Hundreds Line Up for Monster Hunter 3 Launch
Producer appears at two major events in Tokyo.
Monster Hunter 3 launched today with all the fervor one would expect of one of one of the biggest console releases of the year. Gamers lined up at retailers throughout Tokyo to quickly set off on their first original console hunt since the PlayStation 2 Monster Hunter 2.
I was able to attend Capcom's two official launch events. The first took place at the massive Yodobashi Camera outlet in Akihabara. Some 500 hunters (this figure comes from Famitsu.com) had already lined up when I showed up in Akihabara at 8:50. These hardcore players were there to either pick up the game as quickly as possible or to get a glimpse of producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, who was scheduled to count down to the start of sales alongside a few secret guests.
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Tsujimoto and those secret guests took the stage outside the shop's main entrance at around 9:00. The secret guests ended up being not too much of a surprise: Jicho Kacho's Satoshi Inoue, Hello Bye Bye's Kiminobu Kanenari, and Commanicenchi's Takashi Horiuchi. These three comedians are known Monster Hunter fans. Inoue appears in Capcom's commercial campaign which promotes his 4,904 hours of series play time.
The four were joined by a highly detailed Ragiakurus to lead the crowd in a countdown, at the end of which the entire crowd raised their hands in unison and shouted "Hunting Unlocked!"
While most of those in line proceeded to a special outdoor register to make their transaction, the first three were invited on stage to speak with Tsujimoto and the three stars. The first person in line, a man in his 20s, had lined up at 23:00 the night before and said that he was planning on playing until he passed out. Today was also his birthday, he revealed.
The second official event was held at Bic Camera in Yurakucho, just a couple of train stops from Akihabara. Despite the proximity, Tsujimoto presumably had to rush to make it to the shop in time for its 10:00 start of sales. Different from the Akihabara countdown, he was scheduled to sign copies of the game and shake hands.
Greeting Tsujimoto when he arrived was a line of at least 100. Famitsu.com had actually covered the lines over night, and reported that the two people in front had arrived following the store's closing the night before. Sure enough, they spent their time playing Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G on the PSP.
From what I was able to see, most buyers has Tsujimoto sign a special white sheet the store had provided. However, there were a few who had their copy of the game signed. One person opened up his newly purchased Special Pack (containing the black Wii system), but instead of having Tsujimoto sign the system, had him sign the inside of the box flap.
Famitsu.com has a pic of someone getting something a bit more interesting signed (that's a Poogie stuffed animal, if you're unfamiliar with the series).
Given that they were the official launch points for the game, it shouldn't come as a surprise that these two shops were crowded. It turns out that other shops saw crowds as well. You can see more pics from around Tokyo in these Famitsu.com stories:
The Shinjuku Yodobashi, which is capable of drawing thousands for some product launches, had about 65 people in line when store personal started moving the line to the game area at around 8:45. The first person in line had arrived at 4:00am and said that he'd been playing the series since the PlayStation 2 original.
Ikebukuro Bic had about 100 people lined up when the line was moved to the game area at around 9:00. People continued to stream in, topping the 200 mark by 9:30 when the shop held its own countdown.
Famitsu made some observations about the people in line. The majority consisted of men in their teens and 20s. Howver, there were a few couples, parents with their children, and solo ladies.
MH3 was offered on its own, bundled with either the white or black Classic Controller Pro, and bundled with the black Wii. The Shinjuku Yodobashi shop told Famitsu that the most popular pre-order was the black controller pack.
The site also reports large sales for network equipment and keyboards at this shop, which assembled everything one might need for an online play session in a special shelf.
Monster Hunter 3 already shipped one million for its first shipmen, pretty much guaranteeing the most successful console Monster Hunter game ever. But the big question is how closely the game can replicate the series' success on the PSP, whose last version sold 3.5 million units. Both Capcom, and Nintendo, will presumably be paying close attention to see if MH3 has the long legs of Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G and many first party Nintendo games.
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