Skyward Sword has received raving critical reviews in both Japan and around the world, but, for some reason, the Japanese market isn’t showing the same amount of love for this most recent Zelda title as the rest of us are.  Released in Japan on November 23, 2011, Skyward Sword is one of Nintendo’s biggest budget projects, and also one of its most time-consuming.  However, Japanese gamers don’t seem as impressed as the rest of the world.

As of now, the game has completely fallen out of the top twenty list of weekly sales in Japan, meaning that there were less than 43,000 copies sold this week.  Debuting at the top in its release month, Skyward Sword sold less than 320,000 copies in November.  Past Zelda releases have had much greater success following their debuts:  Spirit Tracks sold 500,000 copies in its first five weeks on shelves in 2009, and Phantom Hourglass, a 2007 release, sold 631,100 in its first five weeks.  Of course, it’s a common conception in the west that Japanese gamers are more likely to favor handheld titles over console ones.  However, 2006’s Twilight Princess sold 280,000-350,000 copies in its first week alone, and that was solely for the Wii.  That alone beats out Skyward Sword, but once Gamecube sales figures are factored in, Twilight Princess packed a much heavier punch than Skyward Sword did in its first week.

One thing can be said without a doubt:  Skyward Sword has already attained great success, both critically and commercially.  There’s nothing to worry about.  It’s simply an oddity that this highly-praised Zelda title isn’t receiving the same amount of love in its home-country as it is in other parts of the world.  Japanese sales figures for the Christmas week can be viewed here.  It will be interesting to see how Nintendo responds to these results in their future titles–what are your thoughts on this surprising development?

Source:  Gamasutra.
  • Banooru

    U.S. gamers have been waiting for Zelda since Twilight Princess since they prefer realism, while Japanese gamers have only been waiting for a Zelda title since Spirit Tracks. Demand is higher in parts of the world where we haven't had "our type" of Zelda title since Twilight Princess, and Japanese sales probably did better with Twilight Princess because there was a much longer wait between when Wind Waker was released and when Twilight Princess was released.

  • ads

    twilight princess made those sales in its first ten weeks not week gamesutras article is a little off

  • Link and Cuccos

    TP was actually considered a financial letdown in Japan. I think given Japan's culture, they're more into turn-based RPGs (i.e. FF) and handheld devices (3DS and mobile games). So it seems like Zelda console titles in general just don't do as well there as in other countries.

    And as the writer points out, there's nothing to worry about as SS has already attained both critical and commercial success. SS already sold at least 2.2 million in just 5 weeks, the fastest any Zelda title has sold, while it took TP (a launch title) 11 weeks just to reach 2 million.

    • Link and Cuccos

      Vgchartz finally updated their numbers.

      Skyward Sword is actually now selling at least 2.6 million. 😀

  • Kyonko

    Yeah, Japan just prefers handheld games, not too surprising.

  • Ashmic

    they're torrenting it thats y lol

  • Typhoon

    So you're saying that having celebrities talk positively about a product is bad advertising? I think I'm missing your point here…

    • I didn't know they were celebrities, and I meant no offense to them. My bad.

      It is strange that Japan didn't receive Skyward Sword as well. I grasp that there's a lot of business there, and its people work hard to make a living. On that part I understand how sales could be lower.

  • Haroune

    I wonder if they sell Zelda games in China. I have lived there from 2004 to 2011. But Nintendo is under a different brand in China.

  • Rick420

    I'm not suprised at all…
    Zelda has always been more popular in the west than in japan

  • Alexander Bright

    I think the reason why Japan doesn’t like The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword as much as the rest of the world is because of the Wii Motion Plus.

    • Jquestionmark

      As a fan of tight controls, I can see why the Motion Plus would cause disinterest. At times the controls are remarkably unintuitive and I find I spend more time figuring out what the game wants me to press than actually getting good at the game. The first boss fight was a mammoth let-down, and I find myself yearning for the GameCube controller. The gimmick controls may work in America, but not everyone is going to fall for it.

      • ChainofTermina

        oh yeah, I've been wanting to use a conventional controler for almost the whole game. I mean, yeah, it's cool, and fun at times, but sometimes I swing the remote one way and Link does it the opposite way, or I just try to move the controler and Link actually swings it when I didn't want him to. and don't even get me started on the shield. Ive wanted to raise the shield with just the press of a button S so many times……I REALLY hope in the future, Motion controls are just an option instead of mandatory…..

      • Luke

        I honestly can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. The first time I read it, I read it with a sarcastic tone, but then I wasn't sure…

        • Jquestionmark

          I wish it was. See, in Link to the Past, when I press the button to use my sword, I, well, use my sword. In SS, when I try to spin slash, sometimes I just vertically spin slash, sometimes I just draw my sword. Finding the perfect angle at which to wiggle my Motion Plus isn't problem solving at work, it's a symptom of bad game controls.

          The first boss defines poor translation from controls to game, in that I have to defy reality to hit him. I have to hold my sword to the right to get the boss' hand over there, then slash in a left to right motion. This has the magical property of transporting my sword arm and blade to my left side, and performing a slash. I've never had to magically move my arms through time and space to fight a boss in a Zelda game before, and when the controls are more designed to mimic reality than ever is not the time to start. That is called bad game design, and in a franchise like Zelda it's very depressing to see.

          • Cryxok

            That, while true, is not all there is to it…I must admit, when I faced him the first time I was dissapointed too, but the second time I noticed something, he doesn't follow your sword everytime, so, i conjecture that it was planned in a sense of "wait for the appropiate moment" rather than "magically warp your sword"…I dunno…I only saw it a couple of times, but it worked for me…

    • Tarah

      Not to mention the average Japanese house has small rooms that are too cramped/enclosed for large consoles and motion controlled gaming, so I can see why a lot of Japanese people might be put off by the idea of needing to move around for a game (even if Skyward Sword doesn't require too much movement).

      • Madame Kovarian

        I highly doubt that Japanese houses are too small to be able to contain a Wii… >_>;

        • ijuin

          Not the Wii itself, but unable to have room for a player to stand up and swing their arms around without hitting anything.

          My apartment in Tokyo (where I went during college) was one nine-by-twelve-foot room (6 tatami mats, 2.7 by 3.6 meters) plus bathroom. In that room I had to fit my bed, study desk and chair, sofa, bookshelves, TV, game consoles, PC, refrigerator, kitchen stove, counter, and appliances, and everything ELSE that didn't go into the bathroom., plus the main lighting fixture hung from the center of the ceiling down to face level, so I had to duck whenever I walked past. A room like this is typical for college students or low to mid income single people in large Japanese cities. I paid the equivalent of US$800.00 per month for that room despite it being 20 km away from the city center, which just goes to show how expensive real estate is in Tokyo.

          • SlimeKing

            You can play most Wii titles (SS included) while sitting on a couch

        • Bobett

          Have you ever been inside an average Japanese house? I used to live in a fairly standard House in Tenoji, Osaka. And the bedrooms were approx 2.5×2 meters (just big enough to fit my bed), the kitchen was a mere 2×2.5 meters, and the living room was 3×3. meters. So once I had furnished it with small tables, chairs, beds and some electrical appliances, there was no way I'd be able to fit a Wii anywhere, let alone move my arms around to actually play a Wii game. Heck, I could barely move around the house as it was (I had to shuffle around to avoid bumping into the tables and chairs). Japanese houses are FAAAR smaller than Western houses, especially those in the inner city. Many Japanese houses could probably fit into a standard American living room. That's how small they are!

  • maddude175

    The reason nobody is buying it is because they dont have the money to buy it.

  • Sdudyoy

    The huge Earthquake just hit No one has any money, 43k sales is pretty good considering what happened.

