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  ‘Linerider’ Promised for Wii, DS Platforms  
Posted 2006-12-19 by Tony Walsh
Linerider, an addictive, Flash-based activity where users draw hills and ramps for a tobogganer, has been picked up for development on the Nintendo DS and Wii platforms, according to an official announcement by inXile entertainment. This is pretty amazing news, considering Linerider was developed as an online toy by an amateur Flash developer. It became a viral hit 3 months after launch, something I'm sure inXile is banking on for a future Nintendo release. I found Linerider an amusing diversion lacking in long-term appeal--it's a toy based around a single gimmick, but I can see the potential for a full-blown game, particularly for the gesture-driven DS and Wii.
  Flimsy Wii Strap Recalled  
Posted 2006-12-15 by Tony Walsh
"My hunch is that there's going to be a product recall in the future."

Reuters reports that Nintendo will exchange 3.2 million Wiimote straps with stronger ones, "after some reports of broken straps." Since the launch of the Wii, a few reports of property and personal damage have been surfaced, related to strap breakage. Web site Wii Have a Problem has been logging such reports, which range from silly to sobering. While the new strap will probably be strong enough to withstand the power of those exuberant gamers who can't help but flail around violently during play, there's still no protection against getting a Wii in the face.

[Update: Edge mag says it's a "replacement" not a "recall," suggesting journalists have irresponsibly reported a "recall." While I agree that language is important, I'm not sure the distinction between "recall" and "replacement" is all that crucial in this case. The point is the straps were crap, and gamers need new ones.]
  Wii Avatars Break Free [Updated]  
Posted 2006-12-14 by Tony Walsh
"Mii" avatars for the Wii console have been given a license to travel, thanks to a "How To" article published by LiquidIce's Nintendo Wii Hacks. Using the built-in Bluetooth capabilities of the Wiimote control device, a Bluetooth-capable PC, and a program called MiiTransfer, Mii avatar data can be scraped from the Wiimote to the PC, then shared through web sites such as the Mii Transfer Station (see the article for details).

Suddenly [update: actually, not so suddenly at all], Mii avatars become sociable creatures you can not only share with your friends over the internet, but potentially generate with web-based software. It's only a matter of time before the data structure of a Mii is reverse-engineered, allowing PC- or web-based software programs to output Mii code. I envision Mii avatars crafted by talented avatar-makers and put up for sale. Will Nintendo try to stop such efforts? I don't see how it would be in their interest to do so.

[Commentator Dezro pointed out that Mii-sharing is built into the Wii through the "Mii Parade." I had incorrectly thought that it wasn't possible to share Mii avatars based on some blog posts I'd read recently. I've got a Wii on order, so hopefully it will turn up this weekend and I can try this out myself!]
  Big Weekend For Game Consoles  
Posted 2006-11-17 by Tony Walsh
Just in case you've been living under a rock, this weekend marks a major outburst of consumer lust related to the retail availability of the Sony PS3 and Nintendo Wii in North America. The two next-gen consoles took their sweet time getting to market, and now appear to be in short supply for launch weekend--conveniently, this is making for all sorts of headlines as the mainstream media boggles at rabid gamers lining up or punching each other in the face for a chance at picking one of the consoles up. We are on the cusp of a new round of the console wars. My prediction: Xbox 360 FTW, followed by the Wii, then the PS3. I'll grab a Wii in 2007, but I won't touch a PS3 unless I have to.
  ‘Opera’ for Wii:  Free While It Lasts  
Posted 2006-09-26 by Tony Walsh
The Opera web browser for Nintendo's upcoming Wii game console will be free for a limited time, according to Opera Software. After June, 2007, the Opera browser will be available as a paid download from the "Wii Shop Channel" for an unspecified amount of "Wii Points." I'm disappointed the browser won't be bundled with the console, but on the plus side, Opera for the Wii will support Flash and AJAX-based web content, featuring the same standards support as Opera 9 for home computers. Additionally, being a download, one assumes the browser will be able to be upgraded periodically. According to Opera Software, "The Wii remote control will also be an integral part of browsing, allowing users to intuitively control the Web with their Wii remotes." In other words, the controller subs in as a mouse--which is good news for those interested in developing web-based games for the Wii.
  Wii Controller as Performance Tool  
Posted 2006-06-06 by Tony Walsh
Game designer Patrick Curry posted a great concept for a performance-oriented game as part of his ongoing one-idea-per-week frenzy. Entitled "Puppet Show," the game would involve the design and construction of digital characters and sets. Characters would be operated live (and collaboratively, optionally), for one-shot performances or for recording. Curry speculates that the game would be playable on the Sony PS3 and the Nintendo Wii, but I see the latter as the vastly superior option. The Wii's controller seems to have a much greater range of motion-detection.

Blogger Brian Stokes is rooting for the use of the Wii in puppetry, too. "This thing could make a great virtual rod control," he writes. "Imagine four of these per box, which would be connected to other performers on the Net, performing in the same scene, or watching and providing virtual applause!" Being an audience of a digital environment, viewers could become participants, ideally able to watch from any angle, switch views with ease, record their own version of the show for later viewing or remixing or re-broadcast. Puppetcasting, anyone?
  Wii Likes The ‘Opera’  
Posted 2006-05-10 by Tony Walsh
Nintendo's upcoming "Wii" game console is set to browse the World Wide Web. Opera Software announced today that it would be supplying the Wii with its Opera browser: "Users of the Wii console will browse the Internet using their consoles. Navigating via the innovative new Wii Remote controller, users can visit Web sites in between gaming sessions." The inclusion of a functional web browser makes Nintendo's Wii, which is already the least expensive next-gen console, an even better bang for the buck--perhaps allowing lower-income households to get web access without having to buy a computer.

While web-browsing on the Wii is an impressive development, I see a need for rock-solid parental controls here. How will the family-friendly console prevent minors from accessing online porn?
  A Wii In the Eye  
Posted 2006-05-09 by Tony Walsh
I've just watched video footage of Nintendo's E3 demonstration of its next-gen Wii console, which uses a motion-sensing controller held in the hand like a wand. A tennis game was shown, and an audience member invited to play with Nintendo execs. After observing play for a few minutes, I can only come to one conclusion: The Nintendo Wii is going to result in personal, physical injury. At minimum, the damage will result from repetitive strain injuries caused by waving the controller around. Additionally, I expect players to unintentionally smash their limbs or hands into their living-room furniture, or accidentally punch a fellow gamer in the face. You wait. It's going to happen. Probably to you.
  Nintendo’s ‘Wii?’ LOL!  
Posted 2006-04-27 by Tony Walsh
Nintendo’s ‘Wii?’  LOL!
Nintendo Europe says the name of the next-gen Nintendo console is "Wii." It had been code-named "Revolution." Now, as is being pointed out in most English-speaking countries, the console's official name could mean any of "we" (as in "us"), or "wee" as in tiny, or "wee" as in urine. A baffling choice for a product name, and impossible to utter seriously in public. Example: "I was playing around with my Wii yesterday, and I really like the new controller." Ugh.
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