By Jonti Davies
Nintendoís decision not to include Wii Sports as a pack-in title with the Japanese SKU has turned out to be another commercial masterstroke by the company. Since going on sale last December, Wii Sports has been picked up by more than one million Japanese players (to be precise: 1,165,674 players, at the latest count) while 1,002,628 units of Wii Play have also been sold during that period. Both games remain high inside the Top Ten of the Japanese weekly sales chart, indicating they may have a shelf life similar to Nintendo's multi-million-selling Ďcasualí (read: accessible) DS games. (See Brain Training, Animal Crossing, English Training, and Nintendogs.)
The question is, what will be the third million-selling Wii game in Japan? Twilight Princess was a dud here, as expected, and I seriously think that Animal Crossing Wii will outsell even Super Mario Galaxy.
The Japanese market has changed in recent years. Itís all about Nintendo now, but NCLís most powerful IP is not the same as those it relied on in previous generations. Anyway, change is a Good Thing. And itís helping to build Nintendoís mountain of cash even higher Ė the summit is probably somewhere you could suffer from altitude sickness.
Itís still very difficult to buy a DS Lite or Wii here in Japan. Iíve never seen a second-hand Wii for sale in Kyoto, and only very rarely do shops here have used DS Lites in stock. But my local branch of Midori Denki (the Japanese equivalent of Comet) had eight used PS3s (of both 20GB and 60GB varieties) for sale yesterdayÖ
In terms of new games, Iíve spent most of the past week playing Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village. Itís not by Nintendo Ė we have Level-5 to thank for this one Ė but Layton is a typical example of the kind of DS game that will sell and sell in Japan: itís a gorgeously animated adventure, with puzzles that were designed with the help of a noted psychologist/author (someone called Akira Toga).
The psychologistís books are bestsellers, and the Professor Layton character is voiced by a famous Japanese actor/comedian called Yo Oizumi. Result: all sorts of people are interested in the game and Ė with more than 266,000 units sold in its first three weeks on sale Ė itís fair to say that all sorts of people are buying it.