    • Jarkes

      It didn't JUST hit. It hit 9 months ago. I think a lot of people would've gotten some of their money back by that point.

  • Jaceman2145

    Not only that the wii motion controller cost 40 dollars alone. 20 for the wii motion for all controllers

    • HyruleWeirdo

      So? The point isn't that Skyward Sword didn't sell many copies in Japan, it's that it didn't sell many in comparison to Western countries.

  • maniozelda

    I can only asume those japanese people get tought in school how to built a wii motion plus controller so its nothing special for them xD
    Cuz it really blew my mind.
    Also Nintendo never said anything about the earthquake and shit. weird..

    • Jarkes

      It DID prevent a plot-relevant two-parter of the Pokemon anime from being aired. A two-parter which STILL hasn't aired, and has, in fact, had references to it removed from episodes that would've preceded it. Which means we're over 50 episodes in, and not even a MENTION of Team Plasma. To clarify, the two-parter would've been episodes 23 AND 24.

  • Because they were buying the 3DS, Mario Kart and Mario Land. They can only spend money on so much, and Mario games are higher profile. That’s honestly the only reason.

  • VanitasXII

    Truthfully speaking it matters not to me whether SS is loved in Japan; I love the game like almost any other video game and that's what matters most in my opinion. Japan may not like the game. So what? They have their own opinions, and other people have their own. Just because JP doesn't love SS doesn't mean you can't love SS.

    • Jarkes

      That's the most intelligent thing I've heard on a Zelda fansite in ages. …You know, as great as Zelda Dungeon's guides are, it's also the meeting place of the WORST of the Zelda fandumb. Seriously, you should've seen how they reacted to that "Top Ten Things Wrong with Skyward Sword" article… As badly written as the article was, that's no reason to insult the guy (and insinuate that Battlefield and Call of Duty are horrible games because they're not Zelda. Then again, I've never played either of those.)

  • Craig

    I get a strange feeling that maybe they don't appreciate the destruction of land and buildings in the game… Not only that but Skyward Sword is more of a Greek/Roman style, rather than like Ocarina of Time or The Wind Waker where it's more leaning towards eastern culture and the cutesyness or Japanese-ness that previous games have had. Japanese seem to be an all or nothing country, some like super realism and others like their typical happy-go-lucky cute culture.

  • Kevin

    Would be interesting if Nintendo plans on developing a future Zelda title that is targeted more towards the Western world because of this. Hopefully Nintendo pushes for Zelda Wii U to be the HD title we've all be waiting for.

    • Norbiej

      that you've been waiting for, not we all….i'm really happy with all the previous zeldas that came out and i love my eastern culture styles in the games ^^ i don't know if i will like it as much if it will become more of a western game….

    • Ninja

      Twilight Princess was actually aimed more towards Western countries. It was originally going to be a Wind Waker sequel, but since WW did poorly in America and other western countries, they spawned Twilight Princess.

  • Scrivs

    I can't imagine japan didnt like the art style, I thought they were into that kind of stuff more than the u.s, anyway… maybe they didn't market it as well as TP

  • H50s

    It's probably because Nintendo changed SOO many things about the game. Not just the plot but how it works. That's what made me enjoy it less anyway

  • That's another suprize.Japan this year is full of surprizes.
    At first we learn that Skyrim is the first non-Japanese game ever to make it to the top10 of Japan,and now this!
    Is there a pattern ? Do they change tastes ??

  • Linksoer

    WTF Japan!?

  • isha

    praise the west!

  • SlimeKing

    it may be that they are saving up for the Wii U???

  • C..

    I find it more surprising that it's as huge in the west as it is. Skyward Sword has disappointed me on several levels, and I find all the praise it's getting hard to believe.


    That doesn't surprise me, after all Metriod was never as popular in Japan as it is in the West, same with the Legend of Zelda. Some series do better their like Fire Emblem and Pokemon. It's how it has always been.