Now this is how you turn a system’s fortunes around.! Nintendo has announced a substantial price drop for its struggling 3DS, in addition to release dates for all of the system’s most anticipated releases, new platforms coming to the Virtual Console, and a customer rewards program so extensive, so voluminous, that it will likely never be equalled. This, friends, is playing with power.

Effective August 12, the new suggested retail price for the Nintendo 3DS will be $169.99 – an $80 dollar drop for a system that has only been on North American store shelves for four months, and one that broke some opening day sales records.

Sensitive to the — how shall we put this — lack of enthusiasm with which the majority of current 3DS owners would likely receive this news, Nintendo has gone all-in to reward early adopters (Nintendo refers to them as Ambassadors) with twenty free downloadable games. It bares repeating. Nintendo is giving every current 3DS owner twenty free games. And you thought the PSN Welcome Back plan was cool!

The rewards will be rolled out in two stages, and will be available to any 3DS owner who has connected to the Nintendo eShop “at least once before 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Aug. 11.” The first rewards hit September 1, and though not all the games have been revealed, those that have are among the most iconic, influential games in Nintendo’s history:

  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Balloon Fight
  • Ice Climber
  • The Legend of Zelda

Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES, for the cool kids) games are indeed coming to the Virtual Console, and in a big way. All of the first ten games are slated to come from the NES cannon, and will be available as paid downloads for everyone else later this year. Nintendo notes that “updated versions” will be free to reward recipients once they are published on the eShop, suggesting that some (all?) of them are in line for the 3D Classics treatment.

The second batch of free goodness is dedicated to Game Boy Advance titles, and these will apparently remain exclusive to Ambassadors. Check out the titles that have been announced so far:

  • Yoshi’s Island
  • Super Mario Advance 3
  • Mario Kart Super Circuit
  • Metroid Fusion
  • WarioWare Inc.:Mega Microgame$
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong

Kid Icarus Uprising

Finally, every single first-party 3DS game has been given a release date. Well, release month at least. Okay, season in one case. Take a look:

  • Super Mario 3D Land – November
  • Mario Kart 7 – December
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising – Holiday Season

“For anyone who was on the fence about buying a Nintendo 3DS, this is a huge motivation to buy now. 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.”

So says the man himself, Reggie Fils-Aime, and frankly, it’s a hard point to argue. The $170 price tag is a significant blow to the as yet unreleased PlayStation Vita, which will launch at $250, $300 for the 3G enabled version. The free games and dates for previously announced titles, meanwhile, succinctly address critics of the 3DS’ software line-up.

This may well be the first time customers rush out to buy a piece of hardware before its price drops. The free games — particularly the otherwise unavailable GBA titles — are an enormously motivating factor, and show an uncharacteristically aggressive Nintendo leveraging its unmatched catalog in a new and welcome manner. With roughly two weeks remaining until the price drop, interested gamers had better get a move on if they hope to take advantage of the offer.

3DS owners, what do you think of the Ambassador rewards? What NES games do you hope will be among the unannounced titles?

Non-3DS owners, what do you think of the price drop? Is it enough to convince you to buy the system?

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Source: Nintendo