Hundreds of Japanese enthusiasts lined up to buy Nintendo’s new DSi portable game console this past Saturday at its Tokyo launch event, involving a host of stores in that city’s legendary Akihabara ‘electronics market’ district. The (US)$178 device actually sold out everywhere it was offered by noon.

The DSi is similar in many respects to its predecessor, the DS Lite, but sports a larger 3.25 in. diagonal screen and new photo editing capabilities.

The DSi hits the store shelves in Japan in plenty of time for the coming holiday season. But Nintendo President Satoru Iwata says it won’t be available in North America until next spring. By then, Iwata says, the DSi should be available in a range of designer colours as well the current black or white.

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