Nintendo 3DS price being slashed to $170

Nintendo's knocking a whopping $80 off the ticket price of a shiny new Nintendo 3DS, the company announced this morning. From August 12, the handheld will cost $169.99--only $20 more than its predecessor, the DSi. To placate early adopters, Nintendo's offering twenty free Virtual Console games to those who've bought a 3DS before the price drop.

"For anyone who was on the fence about buying a Nintendo 3DS, this is a huge motivation to buy now," Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said in the announcement. "We are giving shoppers every incentive to pick up a Nintendo 3DS, from an amazing new price to a rapid-fire succession of great games."

While Nintendo boasts that the 3DS has sold 830,000 units in the USA since its March 27 launch, it's still very much in the shadow of the cheaper DS family. Recent Nintendo 3DS hardware sales have been described by analysts as "light," though they've been expected to pick up once the games lineup improves. Nintendo drew attention to the fact that Star Fox 64 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Kid Icarus: Uprising are all due out this year. An $80 price cut should certainly help too.

As people who've already bought a 3DS probably didn't expect Nintendo to cut the price by a third after only four months, and might be a mite annoyed, heaps of free games are being offered to placate these early adopters.

You'll need to connect your 3DS to the Nintendo eShop before 11:59pm Eastern on August 11 to qualify, automatically enrolling you in the 'Nintendo 3DS Ambassador' program. This'll net you ten free NES Virtual Console games before they're available to the general public, and ten free GameBoy Advance VC titles Nintendo doesn't plan to release to the hoi polloi at all.

The NES freebies will arrive on September 1, and include Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, and The Legend of Zelda. Amongst the GBA offerings are Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong, due to be given to Ambassadors "by the end of 2011."

The Nintendo 3DS price will also drop in Europe and Japan, Nintendo has confirmed. The Japanese price is going from 25,000¥ to 15,000¥. Prices in Europe are ultimately dictated by retailers, but Nintendo of Europe says, "we look forward to consumers benefiting from much lower retail prices very soon."