Nintendo's profit for the fiscal first quarter surged 34 percent as sales of its hit Wii console shot up, underlining the success of the...

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TOKYO — Nintendo’s profit for the fiscal first quarter surged 34 percent as sales of its hit Wii console shot up, underlining the success of the video-game unit in attracting novice players.

The Japanese manufacturer of “Super Mario” and “Pokemon” video games reported Wednesday a profit of 107.27 billion yen ($996 million) from April through June, up from 80.25 billion yen in the same period last year.

The big factor behind the stellar performance was the Wii and its game software, including the “Wii Fit,” which has drawn the health-conscious to simple exercises like yoga and aerobics with a video game.

Nintendo sold 5.2 million Wii machines worldwide during the quarter — 1.7 million more than for the same period last year. It also sold 3.4 million “Wii Fit” games and 6.4 million “Mario Kart Wii” games.

Quarterly sales surged 24 percent to 423.38 billion yen ($3.9 billion), according to Kyoto-based Nintendo. Nintendo’s U.S. headquarters is in Redmond. Nintendo has now sold a cumulative 29.6 million Wii machines worldwide since its arrival in late 2006.

The Wii, with its trademark wandlike remote controller, has scored success against the PlayStation 3 from Japanese rival Sony, which went on sale about the same time, as well as against the Xbox 360 from Microsoft.

At the latest count, worldwide PS3 sales lagged at fewer than half of the Wii at 14.4 million. More than 19 million Xbox 360 consoles have been sold so far worldwide, according to Microsoft.

On Tuesday, Sony said its April-June profit plunged to 34.98 billion yen ($326.9 million) — about half that recorded a year ago — as a strong yen, the absence of “Spider-Man 3” revenue and faltering cellphone operations battered earnings.

Nintendo shrugged off an estimated 26.3 billion yen ($246 million) erosion in its quarterly sales from a strengthening yen, which gained about 15 percent against the dollar from last year. Solid Wii sales were enough to offset the losses from an unfavorable exchange rate, Nintendo said.

Nintendo is planning to sell 25 million Wii consoles and 28 million of its handheld DS machines for the fiscal year through March 2009. More broadly, it says it wants to make its products a “must-have” for every individual, not just every home.

Unlike old-style games that require players to push a complex combination of buttons, Wii comes with an easy-to-use remote to swing around like a tennis racket or fishing rod. The machine has proved appealing to relative newcomers to gaming, including the elderly and women.

Less robust were sales of the Nintendo DS handheld machines, especially in Japan, the company said.

DS sales for the quarter dipped by 40,000 to 6.94 million machines. Worldwide DS sales now total 77.54 million, according to Nintendo.

Nintendo kept its profit forecast for the year through March 2009 at 325 billion yen ($3 billion), up 26 percent from the record profit a year earlier. Its sales outlook was steady at 1.8 trillion yen ($16.8 billion), up 7.6 percent from the previous year.