I have no idea what improvements Nintendo is making to the Wii to compete with the Kinect and the Move, but it’s clear they’ve been working hard on the handheld gaming front. On March 27, they’ll be releasing a new 3D version of their popular handheld game, the Nintendo 3DS.
This is one I’m really excited about, because it will showcase 3D images–without the use of 3D glasses. As for how they’ll do this, if you’ve ever played with a “magic eye” book, you’ll have an idea. You basically need to focus your eyes at a certain point, and the picture will appear to “pop out” at you. There’s also the option to turn off 3D and play in old fashioned 2D.
So what does this have to do with Wii Fitness? Well, a few things:
1) Nintendo has brilliantly figured out how to make the DS relevant to fitness. Nintendo is including a built-in pedometer which measures how many steps you take through the day and tracks it in the Activity Log application. A feature will let you earn “coins” based on how many steps you take, which can be used to unlock features in games. Tell your kids about this feature, and they’ll be running around and getting great exercise just to earn coins!
2) If you’re doing your Wii workouts and you have kids constantly getting in the way, this is a great way to occupy their time for 20 minutes (although early reports from doctors say it’s best to leave the unit in 2D mode for young kids).
3) If you’re exercising on a boring treadmill or exercise bike, this is going to be one of the great time-wasters in the world to occupy your time (and earn coins yourself!)
4) There are some other cool features which will encourage more “social” gaming. A feature called Street Pass will allow 3DS consoles the option to communicate with each other when you pass another 3DS owner in the street. A feature called Spot Pass will allow the DS to receive information from a stationary display (such as in a store or a trade show).
5) Maybe now that this is out, Nintendo will refocus its energy back to the Wii. There have been rumors since 2008 (completely unsubstantiated) that the Wii 2 is due to be released in 2011, and may feature things like HD and Blu-Ray. I’ll believe it when I see it.
I really like how Nintendo continues to defy the notion that gaming, even portable gaming, must be sedentary. Hopefully there will be more games that make use of the built-in pedometer!