TOKYO - Nintendo (IW 1000/353) is hoping its new Wii U console will catapult it back to pole position in the video game sector, but analysts are divided on whether the Japanese gaming titan can reboot its fading glory.

Last month, Nintendo released the long-awaited follow-up to its hugely successful Wii in the lucrative U.S. market, selling an eye-popping 400,000 units in the first week alone as fans cleared store shelves.

At Amazon.com, Wii U consoles were being offered at opening prices hundreds of dollars above list prices of $300 for basic models and $350 for "deluxe sets."

The firm is shooting for a similar reception in its fiercely competitive home market, where the Wii U was released Saturday. Nintendo and rivals Sony (IW 1000/39) and Microsoft (IW 500/15), makers of the PlayStation and Xbox, are battling for control of a sector worth about $44 billion annually, according to industry figures.

"If we had made more consoles, we could have sold more," Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told Japan's Nikkei business daily, referring to brisk U.S. sales.

"It's important for us to keep the sales boom through next year."

But as the trio face tough economic conditions in their key U.S. and European markets, they are also fending off a challenge from cheap -- or sometimes free -- downloadable games for smartphones and tablets.

Daiwa Securities analyst Satoshi Tanaka is not convinced the Wii U will cement Nintendo's long-term momentum as millions turn to the likes of the wildly popular Angry Birds.

"Given the rapid progress in smartphones and gaming software for those kind of gadgets, the question remains: can Nintendo provide products tempting enough for people to pay for both hardware and software?" he said.