Monday, November 13, 2006

PS3 Japan Launch

Playstation 3 - Big in Japan Part II
Monday Update: 11:58AM EST
On Saturday, anxious Japanese citizens braved the November chill and the throngs of fellow citizens as queues formed in front of shops such as Bic Camera, Seibu, Gamers, and Softmap. A few of our customers in Japan wrote to NCS over the weekend to report their success (or lack thereof) in obtaining a PS3 console. Prospective customers who waited in front of well known stores with very long queues were largely turned away while wily buyers who waited in front of lesser known shops with smaller crowds were able to buy the PS3. Some stores implemented a lottery system with lucky winners allowed the chance to pay up for a PS3. Repeat: allowed.

Lines in Japan

Press Coverage in Yurakucho

NCS Receives Partial Shipment
The first batch of confirmed PS3 preorders will ship out today but the remainder will ship tomorrow when the bulk of our stock arrives. As long as you confirmed or placed your preorder with us before Sunday at 11:33AM EST, your order will ship tomorrow. If your order is shipping today, you will receive an email before 1:00PM EST with tracking details. NCS is currently accepting new orders for both 20GB and 60GB models to ship on Friday of this week or Monday of next week (Note: our new shop processes transactions automatically and you will be billed at checkout):
Order a Japanese 20GB Playstation 3 at US$879 + shipping
Order a Japanese 60GB Playstation 3 at US$989 + shipping

Super Shiny Shiny²
Sony's stock photos of the PS3 don't convey how shiny the console is when it catches the light. Remember Padmé's glittering golden starship in Star Wars Episode 2? It's like that. Position the PS3 on a well lit table and be blinded by the bling. We're waiting for Flavor Flav to tie a chain around the PS3 and hang it from his neck while wearing a Viking helmet because that's what time it is. The membrane buttons on the console are also slick.

Region-Free Confirmation
NCS was able to test the USA versions of Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Tony Hawk's Project 8 on the Japanese PS3 and we confirm that both games boot and play perfectly. Kudos to Sony for doing away with region locks. With only five Japanese PS3 games available at launch, the availability of incoming USA PS3 games in the next few days will be a welcome addition to the fledgling software library. Please note however that PS1 and PS2 games are region-coded - USA PS1 and USA PS2 games are not recognized by a Japanese PS3 and will not boot.

PS3 Supply Situation
Sony plans on shipping 100,000 PS3 consoles in Japan every week after the launch. That should reassure buyers of ready availability for Japanese PS3 consoles up until the big holiday. NCS will update our website if there are any price changes in the next couple of weeks.

No Exploding PS3s Reported
Of the 58 Japanese customers who wrote in to NCS over the weekend, none reported glitches or errors with their new consoles. This is in stark contrast to the PS2 launch where we started receiving emails and reports of problems within hours of the launch in Japan. Many also remarked on the polished interface and the smooth sliding disc ejection. A cursory check with a few of our suppliers in Japan who sold a few hundred units locally was also satisfactory - no defects or returns yet.

Firmware Update
NCS customers: Please update your Japanese PS3 firmware with v1.10 upon receiving the console. The download is linked below and is a little under 100MB:

Playstation Network Online
The PS3 network lit up and went live over the weekend and gamers may chat with fellow Playstation devotees, check out rankings for games, view demos, and download Playstation games. That's right, a total of ten PS1 games are available for download at JPY2000 each. The titles "in stock" at the moment are:

» Arc the Lad
» Biohazard: Director's Cut Edition
» Bishi Bashi Special
» Jumping Flash!
» Konami Antiques MSX Collection Vol. 1
» Konami Antiques MSX Collection Vol. 2
» Hot Shots Golf 2
» Mr. Driller
» Silent Bomber (in our opinion, the best game of the lot)
» Tekken 2

Closing Comments
The launch line-up of Japanese PS3 software was meager but that proved to be no deterrent to buyers. The Playstation brand continues to be a strong selling point for Japanese consumers and we suspect USA consumers as well when the console launches here later in the week. That loyalty may assure Sony of a third term as the reigning industry juggernaut as a new generation transitions into place. Every new hardware launch carries a mix of excitement, trepidation, and fears of shortages. We've witnessed them all since the days of the Super Famicom and watched a few botched launches. That said, the PS3 debut has been one of the smoothest in our experience despite the onerous price hikes from suppliers. We've had fast deliveries and only a smidgeon of hemming and hawing from overseas distributors concerning inventory allotments. We're looking forward to a similarly smooth Wii launch in Japan on December 2.

