UPDATE 3-Pokemon GO launches in Japan, bringing smash-hit game home

Fri Jul 22, 2016 3:25am EDT
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* Japanese rush to phones as Pokemon finally launches

* Co-creator apologises for keeping fans waiting

* Shares in Nintendo, launch partner McDonald's Japan climb (Adds quotes, colour)

By Elaine Lies and Megumi Lim

TOKYO, July 22 (Reuters) - Eager Japanese rushed to their phones on Friday to start hunting as Pokemon GO, the hit Nintendo-backed smartphone game, finally launched in Japan, home of the colourful cartoon characters.

The game has been an unexpected, runaway success from Spain to Australia, doubling Nintendo's value since the game's launch in the United States earlier this month.

Japan, however, had been made to wait, as Niantic, the developers behind the game, and Nintendo sought to ensure servers would withstand the game's popularity. Finally, after days of rumours, it launched on Friday.

"Everyone was talking about why we couldn't do it here, since Pokemon is Japanese," said Maho Ishikawa, a 16-year-old high school student who said she had already captured a monster.

"Since I really wanted to play, I'm very, very glad."   Continued...