Super Mario Getting a 3-D Makeover

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Video game giant Nintendo reported that its annual profits fell for the first time in six years in 2009. The company blamed the decline on waning Wii sales, a lack of big software releases and the appreciation of the yen.

In other words, Mario is losing his looks. (And to think, he’s not even 30!)  

Nintendo’s slump was imminent. The company cut the price of the Wii, its flagship console, in September 2009 when both Sony’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 enjoyed a sales boost.  Both competing companies continued to gain on Nintendo, despite the price cut.         

Nintendo’s response to the drop in sales (and the pressure by competitors) will be to release a 3-D version of its DS handheld console.

Tentatively called “Nintendo 3-DS,” the console will feature a 3-D experience without making users wear head gear. The console is slated to hit stores late this year or in early 2011.

As for the Wii itself, while no major makeover appears to be in the immediate future, a new system package will be available May 9. The bundle will include include Wii Sports Resort and the control-enhancing Wii MotionPlus accessory in addition to the previously included Wii remote, Nunchuck and Wii Sports software. Oh, and the console will be black.

"Nintendo leads the way in delivering rich motion-control gaming experiences at an accessible price point," said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime in a press release. "By including even more of our top-quality hardware and software in the basic Wii system package, we're extending that commitment to entertainment and value.”

Sony and Microsoft are both planning to release motion controllers (Playstation Move and Project Natal, respectively) in 2010.  Sony is also experimenting with 3-D handhelds.  All things considered, Nintendo may have to change more than its console’s color.

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