Nintendo's Hot Box

IT LOOKS LIKE NINtendo has a hit on its hands. The company finally introduced its long-anticipated 64-bit home game system last week and sold 350,000 of the 500,000 available units in the first three days. Dropping the price from $250 to $199 to compete with the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation may even pay for itself: the resulting scarcity will likely make it one of the hottest items of the holiday season. ""It's incredible marketing,'' says analyst David Cole, who watches the industry for DFC Intelligence. ""You have people fighting to get it from stores.'' Nintendo says, conveniently, that it may be able to ship more than 100,000 extra units for the holiday rush. In any event, parents scouring the shelves won't be wasting their time. Super Mario 64, one of two launch titles (10 more are due by Christmas), is unlike anything you've ever seen: incredible 3-D animation, so real it's dizzying, provides the playground for an acrobatic Mario, who can move 360 degrees and attack an ominous pack of baddies with new martial-arts tricks.