Proof That Nintendo Still Rules Japan

Proof That Nintendo Still Rules Japan

If there’s ever been any doubt, this should settle it. Over the past decade, Nintendo hasn’t been doing well in Japan — It’s been dominating.

The Wii U is not exactly selling like gangbusters right now, but Nintendo’s probably playing a long game. In this week’s Weekly Famitsu, the magazine took a look at the top 100 selling games in Japan so far in the 21st century. The top 5 selling games? All Nintendo exclusives. In fact 9 out of the top 10 and 18 out of the top 20 selling games over the past 13 years are all Nintendo games.

  • 1: New Super Mario Bros (DS,)
  • 2: Pokemon Diamond/Pearl (DS)
  • 3: Pokemon Black/White (DS)
  • 4: Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire (Gameboy Advance)
  • 5: Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
  • 6: Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! (DS)
  • 7: New Super Mario Bros Wii (Wii)
  • 8: Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP)
  • 9: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS)
  • 10: Mario Kart DS (DS)
  • 11: Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver (DS)
  • 12: Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minues a Day! (DS)
  • 13: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)
  • 14: Wii Sports (Wii)
  • 15: Friend Collection (DS)
  • 16: Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
  • 17: Wii Fit (Wii)
  • 18: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PlayStation 2)
  • 19: Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
  • 20: Pokemon Fire Red/Leaf Green (Gameboy Advance)

While it is worth noting that most of the top selling games are from previous generation consoles like the DS or Gameboy Advance, you can’t deny Nintendo’s ability to consistently make top-selling hits. Overall, 72 of the 100 games listed were for Nintendo consoles.

Weekly Famitsu also compiled a list of the top 10 selling games from last century which was a little more varied, though not all that much.

  • 1: Super Mario Bros (NES)
  • 2: Tetris (Gameboy)
  • 3: Super Mario Land (Gameboy)
  • 4: Dragon Quest VII: Warrior of Eden (PlayStation)
  • 5: Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation)
  • 6: Super Mario Bros 3 (NES)
  • 7: Super Mario Kart (SNES)
  • 8: Dragon Warrior III (NES)
  • 9: Final Fantasy VIII (PlayStation)
  • 10: Super Mario World (SNES)

And people wonder why Nintendo keeps churning out Mario games all the time.

ファミ通.com [ファミ通.com]


  • I might be wrong, but are the Japanese sort of nationalistic when it comes to gaming? It seems they favour Japanese content and hardware over foreign stuff?

    I don’t know, maybe I am way off.

    • Of course! This is a given.

      Explains why the Xbox 360 didn’t sell well and why Sony and Nintendo have dominated the Japanese market. It’s been this way for over a decade now.

      For example, in this generation, an attempt was made to put out JRPG exclusives like Lost Odyssey and Tales of Vesperia but it didn’t work out well for them in the long run. Or even FFXIII sales for the Xbox vs the PS3 sales for Japan.

      • Not completely
        I brought my Xbox in Japan when it first came out. While nationalism does play a part in bad sales, terrible marketing and optimisation for the region is the real issue. Microsoft marketing has always been fairly lacking in the western world and is almost a joke over there.
        Look at the Xbox One reveal, it was all about TV and sports and turning a console in to a multimedia hub…but oh yeah, anyone outside the US does not get access to this kind of thing for a long time……so in other words your entire draw card is missing from overseas releases.

        As For Nintendo, they have been doing the same thing world wide, getting the kids young and becoming part of their first gaming memories, something you can’t deny will always be the best memories. My parents know who Mario is, I do, my nieces and nephews do, my kids will and no doubt so will theirs.

        • If we’re talking about Japan specifically, Japanese gamers tend to gravitate towards either cute stuff, or high tech stuff. Nintendo games would fall mostly into cute stuff. Meanwhile the PS line of consoles were all marketed as high tech stuff, raw power etc. In contract XBOX marketing is pretty much about trying to appeal to the middle of the road crowd.

    • If that were the case then why are only 10% of the games in the top 20 published by Sony?

      It could be Nationalistic, but I’d say it’s more cultural in terms of why Japanese game mechanics are preferred over Western (ie JRPG vs RPG).

      Also, If you look at the inspiration for a lot of Japanese games they’re surprisingly Western: Mario’s an Italian plumber, lots of JRPGS are founded on Western systems of society, etc etc.

    • I’m not sure if there is a better word for it, But Japan has a very strong “island” mentality; it’s Japan on one side of the wall, and the rest of the world on the other. Since Japan is the only country that speaks Japanese they produce and consume a lot of their own entertainment, and so have a preference for it. Many Japanese will say they prefer Japanese games over western because they’re not necessarily interested in violent/dark/gritty etc games (yeah, I know Japan makes those too).

      A Japanese friend of mine who lived in Australia for a while had never thought twice about the Xbox until we played Halo multiplayer, which totally blew him away with how fun it was. Many Japanese just won’t look at western games because of the stereotype of it not being “for them”. It’s not an active disdain, it’s an in-built ignorance (not unlike how most westerners would never bother trying out foreign music or films just because it’s not on their radar etc). The line to try out Titanfall at Tokyo Game Show was something like 3 hours long, so there are definitely people who are open to western games.

      • “… they’re not necessarily interested in violent/dark/gritty etc…”

        It’s not really that. It’s more like they like different types of violent/dark/gritty. For example violence in western games are almost always about guns and firearms in general with maybe 10-20% about non-guns. Generally speaking each new game comes out with shinier/newer guns or more hi-tech guns. In contrast violence in Japanese games tend to lean more towards swords, bows and just plain physical stuff. In fact in Asia in general, guns are really not as popular as swords/bows and other martial weapons. Even mech games with hi-tech giant robots tend to have the robots themselves fight with swords or sword equivalent e.g. robot claws.

        Similarly with ‘dark’ themes. When a western made game is described as ‘dark’ 80-90% of the time it’s because of sexual themes like rape etc. In contrast while Japan does have a lot of really extreme sexual themed games, numbers wise those are in the minority. Usually it’s more about political or philosophical stuff like cannibalism, conflicting loyalties, gaining/maintaining power etc. Meanwhile, a political themed game in Western countries aren’t even considered ‘dark’ at all since most political themed games in Western countries tend to skew more towards the comedic side of things.

  • No disrespect to these games intended, but do the Japanese not make/play anything a little more… grown up?

    • The conclusion I’ve come to is that Japanese society is rather strict and very “grown up”- lots of rules and etiquette to follow, for example- and so their entertainment is very much the opposite, very care-free and fun. Bountiful colours to counter the stark grey of real life, if you will. Plus, there’s less of a stigma about “childish” things- many of my adult female friends go to Tokyo Disneyland and totally geek out over it, for example. Middle age women might still have Hello Kitty stationery. In Japan you don’t necessarily have to shed enjoyment of cute or fun when you hit highschool, unlike the west where everything suddenly becomes “adult” (cool, sexy, violent etc).

      (Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely “grown up” entertainment here- police dramas on TV etc.)

    • You’re right man, blowing the heads off of people and stabbing things is way more grown up.

    • I don’t understand how adding swear words and sexual content somehow makes something “grown up”. If anything it becomes more juvenile.

      • I’m talking about emotional storylines, three dimensional characterisation, analysis of themes, social commentary etc. etc. Not just T&A and gore.

        I’m not some type of fun-hater but it’s nice to have a deeper experience now and then, isn’t it?

        Wouldn’t you be pissed off if the only TV you could watch was Dora the Explorer?

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