Making good on a promise to reveal the actual release date of the Nintendo 3DS today, Nintendo has announced that its upcoming handheld will hit Japan on February 26, 2011 at 25,000 yen (around $299 at current exchange rates). In addition to this, Nintendo has also revealed oodles of information about the device's specs, pre-loaded software, and accessories.
Details on the US or European release of the handheld weren't set in stone at the Tokyo-based event where Nintendo has chosen to debut this and the following information, but the publisher did suggest that we might see a release a stateside release as early as March 2011. So there's that.
Unfortunately, Nintendo didn't share pricing information for regions outside of Japan, however, the 3DS is decidedly expected by the media to stay at the same price point across most regions, meaning we could be looking at a portable that will cost a cool $300 next year. That's, uh, a lot of money.
== TEASER ==What will you get for that kind of price, you might be asking? According to a PDF released after the event (via Joystiq and Siliconera), an AC adapter, a charging stand, a 2GB SD card, a telescoping metal stylus, and six augmented reality-geared "paper cards" for use with the 3DS' outward-facing camera and several built-in games, are being dropped into the base 3DS package.
The AR cards are the oddity, and while there's little to glean at the moment about the software that will support them (or even the cards in general), it appears as if they'll be read by the 3DS' camera as scenes which then different 3D objects will somehow come to occupy (via Joystiq). Nintendo will, according to Kotaku's blog of the event, release a game called AR Games at some point in the future, perhaps in support of these.
On the rest of the software front, the pre-loaded software coming with the handheld includes two titles Mii-featuring "games" called Mii Studio and Chance Encounter Mii Plaza. The former, according to Kotaku, allows you to generate a Mii based on 3DS-taken pictures. The latter is a passive "Tag" bit of software that allows for some sort of unspecified game data transfer when turned on. Nintendo is also planning to release a game called "Book," which we suppose will be some sort of eReader.
The 3DS' Virtual Console will support original Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles. And while that might be exciting, the fact that you can transfer your old DSi and DSi XL downloaded software to the 3DS is probably more. According to an Andriasang translation of the 3DS' hardware fact sheet, "most" downloaded DSiWare games can be transferred to a 3DS. There's apparently some sort of unspecified limit on what can be moved, however.
The 3DS in Japan will launch in Aqua Blue and Cosmos Black colors. You'll notice in the images that the slider is no longer color matched. What you can't see is that each of the buttons will be backlit. Snazzy.
The Home button is one of the more curious additions, and as you'd imagine, it isn't exactly a "Home" kind of command. When pressed, you'll get an XMB-like menu that gives you the ability to do settings-tweaks like, for example, turn on or off the device's Wi-Fi (WPA/WPA2 supporting) functionality. You'll also, apparently, be able to browse the web through via this Home menu as well, though, we haven't seen the browser quite yet.
Just in case you were worried, the 3DS will use cartridges similar to Nintendo DS carts, which will hold a maximum of 2GBs worth of data. The device will also be able to play regular old DS games, too.
Some things weren't touched on at the event, including what kind of life we can expect to from the 3DS' lithium battery, but the vast majority of specs have been revealed. Siliconera has a particularly readable breakdown that might interest you if you really want to know how just how wide each of the screens are or how long the device is.
I'm not a big fan of portable devices costing as much as consoles if said device can't make a phone call, but I find my wallet-grabbing fingers get antsy whenever I read about the 3DS. With all this info in mind, will you be grabbing one? Or do you need more from Nintendo?
Last image via Kotaku.