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Catherine. Last February I tried to figure out the reason why Catherine had been so successful in Japan, the first Atlus HD title, far from the role-playing game genre thanks to which the company has built a solid reputation throughout the years. Last numbers from Japan say that the game went to sell 186.086 units on PS3 and 21.571 on 360, even if the latter are just data of the first week. Anyway, as expected, Catherine sold almost the entire LTD in the first period, because of its otaku-oriented nature (this target typically buys on day one). Time had passed soon and the game made its debut in North America reaching an important goal: it’s been Atlus USA biggest launch title ever, as IGN reported some days ago, surpassing the opening of titles as Demon’s Souls (150.000 copies during the first month), Trauma Center: Under the Knife and Trauma Center: Second Opinion (225.000 units sold for both as of January 2009) and Persona 4 (125.000 units sold in its first two months). Apparently, the weird puzzle-game featuring mature relationship with a hot chick who likes eating pizza has sold 200.000 copies in the first 7 days. To retailers, obviously. We’ll have the chance to see in the next NPD data how this number is effective. Sex sells, who knew?

The Idolm@ster 2. The raising simulation game developed by Namco Bandai was released on February 24, 2011 exclusively on 360, even if a PS3 porting has been announced to be on the way, coming in October (so I’ll have another chance to talk about the series). I put my sales expectations within the 50-100.000 range, since the brand had grown a lot and preorders were quite good at the time. Well, I was totally wrong: the idol game failed to surprise and debuted with just 34.621 copies in the Media Creat chart, slipping outside the top 30 the week after and then disappearing forever. It doesn’t appear in the top 100 of the first half of 2011 so it’s quite impossible it has topped the 100.000 mark. I’m sure that The Idolm@ster 2 will find more success on PS3, but I do still think that a PSP version could save the boat better…

Ni no Kuni. Level-5 x Studio Ghibli awesome goddess continued to sell quite well after the the 4th week which I reported along with the LTD until that time. Its last appearance in Media Create chart dates back to the end of March, weird for a role-playing game, even if a lot of price discounts were applied by retailers. Famitsu has recently reported that Ni no Kuni ends to sell 550.158 copies as of June 2011, close to the initial shipment of 600.000 units. Hence, it’s possible that the game has reached this mark so far. By the way, shops have been more reluctant to ask huge shipments from Level-5 when it came to big packages: Little Battlers Xperience, a new thin-mech jRPG targeted to a young audience released with a robot model, suffered shortages during the first weeks, but now it seems the demand has been matched and the game is on the way to reach the 300.000 copies sold. Good game Level-5!

999. I smelt the success of this very niche point-and-click adventure game in the United States more than 7 months ago, and recently Aksys confirmed my feeling. First, it had been almost impossible to find the Chunsoft title immediately after the release, so its price peaked absurd levels on Amazon and other websites, then the publisher overseas stated comforting fans who were worrying about it:

Haha, no, not discontinued, just sold out. We should be receiving our re-order any day now and retailers, such as Amazon, should receive their replenished copies sometime next week, if everything goes according to plan ;) Our online store will be restocked as well, so we’ll be offering the 999 bundle (game + watch) again on it :)

This clearly proves a good of performance of such a great game, praised by the critics and loved by videogamers.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Professional. Square Enix failed again to provide a fair shipment for one of its most important 2011  game (about which I was able to figure out a likely LTD), as what exactly happened with the first episode of this series on DS. Professional is just an expansion of the Joker 2, therefore the company didn’t believe in a great performance but the younger audience of the console has been happy to prove again the strength of own team of monsters, and the game went to sell almost 500.000 copies (again, Famitsu data of the first half of 2011, even if Media Create has the game at more than 550.000 copies as of the last track) starting from roughly 150.000 copies in the first week, and beahving particularly well during the Golden Week, even if some sold-outs were reported in April. The last effort of Square Enix on DS exceeds all expectations, now let’s how Rocket Slime 3 will perform on 3DS this Winter.

Level-5 has grown a lot in the course of the last 3 years; it had created a series which was able to sell million of units all around the world (Professor Layton); another series has recently reach the million mark exclusively in Japan (Inazuma Eleven); its collaboration with Sony has carried on with the development of a new IP, White Knight Chronicles, out on PS3 and soon on PSP; moreover, it was behind the best selling Dragon Quest ever, the ninth chapter and it’s preparing a lot of title for 2011 among which a ton of games for 3DS (Time Travelers, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright).

Some weeks ago, one of its most promising game has been out in Japan: Ni no Kuni (i.e. 二ノ国 which means “Second Land” and it can be expressed as “Another World”) is a jRPG for DS with the artistic direction assigned to Studio Ghibli that will be followed by another version in 2011 for PS3.
Cutting to the chase, Level-5 has shipped 600.000 copies of the game but it seems it’s not performing so well: in fact its price has decreased almost everywhere which is not a good sign at all. The game will almost surely arrive at least in North America: Akihiro Hino hinted something during the GDC  in 2009, where the game had been shown.

Here are Ni no Kuni sales in the first weeks (Media Create data: 1, 2, 3):
1st week:   170.548 (December 6-12)
2nd week: 74.329 (December 13-19)
3rd week:  84.115 (December 20-26)
4th week:  53.295 (December 27 – January 2)
Total sales are 382.287, which is roughly the 63,7% of the initial shipment.
Ni no Kuni debut is very good considering the fact that it’s a new IP; it’s one of the best start for a new-brand jRPG, only behind the first White Knight Chronicles debut (203.033 copies, Famitsu data). It also showed unusual legs for the genre, surely thanks of Christmas holidays.
I do hope the game will continue to sell well, but I wonder if it can reach the first stock ordered by retailers. Actually, it’s not an impossible goal but the time needed to arrive might be dangerous for future Level-5 games.

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