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Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006

Nintendo's Wii game console debuts to long lines nationwide

Staff writer

Enthusiastic fans formed long lines outside electronics stores nationwide early Saturday to be the first in Japan to get their hands on Nintendo Co.'s new Wii video game console.

News photo
Kentaro Watanabe, wearing a papier-mache Wii controller, waits for Nintendo Co.'s new video game console to go on sale at the Bic Camera in Tokyo's Yurakucho district Saturday. AP PHOTO

Despite the chilly temperature, about 2,000 people lined up at the Yurakucho Bic Camera in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, before sales started at 7 a.m.

"I feel great," said a beaming Joerg Schaum, 46, emerging from the store. "I'll play the game with my family after I go home and take a rest."

Schaum, who had been waiting in line since Friday afternoon, said Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, which debuted last month, is for high-end users and "too grownup" for him.

"I like the new way you can play games with the Wii and the games available are cute," said Schaum, a German living in Japan for 13 years.

Unlike traditional video games, the Wii's controller, which looks like a TV remote, can be wielded as a sword, swung as a racket, spun around as a steering wheel or used as any other device depending on each game's needs.

Posing for the throng of media photographers with a Wii box in his arms, Yuta Moro, a 23-year-old from Chiba Prefecture, said he couldn't wait to start playing with his friends.

"The best part is that anyone can play, and with everyone," Moro said.

With the Wii's debut in Japan, competition among the top three video game console makers -- Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft Corp. -- is expected to heat up for the yearend shopping season.

Sony launched the PlayStation 3 on Nov. 11 in Japan while Microsoft's Xbox 360 debuted a year ago.

The Wii costs 25,000 yen, about half the price of the PlayStation 3, which is expected be an advantage for Nintendo. The Xbox is priced between 29,800 yen to 39,795 yen depending on the model.

Sixteen games for the Wii were also released Saturday.

Nintendo failed with the Wii's predecessor, the GameCube, to lead the game console market. However, it is hoping to recapture market share following its success with the smash-hit Nintendo DS portable game player.

About 400,000 Wii consoles were shipped for Saturday's debut and plans call for delivering 1 million in Japan by the end of the month. Nintendo also plans to ship 3 million overseas before year's end.

Only 100,000 machines were available for PS3 fans on its first day due to production problems, prompting some purchasers to sell them on Internet shopping sites for nearly five times the retail price of about 50,000 yen.

Fearing some customers might do the same with the Wii, Bic Camera posted a statement on its Web site that it won't sell the consoles to people buying them for resale and limited purchases to one per customer.

"But we can't tell the difference between customers who are purchasing for resale and those who aren't," said Ryoko Nakada, a spokeswoman for Bic Camera.

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The Japan Times

Article 2 of 11 in National news

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