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Nintendo 3DS sells out in Japan

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Nintendo 3DS - Nintendo

Nintendo's latest handheld is a hit in its home country.

A big hit.

The Nintendo 3DS went on sale Saturday in Japan and has already virtually sold out throughout most the country, with more than 371,000 units reportedly purchased in the first two days. That puts the system on a faster sales track than the indomitable Nintendo DS, according to some calculations.

Famitsu, a Japanese consumer site, notes the company sold 441,000 DS units in the first four days of availability, which set a record for portable devices, says Gamasutra. If Nintendo can keep up with demand, the 3DS has a chance at topping that number.

That bodes well for the North American launch of the 3DS, which is set for March 27. Given the novelty of the system, which lets viewers play games in stereoscopic 3D without using any sort of special glasses, analysts have predicted the device will be just as popular during the U.S. launch as it was in Japan, with quick sellouts expected for the first several months of availability,

Ironically, the 3D game that topped the charts in Japan won't be part of the U.S. launch lineup. Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle sold 117,589 copies during the first two days of availability, but there are currently no plans to release the title in other territories at present. (North American gamers will get their own exclusive with the submarine game Steel Diver.)

The news wasn't all good for Nintendo, though. Within 24 hours of the 3DS's release, videos began to emerge showing the system had seemingly been partially hacked. Tech-savvy users have claimed to be able to play illegally obtained current DS games on a flashcard. Pirated 3D games, for now, are still unplayable on the system.

That's likely to frustrate the Kyoto-based company, which saw DS software sales plunge due to rampant piracy and took special efforts to eliminate the problem with this device.

The 3DS will launch in the U.S. for $250 with 18 games to choose from, including nintendogs + cats, Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars.

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