Nintendo builds on winning formula at E3

Players of Wii Fit Plus
Players of Wii Fit Plus at the Nintendo booth during the Electronic and Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. Nintendo laid out videogame offerings that build on the winning momentum of its popular Wii consoles and DS handheld devices

Nintendo laid out videogame offerings that build on the winning momentum of its popular Wii consoles and DS handheld devices.

The Japanese videogame star touted a host of homemade and third-party titles it hopes will appeal to everyone from neophytes to hardcore veterans.

Nintendo also showed off hardware that makes motion-sensing wand controllers more precise and a new "Vitality Sensor" that measures players' heart rates for future games crafted as stress relievers.

"Wii has continued to attack the games market like no system before, pushing into the mainstream of culture," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said at a press conference at the opening of the (E3) in Los Angeles.

"The primary weapon for all of this is the interface."

Wii offers motion-sensing controllers shaped like television remotes, car steering wheels, guns, and bathroom scales.

The new Wii MotionPlus gadgets, essentially cubes that plug into bases of existing wand-shaped controllers, will be available in the United States on July 26, Fils-Aime said.

US videogame giant Electronic Arts (EA) has tailored its next Tiger Woods golf game to MotionPlus devices and will sell the software bundled with the gadgets in a sales coup for Nintendo.

EA has also made a "Grand Slam Tennis" videogame for the more sensitive motion-sensing controllers. France-based Ubisoft has made a "Red Steel 2" sword-fighting game exclusively for MotionPlus play.

"Just looking, you almost don't notice that little extender," Fils-Aime said. "Most people won't see the difference until they hit the power button."

Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata gave a demonstration of a "Vitality Sensor" the company is making to feed players' heart rates into Wii videogames.

The sensor looked like a small box with an opening at one end for a fingertip to slip inside.

"The point is to visualize something that is invisible; for example, how nervous I am up here on stage today and how occupied I am on remembering my script," Iwata said with humor.

"People will be able to use the Vitality Sensor to achieve greater relaxation. Usually videogames give excitement...but maybe it won't be long before videogames can be used to help you unwind and, maybe, fall asleep."

To keep Wii fans wide awake, Nintendo announced a new multi-player version of its beloved "Super Mario Brothers" that will be available for the consoles by the end of the year.

Nintendo also demonstrated a new Wii Fit Plus exercise game as an enhanced offering in the fast-growing fitness videogame category.

"Players are off the couch," said Fils-Aime.

"Physical reality has become the new proving ground for videogame innovation."

Fils-Aime acknowledged online critics that have complained about Wii lacking videogames for hardcore gamers enthralled by rich graphics, slick game play, and battle action.

"I read the blogs too, and I've been a gamer myself for a long time," Fils-Aime said. "I know there are people out there saying 'Great, I want more'."

He then provided glimpses at role-playing and action videogames that third-party publishers will release for Wii by year's end.

Sega will release "The Conduit" by the end of June and heralds the videogame as a serious shooter taking advantage of intuitive movements allowed by console controllers.

Capcom has crafted a version of its popular zombie killing "Resident Evil" franchise for Wii consoles, and Electronic Arts has "put its full weight" behind a "Dead Space" action horror game for Wii, according to Fils-Aime.

The audience responded with applause at the news that the blockbuster "Metroid" franchise will include a Wii game next year.

"In the end, we believe we can provide something for everyone" Fils-Aime said.

(c) 2009 AFP


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