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As is common knowledge, creativeness has not recently been Square Enix strong point; the abuse of its most popular brands has been quite aggressive while the efforts to develop something more fresh seems to be sadly inconclusive. So where did a flash of genius as The World Ends With You come from?
This wonderful game (no surprise the original name is すばらしきこのせかい, i.e. It’s a Wonderful World) was the first attempt of Kingdom Hearts team on the DS, and the desire to exploit every features of the console seems to be the common denominator which had supported the works of the creative unit, consisting of Tetsuya Nomura among others. The brilliant gameplay is just one of the characteristics that makes The World Ends With You innovative and memorable: the soundtrack is a great piece of art (buy it on iTunes!), while the scenario combines real locations with manga-style characters drawing its inspiration from metropolitan trends and underground culture.
By the way, without breaking any record, the game has been very well received by the video gamers all around the world; considering its niche nature and some supply problems in Europe, The World Ends With You went to sold at least 400.000 copies worldwide:
Japan: 192.955 (Famitsu data)
North America: 140.000 (as of September 30, 2008, Square Enix financial reports); 172.000 (as of January, 2009, NPD data)
Europe: 20.000 (as of September 30, 2008, Square Enix financial reports)
The poor result in PAL countries suggests a wrong strategy in promoting and distributing the game; the unoccured translation in other languages than the English, the low advertising and the little by little distribution had strongly affected The World Ends With You but a small and faithful group of fans supported this new IP by creating a lively community and keeping the interest up throughout the years. Considered a cult game by the critics, the waiting for a still not announced sequel is fitful; I’m sure the sales of The World Ends With You had been satisfying even though it deserved a lot more attention and the interesting battle mechanism tailored on the dual screen may be further exploited by Square Enix in some way in the future.
Nintendo financial results for the past 9 months have just been out and some interesting data are in. For me the most important number is the million mark reached by Dragon Quest IX in North America and Europe combined (1,02 million copies to be precise).
Few people betted such a great success for this game outside Japan (where it’s around 4,3 million units sold as Square Enix reported recently), because of the change of platform typology, the strange (to not say casual-oriented) userbase of the Nintendo DS, the assumed decline of the entire genre (even though I think the opposite for this deal), the piracy and so on.
Hence the game has gone to sell over 5,3 million copies worldwide, becoming the second best entry in Dragon Quest series in terms of sales in the West. The VIII chapter sold a lot more in foreign countries: 6,88 million units worldwide are reported on the Level-5 site; an odd number as a matter of fact, taking as granted the 433.000 units from the North American release and the approximately 3,6 million units sold in Japan (Famitsu data). Probably, they are referring to distributed copies, and they’ve added all the further versions came out in Japan like the one in the Ultimate Hits series.
For more information on Dragon Quest IX sales, check the article “Thanks Nintendo: Dragon Quest VI is coming!” on this blog!
It tooks more than one year (383 days to be precise) but finally one of the best episode in the acclaimed Yuji Horii’s series is arriving in the West! Dragon Quest VI, renamed Realms of Revelation for the occasion, will be out on February 14th, 2011 in North America, making the month very busy for the american jRPG fans (Tactics Ogre and Y’s I&II for PSP are coming just the day after).
Actually, the big news is not the arrival of the game itself (which was roughly announced by Square-Enix two years ago when the remakes were presented in a row for DS) but the publisher, that is Nintendo, as the press release on its website has announced.
This seems to strengthen the relationship between Nintendo and Square Enix after the successful Dragon Quest IX operation of the last summer; the latest entry in the series has indeed topped all the European charts: 5 weeks at number 1 in France, 5 weeks in the Top 10 in UK and Ireland, 4 weeks in the Top 5 in Germany (source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Exact data for the game are not known in PAL countries yet, but it’s reasonable to think that it performed better than Dragon Quest VIII which didn’t have such a constant presence in the charts and ended up with about 600.000 copies sold in these territories.
In North America, Dragon Quest IX behaved very good as well: it debuted with more than 133.000 copies in the first weeks (doubling the predecessor first month) and stayed in Top 20 the month after the release.
The results presented above show how Nintendo touch helped this jRPG in the West, where the other entries has never sold at par with Final Fantasy (always overcome by the former in Japan).
As follower of Dragon Quest saga, this news made me really happy; having Nintendo as publisher means a lot of advertisement and better places on the shelves so it will be more likely to reach a wide audience which Square Enix couldn’t obtain with Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen and Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride (just 260.000 and 130.000 copies respectively outside Japan).
The reapproaching between Nintendo and Square Enix can explain the fact and may lead to future collaboration both in publication and development of games; Dragon Quest X has been set for a Wii release and 3DS has already this brand in its line-up; meanwhile, Dragon Quest VI appears to be quite waited from the fanbase grown on DS during the past months and it will surely show great sales than the other two remakes as it did in Japan (even though by a very small margin): 1.293.916 units sold compared to IV’s 1.214.610 units and V’s 1.190.404 units (source: Famitsu).
Here the debut trailer for the game: