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E3: Nintendo Takes a Leap
Nintendo is hoping a bold, disruptive approach attracts new players and expands the industry
By: Blair Morris | Hardware | 10:53am, May 10, 2006
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LOS ANGELES - Anyone can tell you how video games look. Nintendo wants you to experience how they can feel.

Nintendo has unveiled their next leap in gaming by demonstrating its upcoming Wii home console, which lets users take control of the action on their television screens through the Wii Remote. Nintendo’s aim is that the control scheme of the Wii (pronounced “we”) is simple enough that everyone, no matter what their prior gaming experience, can use it with ease and will want to try it.

“Not only is Wii compelling to current game players, but it also will entice new players with new experiences,” explains Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. “To expand the total number of game players, we must make our experience both friendlier and more compelling. With Wii, it is.”

Iwata made his comments during Nintendo’s annual media briefing in Los Angeles prior to the start of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) global video game trade show. Thanks to Nintendo’s leadership, Wii hopes to challenge conventional thinking and will be a disruptive element in the video game industry.

Players manipulate their games through the motion of the remote control-like Wii Remote, which also includes a built-in speaker. In a four-player tennis game shown during Nintendo’s media briefing, the Wii Remote became a virtual tennis racket, from the vibration of the hit to the sound of the ball. The Wii Remote’s sensors are delicate enough to enable players to hit straight, add slice or put top spin on the ball.

Depending on the game, the Wii Remote could be a weapon, a baseball bat or an airplane. The applications are limited only by imagination. The Nunchuk controller attachment also includes a motion sensor, a development that suggests additional creative possibilities for this dual control system: Games could involve the use of a sword in one hand and a shield in the other; a clamp and a scalpel; or possibly a pair of boxing gloves.

The playing experience represents the most important factor in hope of keeping the industry healthy and growing. For more than a year, Nintendo has aimed to demonstrated living examples of how this strategy continues to work to the benefit of players, Nintendo and the marketplace. New interfaces can change the gaming landscape almost overnight, as evidenced by the success of the hand-held Nintendo DS system. To date, more than 16 million units have sold through to gamers of all types. Between now and the end of 2006, more than 100 new games will launch for the system in hope to continue the momentum it enjoys worldwide.

Wii will be available in the fourth quarter of 2006 and priced “affordably” for the mass market. It is reported that the Wii will feature a quick startup, silent operation and low power consumption. These elements make the “sleepless” WiiConnect24 experience possible. Users never need to turn it off. The combination of the new interface, including the Wii Remote, the Virtual Console and WiiConnect24 (which takes advantage of the console’s low power consumption) represents Nintendo’s aim in a true leap forward in gaming.

Games in development for the Wii console include a third chapter in the Metroid Prime series, a new Mario game and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Additionally, dozens of developers worldwide are working to bring new experiences to the Wii console. Nintendo will expand the gaming circle to as many types of people as possible, including lapsed gamers and people who have never played before.

Along with Wii Sports, which includes the tennis game, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess will launch at the same time as Wii and hopes to thrill gamers with its storyline, game play and look. The game makes use of the Wii Remote functions for elements like fishing and special sword attacks. The game also will be playable on Nintendo GameCube, but without the widescreen format or special controller functions.

For more information about Nintendo, visit the company’s Web site at www.nintendo.com.

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