Sony Corp. this week launched the Playstation Vita handheld hardware to U.S. retail.

In addition, the handheld launched simultaneously in Europe, Canada and Latin America.

The U.S. launch follows the launch of the PS Vita First Edition launch bundle, which shipped one week early.

The PS Vita is sold in a Wi-Fi SKU at $249.99 and a 3G SKU at $299.99.

The PS Vita includes dual analog sticks, a 5-inch multi-touch OLED display, 3G & GPS, front and rear touch panels, and a compass on three axes. It utilizes flash-memory game cards.

First-party launch titles include Escape Plan, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, Little Deviants, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2048.

Key third-party launch titles include EA Inc.’s EA Sports FIFA Soccer, Ubisoft Inc.’s Lumines Electronic Symphony, Namco Bandai Games America Inc.’s Touch My Katamari, Capcom Co.’s Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Sega Corp.’s Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition.

Sony in Dec. began holding Vita Hill Social Club events in nationwide locations to allow consumers to test the hardware and launch software titles.

The company launched the PS Vita handheld in Japan Dec. 17. It has held lower-than-expected sales in the region against Nintendo Co.’s Nintendo 3DS, which has held strong demand following a price cut in the fall.

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