Nintendo plays wow factor with input devices for Wii
July 13, 2007
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — If it’s all about control, Nintendo’s in the driver’s seat – again.
For the second year in a row, Nintendo wowed game reviewers with new input devices for its Wii game console. The Wii’s motion-sensitive remote and nunchuck stole the show at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. At the E3 Media and Business Summit on Wednesday, Nintendo unveiled three new styles of controllers for the Wii.
Two of the items were essentially mountings for the game’s standard controllers — a steering wheel that will come with the “Mario Kart Wii” racing game, and a gun, tentatively called the “Zapper.” During a hands-on demo, the Zapper proved to be an effective and fun tool in putting down the zombie menace in the upcoming “Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles.”
The third is a pressure-sensitive pad that will be used in “Wii Fit,” which is scheduled to be released next year. A feet-on demo included games that involved balance, heading soccer balls and ski jumping. The Nintendo press conference also featured fitness experts demonstrating various exercise activities. When the game hits the stores next year, it is supposed to include 40 different activities.
These — as well as a full lineup of games for the hugely popular Nintendo DS handheld system — help accomplish the company’s goal of drawing new gamers into the market. The strategy has been tremendously successful, with 69 percent of recent industry growth coming from sales of Nintendo products.
But while Nintendo goes after children, soccer moms and little old ladies, Sony focuses squarely on the hard-core gamer.
Sony’s press conference touted upgrades to the powerful PlayStation 3 and improvements to the PlayStation Portable handheld system, including the ability to hook it up to a TV to play games or watch movies. However, most of the time was spent on an impressive array of games that will appeal primarily to young men.
In addition to a batch of cross-platform titles — such as the medieval role-playing game “Assassin’s Creed,” the shooter “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” and the interactive music game “Rock Band” — Sony highlighted a number of impressive PS3 exclusives. These included sequels to the sci-fi shooters “Unreal Tournament,” “Killzone” and “Metal Gear Solid” and the “Gran Turismo” racing game. The crowd was truly impressed with the violent “Metal Gear Solid 4,” which included a rather gruesome fighting scene between two practically unkillable foes.
Sony also emphasized its online content, including downloadable games and its new “Home” initiative. In “Home,” PS3 owners create avatars to represent themselves in an online world that works something like a combination of the alternate-reality game “Second Life,” MySpace and a gaming forum.
However, none of Sony’s wares seemed to be truly innovative, or likely to attract those soccer moms who have been pushing Nintendo sales through the roof.