Nintendo has announced that its much-anticipated 3DS, which offers glasses-free 3D gaming, will launch in Europe on March 25, closely followed by a U.S. release on March 27. This comes after the previously announced February 26 release date for Japan, where it will retail for JPY25,000 (approx. US$305). In the U.S. the device will be priced at US$249.99, while pricing outside these markets will be set by local retailers – UK retailers are quoting a price range of UKP219 to 229 (approx. US$350 to $366).
The March European and U.S. release date will mark a year, almost to the day, since the company first announced a new portable gaming device that would allow users to enjoy 3D effects without glasses. Since then, Nintendo has revealed pretty much all the details of the 3DS, right down to the colors available at launch – Cosmo Black or Aqua Blue – although there will no doubt be other color options released in the future.
HardwareOther previously released specs include a bottom touch screen and top 3D display whose level of 3D effect can be altered – or switched off completely – using a depth slider. In addition to the familiar + Control Pad and button controls found on previous DS consoles, the 3DS features a Circle Pad that provides 360 degrees of direction control to navigate those 3D worlds.
There’s also a built-in motion sensor and gyro sensor for playing motion-compatible titles and that let the console act as a pedometer in Sleep Mode, with the steps users take earning them Play Coins that can be traded in for additional content in compatible games and applications.
The 3DS packs not one, not two, but three cameras. One facing the user and two pointing outward that can take 3D photos that can naturally be viewed on the console’s 3D display. The two outer cameras can also used in conjunction with augmented-reality (AR) cards – six are included with the 3DS – that are read by the cameras allowing images and animations to be superimposed on top of the card on the 3D display.
On the connectivity front, a StreetPass feature will allows gamers to exchange game information, such as Mii character data, maps for games, and high scores and custom character data for different games, as they pass each other. The SpotPass feature will allow the console to connect to compatible public hotspots and home Wi-Fi networks to receive new content and updates even when the 3DS is in Sleep Mode.
The 3DS is compatible with DS game cards and includes an SD card slot – Nintendo is including a 2GB SD card with the 3DS. After the launch Nintendo will provide a service that allows DSi and DSi XL owners to transfer games downloaded from the Nintendo DSi Shop onto their 3DS. The updated Nintendo eShop, available through a system update, will offer access to downloadable games, including DSiWare and 3DS-specific titles. An upgraded internet browser will also be available via a system update.
Titles-a-plentyAside from a number of pre-loaded games and applications, more than 30 games will be available for the 3DS at launch, including PilotWings Resort, nintendogs + cats and Steel Diver. But it’s the titles still in the works that are likely to get fans excited, such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising and new installments in the Mario Kart, Animal Crossing and Paper Mario series.
The 3DS also boasts strong support from third-party publishers such as Electronic Arts, Capcom, Konami, Namco Bandai, Sega, Square Enix, LucasArts, Tecmo Koei and Ubisoft. Upcoming titles include, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, The Sims 3, Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D, LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, Ridge Racer 3D, Thor: God of Thunder, BUST-A-MOVE UNIVERSE, Dead or Alive Dimensions, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Shadow Wars, Splinter Cell 3D, and Rayman 3D, just to name a few.