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3DS launches in Japan with long queues and small stocks

Nintendo's 3DS has launched in Japan, with long lines and a deluge of media reports heralding the arrival of Nintendo's next gen handheld.

Lines of up to 750 people waited in Tokyo's Akihabara district to get a chance at securing an anorexic retail allocation: the huge majority of Japan's launch units had already been bought by pre-order.

Some large stores were given tiny amounts of stock, and people queued for over 24 hours to buy.

Nikkei (via Andriasang) reports Japanese retailers received only 400,000 units in total, although a second shipment arrived in stores the following day.

The Japanese console's released alongside Pro Evolution Soccer 3DS, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, Samurai Warriors: Chronicles, Bust-a-Move Universe, Nintendogs + Cats, Ridge Racer 3D, Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D, and Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle.

A swell of photo and video reports has emerged overnight, showing apparently keen interest for Nintendo's next foray into handheld hardware.

Despite initial optimism, though, analysts are already cooling on the machine's chances thanks to the proliferation of smartphones in recent years.

"Nintendo's competitive advantage is that they develop both hardware and software. I don't think you will see a change to Nintendo strategy longer term, but because of smartphones they will not see the same growth they once had," David Gibson, head of equity research at Macquarie Securities in Tokyo, told Reuters.

Nintendo expects to sell at least 4 million 3DS units in the five weeks to March 31. The original DS had sold 145 million units worldwide as of December last year.

Kotaku's photo-based launch report.

"Of course it will be difficult to sell more than the DS in Japan or other developed countries," said analyst Shun Tanaka of SMBC Friend Research Center.

"But if they market it in regions like South America and Asia, it may eventually sell even more than the DS," he said.

3DS machine went on sale in Japan at ¥25,000.

It's to launch in Europe on March 25 at roughly €250, followed by the American release on March 27 at $249.99.

3DS hits Australia on March 31 for AU$349.95.

Gamespot published a long program on the launch, which you can watch below:

Destructiod has posted a video showing the Augmented Reality cards in action, embedded below, along with a demonstration of AR Miis and a massive image dump of messing around with Nintendogs + Cats AR features.

Others have added videos of Street Pass in action, and 3D drawing application Graffiti.

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