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Japanese Wii enjoys painless birth; stores across Japan sell out

Jonti Davies

We were in Osaka this morning to see the delivery of Nintendo's Wii to the world's greatest DS fans. Stores across Japan received a total of 400,000 Wii consoles. In Osaka, Japan's second city, 2,800 units were allocated to the Umeda branch of Yodobashi Camera alone, while Bic Camera in Nipponbashi received 650 systems. Both locations were sold out within an hour of opening.

Compared with last month's farcical PS3 launch, there were notably fewer auctioneers-in-the-making at today's Wii debut. Most people we met were genuinely looking forward to playing games with their new purchase. (There are Wii lots on Yahoo! Auctions, but the going rate is only marginally higher than the retail price: typically Y30,000 (US$260) via auction, compared with Y25,000 (US$217) in stores.)

The Wii's software tie-in ratio, too, seems to be more encouraging than that of the PlayStation3. Most customers in line at Yodobashi Umeda bought Zelda, while significant numbers also went for Wii Sports and Hajimete no Wii.

Numerous methods of retail were used to launch the Wii, and these varied from store to store. Yodobashi kept its customers camped overnight in a parking lot, distributing numbered tickets to determine the order of entrance, before opening its doors at 7am. Bic Camera also opened at 7am, although most of the 650 people in line there didn't arrive until the first trains of the morning began to run at around 5am.

Famitsu reports that the Tokyo Ikebukuro branch of Bic Camera sold out if its allocation of 1,200 units, while the Tokyo Yuuraku-cho arm of Bic Camera declared the console "sold out" at 5.41am when the 1,500th person arrived in the queue there.

Sales figures from around the country are still coming in, but we'll keep you informed of the final stats just as soon as we get them. In the meantime, enjoy our snaps of the Osaka Wii launch experience after the jump.

Staff at Osaka's Yodobashi Camera do a fine job of catering to 2,800 Wii-hungry gamers.

The queue outside Nipponbashi's Bic Camera outlet stretches around three sides of the block at 7am. 650 units were sold there during the following hour.

Early Friday evening in Yodobashi Umeda's parking lot -- the crowd there eventually surpasses 2,800 and the Wii is an instant sell-out.

Many arrive too late in the day to secure one of Bic Camera's 650 Wii units, having opted to jump on the first train of the morning instead of camping out overnight. Stock replenishments will be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

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