Nintendo 3DS launches in Japan

The 3DS launches in Japan to around-the-block lines, sold out retailers, and scattered reports of eye soreness and fatigue.

Nintendo's bid to put glasses-free 3D into the anxious hands of the masses just got underway in Japan. The company's 3DS -- sequel to the DS and DSi, and employing a new 3.53-inch widescreen that uses parallax barrier tech to create the illusion of three-dimensional imagery -- launched Saturday in the Land of the Rising Sun to long lines, claims of emptied stores, and Twitter tales of 3D-induced headaches.

Bloomberg reports "about 2,000 people" lined up at store in Akihabara, a shopping area in Tokyo, in hopes of obtaining a 3DS after electronic retailers sold out on pre-orders alone.

Reuters reports customers were also lined up at a camera store in Yurakucho, Tokyo, though didn't offer estimates (much of the story's dedicated to frowning on the 3DS's chances in light of tablet and smartphone alternatives).

And The Wall Street Journal reports "hundreds of people" lined up outside a store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, with the "line snaking around the building." The WSJ also notes people lined up outside multiple Tokyo stores the night before.

Adult anime and manga site Sankaku Complex noticed a Japanese news site that's apparently compiling Twitter dispatches from fresh 3DS owners complaining about (though also praising) the 3DS's 3D mode. One person claims to suffer eye pain after playing for five minutes, with others mention taking breaks after experiencing eye "tiredness" or "soreness." It's way too early to read these as more than anecdotal, but it'll be interesting to watch -- both how Japanese gamers respond to the technology, and how the Japanese media handles reports of issues with it.

For more on the 3DS and "eye strain," check out our interview with optometrist Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford: Will Nintendo's 3DS Harm Your Eyes? We Ask an Expert.

If you're lucky enough to live in Japan, you can get your hands on a 3DS for 25,000 yen, or about $305. The 3DS launches in the U.S. on March 26 for $250 and the games are expected to sell for $40 each. You can always import a 3DS if you're impatient, and popular import retailer Play Asia's teasing dozens of unboxing pictures, though importing the system could set you back just shy of $500 -- not to mention the games, which list for between $60 and $70 each.

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Matt Peckham

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