Official details of Nintendo's launch plans for the DS handheld this Christmas have emerged at last, with the company intending to launch the system on November 21st in the USA at a suggested retail price of $149.99.
In a surprising break with tradition for the company, the console will actually arrive in North America first - with the Japanese launch following almost two weeks later, on December 2nd, making it into the first Nintendo console (aside from the China-specific iQue) ever to debut outside Japan.
The American retail price of $149.99 brings the DS in at the low end of the anticipated price scale, which ran from $149 up to around $200. Many retailers have been taking preorders at the $199 mark, and will now refund customers the difference.
While no official launch line-up of software has been confirmed as yet - we expect that Nintendo is saving that detail for its October 7th conference in Tokyo, which we reported on yesterday - the company has revealed that the PictoChat software, which enables users to draw on the screen and share their messages with other DS users wirelessly, will ship for free with the console.
"Nintendo's mission remains unchanged," according to president Satoru Iwata; "expand the game experience. Nintendo DS is the road map to the future of video games, and most clearly demonstrates the type of innovation that players demand."
The European and Australian launches of the DS hardware are set to come next year, with no official date yet announced aside from a reaffirmation of Nintendo's commitment to launch during the first quarter.