A press conference held last night in Japan has revealed a number of new hardware and software releases for the Nintendo DS, including a version of the Opera Web browser and a digital TV card.
The Opera browser will be sold as a normal DS cartridge in Japan (no Western release has yet been confirmed) and will allow Web browsing across both screens as well as the use of a touchscreen keypad. The software is based on the same core as the Opera desktop browser. A press release from Opera Software indicates that users will be able to surf the "full Internet", with no suggestion that adult-related content will be blocked. The browser is due to launch in Japan in June at a cost of ¥3,800 ($32).
The support for a Web browser with unrestricted access to the Internet stands in stark contrast to Nintendo's current forays into online gaming, with titles such as Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing: Wild World purposefully restricting contact between strangers online. With the Opera browser announcement, though, and other features such as voice chat in the forthcoming title Metroid Prime: Hunters, Nintendo appears to be quickly expanding the scope of their online services.
Also announced at the press conference was the DS Terrestrial Digital Broadcast Receiver Card - a small plug-in peripheral which will allow Japanese DS owners to tune-in to the 1seg digital video service when it is launched primarily for mobile users in April. A release date for the card itself was not announced, and its close connection to the 1seg service may mean that it is less likely to be released in the West than the Opera browser.
Nintendo indicated that it is planning to have 500,000 units of the DS Lite console ready for the first two weeks of March in Japan, with 1 million in total for the whole of the month - figures that are likely to be well below demand at the time of launch. Other new sales data released indicates that all three versions of Nintendogs have sold a total of 1,180,000 units in Japan and 5 million worldwide. Animal Crossing: Wild World has shipped 2,170,000 units in Japan, Brain Age 1,800,000 units, Brain Flex 1,180,000 units, Mario Kart DS 1,210,000 units (plus over a million in both the U.S. and Europe), Brain Age 2 1,540,000 units and Bandai's Tamgotchi title over 1 million units.
Other titles currently selling well for Nintendo include Game Fortune Bag (510,000 units so far), English Training (570,000 units shipped/920,000 ordered), Wario Ware Touched! (980,000 units so far), Super Mario 64 DS (930,000) and Jump Super Stars (540,000).
At the same time, Tetris DS was announced for release at the surprisingly low price of ¥3,800 ($32), with New Super Mario Bros. due in May for the standard ¥4,800 ($41). New titles announced during the press conference included entries in Konami's Winning Eleven soccer series, Banpresto's Super Robot Taisen and Koei's Dynasty Warriors.