Despite a shaky start, Nintendo’s latest handheld has done very well for itself.

How well? According to a Nintendo press release celebrating the machine’s upcoming first birthday, the company has sold 4.5 million 3DS units in America so far, a pretty impressive number given that the original DS had only moved 2.3 million units at the same point in its lifespan.

That figure makes for a nice bullet point, but this official email is really more about trumpeting the overall success of the device. Along with a simple numerical explanation for the 3DS’ success — whereas the DS had 58 games available after its first year, the 3DS has “100+” (parentheses added because there’s no telling what Nintendo considers a “game” on a handheld that can play Netflix movies and send rudimentary picture messages) — the company also offers a not terribly brief rundown of the 3DS’ history to date:

March 27, 2011: Nintendo 3DS ushers in a new era of gaming with glasses-free 3D. Launch-day sales are the strongest in Nintendo’s history.

June 2011: The Nintendo eShop launches, letting users preview, try and buy new and classic games, download applications and watch 3D movie trailers.

June 2011: Link makes his first appearance in 3D with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, which is still the best-reviewed game for Nintendo 3DS.

Summer 2011: Nintendo 3DS adds two video services:
Netflix unlimited streaming members can instantly watch thousands of TV episodes and movies.
Nintendo Video automatically delivers hand-picked 3D content from leading sites and artists.

October 2011: After only eight months, Nintendo 3DS surpasses first-year sales of Nintendo DS, the best-selling video game system in history.

Fall 2011: Mario jumps into 3D with two new games, each becoming the fastest-selling titles in their franchises’ history:
Nov. 13, 2011: Super Mario 3D Land – 1.75 million copies sold to date
Dec. 4, 2011: Mario Kart 7 – 1.45 million copies sold to date

December 2011: Users can now record up to 10 minutes of 3D video and stop-motion animation.

December 2011: Nintendo 3DS crosses 4 million units sold, passing the record pace set by the Wii.

Feb. 22, 2012: Dillon’s Rolling Western launches for the Nintendo eShop, joining hot titles Pushmo and Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive!

March 23, 2012: Nintendo 3DS closes its first year with the launch of Kid Icarus: Uprising, the first original entrant in the series in more than 20 years.

So, y’know, yay for Nintendo. The company isn’t in any danger of collapsing and the 3DS won’t be going the way of the Wonderswan any time soon.

And thus concludes my contractually mandated regurgitation of subtly massaged corporate talking points. You may now resume your inherent wariness of men in dark suits.

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