Portable gaming fans have just three days to wait until the Nintendo 3DS goes on sale in the UK, flinging glasses-free 3D tech into the eyes of the nation, like a deranged chimp hurling something unsavoury at zoo visitors. But like any new gadget, the 3DS is bound to be expensive. Read our roundup of the best deals to avoid being ripped off.
It seems as though the major retailers have settled on prices somewhere between £187 and £197 for the 3DS console itself, but there are different bundles and offers to be had if you're willing to shop around. We've cruised the Web and hoovered up a bunch of different deals for your delectation. If you've spotted anything better, drop us a note in the comments and we'll be sure to check it out.
Gramophone-sniffing dog-sporter HMV is offering the 3DS console in either blue or black for £197, with free UK delivery when you pre-order online.
But any old schmuck can acquire a games console -- HMV's doing some rather intriguing games bundles too. You can have the 3DS plus Splinter Cell 3D, Rayman 3D or Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon for £210. That's a fair deal, and pretty typical from what we've seen, but it doesn't look like any other games are available in bundles, so if you're after some adorable Nintendogs + Cats or exciting Street Fighter 4 action, look elsewhere.
Reasonable deals for sure, and we'd hardly call these prices a rip-off. But they're pretty bog-standard, and it's a shame there aren't more exciting games included in the bundle deals.
GAME will flog you the 3DS for £197 with free UK delivery, but it's also doing a rather odd taster scheme, that lets you bag a 3DS for a month for only £7.
Here's how it works. Buy the 3DS online for the full £197, and keep hold of your dispatch receipt. You can then take the 3DS back to a GAME store before 25 April and swap it for either £190 in-store credit, or £180 in cash, provided you haven't knackered the console by dropping it down the toilet or anything.
Essentially you're renting the console from GAME for a month. We suspect the idea is it'll distribute GAME's spread of 3DS consoles more evenly among their high-street and online stores. And of course, GAME is counting on loads of people who opt into the scheme falling so deeply in love with their 3DS they can't bear to return it.
You can of course return a 3DS to GAME for the full amount if you don't like it, however. Our best attempt at decoding GAME's Terms and Conditions page tells us you've only got 14 days after it's delivered to sort this out. So £17 for an extra two weeks' play? Not much of a deal, if you ask us.
GAME's also pushing other trade-in offers. Check this page for the full details, but you can bag a 3DS for £115 if you've got a Nintendo DSi XL to trade in, for example. Not all the deals are that great though -- if you've got a white Nintendo Wii to trade, the 3D handheld will still set you back £178, saving you only 20 quid. Rubbish.
Wait, ASDA? Yeah, that's right: ASDA has some of the best 3DS bargains around! As well as grabbing a few cut-price groceries, the big green bum-slapping supermarket will happily ship you a shiny new 3DS for the sum of £187.
ASDA is also selling the desirable Nintendogs + Cats bundled with the 3DS for £215, or a bundle that packs a console and Street Fighter 4 for the same amount. That's not too much of a saving when the games are on sale for a shade under £30, but it's still a pretty good way to grab those titles if you're keen on them. Good stuff, ASDA!
Crafty old Amazon, eh? First it starts the online shopping revolution, then it hits us with some stonking 3DS deals.
You can have the console for £187, the same price ASDA is shilling it for. But Amazon's also doing an interesting bundle deal that gets you a free screen protector (worth roughly a fiver) and a selected game for £15. Note that Street Fighter 4 and the fur-filled Nintendogs + Cats aren't included in those selected games.
You can also bag a case for your 3DS in the same bundle for £5, which is pretty decent. If you're looking to buy a case at the same time as a 3DS console, we reckon this is a good deal.
Play loses points for having thoroughly boring 3DS deals. The console can be yours for £197, and you can bundle it with a few games (but no Nintendogs, no Street Fighter) for £210. And that's about it. Le sigh.
Tesco's doing an interesting deal, though sadly it won't save you very much cash. The 3DS console is on sale for £197 (noticing a theme?) but if you pre-order the 3DS itself, Tesco will email you a voucher that lets you buy a 3DS game for £10. That's a total of £207, which smells like a good deal to us.
And the best deal is...
All in all, we reckon Amazon has the best deal in terms of cash-money savings, and the opportunity to nab a free screen protector and a cheap case is worth exploiting.
Few retailers are bundling the coolest launch titles with the console, however -- perhaps they're hoping unwitting parents will buy these bundles for their kids, who then kick up a fuss about not having the games they wanted. ASDA earns kudos for bundling some of the more exciting games, and for selling the 3DS itself for a reasonable £187.
We're always on the prowl for a deal, so if you've spotted the 3DS going cheap, drop us a note in the comments and we'll investigate. And in the meantime, why not check out our in-depth 3DS review?