Overall software sales in Japan dipped below half a million units last week as the flow of new releases which had sustained the market through the summer dried up, leaving the top ten entirely composed of older titles.
While in most territories around the world, the market can be kept high by strong sales of previously released games without the need for key new releases every week, the Japanese market is entirely new release driven - and the lack of any new titles in the top ten this week means that the market is at its lowest ebb since May.
Bandai's Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space tops the chart once again, having taken the top spot in its first week on sale a fortnight ago as well. However, the game - based on one of Japan's most enduring anime franchises - racked up sales of only 46,000 units, good for a game on its third week of release, but poor for a number one title.
Square Enix' Drag-on Dragoon (also known as Drakengard) drops from last week's number one position down to number two, while two more PS2 titles continue their run in the top ten - with Konami's Winning Eleven 7 at number four after nearly two months on sale, and Sega's latest iteration of the Gekito Pro Baseball series chalking up a second week in the ranking at number six.
The GameCube fares well in the chart, as it has done for much of the summer and autumn to date; three Cube titles make the top ten ranking, with Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour at number five, Namco's Tales of Symphonia at number eight and Marvelous' Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life at number ten.
The rest of the top ten is fleshed out with GBA titles; Nintendo's Legendary Stafy 2 continues to sell strongly at number three, while Square Enix has another GBA hit on its hands with Sword of Mana, at number seven this week after a month in the charts. Tomy's Naruto: Konoha Senki is replicating the success of its GameCube version earlier in the year, meanwhile, rising to number nine in this weeks chart.
In hardware terms, the situation is largely unchanged from last week, with the GBA taking nearly half of the market (48 per cent, to be precise - 9.4 per cent for the GBA, and 38.6 per cent for the GBA SP), ahead of the PS2 on 34.9 per cent and the GameCube on 15.2 per cent.
There's further ignominy for the Xbox, however; in the week that Microsoft announced the appointment of a new chief for their Japanese Xbox operations, the console's market share dropped below Bandai's little-supported handheld platform, the SwanCrystal. The Xbox had 0.39 per cent market share, with the SwanCrystal managing 0.48 per cent - and the PSone selling more than twice as many units, with 0.85 per cent share.
|1.||PS2||Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space||Bandai||04/09/2003|
|2.||PS2||Drag-on Dragoon||Square Enix||11/09/2003|
|3.||GBA||Legendary Stafy 2||Nintendo||05/09/2003|
|4.||PS2||World Soccer Winning Eleven 7||Konami||07/08/2003|
|5.||GC||Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour||Nintendo||05/09/2003|
|6.||PS2||Gekito Pro Baseball: Mizushima Shinji All Stars VS||Sega||11/09/2003|
|7.||GBA||Sword of Mana||Square Enix||29/08/2003|
|8.||GC||Tales of Symphonia||Namco||29/08/2003|
|9.||GBA||Naruto: Konoha Senki||Tomy||12/09/2003|
|10.||GC||Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life||Marvelos||12/09/2003|
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