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Ultra-Sensitive Wii Motion Controller Due in June

Barry Levine, – Tue Apr 14, 2:49 pm ET

Building on its pioneering motion-sensing video-game console, Nintendo announced Tuesday the pending release of the Wii MotionPlus accessory, which it said will deliver "new levels of precision and performance."

The accessory, previewed at the E3 trade show last summer and which attaches to the Wii wireless controller, is planned for release in early June. The company said, when used for specially designed games, it offers "finer detail" and "greater accuracy than ever before."

Included in Wii Sports Resort

At a MSRP of $19.99, the MotionPlus is designed to replicate exactly on a TV screen each turn of the player's wrist or twist of the body. One game designed to take advantage of such subtleties of motion is Nintendo's Wii Sports Resort, the sequel to the Wii Sports game that comes with the console. Activities in the Wii Sports Resort include cruising on a water scooter, dueling with swords, and throwing a Frisbee. A MotionPlus accessory is included with each Wii Sports Resort.

Wii Sports Resort will be launched in July, but two other games from Electronic Arts -- Grand Slam Tennis and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 -- will be released sooner, shortly after the accessory, and they are also designed specifically for the MotionPlus.

Cammie Dunaway, executive vice president of sales and marketing, said Nintendo expects the new accessory to offer "a new evolution in video-game control," and developers are already working on additional games to take advantage of its motion sensitivity.

Innovating to Keep Up

But it will take a while for developers to adapt to the new capability. Game pioneer Masaya Matsuura recently told MTV that he had MotionPlus development kits during the making of his Major Minor's Majestic March marching-band game for the Wii, but "it didn't really make it any more fun than it already was." He speculated that MotionPlus titles need to be planned with the accessory in mind from the beginning.

Nintendo is hoping such innovations as the MotionPlus will help it keep its position as the video-game console business moves quickly. Some industry observers, for instance, have noted that the Wii's console sales last month in Japan were lower than Sony's PlayStation 3, about 146,000 PS3s to about 99,000 Wiis. In total, though, the Wii has sold nearly three times as many units in that country as the PS3.

Nintendo said it wasn't particularly concerned about the PS3's sales, especially since the first few months of a year are generally slower.

The company also recently released the DSi, an update of its handheld DS console, which includes two screens and two cameras. Like the motion-sensing Wii, the cameras are intended to create a unique interactive signature, such as adding effects to photos or importing your image into a game.
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