Wii U sales are on the rise, thanks almost entirely to Pikmin 3, which is out now in Japan. It's a much needed change for the far-from-thriving next-gen Nintendo console, and in all likelihood the beginning of the slow turnaround the console needs so badly. The recent uptick in sales is in marked contrast to the very low sales the console has suffered as recently as a few weeks ago. It just goes to show you: it's not that people don't like Wii U, it's just that there wasn't anything on Wii U to like. Now there is, and there will only ever be more.

Wii U sales effectively tripled with the Japanese release of Pikmin 3. That's according to the latest Japanese charts, which recorded 22,000 Wii U units sold last week. The Wii U bumped into second place on the sales charts, behind only its cousin, 3DS LL (XL outside of Japan). Compare that to just a few weeks ago, when Wii U sold barely 7,000 units in Japan -- and that was a good week, in fourth place behind the 3DS LL, PS Vita, 3DS and PS3, barely ahead of the PSP. Jumping to second place behind another Nintendo product is quite an accomplishment.

It's worth mentioning that 22,000 in Wii U sales is no great shakes either. Analyst Michael Pachter expects PS4 and Xbox One to sell about 300 to 400 thousand units a month by early 2014. Granted, those are worldwide numbers, and estimates. If these Wii U sales hold up in Japan, it will start doing around 100 thousand a month in that market alone, which isn't great, but it's workable.

Besides for Wii U sales, Pikmin 3 sales themselves have been strong. After all, some people do already have Wii U consoles, believe it or not. The title shifted a hearty 92,000 units, taking the number one spot on the weekly Japanese charts and doing nearly triple the business of the next console title. It also created a rare week with two Wii U titles on the top 20 list -- Super Luigi U did alright too, although nobody's buying Wii U consoles just for that.

pikmin 3 wii u sales release date The Pikmin 3 release date has substantially boosted Wii U sales in Japan. (Image: Nintendo of America)

The real question is whether Wii U sales will pick up in North America on the Pikmin 3 release date as well. The game comes out in the U.S. on August 4, 2013, and Nintendo is marketing it out the wazoo. It's practically the sole focus of their Comic-Con booth. It's been nine years since Pikmin 2, but Wii U is in such a drought that even people who normally don't care may pick it up. Also, it looks very cool. It's probably not the game Wii U deserves, but it's the one it needs right now. So we'll buy it, even though we don't really want it. Because it's not our dream game. It's a sleeper hit. A slow gamechanger. A Pikmin game.

I believe in Pikmin 3.