The following chart will be pretty boring if we look at the recurring names which make at least an appearance, but it won’t if we take in account that positions changed a lot in the last years, in particular at the top of the chart.
Here the Top 10 (Famitsu data):

1. Pokemon Black / White: 2.637.285 (2 days) | 2010
2. Final Fantasy VIII: 2.504.044 (4 days) | 1999
3. Dragon Quest IX: 2.343.440 (2 days) | 2009
4. Dragon Quest VIII: 2.236.881 (2 days) | 2004
5. Monster Hunter Portable 3rd: 2.146.467 (5 days) | 2010
6. Final Fantasy VII: 2.034.879 (4 days) | 1997
7. Final Fantasy IX: 1.954.421 (3 days) | 2000
8. Dragon Warrior VII: 1.862.065 (2 days) | 2000
9. Final Fantasy XII: 1.840.397 (4 days) | 2006
10. Final Fantasy X: 1.749.737 (2 days) | 2001

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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:

Amusement Journal, a popular magazine dealing with gaming industry, has recently updated on its website the charts relating to the popularity of games in Japanese arcades, from a two-months off (the last charts were from August).
Games have been split into two categories: conventional cabinets, with a classical external structure, and large cabinets, recognizable by their big presence and peripheral devices.

Conventional/Non-dedicated cabinets:
1. Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion (=)
2. Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. (NEW)
3. Blazblue Continuum Shift (=)
4. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown (+)
5. Street Fighter IV (-1)

As usual, fighting games have a clear domination in Japanese arcades; the situation has been pretty stable throughout this year and in November just the new Gundam episode entered the chart (pushing out Mobile Suit Gundam vs. Gundam NEXT).

Large/Dedicated cabinets:
1. Border Break (+2)
2. Mahjong Fight Club: Reincarnation Garyu (=)
3. Sangokushi Taisen 3: War Begins (-2)
4. Mobile Suit Gundam: Bonds of the Battlefield (Ver B.) (=)
5. Taiko no Tatsujin 14 (NEW)

In this case, tastes are more mixed: the famous Namco rhythm game has entered the chart at number 5 with its latest entry, than robots and samurai share positions with a new number one to make the formers win: the action game Border Break, developed by SEGA, focused on mech battle through network connectivity between cabinets.

I know, it was too easy; sorry for the play-on-words but the software house that created Castlevania and Pro Evolution Soccer many years ago is following a plain strategy on the DS, alongside dating sims and tie-in productions: make a copy of successful concepts on the console.

The proof showing Konami has a lot of pleasure in committing this behaviour is in the last Famitsu, where it has been introduced its new (and first) adventure novel for 3DS, Doctor Lautrec and and the Forgotten Knights. Does the title remind you something? Well, let’s see: a high brow person as the protagonist; a cute assistant; a story full of mystery set around the late XIX century; puzzle to solves, dialogues to read… Mmh, perhaps Konami has chosen Level 5’s Professor Layton as inspiration? Trivial question, I know. Even because this is the second time in a year the Tokyo-based company tries to replicate Hershel Layton’s success by copying him.

Indeed in October it published Zack and the Ombras: The Phantom Amusement Park (above the two main characters) directed by Junko Kawano (Suikoden, Shadow of Memories), an adventure game plenty of logical tricks and quiz to clear up which debuted in a very low position in the weekly Media Create chart (38th, with 8-9,000 copies sold approximately); Layton’s big numbers were obviously quite impossible to reach as a new IP but Zack and the Ombras opened even less than some other similar structured games, such as Sloan to MacHale (58.513 copies in the first week, Famitsu data), Project Hacker (33.199 copies) and also Time Hollow (25.827 copies), a game by Konami itself from the same director.
Forgetting this failure, maybe Konami has thought that the path to follow was right and there was a large fanbase to feed; actually, Doctor Lautrec is more well-promising than Zack (it has a good 3D graphic and more game elements), but it looks too much similar to Layton and this might be a double-edged sword: 3DS is still a rich soil to be exploited and starting with so high (at least, in terms of design) production values it might be fruitful; but the release date is set in 2011 Spring, the same as the first Level 5’s game, which is just Professor Layton, namely The Mask of Miracles, and this is not a smart move.

