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Japanese holiday shopping centers around Wii U, Animal Crossing for games

For the U.S., it's shaping to be yet another massive holiday shopping season for console games, with Halo 4 leading the way and stuff like Assassin's Creed III and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 not lagging far behind. As it always is, however, Japan is a bit different.

According to readers who participated in a survey on Japanese magazine Famitsu's online site, gamers in Japan are looking forward to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the new 3DS entry in Nintendo's build-a-village, make-some-cyberfriends sim. "Animal Crossing was the inspiration for me to purchase my Nintendo DS in the first place, many years ago," one reader said. "The fact the sequel's also coming out on a portable is part of the reason I have so much anticipation for this."

New Leaf was followed closely in the rankings by Namco Bandai's Tales of Xillia 2 ("There aren't really a lot of epic-caliber RPGs this year, so this is plainly my pick," as one reader put it). Bringing up the rear were the upcoming Wii U HD version of Monster Hunter 3, Sega's Yakuza 5, and Nintendo's New Super Mario Bros. U.

If the software rankings show an apparent lack of enthusiasm for Wii U software, that definitely doesn't apply on the hardware side. 21 percent of survey respondents said they planned to spend over 50,000 yen (about $624) shopping for games this holiday, and overwhelmingly they picked the Wii U as the console they're buying, with the 3DS a fair bit behind and the PS Vita quite a bit more lagging.

"Compared to most years, I don't think there are a lot of large-scale titles," a spokesman for Japanese electronics retailer Bic Camera told Famitsu. "However, with the Wii U launching, I think the market's going to be pretty busy regardless. We're getting a lot of preorders from families, and it's really exceeded expectations so far, to the point where we're anticipating the Wii U boosting results across the board. It looks like the Nintendo 3DS XL is going to be in high demand as a present as well, like it was last year."

Of course, Nintendo hardware launches in Japan (and the U.S., especially with the Wii) are notorious for long-term sellouts and scalpers running online auctions with big markups. In Japan, at least, this trend doesn't look like it's going to change. "I feel like we're going to be out of Wii U consoles pretty much immediately," one anonymous game retailer in Aichi prefecture commented to Famitsu. "It's a pity that our stock's going to be as paltry as it always is."

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