The newly-released PlayStation Vita is being outsold by the handheld console that it is intended to replace, the seven-year-old PlayStation Portable.

After an impressive opening week in Japan at the end of 2011, sales of the PlayStation Vita have nosedived, falling from over 300,000 per week to just 42,600 during the first week of January.

These disappointing figures mean that the Vita ranked as the fourth most popular games console in Japan for the first week of 2012, some way behind the rival 3DS from Nintendo which sold almost 200,000 units in the same timeframe.

The PlayStation 3 was the second most popular console, with 67,000 sales and, embarrassingly, the PlayStation Portable (PSP), which the Vita is to replace, came third after selling 63,000 units.

Despite being the newest console on the market, the PS Vita accounted for just 10 percent of console sales for the first week of 2012 in Japan - currently the only country where the Vita sold.

The Vita went on sale in Japan on December 17 and sold 324,000 units in its first week; but this success was short-lived, as just 72,000 Vitas were sold in the second week, representing a 78 percent drop during the run up to Christmas when sales are expected to be at their highest.

As for game sales, Nintendo well and truly dominated with the recently-launched Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS. Mario topped the charts, selling 109,000 copies in the first week of 2012.

Impressively, 13 of the top 15 best-selling games at the start of 2012 all came from Nintendo, proving that the 3DS is still incredibly popular in Japan, despite seeing substantial price cuts in the UK.

The Vita goes on sale in the UK on February 22 priced at £229.99 for the Wi-Fi model and £279.99 for the Wi-Fi and 3G version.

All figures provided by GamesIndustry.biz