There's just one month to go now until Nintendo releases its shiny new handheld and everyone in the world throws their 3D specs in a bin. Yes, as of 25th March, we'll all be able to enjoy glorious, glasses-free, three-dimensional gaming with the Nintendo 3DS.
Providing we're willing to part with £230 first. And aren't one of those people whose eyes can't even look at a 3D screen without their eyes going all swimmy. But this is missing the point. The POINT is that this is the start of a magnificent new era. Soon we will be able to visit gameworlds where objects in the distance look not just smaller, but farther away. And what a wide range of worlds there will be to explore, right from launch.
But that's not all. Here Johnny Minkley (special correspondent for Zelda, Mario, monkeys and violent women) and Ellie Gibson (cars, submarines and dinosaurs) provide a rundown of some other 3DS titles hitting the shelves.
Super Mario Land
I was 10 when I first came across Game Boy in, of all places, a Florida shopping mall. It's the only eighties console I still keep to hand for a retro fix. This is partly down to its gorgeously chunky design but it's also about the two games which defined it: Tetris and Super Mario Land.
With Nintendo adapting the Wii Virtual Console concept to 3DS, the service is sure to offer a steady trickle of unforgettable and long-forgotten portable games, but this is the obvious title to start with.
A curious spin-off from the NES series, Super Mario Land exists in a weird parallel universe with new enemies, new abilities (the 45-degree fireball, the submarine- and spaceship-piloting shooter stages), and Daisy, a new damsel in distress.
But at its heart this is a classic, side-scrolling Mario platformer, with pipes, power-up mushrooms and underground stages, plenty of coins to collect and bags of baddies to stomp.
Control was never as tight as in the Super Mario Bros. series but this is still a lovely, highly playable game. The simple visuals have translated cleanly to the top 3DS screen, with the bottom screen somewhat unnecessarily listing controls.
If the price is right – if - this should be a little gem that deserves a place in every games collection. Not least for its insanely catchy music - which became, lest we forget, a staggeringly awful UK top ten hit. Which we all bought, obviously.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX
Like Super Mario Land, A Link To The Past was at once a consolingly familiar and oddly unique experience for Zelda fans. No Princess Zelda, no Hyrule, no Triforce – but, coming after the release of the stupendous A Link To The Past on SNES, the core experience was unmistakbly 'Zelda', which was a remarkable achievement on a portable system.
It's a typically sprawling adventure, with a huge island to explore and dungeons to roam. It's been a terrifyingly long time since I last played it through, and in a pre-GameFAQs world, I still recall the humiliating phonecalls to the Nintendo Hotline after getting stuck at one bit or another.
On 3DS Nintendo is re-releasing the 1998 DX re-release of the original, updated for Game Boy Color with, fairly obviously, colour visuals and a bonus dungeon.
A five-minute hands-on demo on 3DS reveals a sharp port of the visuals but not a great deal else. It's been a while, but as one of the great handheld adventures of the nineties it's one that, on legacy alone, will surely be worthy of revisiting.
Super Monkey Ball 3D
In its appearance as a playable title at Nintendo's 3DS event, Super Monkey Ball succeeds in highlighting both the strengths and limitations of the new console.
In one sense, it's an obvious choice to show off what's possible with the built-in gyroscope. Although with roughly seven billion iPhone and iPod titles doing similar things, it's not exactly a revolutionary feature these days.
What is revolutionary with 3DS, of course, is the 3D display. Which is all fine and dandy here if you control it the old-fashioned way with the analogue nub. But try using motion-control and 3D together and it quickly collapses into an unplayable shambles.
That's because, when viewing 3D on a display such as the one this console uses, there's a very limited range within which the effect is maintained. Which is fine for normal play, but basically rubbish when you're moving it around with the gyro as, without the aid of an elaborate DIY pulley mechanism, it's actually quite hard to move your arms all over the place while keeping the screen in your line of sight.
Beyond that, it looks to be standard Monkey Ball fare, with various game modes, multiplayer (not available in the demo) and a variety of puzzle-stages to tackle.
It may not be the perfect marriage of concept and hardware, but Monkey Ball remains a gaming stalwart, best experienced in small doses. And, however fancy the tech, that's often all you really need in a handheld game.
Dead or Alive: Dimensions
If EA sacks Andy Gray as FIFA commentator, Tecmo has a stable of titles well suited to his keen eye and evolving commentary skills. In what must be the least surprising support from a third party, the heaving-bosomed heroines of Team Ninja's fighting franchise have transitioned into full 3D.
So, yes, thanks to the magic of Nintendo, DD becomes 3DD. But does the 3D fighting translate with similar fluency? That's not something that can be answered after a short playtest, but initial impressions are of a solid if unspectacular bruiser.
Standard button input and the analogue nub are used for regular control, with special moves and combo lists featured on the bottom-screen. It's more cluttered and dynamic than Capcom's Street Fighter solution, but does allow complex sequences to be performed with a single touch – though that's unlikely to prove satisfying for any length of time.
Story and Arcade mode were unlocked in the demo and, generally impressive visuals aside, I was surprised by how much of a hit the frame-rate appears to take with the 3D effect fully applied. Certainly, it looks a far sharper, smoother affair without it. Is this a side effect of unfinished code, or a wider hardware concern?
With Super Street Fighter IV wowing in its demo, Tecmo faces a heavyweight opponent in the fight for gamers' attention at launch. DOA has always had the body; let's hope this version has the brains, too.
