Sony PS3, PSP beats Nintendo in Japan weekly sales

TOKYO, March 12 (Reuters) - Sony Corp's PlayStation 3 game console and PlayStation Portable handheld gear both outsold rival machines from Nintendo Co for the first time in nine months in Japan last week, a research firm said.

Demand for PlayStation 3 was stirred up by the launch on March 5 of the latest instalment of Capcom Co's (9697.T) wildly popular survival horror series, "Resident Evil", Ascii Media Works said on Thursday.

"Resident Evil 5", designed for the PS3 and Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Xbox 360, is set to go on sale in Europe and North America on Friday, potentially helping the two machines better compete with Nintendo's Wii, the top seller in the current console cycle.

Sony is estimated to have sold 38,748 units of the PS3 in the week ended March 8 in Japan, compared with 16,950 units of the Wii and 15,152 units of the Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360, though popular in North America, has been struggling in Japan, home to Sony and Nintendo.

On the portable side of the video game market, the addition last week of new body colours to the PSP's product line-up drove demand for the Sony machine.

Sony is estimated to have sold 60,339 units of the PSP during the week in Japan, compared with 46,044 units of Nintendo's DS, which runs far ahead of the PSP in total global sales. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, editing by Will Waterman)