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Konami onto a winner with new soccer game

With perfect timing - given the Japanese national football team's gutsy performance at the ongoing World Cup in South Africa and despite being knocked out by Paraguay on Tuesday - Konami Digital Entertainment Co. has released the first "Winning Eleven" game designed for smartphones.

With the Blue Samurai advancing further in the tournament than many had expected and outperforming some of the traditional powerhouses of the sport, such as Italy, France and England, a footballing frenzy has seized Japan.

Sales figures for "Winning Eleven 2010" are not yet available since the game hit stores on June 23, but it is sure to have been propelled up the charts by Japan's victory against Denmark in the final group stage game of the World Cup.

The franchise has sold more than 62 million copies world-wide- - it is known as Pro Evolution Soccer in Europe and the United States - but this version is the first to be available for the iPhone and iPod touch in Japan, Konami said. The game has already been released in other markets.

Officially licensed by UEFA, the governing body of the sport in Europe, the game recreates the excitement of playing in the Champions League. That tournament was won earlier this year by Italy's Inter Milan, but the game gives the player the choice of 120 club teams and 80 national teams to guide to lifting the cup.

The movements of the players on the pitch can be controlled by the unique tilt control feature of the iPhone and iPod, or through the touch-screen directional pad and buttons that are just like those of a video game controller.

The application features four game modes, with the Match Mode enabling a player to take to the field as their favorite team against the computer.

In Japan, the game retails for Y800 (€7.39).

The game started out as a J. League soccer game for the PlayStation in 1995, with Pro Evolution Soccer first released overseas in 2001.

Other soccer games include FIFA 10 by EA Sports, and Football Manager by Sega, both of which are available on the iPhone and iPod platforms.