Links of Interest
Watch Impress dissected a PS3 console (note the PS2 chip onboard)

Watch Impress swapped a HDD, You can too (Must be ATA 2.5" form factor)

NNN News Report on the PS3 (May be traumatic for some viewers)

Early adopters may peruse the USA PS3 manual in English

200 Mannin no KanKen: Tokoton Kanji Nou

Read a Japanese passage and use your Japanese kana to Chinese character (kanji) translation skills to decipher portions of the text that are highlighted with a red line. Similar to the aspect change in Nintendo's Brain Trainer, players rotate the Nintendo DS 90˚ counterclockwise and hold the handheld like a book. Handwritten answers are scribbled on the touch screen and automatically entered once the writing stops. The character recognition is good and even if your chicken scratches aren't perfect, a selection of relevant and related characters will appear so that you can tap on the one you meant to write. The Mannin no Kanken software offers 7000 questions for Japanese kanji learners to hone their abilities.

My Otome HIME aka Mai-Kinoto HIME

Travel to the Windbloom Kingdom and join the cast of My Otome in fast-paced 3D battles that take place in mid-air ala Psychic Force. However, My Otome HIME is not a true fighting game in the classic sense of the genre. When NCS thinks of fighting, we imagine a free-flowing game where punches, kicks, and guards flow in direct control from the player. Not so in My Otome where the movements of the fighters are stuttered and not free flowing although the attacks spool out in fluid succession.

For example, when poised on a battle field, the girls only have a set number of positions where they may move on screen. In a close combat situation where two opponents are face to face, there are exactly five cardinal positions to move the fighter - high, level, low, and towards the left or right to evade and strategize. Level refers to being face to face with the opponent. There is no true freedom of movement but the stutter-step action seems to work if you're the kind of fighting game fan who enjoys fast, chaotic, and constrained action. Although the fighters have limited range of movement, they can ignite attacks and special blows in quick motion and pound out HP draining combos. «NCS Game Notes»

My Otome HIME LE aka Mai-Kinoto HIME

The limited edition of My Otome HIME LE includes the following items in addition to the game:

» B2 Size folding poster which features Arika Yumemiya, Natsuki Kruger, Mai Tokiha, and Nina Wang side by side in compartmentalized spaces.

» 24-page art booklet which contains new illustrations of the My Otome cast, handwritten notes and comments from the voice actresses who breathe life into the HIME gals, and commentary from the creative staff.

» Mikoto cell phone strap figure which has a little gold ring attached to its left ear for hanging purposes. In the anime series, Mikoto is a dark-furred feline with a ninja-star shape on its forehead and a golden bell around its neck. These details make it to the figure intact.

The items are packaged in a limited edition box which sports variant cover artwork. All preorders will ship today and new orders are welcome.

SP2000 Ultimate Vol. 34: Sakigake!! Otokojuku

Musclebound bruisers from different walks of life battle and belittle each other in a surprisingly good 2D fighting game from D3P.

NCS Game Notes
» Fighters are cel-shaded and colored with bright colors for a distinctive look. The fighting is presented on a 2D plane and hearkens back to old school fighting games where the camera pulls in when the combatants are close and out when they're far apart. Backgrounds are well done including one where a troupe of yankii-styled gangsters are apparently punching the air and another where seated monks sit forlornly in the background.

