Two years ago, on 25th March 2011, the Nintendo 3DS arrived in Europe; its North American release was on 27th March. As the follow-up to the DS family of systems — the biggest selling series of handhelds in history — it arrived with plenty of expectation.
After an excitable launch — it landed in Japan in late February — where nearly four million units were sold, sales plummeted to worrying levels (roughly 750,000 units sold worldwide over a three month period). Nintendo acted with a hefty price cut within six months of launch — appeasing early adopters with 20 free NES and Game Boy Advance downloads — and a range of high-profile releases, culminating with Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 in the Holiday 2011 season. 2012 delivered a string of quality releases, with the handheld maintaining a solid — if unspectacular — pace in the West, while it embarked on an extended run of dominance in Japan that's still continuing today. The games library continues to expand with some big hits; 2013 has already seen Fire Emblem: Awakening in North America, the eventual arrival of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate worldwide, while titles such as the imminent Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon and the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Leaf are just some examples of what this year has in store.
The handheld has also, of course, seen significant growth and improvements to its eShop. The library continues to expand with some excellent software, while demos, DLC and retail downloads are becoming more common. As of 31st December 2012 the handheld had sold nearly 30 million units, so we can confidently say that this particular landmark has now been surpassed. The hardware itself is now available in a variety of bundles and colours, while gamers can opt for the standard model or the XL variant.
It's been a busy, dramatic two years for the 3DS, and despite some prophets of doom predicting its downfall in 2011, it's still carrying on regardless; there's no sign of it disappearing for a good while yet.
With the European, North American and other PAL region anniversaries falling so close together, we'd love to read your "two year report" and thoughts on the handheld in the comments section below.