Nintendo hurries to get 3DS eShop online in time for E3

Nintendo's getting ready to release a system update for the 3DS that will, at long last, give users access to the eShop. It's expected to arrive just in time for Nintendo's E3 press conference.

Nintendo of America is on the cusp of releasing a major system update for its new 3DS console, and it's coming Monday, June 6, 2011, some time in the evening, Pacific Time. The update adds an Internet browser and access to the much-anticipated Nintendo eShop - a service that has been out of reach for 3DS owners since the new handheld was released in the U.S. in March.

To celebrate the release, Nintendo is giving 3DS users a free game - the classic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game Excitebike, remastered to support the 3D capabilities of the 3DS. Customers will have until July 7 to download the free game after installing the system update. A free Pokédex 3D application will be available for download, as well - helpful for fans of the Pokémon game franchise who want to view Pokémon in 3D with animated motion and sound. The Pokédex works in conjunction with Augmented Reality (AR) Markers that, when scanned with the 3DS' built-in cameras, enables users to view Pokémon images in a real-world setting.

Nintendo noted that upcoming "Virtual Console" content in the eShop includes Game Boy games like Super Mario Land, Alleyway and Radar Mission; Nintendo plans to refresh the eShop with new content each Thursday. Virtual Console games were developed for other systems like the Game Boy and Game Boy Color. Nintendo is also offering more than 350 DSiWare games through the eShop.

The timing for Nintendo coincides with the start of E3 Expo in Los Angeles, the annual video game trade show that serves as a major promotional event for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, as well as scores of other video game companies. Nintendo has timed the system update to happen before its own press event, which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 9:00 AM PT.

While the eShop update is sure to be mentioned at the Nintendo press event, more attention is expected to be given to "Project Café," the forthcoming, as-yet-unannounced replacement for Nintendo's Wii home video game console. Despite months of contradictory statements from high-ranking company executives who tried to downplay news of the project's existence, Nintendo finally confirmed the project in April, 2011. They said that the new console will be present at this year's E3, but won't actually be released until some time in 2012.

Earlier this week Nintendo announced a drop in the price of its DS Lite console to $99 - a price reduction of $30 which takes effect on Sunday, June 5th. The DS Lite, which plays newer DS cartridges and has a slot that provides backwards-compatibility with Game Boy Advance cartridges, is getting long in the tooth, having been in production now for five years. It's joined by the DSi, which currently retails for $150, and the 3DS, which costs $250.



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