Nintendo Wii outsells PS3 3-to-1 in Japan in March

A person holds the controller of a Nintendo Wii game console at an electronic shop in Tokyo's Akihabara district January 24, 2008. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

TOKYO (Reuters) - Nintendo Co Ltd's 7974.OS Wii game console outsold Sony Corp's 6758.T PlayStation 3 by 3-to-1 in Japan in March but its DS handheld machine fell behind the PlayStation Portable for the first time in six months, a game magazine publisher said.

Nintendo, creator of such game characters as Mario and Zelda, sold 265,542 units of the Wii in the five weeks to March 30, compared with 81,579 units of the PS3, Enterbrain said on Friday.

The Wii features an innovative motion-sensing controller that allows gamers direct on-screen play by swinging it like a racket or sword, while offering a range of games that has widened the machine’s appeal to women and the elderly.

Sony sold 415,415 units of its PlayStation Portable (PSP) during the month. That beat DS sales of 255,124 units, as Capcom Co Ltd's 9697.T hunting action game, "Monster Hunter Freedom 2G", designed for the PSP, became the top seller in March, Enterbrain said.

Sales of Microsoft Corp's MSFT.O Xbox 360, which is popular in the United States but is struggling in the home turf of Sony and Nintendo, came to 13,127 units, according to Enterbrain.

Prior to the announcement, shares in Nintendo closed up 1.1 percent at 54,400 yen while Sony fell 2.1 percent to 4,260 yen. The benchmark Nikkei average .N225 lost 0.7 percent.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka