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Nintendo steps up game with debut of Wii Fit

Shira Weiss, 33, a mother with two, tests the yoga programs the Wii Fit offers at a sports complex in Manhattan.

New York Times

Shira Weiss, 33, a mother with two, tests the yoga programs the Wii Fit offers at a sports complex in Manhattan.

The latest game for Nintendo's Wii console, Wii Fit, is set to go on sale today, and analysts predict the family-friendly title will continue the trend of blockbuster video game sales in a year marked by penny pinching across America.

Despite an $89.99 price tag, about $30 more than most video games, Wii Fit, which includes a pressure-sensitive controller that looks more like an aerobic exercise step, could even rival April's best-selling game, the violence-infused Grand Theft Auto IV, which sold 2.9-million copies in its first five days.

"Even with a relatively higher price point than typical video games, (the Wii Fit) will still have a lot of appeal," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president of consumer research firm Jupiter Research.

Gartenberg said video games such as Take-Two Interactive Software's Grant Theft Auto series may appeal to "hard-core" gamers, but the Wii Fit will grab Nintendo's core demographic — everyone else.

He said the family-friendly aspect of Wii Fit and its health spin tap into the same appeal that made the Wii console itself a record-breaker. Nintendo sold more than 700,000 Wii units in April, more than Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 consoles combined.

Representatives from Best Buy and Gamestop stores in Tampa and St. Petersburg say Wii Fit supplies are likely to sell out on launch day. But Nintendo tried to allay fears that customers would have to wait months for their turn. "You should see a regular supply of Wii Fit on store shelves,'' Nintendo said in a statement.

The Associated Press reported last week that Americans spent $1.23-billion on video games, hardware and accessories in April, up 47 percent from last year.

What they're saying

Snippets of reviews of the Wii Fit:

"My kids enjoyed Wii Fit, but I'm not sure they'd pick it over a first-person shooter. … I, on the other hand, wholeheartedly enjoyed the game and plan on returning often during a summerlong weight-loss and fitness program."

Dirk Lammers, Associated Press

"While it may not be the ultimate high-tech exercise tool, Wii Fit doesn't forget it's a game, too. … The play is reminiscent of Wii Sports, the original Wii game peopled with user-designed 'Mii' characters used for activities like tennis and bowling."

David Ho, Cox News Service

Nintendo steps up game with debut of Wii Fit 05/20/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 11:14am]
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