Who says video games will make you fat? Nintendo’s hoping to change the image of gamers as pasty, Cheetos-eating basement dwellers with “Wii Fit,” a device for a wired workout.
Early next year, the company plans to release a “Balance Board” that connects to its popular Wii video-game console. When stepped on, the pressure-sensitive board will measure your weight and body mass index, or BMI, then tailor your virtual character – called a “Mii” – to look as thin or fat as you are.
Nintendo plans to incorporate the board into a variety of games, including yoga, step aerobics, dancing and soccer. In the future, it could be used for skateboarding, snowboarding and other sports where the flexible board can be used as a virtual stand-in. No price has been set yet.
Wii Fit was the standout of this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, the annual video game conference staged this week in Los Angeles.
Nintendo went charmingly old school with its new toys, introducing console accessories that take advantage of its motion-sensitive Wii console.
With the Wii Zapper, the House that Mario Built is finally putting an end to fan-boy grumbling about why there isn’t a Duck Hunt-like laser gun for the Wii.
The two-handed docking station for the Wii remote and nunchuk looks like something that would be at home in the hands of a “Star Wars” Imperial Storm Trooper (except in glossy white) and is destined to be the ultimate device for enhancing ever-popular first-person shooter games.
Due out later this year, it’ll be packaged with a Nintendo-developed game that shows off what it can do, for a mere $20. The zapper will also be compatible with third-party games, including November’s zombie extravaganza, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, and the popular World War II Medal of Honor” franchise games.
Wii Wheel, a steering wheel you use to drive on-screen cars, will be packaged with “Mario Kart Wii” (out early next year), which will be one of the first games to use the console’s built-in Wi-Fi connection to let you play online against people around the world.
While Nintendo’s announcements at the expo might’ve been the most exciting, Sony and Microsoft did have some news of their own.
In addition to emphasizing the $100 price drop on the 60GB version of the PlayStation 3 (now $500, compared to $250 for the Wii and $400 for an Xbox 360), Sony unveiled its new and improved PlayStation Portable.
It’s now 33 percent lighter and 19 percent slimmer than the original version (launched in 2004). Sony has also added a video-out port that will let you plug your PSP directly into the TV, so you can watch videos or play games on a big screen. And, taking a page out of Nintendo’s book, it’ll be available in three colors: piano black, ceramic white and ice silver.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, Microsoft avoided discussing the headaches it’s having over customers’ complaints about the Xbox 360’s “red ring of death” – resulting in costly repairs and warranty extensions, leading some pundits to demand a total recall of the gaming console – choosing to play up the solidly selling Xbox 360’s lineup of games, including “Halo 3,” “Grand Theft Auto: IV” and “Madden NFL 2008.”
It did, however, present “Rock Band,” which lets up to four gamers master guitar, drums and vocals using instrument-shaped controllers. It’ll be the first-ever video game to offer full-length albums as part of its game play. (The popular “Guitar Hero” franchise only does single songs.)