Nintendo 3DS owners will from today be able to swap and collect a specific collection of virtual cards featuring some of their favourite characters when the free Virtual Card Album launches for Nintendo 3DS.

To kick off your collection simply visit the Nintendo eShop to get the free Card Pack, featuring the Album itself and 5 virtual cards. The collection will feature well known characters such as Mario and Sonic, to name a few, while further cards will be distributed regularly via SpotPass.

As in the day’s of collecting football stickers (back in the dark times before high res handheld consoles became widely available) it’s also possible amass multiples of the same cards – or “swaps” as we used to call them – so enabling you to trade with your friends in a frantic bid to collect them all.

Some cards are rarer than others and there are various ways to get the rarest cards for your collection beyond simply swapping them with your friends, for example, walk around with your 3DS in sleep mode and you’ll amass up to 10 coins a day which can then be used to purchase the cards the missing.

Similarly, some rare cards will become available by visiting designated locations and events which Nintendo will no doubt announce in the near future – just ensure that you have your Nintendo 3DS to hand when you’re on the move.