First came Japan, then long queues in Britain. Now the US is bracing for the launch of Nintendo 3DS. The revolutionary, portable, 3D game player that doesn?t require 3D glasses has people lining up in anticipation.

Britain officially launched the Nintendo 3DS just days ago, enticing gamers with a free game and an in person appearance from Yoshinori Ono, a top game producer. Fans attracted by the promotional event were lined up at HMV on Oxford Street in London at midnight hoping to be one of the first to get their hands on the 3D-at-your-fingertips device. Games for the 3DS are hot off the griddle too.

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The mob scene itself is becoming a marketing tool of the consumer technology industry. Apple revels in the media coverage that results from the ?I gotta have it first? crowds. Launches of the latest iPhone or iPad draws throngs as if they were at a religious revival. No one wants to be left behind during the Rapture, nor during a new product launch.

The iWhatever fanatics have even been called Steve Jobs groupies. And the media isn?t far behind. Writers, bloggers, critics are almost forced to get in line to stay abreast of the latest news and to garner comments from consumers ready to drink the KoolAid.

Nintendo is encouraging their followers to march lock step with Apple junkies, and sellers are taking notice. The British HMV event saw other retailers jump on the bandwagon. Many UK stores also opened their doors at midnight on Thursday hoping to draw customers. Game, a British based video games retail company listed on the London Stock Exchange, sells games for all the popular consoles. Hoping to build a customer base for their games, each of their 482 stores in the UK gave away a free 3DS.

GameStop in the US plans to be open at 10pm Saturday, March 26 to celebrate the release. As of 12:01am, March 27, the Nintendo 3DS will be available. Check the website for participating stores. The company has already taken pre-orders, listing the device at $249.99 USD. If you go into a brick and mortar GameStop, they say you can trade your DSi XL and get $100 in-store credit toward the reservation of a 3DS or trade in your DSi and get $75, or trade in your DS lite and get $50.

If you aren?t driven by immediate gratification and are willing to take a chance, you could wait and win. If you attend a demo of the product and write a review, you could win one of 60 grand prize packages which include the Nintendo 3DS. They are also promising 250 first place prizes. Attending the demo is akin to a ?puppy dog sale?. For those hesitant buyers, once you get your hands on it, you won?t want to let go. Demos are scheduled for April 2nd at selected stores. GameStop?s Events site lets you enter your zip code to find a location.

So what?s all the excitement about? Three dimensional play in the palm of your hand. 3D on the Nintendo isn?t like that in the movie theater. Things don?t jump out at you. Instead, the screen no longer appears flat, it takes on depth. Characters seem to move about in space. You can control the depth of field, the 3D effect, by using the Depth Slider, for parents concerned about the effect of 3D on their children?s eyes.

The built-in motion sensor and gyro sensor lets you play sitting, lying down, or even standing on your head. The 2GB SD memory card (expandable to a larger 8GB+ SDHC) stores downloaded games, sound, and photos made by the Nintendo 3DS system. The photos taken will be in 3D, but can only be viewed as such on the device.

The new 3DS is backwards compatible with current DS and DSi games, although they will still be restricted to 2D display. Not to fear, 3D games are ready now for playing. Nintendo has their own games as well as many from third parties, such as Ubisoft?s Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D which plunges you into a prehistoric setting. Nintendo offers, among others, the aerial adventure game Pilotwings Resort and the virtual pets Nintendogs + Cats.

Capcom brings Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition to the table with new features. The Sims 3 and Madden NFL Football is ready from Electronic Arts as is Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D from Konami, Ridge Racer 3D from Namco Bandai and Super Monkey Ball 3D from Sega. Ono wants to bring Street Fighter X Tekken to the portable console also.

Best Buy, is holding midnight sales events at many of its stores. However, the big event starts at noon in New York City on Union Square where the store will prepare attendees for hopefully big midnight sales with live entertainment, refreshments, and a chance for players to test drive some games. Starting at 9pm and running to 2am the launch will feature an appearance by a Nintendo President, Reggie Fils-Aime and a Best Buy President, Michael Vitelli.

nd the beat goes on. Toys ?R Us is offering a buy one, get one half off deal to all customers who pick up Nintendo 3DS games this Sunday. The children?s store is also accepting hardware trade-ins, promising up to $75 on working Nintendo DS units. You might even be able to take part in a hands-on demo Sunday afternoon at some stores. Even Kmart offers $25 towards the purchase of one 3DS game if you buy a 3DS from them on Sunday.

Andrew McCormick, deputy editor of Marketing magazine, says: "The gaming industry’s marketing machine is actually an incredibly efficient one." The hype is probably justified. The New York Times says, ?In an age of technical wonders, Nintendo?s only competition in innovating personal electronics is Apple.?

See a video of the 3D game line up here.