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Nintendo rethinks the game controller

Looks more like a TV remote control

Nintendo will offer a game controller with its upcoming Revolution games console that is drastically different from those used in previous devices.

The controller bears some resemblance to a television remote control and will allow people to play games with just one hand, said Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo, during a keynote speech at the Tokyo Game Show, which opened on Friday.

The unit mixes buttons and motion sensors, so games can be played with a combination of normal button-pressing methods and waving the controller around in the air.

Simulations of the controller being used in a number of different games were shown at the keynote. It was swung in a baseball game as someone would swing a bat, stabbed into space to kill imaginary bugs as someone might use a fly swatter and swung from side to side to control a tennis game on screen.

There's an add-on unit, connected via a short cable to the main unit. It was simulated being used in a first-person shooter game. The main controller was held in the hand and pointed while the secondary controller was held in the other hand and became the gun's trigger.

The new style of controller is part of Nintendo's drive to expand the gaming population. Iwata said he hopes it will be less intimidating for non-gamers to pick up.

"In order to realise the goal of creating a new starting line that anyone can instinctively understand, we have come up with a design that differs greatly from any of today's controllers," said Iwata. He added that Nintendo has also made innovations in play style.

"At the heart of this controller is a brand-new sensor that we call the direct pointing device," Iwata said. "This allows Revolution to detect precisely the location on the screen where the controller is pointing. With this technology you can point at a location intuitively, and it can detect the distance from the screen and even the angle of the controller."

Nintendo has already made innovations in the portable gaming space with its Nintendo DS console, which features two LCD screens, one of which is touch-sensitive.

The DS, which was launched at the end of last year, has been selling well, Iwata said. Three million units were sold in Japan over the nine months from its launch to the end of August. The device has been very successful in getting new people into gaming and attracting former gamers back to the pastime, Iwata claimed.

The keynote speech came three days after Nintendo launched its latest portable gaming device, the GameBoy micro. The device went on sale in Japan on Tuesday and has been selling well, Iwata said.

"The Famicon version, which looks like a Famicon controller, appears to be most popular," he said, referring to Nintendo's first TV game console, called the NES in the UK. "It's already out of stock in some shops, but we are ready to make additional shipments next week."

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