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Official Nintendo 3DS UK launch plans

HMV gets the gig.

The official UK launch partner of the 3DS will be HMV.

The official UK launch, therefore, will happen at the shop-chain's flagship store on 150 Oxford Street, London. A northern launch extravaganza will happen HMV LiverpoolOne.

Both events begin 11pm Thursday night (24th March) - an hour and a minute before the UK 3DS officially goes on sale.

Those shops plus 100 other HMV stores will open at midnight to welcome Nintendo's new handheld to the UK.

The first 500 people through the doors at HMV Oxford Street will have free dibs on a 3DS game of their choosing. All others will get a space blanket (tin foil wrap), t-shirt and a copy of Official Nintendo Magazine. You can play Street Fighter IV and Pro Evolution Soccer competitively on stage , too.

Space is limited, and wristbands for entry will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. HMV expects queues to form "a good few days" before the Thursday-night start.

As well as those public events, Nintendo will host a special VIP bash at London's Old Billingsgate building for 2000 guests. That's a great place for a Eurogamer Expo 2009, if you ask me. Comedian Russell Kane will host and introduce live performances from Plan B, Hadouken, DJ Yoda and Parade.

Tickets will be offered via a prize draw to all UK Club Nintendo members today. Various other competitions will also offer a way in.

There's no word on who the celebrities will be attending the launch events. The Nintendo Wii, you may remember, arrived in the UK with bang, promoted by mega-stars Ian Wright, Pat Cash, Ricky Hatton and Nell McAndrew.