DS owns Japan in March

Nintendo moved more DS Lites across the Pacific last month than PS2s and PSPs combined.

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Based on Enterbrain's March sales figures for the Japanese market, Japan's Mainichi newspaper reports that Nintendo sold 380,000 DS Lites during the month and 180,000 original DS handhelds. Both versions of Nintendo's portable system have been plagued by shortages--presumably the company would have done even better if its assembly lines had kept up with the strong demand.

Sony tied up second place for the month, selling 150,000 PlayStation Portables and 140,000 PlayStation 2s--strong results for a console that hit the market six years ago.

Mainichi did not report on Xbox 360 sales for the month. It's widely accepted that the console is having trouble gaining a foothold, and some retail sources claim that less than 50,000 have sold so far this year.

Nintendo's strong performance lifted total hardware spending to 15.3 billion yen ($130 million), an increase of almost 50 percent over the total from March 2005.

The DS took a strong lead in software sales: DS games claimed six of the top 10 spots. In its fifth month on the market, Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS) showed off its longevity by capturing second place and cracking 2 million units. Square Enix's Final Fantasy XII (PlayStation 2) also sold more than 2 million copies in its first month on the market.

Total software sales for the month came to a whopping 38.1 billion yen ($323.7 million)--almost double the sales from March 2005. Japanese game sales have been steadily slipping for the last few years, so these strong results will be welcome news for that country's developers and publishers.

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