Following last week's launch of the Crystal White DS Lite, Nintendo shipped its Ice Blue and Enamel Navy models today in Japan. Considering that the handheld has already made one debut, the industry wasn't expecting the same high turnout for these new models.
But contrary to conventional wisdom, the machine's second launch drew even more demand than the first.
At 6:15 a.m. in Tokyo, when GameSpot arrived in Akihabara, there was already a line forming outside the train station. It extended fully to Asobit City, one of the well-known stores located in the heart of this popular electronics district.
Over 100 people were already waiting for the store to open, but it was nothing compared to what we were about to see next.
A few blocks away at Yodobashi Camera, the crowds were considerably larger. The store was said to have had the longest line in the city last week for the first launch, with approximately 400 people waiting by opening hours.
Today's turnout easily topped last week's, as the throng had reportedly hit 500 late last night, and there were over 1,000 people waiting by 6:30 this morning. The line nearly circled the entire block. Even after a store employee walked halfway down the line and announced that customers behind that point likely would go away without a DS Lite, a number of hearty souls stayed to take their chances.
Moving on to Shinjuku, Bic Camera sported a turnout around 7 a.m. that was about equal to the previous week's launch. About 300 customers were split into two different sections, with each snaking into three rows. Employees were once again holding "Sold Out" signs at the end of the lines before the store had even opened.
At the Shinjuku Yodobashi Camera (scene of the official launch for the PlayStation Portable), today's line wasn't as long as the one for Day 1 sales of the Sony handheld back in 2004, but it definitely had more people than last week's launch of the Crystal White DS Lite. With two new models released today, more than twice the number of people waited in line.
All in all, today's lines were longer than those from last week in many locations, with good reason. First and foremost, the DS Lite was released on a Thursday last week, whereas today's launch was on a Saturday--so more consumers with weekday jobs could line up to purchase the handheld. Would-be customers who walked away empty-handed last week also might have learned a valuable lesson: no lining up early, no machine.
To that end, people in the front rows were prepared for a long wait--very prepared. They came armed with portable chairs, instant noodles, and even sleeping bags to catch the occasional nap.
The fashion factor should also be kept into consideration. Some consumers are more interested in the two new-color models, compared to the earlier-released Crystal White model. In fact, Mainichi Interactive reports that the first person in line at Akihabara's Yodobashi Camera didn't line up last week at all but decided to do so this time since there was a color he just had to have.
Gamers interested in picking up the DS Lite when it launches in America can get an idea of what to expect by taking a look through GameSpot's on-site photos of this morning's Japanese launch, linked above.