Pressing buttons and wiggling joysticks could become a thing of the past with Nintendo’s new game console – which lets you stroke, poke, rub and even talk to it.

Nintendo launched its hand-held DS (dual-screen) console in Europe on Friday.

Stores around Britain opened at midnight to cater for hordes of video-game fans eager to get their hands on the new machine.

The DS retails at £99 and has a flip-top design with a microphone and a pair of displays, one of which is touch-sensitive.

The unit also contains wireless technology that allows up to 16 players in close proximity to compete against each other, as well as letting them send text and picture messages to each other.

With this innovative approach, the company hopes to woo customers looking for something different.

“This is the biggest push we’ve ever put behind any of our handheld variants,” said James Honeywell, the Nintendo product manager for handheld consoles. “Pre-orders are really, really good, about 50,000 in the UK.

“That means we’ll easily sell 80 to 100,000 units over the first weekend.”

He continued: “Obviously we’d done extensive consumer research before releasing the DS.

“Once you actually get your hands on it, you realise what it means.

“When you tell people there are games where you have to blow on the screen, they don’t believe you.”

The DS is the latest successor to Nintendo’s phenomenally successful Game Boy range, which has sold more than 170 million units worldwide since its launch in 1989.

The touch-screen console has already racked up good sales in Japan and the United States, shifting more than 2m units in the first three weeks of release.

The company is expecting high levels of interest in Europe, with 650,000 consoles available for distribution across the continent.

More here.