It seems you can’t always count Nintendo out. The console and game maker had the best-selling console — the Nintendo 3DS handheld — and best-selling game in America in February, according to numbers released by retail sales analytics company NPD late Thursday.
The 3DS family of systems, which includes the 3DS XL, the 2DS and just-released New 3DS, sold 395,000 units in the U.S. in February, beating out the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the first time.
“We’re four years into this generation of handhelds,” Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime told Mashable in a phone interview Friday. “Being the number one platform for the month is really gratifying.”
Fils-Aime wouldn’t confirm how many of the the units moved were New 3DS XLs, which boasts improved processor, an internal NFC chip and an additional control stick, but said the product included a significant portion of that number. The New 3DS XL launched in North America and Europe on Feb. 13 after appearing in Japan last October.
Nintendo contributes the interest in 3DS hardware not only to the advanced features on the New 3DS, but to two game launches. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was the best-selling physical game in the United States in February, according to NPD. While February didn’t have many new game releases, Majora’s Mask — a refresh of a 15-year-old title — beat out 2K Games multiplayer Evolve and Sony’s exclusive title The Order: 1886. Nintendo confirmed that 515,000 combined physical and digital copies of the game sold.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was a handheld remake of a game that appeared on the Nintendo 64 in 2000, as a direct sequel to the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The title didn’t reach the same level of sales, but did achieve cult status among franchise fans.
“I do think Majora’s Mask is a very interesting case study. Even as a die-hard Zelda fan, I never finished it,” Fils-Aime said. “As I look at the data, I realize we had an opportunity to re-release a game that had not been played and completed by a tremendous number of consumers, and we were able to launch it on an install base system that was much higher than the N64 had in the time.
“There may be other games or franchises that have similar circumstances,” he continued. “We’re very fortunate to have a back catalog of games.”
Fils-Aime was also quick to praise the success of Capcom-produced Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, a hardcore action RPG with a devoted fanbase. It sold 290,000 copies since Feb. 13 in the U.S., most notable as its now the fastest-selling entry into the series. Fils-Aime compared its success to that of other core games on the handheld, such as JRPGs like Bravely Default and Fire Emblem: Awakening.
“While the 3DS has a range of experiences, including more bite-size games, its more engrossing titles are something you won’t find on mobile and that sets it apart for active gamers,” he said.
Nintendo’s growth in February also extended to its interactive, NFC-connected amiibo figures. The company reported it has sold 3.5 million plastic replicas of Nintendo characters — at $12.99 a pop — in the U.S. since late November. While the company has announced 42 figures so far, Fils-Aime is leaving the door open for many more potential figures.
“We’ve seen great partnerships with outside companies, like working with Sega to create Sonic amiibo, so other franchises are certainly possible,” he said. “We also believe amiibo can go beyond a figure; we have suggested there is a way to do things with NFC-enabled cards. There are a number of different elements we can pursue down the line.”
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