By Kyoko Hasegawa and Miwa Suzuki, AFP

TOKYO — Nintendo’s Switch console went on sale Friday in a global launch seen as key to the Japanese videogame giant reversing flagging sales and moving past the failure of its last console, the Wii U. The US$299 unit, which works both at home and on the go, blends the Super Mario maker’s history in the console and handheld device business with its fledgling mobile gaming strategy, which got a big brand win after Pokemon Go’s success last summer. Eager gamers queued up from early Friday morning at stores across Japan as Switch went on sale around 9 a.m. local time. Kyoto-based Nintendo is aiming to move about two million Switch consoles in its first month. Strong demand for the new unit would help Nintendo move on from poor sales of Wii U, released in 2012.

It marked a disappointing follow-up to the smash hit Wii, which sold over 100 million units worldwide after its launch a decade ago. Switch has a removable screen that lets players dock it at home and also use it on the go like a tablet with detachable controllers — called Joy-Con — on both sides. The idea is to give gamers a more immersive experience with realistic physical sensations matched to what is happening onscreen. A remote control feature means players can take their eyes away from the screen to face off. There are only eight games available for the system initially, including a Legend of Zelda offering. But there are scores more in the pipeline, Nintendo has said. ‘Immerse myself’ “I’ve been a Zelda fan for a long time so I really want to immerse myself in the universe as soon as possible,” office worker Yoko Kosuge told AFP. “I’ve used my day off to come buy it and I’ll try it as soon as I’m home.” Kosuge was among the 400-odd gamers queuing up at a major retailer in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district from early Friday morning. “This is the first time I’ve bought a Nintendo console,” said another eager gamer, 25-year-old Yuki Matsuzaki. “I purchased the PlayStation 4, but the appeal of this Nintendo unit is the action and storyline in the games.” An outlet of major electronics retailer Yodobashi Camera in Kawasaki near Tokyo said it has no extra stock to sell to customers who had not pre-ordered their units.