NA tunes into Nintendo Channel

New free service offers info on full-fledged Wii games, DS downloads via the Mario Factory's ubiquitous console.

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This morning, many gamers woke up to a soft blue blinking glow emanating from their Wiis. The signal heralded the latest update to the console from Nintendo: the eponymous Nintendo Channel. Via a brief note on the console's messaging service, the cash-flush game maker announced that the service, which has been available in Japan since last November, is now available in North America and is expected to launch in Europe at the end of the month.

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For those who own only a Wii, the Nintendo Channel adds several new features. It will offer downloadable videos for the console, including game trailers and commercials, along with instructional videos on how to use Wii services and games. Other content will also be available, such as a video interview with often-honored game designer Shigeru Miyamoto.

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Wii owners will also be able to look up information and box art for both released and upcoming games on the Nintendo Channel. In addition, those who have downloaded the Wii's Web browser can order the games directly through the console. It also lets users rate Wii games that they've played by filling out various surveys about their playing habits and preferences. The demographic and preferential data from this information will then accompany games on the Nintendo Channel, allowing users to select games that people of comparable age or sex play, or to see other games liked by those who play their favorite games.

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However, the service's biggest draw will be for DS users, given that, once downloaded, it will turn the Wii into a DS demo-download station. Via the two devices' Wi-Fi connection, the channel will let players browse demos on their Wii and then transmit them to their DSs much like demo kiosks at retailers.

For a guided video tour of the Nintendo Channel, visit Nintendo's official Web site.

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