Nintendo brings out big Wii Fit, Wii Sports surprises

Wii Sports' bowling mini game is set to be re-released as part of the "Wii Sports Club" update for Wii U. The game will include an online competitive mode.<br>
Wii Sports' bowling mini game is set to be re-released as part of the "Wii Sports Club" update for Wii U. The game will include an online competitive mode.

At last, a business plan just as different as the Wii U itself.

To the certain delight of owners of dusty balance boards everywhere, Nintendo announced Wednesday that all Wii U gamers will be able to download a full version of the new “Wii Fit U” for a monthlong free trial over the holiday season. And perhaps more exciting: The massively-popular “Wii Sports” is finally getting its own makeover on Nintendo’s next-gen console, complete with an online competitive mode.

Nintendo announced all this during one of its “Nintendo Direct” video broadcasts. The company has relied more and more on those broadcasts to make major announcements, shying away from video game conferences such as E3.

Apart from last year’s “Nintendoland,” there hasn’t been much to keep users playing games with their Miis – something that was big on the original Wii and remains popular on the 3DS with the addictive Streetpass Mii Plaza games. The “Wii Fit U” and the remade “Wii” Sports games may change all that.

“Wii Sports Club” brings all five original mini games – bowling, tennis, baseball, golf and boxing – to the Wii U via the eShop. Each title is sold individually for a $9.99, and includes updated graphics and a competitive online “club mode.” Just like the new ‘Wii Fit,” users will have access to a brief free trial mode or can even rent the titles for a day through the eShop.

Nintendo describes the online mode like a sort of a regional clan system, where players can group up to play with other users geographically near them or take on “rival” regions to “increase their club rankings.” We’ll likely have to wait and see exactly how this works to decipher that description, but any online competitive mode is a welcome change for Nintendo games. “Wii Sports Club” will mark only the third time a major Nintendo franchise has included an online competitive option.

“Wii Fit U” will be free for one month after users first start it up. If players purchase the game’s new $20 accessory, an interesting activity meter that maps calories burned accurately through elevation and level of effort, the game is unlocked for free.

These announcements come on the heels of a much-anticipated price drop for the premium version of the Wii U, to $300 from $350. Nintendo is also bundling its remade “The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker” with the console starting Friday.

With all three games, “Wind Waker,” “Wii Sports Club” and Wii Fit U,” Nintendo is relying heavily on past franchises to lure gamers to its struggling new console, and using the eShop, not physical presence in brick-and-mortar stores, to do it. If Nintendo can finally add a unified eShop login and open up the back catalog of Virtual Console games, Sony and Microsoft may have to worrying about the little Wii that could once again.

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About the Authors

Brian Bowers is Stars and Stripes’ Assistant Managing Editor for Europe and Mideast and one of its video game reviewers. He joined the newspaper in 1992 in Germany, where he worked on the news desk and the city desk. He has a wife and three children, who are always eager to help him test games.

Sam Laney joined Stars and Stripes in 2007 as a copy/layout editor and slowly convinced upper management to support his video game habit. Since then, he’s added game reviews and previews to his list of duties and moved on to the iPad. When he’s not rocking newbies in “Left4Dead2,” he covers PC and Nintendo systems.

Michael S. Darnell joined Stars and Stripes in 2013 as a reporter and quickly annoyed his bosses into allowing him to write about video games in his spare time. He's a PC gamer at heart whose life goals include building the first gaming PC on Mars.