Even if it wasn’t the only notable hardware launch due in 2011, Nintendo’s upcoming 3DS console would still surely be the most eagerly awaited. Our brief hands-on time with the unit (featuring the eagerly awaited new Pilotwings game) was more than enough to get us deeply excited about the machine’s tremendous possibilities. Aside from the 3D effects (which were uncanny and faultless) the raw power that seems to exist beneath the console’s sleek exterior has had some journalists fawningly compare its visual capabilities to those of the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3.

Although we’ll be the first to point out that this might be pushing it a little bit, nothing quite prepares you for the pleasure of getting your hands on it for the very first time. One week from today, Nintendo are due to finally reveal both the EU price point and much of the day-one software launch line-up,  and in preparation we’re going to take a brief look at some of the facts that have emerged so far…

You Don’t Need 3D Glasses

In case you’ve spent the past six months inhabiting a cave, the 3DS creates its 3D effect via a procedure known as ‘autostereoscopy’ which doesn’t require the use of 3D glasses.

The 3D Effect Can Be Switched Off

If you aren’t keen on the unit’s very impressive 3D effects, the console allows you to decrease them – or switch them off altogether – via a small slider control that sits on the side of the unit, next to the lower screen.

You Can Take 3D Photographs With It

There are two tiny cameras on the outer shell of the device, which enable you to take photographs in full 3D. A 2D camera on the inside also allows you to take 2D pictures and record video.

It’s Backwards Compatible

From the off, the 3DS will be fully compatible with all of your old DS and DSi software.

It Will Have Its Own Virtual Console

The Wii’s excellent Virtual Console store – which allows you to purchase and play a selection of classic games that were previously only available on Nintendo’s older home consoles – will get an equivalent handheld store on the 3DS. It’ll allow you to download games that were previously only available on the Game Boy and Game Boy Colour.

It Will Play 3D Movies

No titles have been officially announced as yet, but during the unit’s unveiling at E3 last year, plenty of movie trailers were available to view in full 3D on the console; including How To Train Your Dragon, and the upcoming Disney animation Tangled.

It Will Use Mii Characters

Not only can you import your old Mii from your Wii console, you’ll also be able to take a photo with the 3DS and the machine will create a Mii for you… which will save everyone quite a bit of time.

It Features 2GB Of Built-In Storage Space

A more than satisfactory amount, although this can be bumped up with the addition of standard SD cards; which are fully compatible with the machine.

It Offers Analogue Control

A first for a Nintendo handheld – the 3DS boasts a round analogue control nub, often referred to as a “Circle Pad”.

Some Great 3DS Games Are Coming

Although obviously no release dates have been confirmed, some of the titles that you’re likely to see before the end of the year include new games from the Mario Kart, Kid Icarus, Animal Crossing and Resident Evil franchises, as well as full 3D remakes of some absolute classics like Lylat Wars, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Ocarina Of Time.

Almost all other available information is either unconfirmed or purely speculative… but most (if not all) of your curiosity will be sated in precisely one week’s time. We’ll report on all new 3DS information as and when we get it, but in the meantime, have a look at the luscious trailer for the amazing-looking new Resident Evil title, currently due for release in the autumn of this year…

Watch the Resident Evil: Revelations trailer here:

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