TOKYO – Nintendo faces a tough battle to boost growth as rivals snatch the lead in motion-controlled gaming from the long-time world-beater, just as competition from smartphones and tablets batters the handheld market.

Microsoft and Sony are enticing casual and core gamers with a new generation of console accessories, while Apple’s iPad is flying off the shelves.

Nintendo (which means “leave luck to heaven”) is the only major player in the pre-holiday rush without a significant new hardware product.

The company is betting on a glasses-free, 3-D, handheld game-player, the 3DS, to be launched in March in the United States.

“Users have a range of options. It’s not just Nintendo any more,” said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co. Ltd., which does not hold shares in Nintendo.

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