Sun, Sep 18, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Nintendo launches new controller

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , TOKYO

Nintendo's Revolution game console and its controller are pictured in an undated company photo.

PHOTO: NINTENDO CO. LTD. VIA THE NY TIMES

Nintendo, maker of the GameCube video console, has surprised the industry with its answer to the increasingly high-tech consoles of its rivals: a simple, one-handed controller that players can also swing like a sword or a golf club.

Nintendo's controller was the star of the Tokyo Game Show, a three-day event that opened here on Friday, where Nintendo and its rivals, Sony and Microsoft, were trying to drum up interest in their new consoles. The three are vying for dominance as they scramble to roll out a new generation of game consoles.

While most controllers require two hands and are studded with an array of buttons and joysticks, the new Nintendo controller has fewer features, giving it the appearance of a TV remote control.

The controller is intended for use with Nintendo's Revolution game console, the successor to GameCube. Revolution is scheduled for release sometime next year. It will go head to head with Microsoft's Xbox 360, scheduled to appear in November, and Sony's PlayStation 3, coming out next spring. It was clear on Friday that the three companies are taking very different tacks to attract consumers.

Nintendo hopes the simplicity of its new controller and games will make them more accessible, especially to first-time players. Sony, on the other hand, wants to make its PlayStation 3 the most technologically advanced console, giving it more lifelike graphics. Microsoft will probably use its Internet expertise to appeal to those who enjoy playing online against opponents they may never have met.

At a news conference to show the controller, Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata, said his company wanted to make a device that was simple enough for anyone to use.

"A beginner or an expert player alike can enjoy this," he said.

Nintendo, known for game characters like Pokemon, Super Mario and Donkey Kong, hopes Revolution will catapult it ahead of the market leader, Sony.

Iwata said Nintendo wanted to develop a console that would appeal to a broader audience, including those who do not play video games now. He said consoles and games are now so complicated that many potential consumers are intimidated by them.

"We felt there was a crisis," he said. "People are scared away by the complexity of operating games. Even before they touch a game, they are afraid that it will be difficult, and stay away."

Another novel feature of Nintendo's new controller is its use of motion sensors. A demonstration video showed users shooting it like a gun and conducting a virtual orchestra by using it like a baton. The controller can also work with sports video games, allowing players to swing it like a tennis racquet or baseball bat.

"We need a controller that will sit on the table and invite anyone to touch it," Iwata said.

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