Nintendo 3DS hits Europe and US in March

Japanese videogame titan Nintendo on Wednesday announced that the hotly anticipated glasses-free 3-D version of its DS handheld gaming gadget will hit Europe and the United States in March.

Nintendo 3DS devices will be priced at $250 in the United States and at comparable prices in European markets, according to the firm.

"Nintendo 3DS is a category of one - the experience simply doesn't exist anywhere else," said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.

"You have to see Nintendo 3DS to believe it. And it's like nothing you've ever seen before."

The gaming gadgets feature the trademark dual screens (DS), but only one of them can be controlled by touch with a stylus because "it turns out a touch screen and a 3-D screen don't get along very well," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said while unveiling 3DS at a major US videogame show last year.

Nintendo 3DS devices are built with twin cameras on the outside so users can also take pictures in 3-D.

3-D movies are also watchable on the gadgets, according to Iwata.

Nintendo 3DS has built-in motion sensors that the Japanese videogame giant hopes will inspire software makers.

More than 30 games tailored for play on the 3DS will be released by early June, according to Nintendo.

French videogame maker Ubisoft announced on Wednesday that it will have eight titles including "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell" and "Rayman" available for the 3DS in the first half of this year.

"Ubisoft's creative teams have developed a rich and diverse line-up of games that take advantage of the amazing innovations that Nintendo has designed with its new handheld platform," said Ubisoft chief executive Yves Guillemot.

Other third party studios readying 3DS games for release include LucasArts, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Konami, Namco Bandai, and Square Enix.

Nintendo said that its own creations for 3DS play will include "The Legend of Zelda" and "Mario Kart."

The 3DS will make its world debut in Japan on February 26. It will be available in Europe on March 25 and in the United States on March 27.

Nintendo reportedly will ship about 1.5 million units in the first month after debut in an effort to avoid the huge shortages seen with the launch of earlier versions.

The company has warned that children up to six should not use the gadget because it could have an adverse effect on eyesight development.

The hugely popular Nintendo DS series has sold more than 130 million units worldwide since its release in 2004 and its new 3-D version has already drawn keen interest from media and gamers.

In 2006 massive demand for the new DS Lite overwhelmed the company's ability to buy materials and electronics parts while producing quality products.

For months fans around the world could not find stores that had the consoles, while Internet auction sites offered the gadgets at inflated prices.