Supermarkets are gearing up for the UK launch of Sony’s new handheld games console.

The PlayStation Vita, which goes on sale in the UK on 22 February, has a front touchscreen and rear touchpad, dual analogue sticks, motion sensors and dual cameras. It will be available in two models - wi-fi (rsp: £229) and 3G (rsp: £279) - that will allow users to connect with others and access services such as Facebook and Twitter.

While the hardware has impressed industry observers, sales are reported to have fallen away sharply in the weeks after its launch in Japan on 17 December - although it has been reported that they are now picking up. Sony said the Vita had hit its two-week target of 500,000 unit sales.

The Vita was an excellent console, said Morrisons, but it admitted the economic climate was “far from ideal” for the launch. “We are not sensing much awareness of it with the gaming public,” said a spokesman.

One issue with the Japanese launch had been the lack of blockbuster titles, said Sainsbury’s senior games buyer Toby Burton. “Vita launched in Japan without a key Japanese franchise software title,” he said. However, this would not be an issue in the UK as launch titles include major franchises FIFA, F1 and Uncharted. “They have a strong Western feel and I would expect Vita to be more strongly perceived in Europe,” added Asda head of games Andrew Thompson.

Asda - which will open 200 stores at midnight for the launch - and Tesco have been selling the console at £10 off rsp. Sainsbury’s is giving shoppers 1,000 Nectar points with the Vita, while Morrisons is offering the wi-fi Vita for £250 with Fifa 12, a memory card, accessory pack and £25 of vouchers.