Nintendo 3DS launch date and price revealed

Nintendo has finally revealed its launch plans for the Nintendo 3DS, the next games handheld from the most successful games handheld company in the world. In what would have been the wee hours of the morning for many of us, Nintendo dropped loads of information on the console at its Tokyo conference. First, let’s get the essentials out of the way:

– The Nintendo 3DS will hit Japan on February 26th. Meanwhile, both North America and Europe will see it in March 2011. Yes, they’ve chosen to miss the Holiday 2010 season; turns out all the rumors and gossip about a 2010 release in Japan were just that. On the bright side, the extra waiting time should come in handy, because this will cost …

– ¥25,000 (almost exactly $299) in Japan. SRSLY. No pricing was offered for the western release, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see it arrive here at the $300 mark. I’ll be honest: it’s quite a bit more than I was anticipating. To date, Nintendo’s most expensive handheld at launch was the Nintendo DSi XL, for $190. If it does end up at $300, or even $250, it’ll be interesting to see how it fares with consumers.

Other details worth noting: The system will be offered in two colors (Aqua Blue and Cosmo Black), and will come with a rad charging cradle, a metal stylus, a 2GB SD memory card, and six augmented reality paper cards that can be used with the 3DS’s cameras.

It will also feature a ‘tag mode’ (whereby the portable recognises other 3DSes around it, and trades data for multiple games), and – of course – Miis. Here’s a quick video on all that stuff, featuring a Japanese lady in very snazzy plaid pants:

On top of all this, there’ll be downloadable demos, the ability to transfer software you downloaded for your DSi to your 3DS, and a portable Virtual Console, offering Game Boy and Game Boy Color releases, some of which will take advantage of the console’s 3D capabilities.

Oh, and there’s also a load of games to look forward to! Here’s a great little video showcasing many that will appear on or near launch. I really, really want about half of these:

Wow. Roll on 2011!