As the 3DS and PS Vita go head-to-head with an identical price-point of 250$, another competitor appears from the shadows. A much humbler one. Purely built for the indie developer and lover, the nD is the brainchild of Robert Pelloni, creator of Bob’s Game which was previously slated for a DS/DSiWare release yet was denied by Nintendo of America due to their strict policies on “garage developers”. Bob’s Game was a highly-anticipated project with Cave Story-like status, created by one man through more than 3 years of work. Obviously, Robert will not let that go to waste. Thus, instead of begging our popular companies and going through hoops just to get released on the mainstream, Robert seems to have built this new handheld project in response to the strict policies enforced by the companies we know and love. Each nD handheld will be bundled with Bob’s Game, yet promises a library of other independently-developed games with similar origins.
The nD promises to be a lot faster and more superior to the Nintendo DS and PSP in terms of CPU (clocking at around 400mhz compared to 66 and 333, respectively). Also, games will be offered through a digital store (ala Apple’s App Store) and you may connect your device to the PC via USB. 90% of the profit goes toward the game makers. Best of all, the handheld boasts not to inflate its price. It’s components cost around 19.99$ give or take a few bucks…and that’s exactly what you’ll pay to own one.
Obviously, that magical price is a huge factor for the nD’s success. However, It’s simply hard to tell if there’s room for another handheld in this crowded market, sandwiched between Sony and Nintendo’s previous-gen established classics and their next-gen powerhouses. Robert has a long and tough road ahead of him. The handheld’s motto is marketed to indie developers more than the mainstream gamer, so I’m wondering if that niche is enough for a successful profit. Also, Apple technically has the indie market cornered thanks to their App store. I don’t see garage developers having any difficulty in publishing their content on Apple, so having a new handheld going head-to-head against the iPhone/iPad is weird to be honest. Will indie developers flock towards a niche handheld with its attractive price and simplistic publishing rules and regulations, or will they prefer to take a slightly harder route by trying out the App Store or any other mainstream digital gaming stores? A lot of gamers may take a risk since it’s just 20 bucks, especially those who have been waiting for Bob’s Game for so long. But will it have enough good content to keep it afloat in the long run or will Bob’s Game be its sole purpose? I also get the feeling that this new nD handheld is built around his feature attraction, Bob’s Game. Very Nintendo-like in terms of thinking, yet slightly arrogant and may cause his downfall. I can sympathize with him though. After working on a game for more than 3 years and being constantly denied publishing rights, releasing it by any means necessary is a strategy I would’ve taken, too….because porting this beast from C++ to Apple’s App Store definitely sounds nightmarish.
I’m definitely curious to learn more. No release date and final specs are in sight just yet, but you can keep tabs on it by following the official site. This piece of news has sadly been under the radar thanks to E3 2011.