handhelds, however, the Wii U GamePad is not a portable; people cannot carry and play it wherever or whenever.
According to iOS developer Supercell’s general manager, Greg Harper, the growing tablet market poses a serious threat to Nintendo 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita. Harper believes that the rumored iPad Mini is a clear step toward an inevitable failure of the handheld market.
“That [handheld] market seems in trouble to me. The iPad mini could be one of the final nails in the coffin.”
According to Cnet Senior Editor Scott Stein, even though it still lacks built-in physical buttons and analog sticks, the recently released iPhone 5 is the best gaming phone. Stein believes the iPhone is “getting awfully close” to trump the hardware of both the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS. Stein also claims that gamers may hate to admit it, but Apple’s iPhone was always a great gaming handheld.
Back before the iPhone 5 was a known quantity, back before we even knew it was definitely going to have a larger screen, the iPhone was already a great gaming handheld. Millions of people know that. Gamers may hate to admit it, because the iPhone lacks physical buttons. It doesn’t matter.
What the iPhone did to mobile gaming has reverberated across the industry, forcing the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita into catch-up mode, battling for second and third place. Free-to-play and the very concept of redownloadable gaming apps — not to mention the rebirth of indie development — can all be traced to Apple’s App Store and this little handheld device.
How does the iPhone 5 compare as a gaming handheld? It’s the best Apple’s ever had, but it may be the best any phone maker’s ever made, too.That’s not to say the iPhone doesn’t have a few issues. Its lack of physical buttons and that smaller screen began to feel cramped compared with the latest handhelds from Nintendo and Sony. Physical buttons or no, the screen of many iPhone games can become riddled with virtual, cluttered button dashboards. Some elegant games bypass this, but many don’t.
“We have ideas of what we want to bring to the consumer that we can’t do with the current DS model”, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said in an interview yesterday. “The Nintendo 3DS for us is our next handheld platform.”
- Reggie Fils-Aime
“Based on what I’ve heard about the 3DS specs, I think it will be the best handheld system to date. To be honest, I think the 3D aspect of the console is just the icing on what is already an extremely powerful system.
“I expect the 3DS to have the graphical power of a GameCube, plus all of the other delights such as two screens, rumble, motion control, Wi-Fi, and an analogue stick. The 3D feature is wonderful, for sure, but it will only be appropriate for certain things. [Nintendo] produces the best handheld systems, [the system will] deliver a platform worthy of a successor to the Nintendo DSi. [I am] very interested in developing for the 3DS.”
- Jools Watsham, Dementium 2
Jesse Divnich, an analyst for EEDAR, claims that Nintendo will release the successor to the Nintendo DS this year to counter the ongoing threat of Apples iPhone and Sony’s PSP.
One of the biggest reasons for Nintendo’s success in the handheld market is their ability to remove opportunity gaps for competitors to enter. Nintendo’s transition from the GBA to the DS, a year earlier than anticipated, was a brilliant strategy to remove any upper hand the Sony PSP could have by being first to market.
If Nintendo follows the same game plan in 2010, the main reasons will probably not be the release of the PlayStation Portable Go, which is already shaping up to be a disappointment for Sony, but the continuing success of the Apple made iPhone, which is becoming an important platform for gaming on the go. Pushing out a DS2 handheld offering some kind of motion tracking and more multimedia capabilities might be a significant step in reassuring publishers and gamers that the DS still counts.