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E3 – Day Two: Nintendo

Posted by g3tech on July 12, 2007

This morning’s Nintendo press conference in Santa Monica, CA served to underline what we all knew about the Wii: it’s setting its sights firmly on expanding the appeal of video games to older people and women, and it’s lining up a portfolio of cool new toys to help it achieve just that. Chief among them, and unveiled today by Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, is a novel Balance Board controller together with a purpose-designed fitness game that aim to help Wii owners lose weight.

Nintendo’s Balance Board, a slim, wireless white pad that looks more like a set of bathroom scales than a conventional videogame controller, does more than just measure your weight (although it does that, too). It can detect the exact position of your body’s center of gravity, and measure how it shifts as you move your limbs or lean.

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How’s that going to help you shed the pounds? Wii Fit, a new Nintendo title that’ll ship with the Balance Board, tracks your body mass index over time, and offers over 40 minigames that look guaranteed to get you sweating. Fils-Aime showed the Balance Board being used for yoga, step aerobics, balance training, and raw strength exercises like push-ups. No release date was mentioned, but it’s sure to sell like hotcakes — and you thought the Wii was hard to find right now.

Fils-Aime also showed off a brace of Wii remote attachments that’ll be bundled into games releasing later this year. One, the Wii Zapper, turns your Wii remote and nunchuk into a lightgun-like controller, and will release with zombie shooter Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles – while the other, a small plastic wheel, will launch along with Mario Kart Wii.

Hang on, what was that? Yes, in a move sure to put smiles on the faces of longtime Nintendo fans, the Mario Kart series is coming to the Wii. Only shown in video form, it’s scheduled to release in the first quarter of next year, but will include online play with an as-yet undisclosed (but presumably large) number of simultaneous players. “This is not your father’s Mario Kart,” Fils-Aime said.

In another move that’ll please Wii owners looking for a deeper online experience, Nintendo announced the Wii version of Medal of Honor will include an online mode supporting up to 32 players. It’ll support the newly-announced Wii Zapper, too.

On Nintendo’s portable DS – the most popular video game system on the planet, Fils-Aime says – the conference brought fresh insight into the touchscreen controls of Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. You’ll be able to draw on the screen to indicate a path for your weapons, or stretch out a line with the stylus to create tightropes and drag objects closer to you.

Fils-Aime also confirmed Nintendo big hitters Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl will both launch this year, on November 12 and December 3 respectively, and demonstrated Metroid Prime 3‘s controls – which, incidentally, doesn’t look to be using the Wii Zapper.

Nintendo’s conference ended with Fils-Aime and star Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto facing off in Wii Fit, playing head-to-head in a soccer ball heading tournament. Thanks to the balance-sensitive pad, just leaning left or right is enough to line up and head the ball. (Fils-Aime won handily, by the way.) We’re lead to wonder how well the Balance Board would work in a skateboarding or snowboarding game. Whether or not Wii Fit can capture the imagination of the vast contingent of Nintendo fans remains to be seen, but it’s absolutely perfect for the rapidly burgeoning fitness game market.

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Posted in Computers, E3, Games, Gaming, Internet, Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Mario Cart Wii, Medal of Honor, Metroid Prime 3, Nintendo, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Technology, Wii Fit | Leave a Comment »