GDC '08: Wii Fit, WiiWare hitting US in mid-May

Balance board peripheral-based game and independent development and digital distribution channel are just three months away.


SAN FRANCISCO--On the morning the Game Developers Conference has begun to shift into high gear, Nintendo has stolen some of the thunder surrounding anticipated announcements by Microsoft. The company has announced release dates for two of its most anticipated projects for its wildly successful Wii console--Wii Fit and WiiWare.

According to Japanese game giant's US arm, Nintendo of America, Wii Fit will go on sale on May 19 across North America. (It will hit the UK and Europe earlier, on April 25.) The game, which has not yet been officially priced, will have players engage in exerciselike activities--including yoga and low-impact calisthenics--via its balance board peripheral. Players can track their health and exercise progress through a new Wii Fit channel, which will launch alongside the game.

Despite some debate about exactly how much exercise the game will actually entail, Wii Fit has sold over 1.4 million units in Japan to date, much to the pleasure of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. Nintendo also said that third-party publishers are already working on games which use the balance board, such as Namco Bandai's snowsports title Family Ski. In an article printing this morning, the Wall Street Journal has confirmed that the game, which is already available in Japan, is coming to the US later this year.

One week before Wii Fit sparks another retail run on the still-hard-to-find console, Nintendo will launch its eagerly anticipated WiiWare channel. The channel will offer a series of all-new games developed by both independent developers, such as Frontier's LostWinds, and major publishers, such as Square Enix's fantasy-monarch lifestyle sim Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.

Unsurprisingly, Nintendo will be touting the development side of WiiWare during a GDC Panel devoted to the subject tomorrow. Though the WiiWare toolset has remained largely out of the public's eye, NOA is playing up how its "combination of low development barriers and unique game experiences found only on Wii should enable developers to try new ideas with lower risk in a quicker, more creative and affordable way."

GameSpot will have more updates from both the WiiWare and Wii Fit panels direct from the 2008 Game Developers Conference.

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