Something About Japan: Wii U’s Tokyo launch, and Square Enix on Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII

I’ve got a little information about Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII to share, and don’t get too excited, but I have two words for you: time management. I know! Before that, though, let’s turn our attention to Nintendo, whose Wii U console finally launched in Japan this week. It’s odd, given that Wii enjoyed much more goodwill from eastern critics and press than from those in the west, that Japan should be the last of the major territories in which Wii U is released. After a fairly tepid western start, then, how has the console been received in Nintendo’s home country?

Wii U’s Tokyo launch

4Gamer and Impress Watch both covered the launch, staking out two of the largest electronics retailers in Tokyo: Yodobashi Camera in gamer mecca Akihabara, and Ikebukuro’s Bic Camera. 4Gamer reported that at the early 8am opening outside Yodobashi on launch day, there was a queue of only 80 people – and the first person in line had been there since 7pm the night before. Impress Watch told a similar story, of only 60 patrons outside Bic Camera at 7am, most of who were there to collect preorders of the special Japan-only Monster Hunter 3G HD Ver. Wii U Premium Set.

Impress Watch surveyed the queue about the games they were looking forward to buying, and Monster Hunter aside, most answered either with New Super Mario Bros U or Nintendo Land, which like Wii launch title Wii Sports, is not bundled with hardware in Japan as it is in the west. Critical coverage of the launch line-up has, oddly, been thin on the ground, the most in depth assessment being 4Gamer’s impressions of ZombiU. The site admired the use of the touch screen functionality: “[The features] slot in well with the flow of the game. Use of the device rarely feels tacked on.” Damning with faint praise, perhaps, as this was the only commentary on the touchscreen implementation (beyond “it was fun”) from across several websites.

Probing those outside Bic Camera further about the new console, Impress Watch asked the crowd about the features that most excited the day one hardcore: “Most of the crowd talked about the new console’s defining feature, the touch screen game pad. But that aside, the Miiverse proved another common topic. On other social networks, finding like-minded individuals can be trying, but since Miiverse is built right into the console, the social networking functionality makes for an interesting proposition, considering the built-in console-loving userbase. Though many added they would like to see integration with existing social networks, such as Twitter, in the future.”

“At the launch of the Wii six years ago,” Impress Watch’s reporter said, “giant lines stretched from the Yurakucho Bic Camera almost all the way to Tokyo Station.” After the Wii U launch, 4Gamer cautiously suggested there was plenty of stock left on shelves, not ruling out the possibility of it selling out after publication of its article. Though the continued rise of internet shopping has most likely dissuaded some who may have chosen to line up in the past, it seems that interest in Nintendo’s new console is comparably low, without anything as exciting as Wii Sports or The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess to entice buyers. Much work, then, needs to be done.

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