As expected, the Nintendo DS has spent its first week in the open knee-deep in speculation, rumour, hype and cynicism, conjuring up a number of interesting stories since its debut last Wednesday, which we've been wading around in for the last few days.
Top of the bill is a report in the Nikkei Industrial Daily that Namco plans to support the cryptic console. In a story covering the Japanese industry's reaction to the DS, Namco representatives reportedly said that, while there are no official plans for any specific product at this point, the publisher does plan to work on the system. Namco has also thrown its hat into the PSP ring, announcing that it expects to release two or three titles when the Sony console launches worldwide in December.
Less likely but certainly more interesting is the rumour that Nintendo has been in discussions with Sharp to use its 3D display technology in a future handheld system. Although it's not clear whether that refers to the Nintendo DS, the next Game Boy or something else entirely, the article published in American mag GMR this March says discussions have taken place.
If true, it's an interesting development, but based on what we know about the Nintendo DS already it seems pretty safe to rule it out for this product. The 3D display technology actually works by displaying images on a specially developed TFT LCD screen that displays two images in parallax, offset and using the correct perspective to fool the brain into seeing the image in 3D. If you've been to any gaming/technology trade show in the last couple of years you've probably been in the same room as a "4D laptop", which isn't too far off. Given what we know about the DS, a two LCD screen fold-out system - and Nintendo's stated example of a football game that utilises the second screen for top-down radar view of the action - the 3D screen theory doesn't seem to fit. However amusingly it would lend credence to some of the naysayers' "It's another Virtual Boy" rants if technologically speaking it actually were...
Finally this morning we have remarks attributed to Nintendo Europe about the console's projected worldwide release at the end of 2004. "Right now, we are planning to make the product available globally by the end of calendar 2004," Nintendo told Spong. "However, since the LCD market is tight now, we shall only be able to announce the details at or after our annual financial announcement in May." Will Europeans be left behind when the system finally rolls out? It's too early to say.
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