Also of note was the fact that last week was my 23rd birthday. To celebrate that occasion, my wonderful girlfriend flew to Japan to visit me for the weekend. We spent a good deal of time in the Umeda district of Osaka ogling the displays in one of the larger video game stores and eating yummy yummy Japanese food. We also ate at McDonalds.
But all that said, let us get to the columny goodness that is named after the little Christmas tree sitting on my kotatsu table!
This week, the chart is once again filled with RPGs, but they are slipping. Last week, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Magna Carta took the first and second spots respectively. Now they're down to 5 and 7. However, it is no mystery what will take the top spot next week. Sadly, it will NOT be DDR Fesival Dance Dance Revolution. To find out what WILL, read on!
After days and days of waiting, Japanese gamers were finally able to pick up their copy of Dragon Quest VIII last Saturday, November 27th, at 7 am. Gamers lined up well in advance to be among the first people to get their hands on the eagerly antipated game. Lines were 100 people and longer at smaller stores while large retailers had lines exceeding 400 people waiting for the doors to open.
How does one end up at the front of such a line? Many customers got in line at midnight with some even going as far as getting in line at 7 pm the previous day. One die-hard gamer in Shibuya secured his place in line at 1 pm the previous day. Those in line gave vocal countdowns all across Japan as the clock ticked on to 7 am.
As for stores, most retailers had to double and triple staff for the day to help sell the game and for crowd control purposes. Also, stores had several times the usual number of registers open just to move the game as quickly as possible. Many stores solds as many as 500 copies of Dragon Quest VIII in the first hour alone, a nice start on the 2.8 million copies of the game that Square Enix shipped to retailers for the launch.
As for me, I'm saving my hard earned yen for the release of the PSP in two weeks and quite possibly the Perfect Grade Strike Gundam model kit that just came out; however, I did see copies of the game at my local Kids Kyowakoku store selling for 8085 yen.
Nintendo Begins DS Ad Campaign
While in Osaka last weekend, I got to see Nintendo's new ad campaign for the upcoming Nintendo DS which is set to release on Dec. 2. The campaign includes a demo version of the unit and a video of a woman in a red dress playing with the DS. There is a white table that appears to divide her in half, just like the DS is split, and a really catchy song plays in the background. The video also showcases some of the launch titles with the most interesting one looking to be a game where you are a doctor and must use your stylus to help patients. The display was only SLIGHTLY larger than the Dragon Quest VIII display that was at the store's entrance.
The system is more or less sold out across Japan just like it is in America. Lucky gamers will get to plunk down 14,995 yen on Thursday to get their hands on some handheld goodness.
Final Fantasy 7: Before Crisis 4th Chapter
Square Enix just released the 4th chapter of the new mobile game Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis for the FOMA i900 series mobile phones. This new chapter will feature coopertive play and will allow players to rescue other players from enemies. Gamers possessing an i900 series, which as my British friends would say is the most "all singing all dancing" mobile phones in Japan, can pay the 525 yen monthly fee to dive even deeper into the story.
As you'll recall, the game stars one of four new Turks recruits as they battle Avalanche six years prior to the events of Final Fantasy VII. The game makes heavy use of the phone's built in camera for materia-making purposes and has relatively solid graphics for a regular mobile phone. Final Fantasy 7: Before Crisis launched late summer of this year and was almost reason enough for me to get a mobile phone.
First Day Sales Data
Whenever possible, I will try to throw in some hard numbers about just how well games actually sell on day one. Those of you wondering just how many units Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories sold on its debut day need look no further. I have all that and more.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA, Square Enix) sold an impressive 104,000 units with the limited edition moving another 11,000. Magna Carta (PS2, Banpresto) moved a solid 73,000 units. Lastly, Harvest Moon: Oh! Wonderful Life (PS2, Marvelous) sold 10,000 units on its launch day. Unfortunately, I was not able to find out data on Dragon Quest VIII yet, but I will have those numbers in the next Japandemonium. Be looking for them.
More Screens For Zill O'll Infinity
If you want more screens for Zill O'll Infinity, I've got 'em. Just take a gander at these new shots for the upcoming game.
Dell Makes Final Fantasy XI Bundle
Japanese gamers looking to buy a Dell laptop and Final Fantasy XI no longer need to go to the video game store and the computer store. Dell is offering an Inspiron 9100 model computer to be bundled with Final Fantasy XI already installed. As for the specs on the machine, it will be a Pentium 4 3.2 GHz with 512MB of RAM. It will also sport an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card which has a native resolution of 1280 x 800. The computer will also ship with Windows XP Home Edition already installed, and the whole package will cost 217,999 yen. At the current exchange rate of 102 yen to the dollar, that's only $2137.25, but you'd better order soon. At the rate the dollar keeps dropping, it may be 217,999 dollars before you know it.
Two MMORPGs With Closed Betas in Japan
Front Mission Online's closed beta testing is beginning to undergo some changes. For starters, it is now open 12 hours a day, instead of only 4, thanks to requests by players for more time. And starting 12/2, there will be a shiny new version update. The level-cap will be raised, and the block on player-vs-player battles will be lifted. Some new additions in this update include Jammer and Comms jobs along with a few new weapons to play around with.
Also, yet another game is having a closed beta in Japan. Phantasy Star Online: Blue Burst will be having its own closed beta starting this month. On Dec 10, gamers will be able to go to, of all places, the internet cafes of Japan to try out this new game. Internet cafes have been given a limited of game IDs and passwords. Playing the game will have no extra charge, but gamers will still have to pay the hourly rate to use the internet cafe, which is usually around 400-450 yen per hour.
The Final Grumble
And so ends yet another Japandemonium column as I lie on my tiny Japanese "sofa" and look at the little Christmas tree that I picked up at a 100 yen store (our version of the dollar store) for 500 yen. It has been decorated with the few ornaments that could be bought in such a store and is vaguely reminiscent of the tree from the Charley Brown Christmas. It's not much, but to be honest, with my tiny apartment, a larger tree simply would not fit. All things considered, I'm quite happy to have it.
Two more weeks of work until I get my hands on a brand new PSP and I'll be able to give some hands on feedback about the console. Maybe, if I get that new Perfect Grade Strike model kit next weekend, December will be filled with goodness.