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3DS's EU and US launches this week – all the details

It's coming – on Friday in the EU and Sunday for Americans. We've got everything you could possibly want to know about 3DS's launch, including details of all release events and impressions of the launch titles we've played.

3DS launches this week - details and costs

3DS launches on the March 25 in Europe and the March 27 in North America. It comes in two colours: Cosmos Black and Aqua Blue.

RRP in the US is $249.99. In the UK, retailers were originally putting the DS at around £220, but pricing pressure from supermarkets and online stores has since forced the price down to below £200 in most cases.

HMV, GAME and GameStation are all offering the console on the night for £196.99, with a game for £229.99. Online, PLAY has the same price point, where Amazon UK is still offering pre-orders for £187. Zavvi was offering it for £177, but sadly that offer has passed.

What comes pre-loaded?

3DS comes with a selection of software right out of the box. There's the 3DS camera software, which lets you take 3D photos and decorate them with the usual silly selection of stamps, doodles and bizarre frames. It also lets you take a picture of you and a friend and merge the faces into a terrifying chimera, which is good for at least ten minutes of entertainment.

The Augmented Reality software lets you play a variety of six mini-games using the 3DS camera and six Nintendo-designed cards that come in the box. These range from cute, simple little shooting galleries to angling minigames (I had no idea that my keyboard was full of secret fish).

If you lose your AR cards, you can print out new ones from the Nintendo website. Or you can blow the design up to insanely massive proportions and create a Mii the size of a giant Japanese robot. Your call.

Face Raiders is a totally loopy shooting minigame that takes a picture of your face, then morphs it into flying enemies that come out of the walls at you. It's exactly as distressing as it sounds, but also a lot of fun.

The Mii Maker and StreetPass Plaza, meanwhile, let you import your Mii from the Wii or create a new one, and then go on little adventures with them and anyone else you've met using StreetPass. There's a puzzle collection minigame and a cute, bright dungeon crawler to try out.

The launch games

UK retailers are selling games for £34.99, US ones for $39.99. The US and EU launch games are:

  • Pilotwings - This has been getting good reception – it's beautiful, fun and a joy to control, but I finished it in under three hours, which might not make it the best value for money.
  • Ridge Racer 3D - Funnily enough, this is my pick of the launch games. Racing in 3D really is a dramatically different experience, and Ridge Racer is well-suited to a portable.
  • Nintendogs + Cats - Heartbreakingly sweet and ever so pretty, but there's not all that much game here. Still, if you love puppies or are a 9-year-old-girl, it's basically an instant 10/10.
  • Super Street Fighter IV: 3D edition - Another pick of the line-up – Street Fighter ported brilliantly to a portable, with really impressive online and offline competitive modes that show off the 3DS's connectivity.
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 3D - I know nothing of Pro Evo, but I'm told that once you get used to the over-the-shoulder viewpoint, this is one of the best PES games in years.
  • Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars - Again, word on the street is that this is another surprise success – but it might be worth waiting for the reviews.
  • Super Monkey Ball 3D - It's a bit difficult to tilt the console around to control the game whilst also keeping the dead-on viewing angle required for the 3D to work. Not sure about this one.
  • Asphalt 3D - This has been affectionately retitled Asshat 3D by at least one person I know who's reviewing it. Enough said?
  • Rayman 3D - This is a remake of the excellent Rayman 2. We've got high hopes for it.
  • Samurai Warriors 3D - This latest in the long-running hack-and-slash series was a big success at the Japanese launch
  • Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars - Bit of an unknown quantity, this, but there's no reason to suspect it will be all that different from any of the other versions
  • The Sims 3D - The DS version of this was actually pretty good, so hopefully this shouldn't be terrible either.
  • Madden NFL Football - No reviews are out yet, but it looked promising at preview – the question is whether there's enough content here to keep it going.

And in the EU, we also get:

  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D (delayed until April in the US) - Early impressions of this are not at all promising. Remember the Splinter Cell game that launched with the Wii?

And the US will also get:

  • Steel Diver (TBC for EU) - Surprisingly technical submarine simulation – it's an evolution of one of the original 3DS tech demos. Getting good reception so far.
  • Bust-a-Move Universe (out in the EU April 22nd) - Or Puzzle Bobble, as you might know it.
  • Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D (out in the EU a few days later on March 31) - Guys, let's not write this off. Dinosaurs. In 3D.

Peripherals and add-ons

3DS launches alongside a predictable wave of third-party cleaning kits, different colours of stylus and carry cases. It comes with its own charging stand, so whatever you do, don't pay for another one of those.

Nintendo UK's official first look video.

UK launch events

Over 100 GAME stores across the UK are participating in a midnight launch – you can see whether your local shop is taking part here.

Same goes for Gamestation – find the retailer's list of midnight launches here.

HMV hosts the official launch in the UK in its London Oxford Street store. If you're one of the first 500 there, you'll get a free game. You'll also get a 'launch pack' with an exclusive issue of Official Nintendo Magazine, a t-shirt and a space blanket (whatever that is) for braving the cold.

The UK 3DS launch party will take part in London's Old Billingsgate on March 24, hosted by Russel Kane and featuring the usual selection of booked celebrities, and performance from Hadouken and DJ Yoda, who always makes for a good party.

US launch events

The official launch is at Best Buy in Union Square, New York, where the first DS console will be sold at midnight. From 9.00pm EST there will be a hands-on event, and if you're one of the first 300 people there you'll get... a carrying case. Still, at least Reggie will be there.

Gamestop's also doing midnight launches across the country, as detailed here.

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