Japan’s 30 Best Selling Video Games of All Time
The following is a list of the 30 most sold video games in Japan in the history of video games across all platforms. Western Gamers may be surprised that violent shooters take a rather large backseat to RPG’s, mushroom stomping, and Pikachus in the minds of Japanese game consumers.
#30 Mario Kart Wii for Wii – 3.51M copies
This one of many Mario Kart games had few new features courtesy of the Wii and its motion controller with the steering wheel add-on. Not only was it the biggest selling game of 2008. It also is the biggest selling racing game worldwide.
#29 Super Mario World for Super Famicom (SNES) – 3.55M copies
Released back in 1990 at the same time as the Super Famicom (SNES) console, it’s improved graphics and deeper six button control scheme led to Nintendo success among that generation’s consoles. This game also marks the first appearance of Mario’s helpful dinosaur companion, Yoshi.
#28 Wii Fit for Wii – 3.6M copies
This game helped propel Wii sales in 2007 by bringing the concept of healthiness into the world of gaming. Practicing muscle and aerobic training as well as yoga and balancing using the Wii Board attracted non-gamers who were turned off by figuring out controllers.
#27 Tomodachi Collection for Nintendo DS – 3.63M copies
In its first week this game only sold 100,000 copies, but this figure snowballed to 3,000,000 in it’s first year. This quirky game let’s you make avatars of people in your real life and has them interact with each other on a virtual island autonomously. Your avatar also takes part in this social experiment with mini-games that change depending on the season.
#26 Final Fantasy VIII for Playstation – 3.64M copies
Although this game turned off a portion of its original fanbase, the pop style theme song, input from Hollywood, and junction system got the attention of non-gamers which helped the series grow bigger. It was the 3rd biggest selling Playstation game in Japan.
#25 Dragon Quest VIII for Playstation 2 – 3.7M copies
Released in 2004, this is the first game born of the marriage between Square and Enix. Dragon Quest’s characters which were long drawn by Dragonball artist Akira Toriyama recieved new life in the gameplay thanks to 3D cell shading graphics emerging at this time.
#24 Wii Sports for Wii – 3.77M copies
Released at the same time as the Wii in 2006 worldwide it eventually was called the most sold sports game in the world. However, since western Wii’s were bundled with the game its place in the record book needs an asterisk. In this game players can use the Wii remote to simulate playing tennis, bowling, baseball, golf, or boxing and potentially break the TV sets.
#23 Dragon Quest III: And Thus Into The Legend… for Famicon (NES) – 3.8M copies
When this game was released in 1998 in Japan a wave of truancy swept the country as students cast aside the notebooks for a copy of Dragon Quest III. The highly anticipated game lived up to the hype by introducing concepts like job classes and a secondary final boss fight that is almost considered standard these days.
#22 Super Mario Kart for Super Famicom – 3.82M copies
This first game of the Mario Kart series which was released way back in 1992 had its gameplay perfected from the starting line. With racing skill challenge by the addition of wacky items, even skilled drivers could get thumped by their grandma with the right luck. The overall effect of this was a fun party game with huge mass appeal.
#21 Super Mario Brothers 3 for Famicom (NES) – 3.84M copies
When it was released in 1988, Nintendo was boasting that they had created the greatest Nintendo game ever, and they were probably right. In terms of graphics, controls, and depth of play (raccoon tails, tanooki suits, frog suits, etc) the standard of Famicom (NES) games was taken to its limit. This was, however, only the second biggest selling Famicom game in Japan.
#20 Pokemon (HeartGold, SoulSilver) for Nintendo DS – 3.9M copies
These remakes of Pokemon Gold and Silver for the Gameboy Color added a lot of new features using the Nintendo DS’s touch screen and connectivity with other DS’s
#19 Mario Kart DS for Nintendo DS – 3.92M copies
When released for the DS in 2005, Mario Kart’s tried and true formula was hardly touched aside from the addition of special achievements and the dual screen. This is the only version of Mario Kart to outsell the original.
#18 Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (aka Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain?) for Nintendo DS – 3.95M copies
Also released in 2005, this game was a hit not only by making full use of the DS’s touch screen and voice recognition but also attracted a surge sales for non-gamers. It became a go-to gift in Japan for the elderly because of its purported benefits to strengthening our brains.
#17 Final Fantasy VII for Playstation – 4M copies
This 1997 game was a smash not only in Japan but around the world. Square left the Nintendo console for the then-new Playstation claiming that the Nintendo64′s cartridge style was too limiting for them. The result was a mass exodus to the new game system establishing the Playstation as a major contender in the console wars – all thanks to FFVII.
#16 Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of Eden for Playstation – 4.14M copies
In 2000, the Playstation systems future was cemented in Japan thanks to the release of Dragon Quest VII which became the biggest selling PS game in Japan. The release of this game triggered a shortage of Playstation systems across the country. The game itself kept true to many of its original features but focused on an objective to gather stone boards.
#15 Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (aka Monster Hunter Freedom Unite) for Playstation Portable – 4.16M copies
This edition of one of the most convoluted line of games ever features a cat that fights alongside you as well as newer more difficult missions. Released in 2008, this game is an updated version of Monster Hunter 2nd which is a game based on Monster Hunter 2 for the PS2.