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Almost one year after the launch in Japan, the last Chunsoft game has arrived in the United States and it’s manifesting how such a niche game can attract the interest of video gamers, thanks of many factors such as the solid fan-base has grown on the DS throughout years and its Japanese production quality.

999 is basically an adventure game which mixes a puzzle part with a visual novel component à la Professor Layton; also the background is similar to the acclaimed Level 5 series: a mistery story with eccentric characters and paranormal-horror events, reminding Agatha Christie’s books and the Saw movies (in fact it was rated Mature by the ESRB).

With about 30.000 copies (367th position in the 2009 Famitsu Top 1000, so now it may be somewhere above the 50.000 copies considering how good DS games sell in the long period), 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors has not achieved a great success in Japan when it was launched during last Christmas holidays; I do think he suffered the competition with another mistery game, Professor Layton and the Specter’s Flute, which had been out just 2 weeks before. Moreover, Spike promotion wasn’t so widespread in stores, so the game was on the sly.

But something has happened after its distribution by Aksys in the United States. Word of mouth is making the game very popular in all american discussion boards, such as NeoGAF, where the topic of the game is growing faster; moreover, the average rating on Metacritic is 90 out of 100, based on 5 reviews… Not so many, but enough to say that this adventure game worths attention, even because DS games don’t usually have this kind of treatment from the critics, which try to compare them to counter-parties on home consoles and  exaggerate flaws.

In Europe in this game hasn’t arrived yet; I do hope it will come, but meanwhile I can advice all of you to order it on Amazon and appreciate the great game is.

March 31st, 2011 is the date decided by Square-Enix to launch in the Japanese stores the expansion of the last Dragon Quest entry.  Many more monsters than Joker 2, new moves and maps will attract video gamers who have followed Dragon Quest Monsters throughout years (and Nintendo portable consoles).
The interesting question is: how much will the game end up in its LTD?

As the first re-edition of the series, quite similar to what Capcom has always done with Monster Hunter Portable on PSP, it is difficult to predict the commercial performance;  Square-Enix has surely been cunning to place the game just some weeks before the Golden Week, a traditional Spring holiday in Japan, when usually the sales go up by a large margin. Joker 2 Professional is mostly dedicated to a young audience, one of the best buyer during the late April vacation.

The original chapter had crossed the million mark, ending with a total of 1.234.192 copies, and even though saw a 16% decrease from the previous one, it has showed the strenght of the brand becoming one of the best-seller of this 2010 and the 22nd game in the DS chart.
Might Professional aim at doing better? I don’t think so.
Might Professional aim at doing worse? Surely it might. It’s just an enhanced version of a one-year old game! But how much worse? I do think that 400-500.000 will be a good mark; this would bring Joker 2 at about 1,7 million, not so bad: a great goodbye to Nintendo DS for Square-Enix!

There’s a new phenomenon in the Japanese charts. First clue: it has been charting for 38 weeks and it’s still there. Second clue: it’s a new IP. Third clue: it’s Nintendo. Well, reading the title, the solution is quite easy: I’m referring to Tomodachi Collection (i.e. トモダチコレクション or Friend Collection as I prefer), a sales monster that is showing us how a simple and smart idea could win over huge investment and famous brands.

Nintendo has collected a lot of cases like this. Most of its games have a similar chart history in Japan, becoming sleeper hits with million copies sold; Pokémon Green, Red and Blue, Brain Training, Rhythm Tengoku Gold, Wii Sports, Animal Crossing are all games that had started with moderate sales and had sold constantly every week an amount of copies to the point that they reached the “million seller” status and some of them sold over 3 or 4 million copies.

