According to 3DSBuzz, photos of the ill-gotten gadget first appeared on a Chinese gaming forum earlier this week and were quickly taken down, though not before being saved and reposted online. In the days that followed, a virtual torrent of photos showing off nearly every aspect of the handheld's design have appeared, along with a video walkthrough. Check out the leaked images in the gallery below.
The photos deliver little new information, with the apparently final design nearly identical to that shown off by Nintendo in September last year, though 3DSBuzz notes that the home, start and select buttons now appear to be flush with the handheld's screen, rather than raised as in the September design. Shots also show the 3DS will pack a 1300 mAh battery and 96MB of RAM, with both specs higher than any previous Nintendo DS handheld.
Despite the bigger battery, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has said that ''it is inevitable that Nintendo 3DS will be a device which requires more frequent recharging than Nintendo DS.''
The high-quality of the photos - and the number of them - have led some to suggest a deliberate leak by Nintendo aimed at drumming up hype ahead of a February launch in Japan. The 3DS is due to launch in Europe, Australia and the United States in March, and will cost 25,000 Yen (US$304) in Japan, with no pricing yet available for other markets.
The handheld will use a process called autostereoscopy technology to produce 3D effects without the need for special glasses, though in an odd twist, Nintendo have warned that children under the age of six should avoid using the 3DS for fear it could damage their eyesight. The 3DS will be compatible with all Nintendo DS games.