Nintendo's biggest hope for Christmas has had a strong debut, but has failed to displace FIFA 2004 from the top spot in the UK charts, coming in at number three behind Activision's True Crime.
The placing is something of a surprise, since most pundits expected Mario Kart to mount a serious challenge for the top spot this week, and is slightly disappointing for Nintendo - although the game did still chart a place higher than the week's other huge new release, EA's Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
Activision meanwhile will certainly be pleased with the performance of Luxoflux' free roaming crime caper, which actually climbed a place this week into the number two spot, suggesting that this may be on track to be a steady seller pre-Christmas. EA's Quidditch World Cup looks like being another steady seller, as predicted - it's up to number eight this week from last week's number 19.
Elsewhere, the full-price chart is surprisingly bereft of new entries. Codemasters' Pop Idol arrives at number 16 (although it was actually released in the previous week, this is its first week in the charts), and there's also a respectable showing for Revolution's Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon, which debuts at number 20.
The only other new entry in the charts is Atari's cartoon-based beat 'em up, Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2, which is in at number 25. This leaves the "missing in action" list for the week looking pretty packed - with the likes of Beyond Good & Evil, Amped 2, EyeToy: Groove, Chaos Legion, Pokemon Pinball and Dungeons & Dragons Heroes all failing to trouble the full-price top 40.
Some of these can be found in the single-platform charts - Amped 2, for example, makes a woeful debut at number 20 in the Xbox chart. Others are completely MIA - Ubisoft's allegedly excellent Beyond Good & Evil is nowhere to be found, and even more surprisingly, Sony's EyeToy: Groove is also notable by its absence from any of the charts. Could Sony's arguably greedy pricing policy (Â£29.99 for what is effectively a mission pack of mini-games) have put a damper on the long-term success of EyeToy products?
Where the new titles are failing, however, some of the biggest games from earlier in the year are filling the gap - and there are full-price resurgences for the likes of Splinter Cell (at number 37) and Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness (number 29).
With so many big name titles failing to register their presence at the nation's cashpoints, it's fair to say that this has been the first real "bloodbath" week of the season - yet another week in which publishers discover that releasing titles opposite a selection of the biggest titles of the year is a recipe for disaster. Expect more otherwise triple-A titles to sink into obscurity over the coming weeks, as the schedules become even more packed.
Further Reading: [Full set of this week's UK charts - gi.biz]