Tomodachi Collection is ready to cross the 3 million mark and this might happen the next week.
It was released on June 18, 2009 and the first week went to sell 100,373 copies; a good start for a game that was announced on the back foot by Nintendo during its October conference and that had been developed by a small team at Nintendo SPD Group N.1 (although it took over three years to be develop) producing by Yoshio Sakamoto… But the first week wasn’t the best week the game; Tomodachi Collection had a strong momentum during Christmas holiday: from mid-December until the end of the month, it was able to sell over 600,000 copies!

continue the story…

Chrono Trigger is usually referred as one of the most beautiful jRPG of all time. Developed by the so-called “Dream Team” (Sakaguchu-Horii-Toriyama-Uematsu-Mitsuda) from Squaresoft, the game was released on SNES only in Japan and United States in 1995 and was one of the last masterpiece of the 16-bit Nintendo console. It made its return on PS1 some years ago and on DS with an enhanced porting in 2008, arriving for the first time in Europe.

At the time, the game sold a huge amount of copies in Japan, overtaking episodes from famous brands such as Romancing SaGa 3 and Kirby’s Dream Land 2 and placing itself only behind Donkey Kong Country 2 and Final Fantasy VI. In North America it achieved a more moderate success, but it went to sell on average with other jRPG like Secret of Mana and Earthbound. Here the data from SNES and PS version:

Japan (SNES): 2,030,000 copies
Japan (PS1): 330,000 copies
North America (SNES/PS1): 290,000 copies
(total: 2,650,000 copies)

Although european data are not available, there are some numbers from the other territories concerning the DS version. The game was released on Novembre 2008, and these data are until December 2008, so they are surely not so updated, but they can give a good idea of the game sales:

Japan: 490,000 copies
North America: 220,000 copies
(total: 710,000 copies)

Square Enix spied out to see how many people were still interested in the game.
Such numbers are quite good for a porting of a 13 years old jRPG, and with the european sales, a million copies worldwide seems reasonable.
So, what will the plans concerning the brand Chrono be for the software house?
It might develop a porting of Chrono Cross (the sequel came out for PS1 in 2000) somewhere, maybe on DS itself and then start the creating of the third entry in the series (well, actually there’s already a third entry, and its name is Radical Dreamers, but it is usually considered a game apart because of its limitated release and its genre). Or maybe the DS porting was only an occasion to milk the name, well knowing that there are a lot of fans in the world attached to the adventures of Crono, Marle and co.

Time will tell (and in this case, it is a proper sentence).

Naughty Dog should be really happy to continue the development of successful series across all Sony consoles; in the mid-1990s it created Crash Bandicoot, a milky brand that has been selling million and million of copies for years. On PS2, it was Jak & Daxter’s turn to represent the platform genre, and it was success again even if some adventure features had been introduced by the programmers. With the most troubled PS3, it wasn’t simple to create a new IP for the masses because they weren’t on the console at all. But Naughty Dog had changed course of action and developed an action/adventure game which could have been liked to the different audience presented on the new console. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was a sleeper hit and thanks of a good word-of-mouth and smart bundles made was able to reach 2,6 million copies sold worldwide.

A sequel was not to be waited for. Among Thieves was released on October 2009 worldwide and it started with really strong sales in both North America and Europe. But even after many months have gone by there’s a mystery around the sales of this long-waited game among Playstation 3 users. So let’s go back over some facts that we have become acquainted with.

1 million units sold: according to the Senior Vice President of Business Development at Sony Computer Entertainment, after one month of its release, Uncharted 2 sold 1 million copies, being the fastest selling first party game on PS3. It was Novembre 2009.

continue the story…

The new issue of Arcadia informs us which are the most popular games in Japanese video arcades. Fighting games have the lion’s share, with 9 to 10 titles in the chart and Tekken reconfirms its popularity month over month.
Whilst awaiting the new Gundam vs. Gundam, NEXT is pretty steady at number 2, while we should go down until the position nr. 9 to see a non-fighting game or, at least, a non-classical fighting game: the shooter Senko no Ronde DUO by G.Rev.