» There are 8 playable characters in the beginning but another 13 fighters may be unlocked as they're encountered and beaten during the course of the game. The fighting mode is like KOF where one chooses three fighters and then battles against another trio. The order of each fighter on your team is chosen by pressing the button that corresponds to whom you want to fight first and second. Third place is then filled automatically. «G-Notes»

Japanese import outlook

PS2 Naruto Konoha Spirits leads preorders for the week followed by the new Akumajou Dracula on NDS.
NDS Akumajou Dracula: Gallery of Labyrinth Konami
Magic Perfection Nintendo
Puzzle Series Vol. 5: Slither Link Konami
Puzzle Series Vol. 6: Illust Logic Konami
Puzzle Series Vol. 7: Crossword 2 Konami
PS2 3D Mahjong + Janpai Tori Magnolia
Naruto Konoha Spirits Tomy
Negima 3-Jikanme Live Version Konami
Negima 3-Jikanme Play Version Konami
Sengoku Musou 2 Empires Koei
Sengoku Musou 2 Empires Treasure Box Koei
PSP Akudaikan Manyuuki Global A
Plus Plumb 2 Again Takuyo
Sudoku Konami
Vulcanus Capcom

USA Release Outlook

The entire launch assortment of USA Wii games is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday along with the rest of the USA PS3 games. Please note that allocations of USA Wii and PS3 hardware are still unknown at this point but we should receive news in the next couple of days. NCS expects widespread shortages and subsequent pandemonium towards the end of the week. Body armor, a helmet, and a makeshift weapon of some sort might be useful if you're planning on camping out...
GBA Bionicle Heroes Eidos

Eragon Vivendi

Happy Feet Midway

Shrek Smash and Crash Activision

Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis Sega

Spider-Man: Battle for New York Activision

Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation 2 Atlus

Tomb Raider: Legend Eidos
GC Bionicle Heroes Eidos

Happy Feet Midway

Shrek Smash and Crash Activision

Tomb Raider: Legend Eidos
NDS Asphalt: Urban GT 2 Ubisoft

Bionicle Heroes Eidos

Brain Boost Beta Wave Majesco

Brain Boost Gamma Wave Majesco

Charlotte's Web Sega

Eragon Vivendi

Final Fantasy III Square

Gunpey DS Bandai

Happy Feet Midway

Monster Bomber Majesco

Spider-Man: Battle for New York Activision

Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 2 Bandai

Tomb Raider: Legend Eidos

Yoshi's Island DS Nintendo
PS2 Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses Activision

Bionicle Heroes Eidos

Capcom Classics Collection Volume 2 Capcom

Eragon Vivendi

Happy Feet Midway

Harley Davidson Activision

Naruto Uzumaki Chronicles Bandai

NFL Street 3 EA

Shrek Smash and Crash Activision

SingStar Sony

Xiaolin Showdown Konami
PSP Gunpey Bandai

Mortal Kombat: Unchained Midway

EA Replay EA

Eragon Vivendi

Gitaroo-Man Lives! Koei

NFL Street 3 EA

Over the Hedge: Hammy Goes Nuts Activision

Pocket Racers Konami

Rayman Raving Rabbids Ubisoft

Sega Genesis Collection Sega

Shrek Smash and Crash Activision

Sonic Rivals Sega

Warhammer: Battle for Atluma Bandai

Xiaolin Showdown Konami

Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force Konami
PS3 Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII Ubisoft

Genji: Days of the Blade Sony

Madden NFL 07 EA

Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire Bandai

NBA 07 Sony

NBA 2K7 2K Sports

NHL 2K7 2K Sports

Resistance: Fall of Man Sony

Ridge Racer 7 Namco

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 EA

Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom Sony
Wii Avatar: The Last Airbender THQ

Barnyard, The THQ

Call of Duty 3 Activision

Cars THQ

Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Midway

GT Pro Series with Wheel Ubisoft

Happy Feet Midway

Madden NFL 07 EA

Marvel Ultimate Alliance Activision

Rampage Total Destruction Midway

Rapala Trophies Activision

Rayman Raving Rabbids Ubisoft

Spongebob: Creature from the Krusty Krab THQ

Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz Sega

Trauma Center Second Opinion Atlus
XBX Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 2 Capcom

Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 4 Konami

Eragon Vivendi

Xiaolin Showdown Konami
X360 Bionicle Heroes Eidos

Eragon Vivendi

History Channel: Civil War Activision

Sonic the Hedgehog Sega

WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2007 THQ