The day has finally arrived when thousands of Japanese gamers get to buy their Wii's and rejoice in the flailing of limbs that is Wii Sports.
Unlike the PS3 release in the States, there were no drive-bys or robberies, just a bunch of Japanese people happily and patiently waiting in line for their chance to snag a console. Other than that, I can't say a ton about what went on because I did not buy a system today and I wasn't near any of the major outlets that had 1000+ people waiting in line.
What I do know is this: Out of the 400,000 Wiis slated for release in Japan today, I think all of them are gone. All of the major suppliers like Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera were out by 8am this morning. Some of the Tokyo stores reported crowds of 1500 people lining up for the Wii and that is when they had to turn away people because 1500 was their entire supply of units. Oh yeah, that was at 5am. The whole camping out for the new systems seems to be an American fad. There were some people that stayed overnight in a parking garage in Tokyo but other than that, I haven't seen widespread reports of people pitching tents and having a nerd-fest in front of electronics stores. The fact that Nintendo has promised to make available one million units by Christmas has probably helped that somewhat.
I did go into one electronics store today and they were sold out of their Wiis by the time I got there at 2pm. They did have plenty of accessories and extra controllers so the massive contoller shortages in the States seems to be localized to just the Americas. There have been no reports of accessory shortages so far.
The Playstation 3 came out here a few weeks ago and I have to say, there was not much fanfare awaiting it. The initial shipment of units did sell out, but thats pretty easy to do when you only ship about 100,000 of them. The only thing of note about the PS3 release was that businessmen in Tokyo were paying Chinese nationals and homeless people to wait in line for the systems and then turning around and selling them for at least three times their retail value. Also, the amount of games purchased with each PS3 has been less than one per system when you average it out. What that means for Sony is they are eating about 1.7 billion USD for at least the next fiscal quarter or so. Console manufacturers usually make a profit on the games and take a loss on the system itself, since Sony isn't selling too many games their profit is non-existant so far. The funny thing is that I can walk into any store here and buy PS3 games but A)There are no PS3s to play them on and B)Their launch lineup has been less than spectacular as far as good titles are concerned. It kind of reminds me of my PSP in that sense, a really cool peice of gaming hardware with almost no good games to play on it. To be fair, if it were not for Zelda, the US launch lineup for Nintendo would not have been great either. At least here, Japanese people have Warioware and the US will not see that for at least another month for some reason.Too bad, its one of the main games I want for that system.
All in all, Nintendo's choice to go with an innovative system instead of another graphical behemoth like Sony and Microsoft seems to have paid off so far. I say this quite literally, Nintendo is the only console manufacturer on the market at the moment that is making a profit the second anything that has to do with their system sells. Nintendo is making a profit on the Wii itself and all of its toys the second a customer buys anything. The system may not be the best graphically but Nintendo made a wise choice financially.
As for me, I will be waiting for Santa to ship me a US Wii before I can give you an actual review of the system. Nintendo is being annoying as far as region locking goes and therefore, I will need a US system to enjoy everything that the Wii has to offer. Later on though, when a boot disc or mod chip is available for the system, I will grab one just so I can play a handful of the Japanese games that I have seen here that look awesome but will probably never come to the US. For now, I will just look at pictures and read reviews and dream, just not for too long hopefully. I haven't wanted a game system this bad since I was ten and the Super Nintendo came out. And just for the record, the Super Nintendo is the best game system ever made in my humble opinion. Commence flaming me...now.