Nintendo's Wii console hits shops in Europe

The first of Europe’s gamers got their hands on Nintendo’s new video games console on Friday after stores across the continent opened their doors at midnight to end die-hard fans’ long wait for a Wii.

In Britain some fans camped out for over two nights on Oxford Street, London’s main shopping drag, to guarantee bagging a Wii, the latest entrant in the $30-billion global video game market.

“I can’t believe it’s real, I’ve been waiting for this for ages. said Marlon, after he became the first gamer in Britain to buy a Wii.

“It was definitely worth it, I’d do it again,” he added after revealing he had queued for two days, including one which saw a tornado and torrential rain hit London.

The Wii has been making waves with usually cynical gamers even though its computing power is dwarfed by the Xbox 360 and the PS3 and it does not offer the lifelike, high-definition graphics its bigger rivals boast.

Players can thrust, wave, swing and twist its one-handed, motion-sensitive controller to direct the on-screen action and simulate real life moves such as swinging a sword, hitting a tennis ball or shooting a bow and arrow.

Instead of trying to steal hard-core gamers from Sony and Microsoft, which have already released the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, Nintendo hopes to expand the traditionally male video game audience by luring new players with a different style of game playing.

It was that difference that was exciting most of those waiting in line.

“I’ve heard so much about it and finally it’s out in the UK” said Amid Hussein as he neared the front of the queue outside the HMV store.

“It’s a different sort of gaming really, you’re not just sitting there and just pushing buttons, you are actually getting into the game.”

Nintendo’s European marketing director Laurent Fischer told Reuters that the company had been keen to do something new.

“We wanted to step away from what is the current status in terms of innovation in video games.”

“The area where there is a lot of freedom and a lot of creativity for developers is the interface [controller] and the way you play the game.”

Fischer said the company was looking at a variety of motion sensitive options which would suit other games such as soccer games.

“Some of the different things [controllers] the developers have been coming up with are really amazing, they can put it [the technology] into almost anything,” he added.

Nintendo has priced the basic Wii package at £180 or $250, compared with $600 for the premium PS3 and $400 for the top-end Xbox 360.

Kyoto-based Nintendo, which created video game characters Super Mario and Donkey Kong, aims to ship four million Wii consoles globally by December 31, double the number of PS3s expected by year-end.

Nintendo’s last console, the GameCube, sold 21-million units globally to land in third place, behind Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox.

The company recently had to issue some cautionary advice for Wii players, telling them to keep hold of console’s motion-sensitive controller whatever they do after some gamers complained they had smashed televisions and appliances after losing their grip on it.

Fischer said players had clearly been a little over enthusiastic.

“When I saw some examples of what had happened, I think there is nothing we can do about it,” he joked. - Reuters

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