Nintendo announced the 3DS with style at E3 2010

The Nintendo 3DS arrived four years ago today in Europe, strategically released to maximise profits before the end of the financial year that closed on 31st March 2011... erm, we mean strategically released to excite gamers. Its arrival prompted plenty of launch week hype, and by the close of March Nintendo announced that over 3.5 million systems had already been sold following its arrival in North America (27th March) and Japan (26th February).

Its history in 2011 is relatively well known - after a strong launch interest beyond the core fanbase was worryingly low, with factors such as a high price and a lack of 'killer apps' playing their parts. A drastic price cut in Fall 2011 prompted Nintendo to compensate early adopters with 20 free retro games - 10 NES and 10 Game Boy Advance - but had the desired affect, along with key releases such as Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land and (in Japan) Monster Hunter 3 G. Momentum had swung and in 2012 and 2013, in particular, the system enjoyed substantial success around the world, helped along by the 2012 arrival of the 3DS XL. There was a dip in momentum in 2014 (by its own high standards) though there's now been a global release of the New Nintendo 3DS, the latest iteration with amiibo support, super-stable 3D and more.

The 3DS family has surpassed 50 million hardware sales, which is impressive in an era of smart devices and a generally tough market. It's been the saviour of Nintendo financially, but more importantly has brought us a fantastic library of games and proven that there's still a viable market for dedicated gaming portables. Within Nintendo Life HQ there's a lot of love for the system, and the case can be made that it stands with Nintendo's finest systems.

It's four years old today in Europe, but keep an eye on Nintendo Life later in the week for some articles to celebrate the portable family and its upcoming North American anniversary.