Nintendo Release Not Delayed By Japan Disasters

Nintendo is releasing its new 3DS handheld device in the U.S. this weekend. It's the first 3D game system that doesn't require special glasses. Harold Goldberg, who covers video games for G4TV.com and Boys' Life magazine, talks to Steve Inskeep about the video game industry, and whether its been affected by the disasters in Japan.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Let's look at one of the economic effects of Japan's disaster. It may not be the largest effect but it may affect millions of consumers. Japan is a big player in the video game industry. Think Sony, Nintendo, Sega, Pokemon, Mario.

To find out how the disasters are affecting this industry, we've called Harold Goldberg, who covers video games for G4TV.com and also for Boys Life magazine.

Welcome to the program.

Mr. HAROLD GOLDBERG (Video Game Reporter): Hi, Steve. How are you?

INSKEEP: I'm doing fine. Thanks very much. The first thing we were thinking about here is that Nintendo is releasing a handheld device. It's a 3D view without glasses, but you're holding it in your hand. What's going to happen with that release?

Mr. GOLDBERG: It's very exciting. I mean it's a high-tech device and it's the first time you'll be able to see games or any sort of media without 3D glasses, so it's very cool.

INSKEEP: Is it the size of my smartphone in my hand or is it a little bit...

Mr. GOLDBERG: It pretty much is. It's more of a clamshell type affect. And you know, Steve, I can play you a little bit of the "Star Wars" theme. I've been playing this game.

(Soundbite of "Star Wars" theme)

INSKEEP: This is from the 3D game?

Mr. GOLDBERG: It's from the 3D game. And the actual 3D is kind of what they call surround sound. So that's new for a handheld console.

INSKEEP: It sounds 3D to me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GOLDBERG: It does indeed.

INSKEEP: Well, whatever. But no, does it look good? Does it look, you know, do you see Jedi warriors flying around or...

Mr. GOLDBERG: Yeah.

INSKEEP: ...storm troopers?

Mr. GOLDBERG: It's really quite an amazing experience, to play these games.

INSKEEP: And they've already got the stock or some of the stock, the inventory here in America. It's pre-positioned. It wasn't affected by the earthquake.

Mr. GOLDBERG: It was not affected by the earthquake. Whether, you know, the second round of these devices will be affected, it's not quite known. Nintendo says there won't be a shortage, but there were shortages, if you recall, with the Wii console.

INSKEEP: And that was even without an earthquake.

Mr. GOLDBERG: That was without an earthquake indeed. The reason we don't know whether they'll be shortages or not regarding Nintendo is that Nintendo is often kind of closed-lipped. They're kind of like the Apple of video games, so...

INSKEEP: Where is this 3D videogame manufactured exactly?

Mr. GOLDBERG: I believe it's manufactured in China. So we're not necessarily seeing delays from horrible things happening to factories in Japan. In fact, Nintendo is based in Kyoto, so it was not really too affected by the actual earthquake.

INSKEEP: Now, looking a little bit longer term, we do have this country with so many, so many big video game players, and I mean industrial players, of course. How, as best you can determine, have they been affected by the disaster?

Mr. GOLDBERG: They have been affected anecdotally. I just heard from some people at Sony, and they - one of their bigger titles for the spring, "MotorStorm 3: Apocalypse," which is a racing game that also deals with earthquakes, has been delayed for a while and it's probably the right thing to do.

Also in Japan, their PlayStation network, which you use to download games and movies and play online, has been down as well.

INSKEEP: But let's be clear. They're going to release the "Apocalypse" game eventually.

Mr. GOLDBERG: Well, these kind of adventure games are ongoing tropes in the history of video games, so you know, there have been disasters in games before and it's something that does happen. You know, here during 9/11, the landmark game "Grand Theft Auto III" had to be retooled to take out the Twin Towers, and they also took out a character who was kind of hell-bent on bringing down the economy of New York City. They did that and it went on to sell fantastically.

INSKEEP: Harold Goldberg writes about video gaming. His new book is called "All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture." That's title is a mistranslation of a Japanese video game.

Thanks very much.

Mr. GOLDBERG: Thanks a lot, Steve.

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