Japandemonium - Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

So, here we are, a week later and considerably warmer. Things are very quiet in Japan right now. Well, relative to their usual level, that is. The situation there still kicks the pants off of the domestic scene. For confirmation of this, check out the last item. But first, let's kick off with some entertaining sales figures.

I know that this is getting old, but Nintendo's latest Pokémon games are still at the top of the Dengeki charts, right where they've been since the end of November (well, except for one week). Don't expect it to look any different next week either. The only upcoming title that seems to have enough oomph to force the little critters out of the top spots is Square's Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, which goes on sale on February 14th. Till then, you're going to have to while away the time checking out the list of RPGs in the Top 20 games for the week ending January 19th.

    Position; Title (Publisher), Console, Sales this week; Total Sales
  • 1. Pokémon Ruby (Nintendo), GBA, 52,867, 1,835,894
  • 2. Pokémon Sapphire (Nintendo), GBA, 50,656, 1,876,671
  • 5. Kingdom Hearts Final Mix (Square), PS2, 15,974, 313,102
  • 8. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Nintendo), GameCube, 13,411, 579,294
  • 11. Unlimited: SaGa (Square), PS2, 11,818, 373,325
  • 13. Tales of Destiny 2 (Namco), PS2, 9,982, 830,616
  • 14. Battle Network Rockman EXE 3 (Capcom), GBA, 9,500, 358,400
  • 15. Final Fantasy X (MegaHits) (Square), PS2, 8,705, 8,705

An interesting entry, for those that care, in the charts this week is Microsoft's Xbox Live Starter Kit, which came in in the 10th position, moving slightly less than 12,000 units. Sadly. this hardly compares with the nearly 150,000 kits that were sold at the North American release. Still, it's encouraging to see that there are a fair number of Japanese gamers gearing up to play Shin Megami Tensei Nine (when the online version ships later this year) and the rest of the Xbox's online offerings.

Returning to the topic of Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced for a moment, yet another product tie-in was announced this week, this time in the form of some cute little metal pins. There is one pin for each of the 12 main characters (seen below), with each pin going for 3,50 ¥ ($3), or 7,000 ¥ ($59) for the whole caboodle. The pins are currently slated for release on February 21st, a week after the game hits shelves.

FFTA Pins PackagingFFTA Pins

Come Valentine's Day, IO Data will be putting out what must surely be one of the least exciting Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced tie-ins: an organizer. Not only will attractive people of either sex marvel at your swanky calculator, but they can also check out the collectible cards that come with the item (with room for a hundred) while you write their phone number down (most likely a fake). It might help your broken heart to note that the game logo has been stamped onto the metal binder. If this little gewgaw is up your alley, you'll be pleased to hear that there are black and gold versions on offer, both of which will set you back 4,800 ¥ ($41).

FFTA OrganizerFFTA Organizer

FFTA OrganizerFFTA Organizer

In a snippet of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne news, J-Popstar Yuki Koyanagi's latest single, "On the Radio," (see cover below) will contain the theme song for Atlus' latest game. The CD will have three versions (Standard, 70's Floor Mix, and Instrumental) of the song, titled "Cross Colors." The single goes on sale on March 5th for 1,050 ¥ ($9), while the game itself is coming in just before, on February 27th.

Yuki Koyanagi Single

Eager Star Ocean fans were treated to a sneak preview of the latest game in the series this past weekend. Enix held a promotional event for Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time at the AsoBitCity in Tokyo's Akihabara prefecture. The throngs on hand were limited to 30 minute sessions with developer tri-Ace's latest offering, but there were some interesting items to check out after they were booted from their controllers. On show were reproductions of the outfits worn by the main characters, Fate and Sophia, as well as alarm clocks, phone cards and other collectible items. The first 100 attendees each received a limited edition poster as well. Don't worry too much if you missed it, Enix is planning another event at Osaka's Sofmap on February 2nd. Star Ocean 3 is on track for release on February 27th.

Star Ocean 3 Promo EventStar Ocean 3 Promo Event

Star Ocean 3 Promo EventStar Ocean 3 Promo Event

Digicube announced today that gamers who preorder Final Fantasy X-2 from any of its affilated stores in Japan, or its online store, will receive a cute Yuna-figure-on-a-strap. The offer is valid from today, January 30th, and since quantities are limited, I would advise those of you that want to bag one to get those orders in as soon as possible. FFX-2 is scheduled for release in Japan on March 13th.

Star Ocean 3 Promo Event

The last item this week is the best indicator of why our Japanese counterparts get so much more swag than we do. The 17th Annual World Hobby Fair was held this past weekend at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, an event that attracted most of the big-name Japanese game companies. Over the course of the two days a staggering 170,000 people braved the jam-packed halls to check out what Nintendo, Konami, Sega, Hudson, Sony, Namco and many others had on show. Check out some pics from the bedlam below. The World Hobby Fair juggernaut is slated to steamroll Nagoya on February 2nd, and Fukuoka on February 9th.

World Hobby FairWorld Hobby FairWorld Hobby Fair

World Hobby FairWorld Hobby FairWorld Hobby Fair

170,000! Wow, that's a lot of people. While the North American market has overtaken the Japanese market in gross terms, we are still light years behind in terms of the general passion and mainstream acceptance that permeates Japan. Oh well, it can only get better. See you all in a week.

Exeunt all

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by Alex Wollenschlaeger    
Sources: [Impress Game Watch, Dengeki, Famitsu, GameSpot Japan ,]

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