While most of the games exhibited at Nintendo's 3DS event could be enjoyed while wandering around the main show floor, Steel Diver was one of those only playable in the Special Room. You had to queue up to get into the Special Room, and no food was allowed inside (as explained by the rather aggressive man at the door, who seemed to be drunk on the power to sequester chicken burgers).
Considering all this, you might expect Steel Diver to be looking pretty Special. Um.
It's a submarine combat game, basically. You navigate your sub through a series of side-scrolling underwater levels, controlling its depth, avoiding obstacles, attacking enemies and making sure you return to the surface regularly so you don't run out of air. Think Ecco the Dolphin with submarines instead of marine mammals and torpedoes instead of rubbish sonic stun blasts.
Then there are the Periscope Strike missions. You use the touch screen to control your periscope and fire missiles, while scanning the horizon via the 3D screen. You angle your viewpoint by moving the 3DS around. Because a front-on perspective is required at all times for the 3D effect to work, this involves rotating your whole body. Which feels, to be frank, a bit daft.
Still. Steel Diver also comes with a 21st century-style Battleships mode for two players, which wasn't available to try out at the showcase but which sounds fun. Plus there's a Hunt for Red October feel to the whole thing which should please fans of pretending to be Russian submarine captains with Scottish accents. All together now: "A great day, comradesh, we shail into history! Ski!"
Ridge Racer 3D
Ah, dear old Kaz. Since that fatal E3 press conference, no one has been able to read the words Ridge and Racer without adding an extra i and picturing your face. "Whoops" indeed.
Mr Hirai was of course demonstrating the PSP version of RR. The first thing you notice on picking up the 3DS instalment is that it looks remarkably similar - with the added twist of depth of perspective, of course. Objects on the horizon now move into view in a more realistic fashion, and the way you perceive the distance between you and the cars ahead feels slightly different. The 3D effect is even more noticeable in first-person mode.
But aside from that, this is classic Ridge Racer. Namcai Bando doesn't appear to have mucked about with the formula at all - there are no Burnout-style crash mechanics, as seen in the recent trailer for the forthcoming PC and console game.
Instead you're driving down familiar-looking tracks, employing traditional drifting tactics to rack up turbo boosts and speed past the competition. (Special thanks to the demo pod person who took great care to explain what "drifting" was to me, and was then surprised by my ability to be quite good at Ridge Racer. You can't blame him for assuming I was not a games journalist but a home entertainment software buyer for Asda - he was no doubt understandably confused by my sharp boardroom attire, professional demeanour and vagina.)
There are a few other neat tricks - you can opt to see photos of yourself and other players above cars during races, and swap Ghost data via the StreetPass feature. But on the whole this looks like pretty standard Ridge Racer stuff, which should please fans of the old school titles. Including Kaz.
If Ridge Racer 3D represents the return of an old friend, Asphalt 3D is the obnoxious new kid on the block - loud, brassy and liable to tell you to screw your precision cornering and stick a banana in your tailpipe.
This is handheld racing for the very young or exceptionally drunk. You career down neon-lit city streets at top speed, throwing caution and the laws of physics to the wind. It's easy to maintain pole position and almost impossible to crash. At one point I deliberately drove head-on into the path of an oncoming train. Not a scratch.
There are plenty of silly power-ups to be found floating around in the middle of the tracks. It's not too hard to turbo boost your way round entire circuits, without giving a second thought to what drifting is or how you do it. Perfect for home entertainment software buyers for Asda.
And perfect if you just want a quick blast of racing carnage while you're waiting for a bus, perhaps. But the question is whether Asphalt 3D will offer a serious challenge or any long-term value. At this stage, it doesn't seem to have the sophistication of a game like Ridge Racer in terms of the driving mechanics and rules of the road. Here's hoping a closer look will reveal hidden depths, or something.
Combat of Giants
On paper this game sounds amazing. The concept is high: travel back to prehistoric times and make a T-rex fight a triceratops. Yes, it's Tokyo Jungle with dinosaurs!
Except in reality, as becomes evident after just a few minutes of play, it's Pokemon with dinosaurs. Which is of course good news for small boys and Ross out of Friends. But you might be disappointed if it's brutal, bloody primeval combat you're after, a la Dino Crisis.
(In which case, you're remembering DC wrong anyway; take off your rose-tinted glasses and remind yourself of the endless key collecting and swivelling on the spot.)
In Combat of Giants, you run round a prehistoric landscape looking for dinosaurs to add to your collection. You can customise your dinos, giving them different-coloured skins or markings, such as a fetching star pattern. Not very David Attenborough, then.
But there is an educational tone to the game, according to the enthusiastic man from Ubisoft doing the demos. "You get to learn about the dinosaurs as you play," he said.
"And kill them?" I said, keen to move on to the fighting mechanic.
"Er, yes." You do get to make the dinosaurs battle - no self-respecting small boy would dignify such a game with more than 30 seconds of attention otherwise.
Unfortunately, the fights I took part in at the 3DS showcase were pretty lacklustre. They seemed to involve hammering the shoulder button to attack, with random probability of scoring a hit, and trying to use the A-button to dodge, with even less chance of succeeding. In short, COG felt worryingly like Pokemon with dinosaurs, as developed by the team behind Fighters Uncaged.
Still. There are lots of things to collect and unlock. It's got dinosaurs and you can make them go different colours. The enemies you have to fight includes that eternal nemesis of small boys everywhere, a head of broccoli.