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E3: Nintendo's conference

Nintendo's press conference at E3 2007 today focused heavily on the company's now blatant overarching philosophy of pulling new age groups into games, while giving core gamers enough of an update on titles aimed at the traditional market, such as Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption to keep all onlookers happy.

Leading the charge into non-endemic game audiences such as women and older people was Wii Fit, presented by Shigeru Miyamoto himself. The 'game' uses a new peripheral, the Wii Balance Board, to measure a plethora of health-related activities, such as yoga, aerobics and dancing, provided charts that track your body mass index and providing systems for individuals within families to create avatars and track the progress of their health over time.

"When we first thought up the concept for the Wii, this is what we thought," said Miyamoto. "We thought that Wii was a device that would be placed in the living room, and would therefore be relevant to everyone in the household."

No released date was confirmed for the software

Previously, speaking to a packed Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles's Santa Monica, President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime, had preached at length about expanding the industry and sales figures for DS and Wii into the "new" markets of handheld, women and older gamers.

2Unquestionably, DS is leading games industry growth," he said, claiming that 50 per cent of all games sales are now for handheld software and hardware, and that Nintendo's split of regular players between men and women is now 66 percent to 33 per cent compared to the rest of the industry's 80 per cent to 20 per cent.

"I don't live in a cave," he said. "I know what some people are saying - sure, that's all happening now, but it's just a fad. If I were in their shoes I'd been saying the same. But here's the reality - the DS flew by the 40 million worldwide sales mark months ago, and unquestionably remains the best selling console."

More than 140 new DS games and 100 new Wii games will be released before the end of the year, he said.

Keen to show that Nintendo hasnât lost its "passion" for more traditional games markets, Fils-Aime and Nintendo president Satoru Iwata showed off a wide range of core titles, such as The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Super Mario Galaxy, pointing to new control methods and claiming Mario Galaxy was a "worthy successor to Mario 64".

Super Mario Galaxy was dated for US release for November 12: no date was announced for Europe. Other core titles shown included Smackdown Vs Raw 2008 for Wii and DS, Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden for DS with stylus control, a new version of Square Enix's Dragon Quest early next year for Wii and Sega's Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.

Mario Kart Wii, the gaming world's worst kept secret, was also announced for the first quarter of 2008. A new steering wheel was shown, to be released alongside the game, as was the Wii Zapper, a light-gun for shooters, which is to be shown in LA this week working with Capcomâs Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.

The Wii Zapper was billed as "the first offspring of the Wii remote and the Nunchuk" and will house both "like a machine gun." It will release in the US this year for USD 19.99.

Online delivery and play formed a key part of the presentation with Reggie confirming Check Mii Out, a new channel for uploading and voting on Mii avatars from around the world. Nintendo displayed the channel as part of its ongoing commitment to online in general, alongside announcements of multiplayer enabled titles like Mario Kart, Madden and FIFA, and the WiiWare game download service (Wii Software in Europe) promised next year.

More than 5 million DS owners have used the free wireless capabilities of the machine, said Fils-Aime.

President Satoru Iwata set the overall tone of the presentation, though, saying that innovative machines such as DS and Wii were creating a "paradigm shift" in people's homes, and that Nintendo was trying to "destroy the psychological barriers" that separate core gamers from "novice players".

"We must accept that games are for everyone," he said. "The best game designs let users of all skill levels play together."

Wii Fit came last and stole the show. Miyamoto showed aerobics, muscle toning, yoga and balancing features with a trio of fitness instructors. More than 40 activities are included in the game. Demoing the Wii Balance Board — which to all intents and purposes looked like something from a step aerobics class — Miyamoto measured Fils-Aimes' BMI at a porky 27.51 while showing the device calibrating for his posture while he stood on it.

"This is Nintendo's moment to lead," said Fils-Aime, wrapping up. "We are the ultimate interactive experience. The future should belong to all of us."

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