The Nintendo 3DS portable gaming system hits North America on March 27, just about a month after yesterday’s February 26 launch in Japan. The new handheld promises glasses-free gaming on the go with a form factor that mirrors the company’s popular Nintendo DS. A reported 400,000 units shipped in Japan this weekend, and just about every one of them sold out in what can be described as a busy launch, though not overwhelmingly so.
Many stores saw line counts rise into the hundreds as shoppers gathered to pick up a mix of pre-order purchases and same-day sales, Andria Sang reports. The Yamada Denki Labi electronic retail chain offered only same-day sales; the store in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district had a line of 400 by 6am, a number that eventually grew to 900 by the time the retailer stopped issuing pre-order tickets. The scene was similar throughout Japan, with long lines and very little product left for the latecomers, though more shipments were expected to arrive before the close of the weekend.
The 3DS arrived in Japan with eight games available at launch, including Nintendogs + Cats, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Combat of Giants Dinosaur 3D, Ridge Racer 3D, Samurai Warriors Chronicle, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Winning Eleven 3D and Puzzle Bobble 3D. Layton, Ridge Racer, Winning Eleven and Street Fighter were the most popular sellers among them according to Japanese gaming news outlet Famitsu (also via Andria Sang). North American territories will get 18 3DS games at launch, including every one of the Japan releases with the exception of Professor Layton.
Expect a similar scene here in the United States when the 3DS launches next month. The $250 handheld costs more than both the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 consoles, but the allure of glasses-free 3D gaming has helped keep excitement levels high. With Sony’s competing, and considerably more powerful, NGP coming closer to the end of the year, not to mention Nintendo’s well-established base of die-hard fans, it’s looking like the company isn’t going to have any problems hitting its target of 4 million units sold worldwide by the year’s end.