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E3: Nintendo announces WiiConnect24

As part of its pre-E3 conference in Hollywood, Nintendo has revealed a further hardware feature of the Wii console - WiiConnect24, a system which will allow the machine to continue to perform network functions even when in standby mode.

The idea behind the function is that rather than being turned off, Wii will go into a low-power mode which still has some vital systems running - including the ability to download content or interact with players on the network.

Announcing the feature in front of a large audience in the Kodak Theatre, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said that it could be used by developers to push new content to the system while players are asleep - but claimed that the functionality does not stop there.

One example he gave was of the possibility for other players to visit your village in Animal Crossing even while you have left the console "switched off" - so you could return to find that they have left a message or gift for you in the game.

"We designed a machine to provide a variety of services even when it seems like it is turned off," Iwata explained, going on to describe Wii as the "system that never sleeps."

"What we are aiming for is a system that is new every day," he told the audience.

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Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.