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Japanese DS Launch Draws Crowds

Nintendo appears to have enjoyed another successful launch of the Nintendo DS, with the format going on sale for the first time today in Japan. Stock of around 500,000 ma...
Nintendo appears to have enjoyed another successful launch of the Nintendo DS, with the format going on sale for the first time today in Japan. Stock of around 500,000 machines were made available on the first day, with many stores opening three hours early to sell the console for ¥15,000 ($146). Most of the sales were the result of pre-orders, with Nintendo being forced to raise the first day allocation from an original figure of 300,000. "Sales seem to be off to a good start, despite the fact that we are launching on a weekday," said Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa. "We've been really excited about this season because the game industry has been stagnant over the last couple of years," said Masashi Yagi, manager of electronics retailer Ishimaru Denki's game store in Tokyo, according to a Reuters report. "I think manufacturers, software developers and retailers like us have been waiting for something to generate excitement again. The Nintendo DS is the first major product to come out, and we're excited," he added. The Japanese launch was helped by a stronger line-up of titles than the U.S., which included so-far exclusive titles such as Pokémon Dash, Big Concert! Band Brothers, and Touch! Made in Wario (aka Wario Ware, inc.) American import gaming site NCSX has several pictures of the launch line-up's Japanese packaging. More controversially, it seems that there are significant differences between the U.S. and Japanese versions of one particular launch title, with the Japanese version of the addictive puzzle game Mr Driller: Drill Spirits apparently allowing single cart multiplayer, and including an entire extra game mode not found in the U.S. release. Although a Western release date has still not solidified, Sony's PlayStation Portable is due to launch in Japan on December 12th. This will be the first true test for the Nintendo DS, as Nintendo faces arguably its first ever serious competition in the mobile market. However, with only 200,000 PlayStation Portables expected to be available at launch, direct comparisons between the performances of both machines will be difficult.

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