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Yoshi-themed 3DS on the way

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(Credit: Nintendo)

With the year of Luigi drawing to a close, is Nintendo's favorite dinosaur about to get his time in the spotlight?

Nintendo has announced a Yoshi-themed 3DS will go on sale March 14 - in conjunction with Yoshi's New Island, the first Yoshi-themed title from the company in eight years.

The game won't be bundled with the $200 system, but fans will get a green 3DS with Yoshi's image on the front, as well as a series of Yoshi eggs on the back.

Yoshi's New Island is a direct sequel to Yoshi's Island DS - which was a 2006 sequel to 1995's Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. (Clearly, this is a series Nintendo does not want to hurry along too much.)

As with the previous games, Baby Mario, Baby Luigi and Baby Bowser play a role, but it's the green dino who does most of the work, laying and throwing eggs to defeat enemies. Yoshi can also transform into a helicopter, a submarine, a bobsled and a hot air balloon in the game.

If it seems like Nintendo is pretty quick to pull the 'special edition' trigger when it comes to its flagship handheld device, that's not your imagination. To date there have been 58 different designs of the 3DS.

Among the other games that have garnered their own 3DS are Nintendogs and Cats, The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Monster Hunter and Animal Crossing. Some series, like Pokemon, have received several special edition 3DS designs.

(And yes, even Luigi got his own, which hit stores last April.)

Having an ever-rotating line of 3DS designs does help keep interest in hardware sales alive, though. In January, the company announced that life-to-date sales of the 3DS and 2DS have topped 11.5 million in the U.S. More impressively – and likely more importantly – the owners of those systems are buying a healthy number of games. 3DS software sales in 2013 (again, for the U.S. alone) topped 16 million. That was a 45% improvement over 2012, according to Nintendo.

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