Nintendo’s revamped dual-screen handheld may make its way to the U.S. sooner than expected.

Japanese gamers are already enjoying the new photo-snapping, music playing, and game downloading capabilities of the just-released Nintendo DSi, while overseas consumers must wait until next year. However, recent statements from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata suggest U.S. consumers may have the cool, multi-purpose gaming device in hand by next summer.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo about the DSi’s eventual overseas release, Iwata said Friday, “Specific plans will be unveiled by our local subsidiaries, but an autumn or year-end launch would probably be too late.” His comment implies a more clearly defined launch window for the DSi, rather than the vague 2009 release Nintendo previously mentioned. Also, U.S. gamers better hold off on importing a Japanese region DSi until the local launch, since DSi-specific software is region locked.

The DSi went on sale in Japan on Nov. 1 for the equivalent of $192 USD. An initial shipment of 200,000 units was available for the launch, and an additional 100,000 units are expected to ship this week. Solid pricing and a date for the North American release of the DSi haven’t been pinned down yet, but Iwata’s condensed timeframe spells out good news for U.S. gamers itching to get their hands on the new model.

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