Nintendo 3DS priced and dated for Europe and North America

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At simultaneous conferences held in both Europe and North America yesterday, Nintendo announced release dates for its upcoming Nintendo 3DS system for both regions.

Europe will be able to get their hands on the new handheld on March 25th, with retailers pricing the system at around the £219.99 mark, with North America seeing a launch on March 27th priced at $249.99. In both countries, the Nintendo 3DS will be available in either Cosmos Black or Aqua Blue.

The system itself incorporates two screens once more, with the lower screen making use of a touch screen that maybe utilised with a telescoping stylus that is stored in the unit itself. As you’ll probably already know, the top screen displays 3D visuals to the naked eye without the need for glasses, providing true depth to characters and worlds. The Nintendo 3DS also features a 3D Depth Slider that allows players to select the level of 3D that they enjoy the most – this can be increased up to the highest level, scaled back to a more moderate setting or even turned off completely, depending on user preference.

Whilst the familiar + Control Pad and A, B, X and Y button orientation return, an addition to the system is the new Circle Pad that provides a full 360 degrees of direction. Further to this, a built-in motion sensor and gyro sensor may also be utilised by developers to react to the motion and tilt of the system

Also incorporate into the system are two features that will allow owners to stay connected in new and innovative ways, delivering bonus content as you continue day-to-day life. For those that activate it, the ‘StreetPass’ feature is capable of exchanging game information with other Nintendo 3DS systems as owners pass one another during the day. Small packets of information can be exchanged using this data-transfer method, such as Mii character data, maps for games or high scores and custom character data for different games. This is joined by the ‘SpotPass’ feature that is able to connect to compatible public hotspots and through a wireless broadband Internet connection at home, even if the system is in Sleep Mode. Once connected, the Nintendo 3DS system will receive new content and updates on a regular basis.

Nintendo of Europe has partnered with a number of organisations to deliver this content including Eurosport, Europe’s leading sports entertainment group, to bring engaging 3D sports video to the Nintendo 3DS and Aardman Animations to provide a series of original Shaun the Sheep short movies in 3D. Nintendo is also in discussion with partners at a country level, in the UK for instance, Nintendo has partnered with British Sky Broadcasting to provide short-form content from Sky 3D to Nintendo 3DS.

To ensure broad access to compatible public hotspots, Nintendo of Europe are in contact with a number of potential partners across Europe including tmn, METEOR, Guglielmo, Linkem, KPN, Deutsche Telekom and BTFON.

Each Nintendo 3DS system comes pre-loaded with a variety of fun games, applications and features, such as Nintendo 3DS Camera. Nintendo 3DS has three cameras. One camera points at the user, while two additional cameras point outward. These two outer cameras take photos in 3D. The fun, built-in game Face Raiders asks users to shoot at funny depictions of their own faces. Nintendo 3DS, when put into Sleep Mode, can act as a pedometer, while letting users earn Play Coins for the steps they take that can then be traded in for additional content in compatible games and applications. By accessing the Activity Log, users can check their steps as well as their play time. With Nintendo 3DS Sound, users can enjoy sound-manipulation tools or enjoy listening to their MP3 or AAC music files. An upgraded Internet browser will also be available via a system update.

The Mii Maker application gives users new tools to create Mii characters even more easily: Users can either import Mii characters from their Wii systems using an SD Memory Card or use the camera to take a picture of a person and have an automatic Mii character created. Users can even save their Mii characters to an SD Memory Card as pictures, which enables them to be used any way a digital photo would for personal use, such as a profile picture on social-networking sites.

The Nintendo eShop, through a system update, will offer access to downloadable games, including Nintendo DSiWare and ones specifically made for Nintendo 3DS. Also, just as the Virtual Console service on Wii makes retro games available for download, the Virtual Console games on Nintendo 3DS will be pulled from classic Game Boy and Game Boy Color games. Players will be able to view game videos, download demos for select games and see how other consumers rated the games. The Nintendo eShop will use a cash-based system. Users can either input credit card information in the shop or purchase a Nintendo 3DS e-Shop card at retail locations.

Nintendo 3DS comes with six augmented-reality cards, called AR cards. When the two outer cameras are pointed at the cards, they read the cards and superimpose images and animations onto the scene. So users shouldn’t be surprised if they see a dragon popping out of their kitchen tables. Developers can also use this technology to add creative new experiences to their games.

Built-in parental controls can be used to limit Internet access or some of the wireless functions. By using a PIN code, parents also can turn off the 3D function altogether, or limit the ratings of the games that their kids can play.

Fans of online play will be happy to learn that the friend codes for Nintendo 3DS are specific to each Nintendo 3DS system, not each game. Once friends trade hardware codes, at any time they can check their friends list to see which of their friends are online and what they are playing.

Nintendo 3DS can also play Nintendo DS game cards with their original 2D visuals. The system also includes a slot for an SD Memory Card. To help users get started, every system comes with a 2GB SD Memory Card (though owners can provide whatever size they like). Using a service that will be provided after the hardware’s launch, Nintendo DSi and Nintendo DSi XL owners will be able to transfer games downloaded from the Nintendo DSi Shop onto their new Nintendo 3DS systems.

In terms of software Nintendo is referring to a launch window between March 25th and the E3 Expo in early June, within which there will be just over 30 games released for Nintendo 3DS owners with the handheld boasting some of the strongest third-party support of any system launch.

You can catch the first look trailer below:

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