Konami's latest RPG in the popular Suikoden series has gone in at number one in the Japanese weekly sales charts, racking up sales of some 186,000 units, but the market as a whole declined as the summer holiday came to an end.
Suikoden IV knocked another Konami title, World Soccer Winning Eleven 8, off the top spot after a fortnight at number one, and its sales helped to drive the market above the seasonal average.
Late August is usually one of the quietest periods of the year for game sales in Japan, as the summer obon holidays end and general retail sales drop off, but while the market did fall by almost a third week on week, it was still significantly healthier than in the same period last year.
Another RPG, Banpresto's Summon Night: Craft Sword Story 2 on the GBA, was the next highest ranked new entry, selling around 52,000 units to come in at number three, while the only other new entry in the top ten was Marvelous' Gunslinger Girl Vol.3.
Each of the Gunslinger Girl titles to date has performed strongly, and they represent an unusual experiment in media releases; each volume is actually a bundle of a PlayStation 2 game and a DVD of the popular Gunslinger Girl anime, which cannot be purchased separately from the game.
It's expected that Gunslinger Girl will be launched in the USA at some point in the coming year, but it's not clear whether the same model - launching games and DVDs in the same package - will be used there. Although it's an innovative idea, it's uniquely suited to Japan, where the high cost of DVDs means that the price of an individual DVD isn't that different from the price of a videogame.
In hardware terms, the GBA continued to dominate the market with over 51 per cent market share, although overall sales of hardware fell dramatically as the obon holiday drew to a close. The PS2 had just 38 per cent share, while the GameCube was just shy of 10 per cent.