Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime Talks Zelda, the Future of Handhelds and Wii’s Big Holiday Push

How Nintendo is looking to finish the holiday season strong before the Wii U premieres next year.

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New York City-born Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO of Nintendo of America, was in the neighborhood and stopped by the TIME offices to talk to us about Nintendo’s plan for the holiday season, which sounds promising as Nintendo bounces back after a disappointing financial forecast released last month, with strong sales for the Wii and the latest Zelda release.

How has The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword affected Wii sales?

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has had a tremendously positive impact on our Wii business. First, the game itself is spectacular. It’s getting perfect scores in the U.S., Europe and Japan. It’s a deep game. People are sayings it’s between 50 and 75 hours of gameplay.

As for its effect on our Wii business, Skyward Sword on its first day became the fastest selling Zelda game we’ve ever had. It launched last week. Our Wii business also had the benefit of Black Friday, but in total for the same week, we sold over 500,000 units of Wii.

Why do you think the game sold so many more copies than Twilight Princess, especially when you consider people might be holding off until Wii U comes out next year?

First, at this point in time there are more than 37 million units of Wii in the U.S., which is a huge install base to sell into. Twilight Princess was a launch title, a very effective launch title, but still a launch title. At this point in the Wii’s life cycle, you’ve got new consumers just looking to get into the franchise and they’re looking for that one great game to play or one great game to gift and Skyward Sword fits that bill.

The real benefit we have with Skyward Sword coming out now is that we have all these new consumers who are jumping into Wii, so now they can enjoy all of the other great games—Mario Kart Wii, Wii Sports, Wii Fit Plus—so for us strategically it was really important to release the game this holiday season.

Has Super Mario 3D Land had a similar effect on 3DS sales?

3DS has been having positive momentum since the digital content came onboard with the eShop, the launch of Ocarina of Time and obviously the price reduction. We’ve been able to fuel that fire with Pokemon: Rumble Blast and Star Fox. What Mario did was bring a whole new range of consumers into the 3DS franchise.

Has the 3DS passed the sales mark of the original DS?

It just did. In sales through this past Saturday—8 months—it has outsold the full 12 months of the original DS. During that 12 months time, the original DS sold 2.37 million and we just surpassed that this past Saturday, so we’ve got real good momentum going into the holidays.

(MORE: Crazy 360-Degree Battlefield 3 Simulator Uses Infrared Cameras and Paintball Guns)

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