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Nintendo 3DS sneaks out as fans queue for iPad 2

With all eyes on today's launch of the iPad 2, another handheld device has slipped out almost unnoticed by the hundreds queuing round the block for Apple's 'must-have' tablet.

Nintendo's 3DS handheld games console was unleashed on the UK public at midnight last night, with the headline bash at HMV's Oxford Circus store in London featuring a live performance from falsetto-crooning rap star Plan B.

In all, 1,200 stores around the country opened at midnight for the launch.

James Honeywell, marketing manager of Nintendo UK said: "This is our biggest ever launch - this is much bigger than anything else that's out there."

"Nintendo's taken the store over, we've got red carpet, spotlights, a massive queue of people. It's really wild out here," Maxime Savard, an employee at HMV Oxford Circus burbled.

The handheld console is the first to offer gamers glasses-free 3D - a unique selling point that Nintendo hopes will hold off the threat of Sony's PSP2, due for launch in time for Christmas 2011.

The 3DS is currently available online from a number of outlets for under £200. But at the HMV Oxford Circus launch last night, James Honeywell warned gaming website Eurogamer that such deals won't last:

"The only thing I would suggest to any readers is, don't wait," said Honeywell. "I'm not sure a lot of those offers will be there for the long term."

The full list of Nintendo 3DS titles available at launch is:

Pilotwings Resort, nintendogs + cats, Super Street Fighter IV, The Sims 3, PES 2011, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, Ridge Racer, Super Monkey Ball, Samurai Warriors: Chronicles, Asphalt, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, Steel Diver, Madden NFL Football, Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs, Bust-a-Move Universe