Here you can see the whole chart:

1. Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion (=)
2. Mobile Suit Gundam: Gundam VS Gundam NEXT (=)
3. Blazblue: Continuum Shift (=)
4. Melty Blood: Actress Again (+1)
5. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core (-1)
6. Virtua Fighter 5R (+1)
7. Street Fighter IV (+2)
8. King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match (-2)
9. Senko no Ronde DUO (=)
10. Daemon Bride (NEW) makes us laugh again. The new year has come and the year-end charts weren’t enough: a new flow of charts are arriving! But there’s always something wrong. Do you remember the highest budget games Top10 come out few weeks ago and disclosed completely wrong all the more that EDGE was forced to remove the article from its site? Well, it’s coming another flop10 on the same level.

Look at the expected biggest selling games of 2010 in Matt Martin’s opinion, a editor:

1. Halo: Reach
2. Final Fantasy XIII
3. StarCraft II
4. Call of Duty 7
5. FIFA 11
6. BioShock 2
7. Mass Effect 2
8. God of War III
9. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
10. Gran Turismo 5

What the…?
Maybe has the ‘journalist’ thought that Nintendo would have stopped to selling games during 2010?
It’s really weird to think that Super Mario Galaxy 2, the new Legend of Zelda, Pokémon Heart Gold / Soul Silver and evergreens like NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Sports Resort and Mario Kart Wii won’t sell anything, or an amount of copies that doesn’t permit them to enter in such that chart. Mr Martin might have eaten a very fatty tuna melt before writing this article.
And why should a 2,5 million copies series (God of War) sell more than a 10 million copies one as Gran Turismo when its last episode, a demo (5 Prologue), has sold more than every episode of the former?

Moreover, with the February NPD data it has become clear that Bioshock 2 and Mass Effect 2 won’t be 2010 best sellers even if they have seen a good amount of copies sold. Instead, Final Fantasy XIII has already sold almost 2 million copies in Japan, but most of them were in 2009; with 3 million copies sold to retailers in the other territories, how could it be at number 2 at the end of the year?
Affaire Starcraft 2. It’s hard to say if a PC game might see such high numbers (its position is the number 3), but if nor Spore or Crysis could reach good numbers, it’s not so likely that it will the RTS from Blizzard.

If you have had a really bad day, check here and start to laugh.

The “Iwata Asks” interviews have become famous showing how funny is the fourth president and CEO of Nintendo. In this episode concerning the new games out in store in a few days (March 13th in North America, March 26th in Europe), we can read that Iwata had some important roles during the establishment of Pokémon as a brand. He says: “Studying the program for the Pokémon battle system was part of my job.” In fact, Iwata-san was the director of HAL Laboratory, Inc. when Pokémon Stadium was in development and he was in charge to port the battle system over from Green and Red to a new Nintendo 64 game.

The thing that caught my attention is the development of the first games of Pokémon (Red and Green, followed by Blue 9 months later, and the second generation with Gold and Silver). Shigeki Morimoto from GameFreak says: “Actually, at that time (i.e. 1999) we had very few programmers. That wasn’t just the case for Gold and Silver but for Red and Green as well. There were only about four programmers.
Well, four is a very small number for a game with such those contents. It’s impossible to think that Nintendo was conscious about the success the game would have had. Only some years later the release of Green and Red, Pokémon became a commercial phenomenon in all over the world and worthy of major efforts.

It’s interesting to read this brief excursus on Pokémon history. When Green and Red made their appearance on Japanese market in the February 1996, it seemed that Game Boy might have reached the end of its life. Fourteen years later, we could say that Pokémon was the third system seller (killer application is a so obsolete term) of the handheld Nintendo console after Tetris and Super Mario Land, and the game that made Game Boy popular again among video gamers.

I have only talked about some short topics in this post, for the entire interview, check here.

I’m starting to blog a bit.

The purpose of this blog is to inform all of you (well, most of all of you) about video games sales and other things related to the videogame world. The most important idea behind this little project is the truth.
I’ve realized that a lot of video games site and magazine considered authoritative are driven by the same type of people who write in video games forums and are named ‘fanboys’. There are no differences between them; well, the former represent a noisy minority: they are only a little part of the entire video games world but they own the most influential media within it. I think it’s a problem. And I firmly think people need someone that shades light on the problem.

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