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The Globe and Mail

Gamers, get ready for the third dimension

The company behind the best-selling handheld video-game devices is now hoping to recreate that success in 3D.

Nintendo will release the 3DS gaming system in Europe on March 25 and in North America two days later. The handheld device is the successor of the Nintendo DS, one of the best-selling video-game consoles in history.

In North America, the 3DS is expected to cost roughly $250 (U.S).

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The 3DS marks Nintendo's attempt to build the first truly successful 3D gaming device. Indeed, even as TV manufacturers have launched an aggressive advertising campaign over the past year, few 3D devices have been commercially successful, in large part because users complained of having to wear specially made glasses throughout the experience.

Nintendo hopes to get around the problem by leveraging the 3DS dual-screen display to essentially trick the eye into seeing a third dimension.

"The top screen on the 3DS essentially displays two images simultaneously, one for each eye. The result is a 3D simulation that doesn't require glasses. The effect can be turned down or switched off completely by the user. With the 3D effect turned off, the device functions as a basic 2D gaming device. The bottom screen acts as a touchpad. The overall 3DS design isn't a big departure from previous DS models.

The 3DS also comes equipped with cameras that allow the user to take 3D pictures."

Because of its dual screens, the 3DS doesn't require glasses.

Nintendo has long been on the cutting edge of gaming technology, essentially launching the current wave of controller-free gaming when it released the Nintendo Wii - a console that allowed users to play games by moving around - in late 2006. Since that time, both Microsoft and Sony - the other major players in the video-game console market - have offered similar technology.

As of the end of 2010, Nintendo had sold more than 84 million Wiis.

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The 3DS is the latest in Nintendo's line of DS games, which in total have sold roughly 150 million units, making them the most popular handheld gaming devices in history.

But Nintendo is no longer competing with just other game device manufacturers. The rise of smart phones and tablets with increasingly powerful processors has lured many game developers. As such, Apple's iPhones and iPads, Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet and many other such devices are expected to attract some gamers, even though they aren't primarily gaming machines.

Nintendo expects to sell four million of the 3DS machines through the end of March - 1.5 million in Japan and the rest overseas.

With files from Associated Press

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