Nintendo 3DS release date - October?

UK trade sources tell CVG handheld is just six months away

Nintendo's 3DS will be released a full two months in advance of Christmas this year, CVG has been told.

UK industry sources have today informed us that the platform holder is readying an October launch for the system - which it will announce at E3.

That means it will go head-to-head with Microsoft's own great hardware hope this winter, Project Natal.

News of an October launch was a surprise for the execs we spoke to - as Nintendo had only previously announced that the handheld would hit shelves before March, 2011.

An October launch pre-dates that expiry date by a full six months - and gives Nintendo a three-month run-up to Christmas.

One very senior publishing source told CVG: "It's a surprise - we were expecting it much closer to Christmas. But I suppose it gives Nintendo the opportunity to get it front and centre in people's minds nice and early.

"In my experience, you don't launch a product that early to Christmas unless you're confident in it - and going to spend a lot of money on it. We're reassured that Nintendo is going to give it some decent backing in Q4."

The 3DS allows gamers to enjoy software with 3D effects without the need for any special glasses - but will also play regular DS titles.

Professor Layton developer Level 5 is reportedly creating a custom 3D game for the system.

Nintendo describes it as 'the new portable game machine to succeed [the] Nintendo DS series'. Take from that what you will.

CVG asked Cambridge University 3D experts how the device might work earlier this year.

We haven't yet got hold of a specific launch date - but Sunday, October 10 (10/10/10) is surely a front runner.

Nintendo told CVG today's story was merely "rumour and speculation". We get that a lot.