Put on the party hats and break out the bunting, the 3DS is three years old today. Or it is in Japan which, judging by the time we're posting this and thanks to the vagaries of time zones, is actually yesterday in Nintendo's homeland. But still, we'll celebrate anyway.

The 3DS was greeted with plenty of launch day buzz in 2011, shifting some useful early units before embarking on what we'll refer to as the "dark pre-price cut days". Once the horrors of a poor start were retrieved with a new price and some juicy games Nintendo's handheld hasn't looked back; its continued success, helped along by the 3DS XL in 2012 and a particularly vibrant software lineup in 2013, is an ongoing source of relief for Nintendo fans and the company itself. It's the current saviour of Nintendo from a business sense, while also taking important steps with its eShop — since expanded nicely on the Wii U — to greatly enhance the company's download services; it was the first Nintendo platform to offer retail downloads, for example.

Heading into 2014 it has some promising releases already confirmed for the first half of the year, while the 2DS is now settled in as a member of the 'family' outside of Japan. It may not have sales tracking successfully alongside the phenomenal DS range, but the vast majority would agree that — to date — the 3DS has been a notable accomplishment for Nintendo. It's progressed from being a doomed handheld in a disappearing dedicated portable gaming market, to a system with over 40 million units in the wild around the world. The growing games library is rather awesome, too.

So here's to you, 3DS. We'll do something better for your North American and PAL anniversary, we promise...