#14 Super Mario Land for Gameboy – 4.19M copies
Released at the same time as the fledgling first version of the Gameboy in 1989, programmers had a hard time including key features of the original Super Mario Brothers into this tiny game. As a result koopas were replaced with more memory-friendly enemies. Despite its technical limitations it had achieved huge sales in Japan.
#13 Tetris for Gameboy – 4.24M copies
Although previously known in Russia, this game achieved worldwide fame with its release for the Gameboy in 1989. This game is another example of Nintendo’s remarkable bility to draw in non-gamers, but it also made use of the link cable that could connect Gameboy users adding a more social element to early video games
#12 Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies for Nintendo DS – 4.3M copies
This game cause Square to boast that systems who host a chapter in the Dragon Quest series will dominate in Japan. And so it was in 2009 when the first MORPG Dragon Quest game was released. This game also motivated many to carry their DS everywhere they went in hopes of walking into the vicinity of another player and automatically picking up items from them.
#11 New Super Mario Brothers Wii for Wii – 4.39M copies
An advanced version of the Nintendo DS game, New Super Mario Brothers Wii added 4 person play. It had ice flowers and propellers but kept true to the original Mario style of game that made the franchise so beloved in the first place.
#10 Monster Hunter Portable 3rd for Playstation Portable – 4.7M copies
Based on Monster Hunter 3, this PSP game released in 2010 had a distinctly more Asian feel to it. This version of the game eliminated the water fights but included new monsters and weapons as well as a new material system.
#9 Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! (aka More Brain Training from Dr. Kawashima: How Old Is Your Brain?) for Nintendo DS – 5.1M copies
This 2005 sequel to the first brain training game features exercises similar to the previous installment but deepens them by combining math and Chinese characters and memory at the same time. Counting all the Pokemon variations as one this is the 4th biggest selling DS game in Japan.
#8 Animal Crossing: Wild World for Nintendo DS – 5.25M copies
This game managed to stay on the top-selling charts from 2005 to 2007. In the game your character moves into a villiage inhabited with various animals where you go fishing, digging, and shopping. It’s non linear and seemingly endlessly changing gameplay lets players go forever. Worldwide it sold 10 million copies.
#7 Pokemon (Ruby, Sapphire) for Gameboy Advance – 5.4M copies
ariations in the Pokemon series tend to focus on the monsters. However these games distinguished themselves with a unique storyline and the first use of color in a Pokemon game. It was followed up with a version called Emerald.
#6 Pokemon (Black, White) for Nintendo DS – 5.45M copies
These games for the DS reached 1 million pre-orders faster than any other video game. It uses the DS’s internal clock to change seasons every month leading to new opportunities to catch new pokemon. The pokemon in this game also seem to have different ethnic vibes to them which gives the game a wider feeling.
#5 Pokemon (Diamond, Pearl) for Nintendo DS – 5.8M copies
The first Pokemon games for the DS in 2006 they let players manage their pokemon with the touch screen and wi-fi features for the first time. It was followed up by a version called platinum.
#4 Pokemon (Gold, Silver) for Gameboy – 6.1M copies
These two games that HeartGold and SoulSilver added to were originally released in 1999. Their story is based on the original red and green games. They were followed by a version called crystal.
#3 New Super Mario Brothers for Nintendo DS – 6.3M copies
This Pokemon game featured pokemon that looked like Mario – I mean this was the first 2D Mario game to be released in nearly 14 years and kept all the fun of the original while adding lots of new features like the ability to become gigantic or microsized. The gameplay is still accessible to young and old leading to sales similar to the original which was…
#2 Super Mario Brothers for Famicon (NES) – 6.8M copies
It's 40,000,000 copies sold worldwide earned Super Mario Bros. a place in the Guiness Book of World Records. It also started the unassuming Italian plumber’s career as Nintendo’s official mascot. Its novel yet simple 2D side-scrolling gameplay lent itself to anyone picking up the controller regardless of language or age. Probably the most well known game in the world it had a rocky start as game programmers were still learning the ropes. For example, a sharp eye would notice that the bushes and clouds were exactly the same sprite with different colors. This game also launched the career of Shigeru Miyamoto, a legend of video game production.
#1 Pokemon (Red, Green, Blue) for Gameboy – 7.8M copies
Selling only a modest 200,000 copies in its first week of release in 1996, Pokemon’s first versions rode a slow rise to fame ultimately equal to Nintendo’s goldenboy, Mario. In Pokemon Red, Green, and Blue you control a pokemon trainer collecting the cute little monsters and raising them to be champion fighters. Its gradual rise to fame was attributed to word of mouth advertising spurred by the ability to pit your Pokemon against those of friends.
Although most pokemon experienced name changes when exported, the developers decided to keep Pikachu’s name intact. This lead to the very Japanese sounding moniker becoming a household name across the globe.
There you have it. Nintendo certainly seems to have silenced critics who said their days were numbered, at least in Japanese sales. As long as they keep churning out Pokemons I guess they’ll be okay.
yay FF8!! ^____^