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Games console market leader Nintendo – which has been losing some of its market to touch-screen smartphones sporting $1 games – is looking to jump back with this week’s launch of its 3DS handheld console, capable of playing games in 3D without the need for special glasses.The 3DS went on sale in the US and Japan at the weekend. It will hit the Australian and other markets at midnight on Wednesday; a “midnight madness” style event is being staged in Melbourne.

In the US it sells for US$250, some $100 cheaper than Australia, with 3D games expected to go for around $40. In Australia the console is expected to sell for a recommended $349.

Like the company’s DS console, the 3DS features two screens in a fold-up clam-shell design. The bottom is a touchscreen that helps the user control games; the top is a viewing screen with a slider switch that can adjust the 3D effects or turn them off.

There are twin binocular cameras on the face of the device so users can take 3D pictures; they can be replayed in 3D only on the 3DS itself. The device includes tilt-sensitive motion controls, which also function as a pedometer.

Several US web sites are already selling the device.

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