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New 3DS Suffering 'Black Screen of Death'

Nintendo's new 3DS handheld gaming system has finally landed here in the States, officially launched as of 12am Sunday morning (or to some, early Saturday evening). But just hours after its release, reports began to surface that the portable console is suffering what's called the "Black Screen of Death."

According to reports, the problem isn't related to specific games, but rather happens at any time no matter what's inserted or not inserted: when playing online, when accessing the menu system, playing a game offline, etc. Once the device crashes, both screens go black and a message in white appears in the bottom window, telling the user that an error has occurred.

"Hold down the POWER Button to turn off the power," the message reads," then turn it on and try again. If the problem persists, please contact your customer support center. For contact details, check the Operations Manual or visit support.nintendo.com."

Reports have indicated that this simple hard reboot works just fine, allowing the user back into the system without additional problems. Other customers have reported that the message loops or happens repeatedly, thus forcing them to return the 3DS to the retailer in exchange for a new unit.

Currently the percentage of affected "Black Screen of Death" users is unknown, and at the time of this writing, Nintendo has not provided any information on the issue.

For those who are currently suffering the hardware problem and haven't returned the device due to a possible lack of replacement stock, retailers are reporting surprisingly lackluster sales. While consumer demand has been "very strong" in regards to pre-orders, the 3DS is not flying off store shelves as expected, with plenty of stock still residing behind the counter as of Monday morning. It's possible the $249 pricetag may be too steep, that retailers overstocked in eager anticipation, or that the DS/DSi is still a highly-popular, satisfying product.

Of course, major retailers like Best Buy and GameStop may see a less-than-stellar demand at launch simply due to the number of brick-and-mortar stores actually selling the device. Over in the UK, oil giant BP is reportedly selling the Nintendo 3DS in around 100 of its service stations for a recommended retail price of £229.99. The stores are also stocking Nintendo 3DS games.

As for here in the States, we haven't heard any reports of non-traditional outlets offering the new handheld. Guess we'll go inside and check the next time we need to dump our life savings into a tank of BP gas.