/ 3 October 2007

Nintendo softens the Wii blow

Nintendo's ''Wiimote'' is getting a cushion cover. The Japanese game maker's Wii machine has become a global hit among players young and old alike. To help prevent accidents and soften possible blows, Nintendo is shipping for free rubbery silicone covers for the handheld devices.

Nintendo’s ”Wiimote” is getting a cushion cover. The Japanese game maker’s Wii machine has become a global hit among players young and old alike who use its wandlike remote control for fishing, golfing, tennis and other games.

To help prevent accidents and soften possible blows, Nintendo is shipping for free rubbery silicone covers for the handheld devices, or ”Wiimotes” — just in case overly excited players see the remote flying out of their hands.

The notice about the free Wii ”jackets” has been sent as a message to owners who have their Wii machines connected to the internet, and a notice is also posted on the company web page, company spokesperson Yasuhiro Minagawa said on Wednesday.

Wii remotes going on sale after about October 15 will come with the covers, Nintendo said.

The company has already strengthened the straps for the remotes that go around the wrist to help keep them fixed in players’ hands. It recalled the remotes to exchange the straps in December after people complained they were coming loose, even crashing into TV sets.

The Wii console from the Kyoto-based manufacturer of Super Mario and Pokémon games has drawn relative newcomers to gaming, including the elderly and women, with easier-to-play games such as brain teasers, cooking recipes and virtual pet dogs.

”This is a totally new game experience. There’s a chance some people may still be a little worried,” Minagawa said of the covers. ”This is not because there were any problems. It’s strictly a precaution.”

The Wii has been a big hit since going on sale late last year, with 9,3-million shipped around the world and supplies barely keeping up with demand, especially in the United States and Europe.

By the end of this fiscal year in March 2008, Wii global shipments are expected to have reached a cumulative 22,3-million. — Sapa-AP