Nintendo's long-awaited GameCube console went on sale in Japan today, with massive queues of eager gamers lining up throughout Tokyo.

The GameCube will have a tough ride ahead to achieve pole position in the game console war, facing tough competition from Sony's PS2 and Microsoft's much-hyped Xbox console, due out next year.

Nintendo said it had supplied 500,000 of the consoles — which are on sale for 25,000 Yen (about £143) — to Japan, and a large number of these had already been reserved by preorders.

There are currently only two games available for the new 128bit console, which is twice as powerful as the old Nintendo 64, but this didn't deter buyers.

"We understand the console has been selling well and we hope it will receive the same response when it's available in the UK," said a spokesman for the company.

The GameCube will be available in the US from November and is not expected in Europe until early next year.