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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Nintendo finally releasing Wii U sports, fitness games, with new approach

Perhaps Nintendo’s Wii U console will finally catch on now that the company is releasing Wii U versions of its blockbuster fitness and sports games.

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The first version of “Wii Fit” for the original Wii sold more than 20 million units and generated more than $2 billion in sales within a few years after its 2007 debut. It also broadened the appeal of the console beyond gamers and established what’s now a major category of console-based fitness programs.

Nintendo today announced that Wii Fit U will be released Nov. 1 – a year after the Wii U console debuted – with 77 activities, including 19 new exercise routines, such as luge racing and salsa dancing.

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The game will be offered as a free download, playable for a month, after which people will have to buy the full version and an accessory Fit Meter fitness monitor for $20. A packaged version of the game will go on sale Dec. 13.

The Fit Meter tracks steps taken, intensity of activity and altitude, so it can gauge whether a user is running or walking or climbing stairs. Data collected by the device is synchronized wirelessly with the Wii U GamePad. (Here’s Nintendo Executive Vice President Scott Moffitt holding one of the meters, at the E3 conference in June.)

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Nintendo also announced that it’s finally releasing a Wii U version of the sports game that was bundled with the original Wii and gave the platform much of its initial appeal.

Nintendo is unbundling the game itself and selling individual sport games under the banner of “Wii Sports Club,” rather than a collection of five sports on a single disc.

Tennis and bowling games will be available first, as digital downloads on the Nintendo eShop store starting Nov. 7. After a 24-hour trial, the games will cost $2 for a single “day pass” or $10 for permanent access. Boxing, baseball and golf are “scheduled to launch in the months ahead.”

The sports games are higher-definition with improved controls and now provide multiplayer, online gaming, blending the game application and online services.

Nintendo has linked the sports games to its Miiverse social network, so players can play in state or regional “clubs” and chat with other players during matches. Players can challenge members of other clubs to improve their standings.

There’s also the option to just play in the same room with friends and family, or play the games alone.

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