As with most families with pre-teens these days, we’ve got those moments when I need something new and cool to keep my boys entertained: that very important phone call, the long wait in the doctor’s office, the never-ending road trip. You know, those times when, “Honey, why don’t you read a book?” falls flat.

Well, I just had the opportunity to test drive the brand new Nintendo 3DS, the newest and possibly most riveting of all mobile gaming devices. Let’s just say not only will your kids be riveted, so will you.

The 3D in 3DS stands for…you guessed it. 3D. As in, holy cow this is totally in 3D!

The built-in AR Games really put you in the middle of the action, all thanks to on-board cameras, plus an accelerometer and a gyroscope which, work together to produce jumping-out-at-you effects that are spot-on. No glasses required.

Seriously, the effects are just amazing and there’s no way the 2D photos here do them justice.

Nintendo 3DS AR Game

In Nintendogs + Cats (I know, ridiculous) you can pet and interact with the animals that really seem to leap up and lick your face. Or exercise your inner Amelia Earhart and fly gliders over multi-dimensional landscapes in Pilotwings Resort. I realize those aren’t exactly the kinds of titles that gamers are clamoring for, but they are definitely fun for starters.

Personally, I preferred the games with larger 3D graphics to the 3D sports games with with teams of tiny moving players on the smallish 3.53″ screen (although it is high-res which helps). But I know my son’s die-hard sports fan friend can’t stop talking about the 3DS Madden NFL game in 3D. Besides the games, your kids can stay busy with the 3DS taking and morphing 3D photos, and creating their own avatars with the Mii Maker (adopted from the Wii console). The SD card slot allows you to store the 3D pictures and even transfer MP3 songs to the impressive Nintendo 3DS sound system. Manipulating the controls is very intuitive and I didn’t find it tough at all.

Have your kids already put their hard-earned allowance in games for older DS models? No worries. As a parent I love that the 3DS is also backwards compatible to older games with an easy switch using the 2D to 3D toggle. Much appreciated for those of us who can’t stand when every new technology that comes out isn’t compatible with the (big, very big) investments we’ve already made. –Beth

Nintendo 3DS is currently available for preorder from our affiliate Amazon, and other retailers. It starts shipping March 27 for $249.99.