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Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

TECH_JAPAN

GADGETS

Paint the town red for Mario's 25th birthday celebrations


Usually, if someone tells you their Wii is all red, you'd suggest they see a doctor. Thankfully, Nintendo's new red Wii is more cause for celebration than medical scare.

News photo
Color your Mario world: Nintendo releases a bright red Wii console in honor of Mario, one of its most popular video-game characters.

The Kyoto-based company is marking the 25th anniversary of one of its most popular games, "Super Mario Bros.," with a shiny, crimson game console. Rightly so, few video-game characters have achieved the fame Mario has. The franchise has enjoyed unparalleled success ever since "Super Mario Bros." was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. Mario himself first showed up as a minor character named Jumpman in the game "Donkey Kong" back in 1981. Designer Shigeru Miyamoto eventually gave Mario a more prominent role with the release of arcade-game "Mario Bros." in 1983.

Of course, Mario owes much of his success to the fact that "Super Mario Bros." was bundled with the original NES. Tallying topside of 40.24 million games sold, the title was only bested by Wii Sports, which was bundled with the original Wii console in 2006.

The red Wii console (it's presumably red to match Mario's hat and shirt) will be released in Japan on Nov. 11. priced at ¥20,000. It will come with a preinstalled copy of the original "Super Mario Bros.," which will be slightly tweaked to promote the 25th anniversary

Gamers will also be pleased to hear that the red Wii will include the new WiiMote Plus controller, also red, featuring a MotionPlus add-on.

The new controller will be available for purchase separately on Nov. 11. At ¥3,000, the WiiMote Plus comes in red, white, black, blue and pink.

Mario-red Nunchuks will also go on sale from Nov. 11 with price tags put at ¥1,800.

Both the DSi and the DSi LL portable consoles will get the Mario-red treatment next month, too.

Nintendo has announced the DSi XL (LL in Japan) will be sold in the United States, but no word yet on whether other devices will be available, or if they'll be sold in other countries. Nintendo has set up a commemorative Web page in honor of Mario at mario25.nintendo.com. It outlines the details of the company's anniversary celebrations and stores goodies such as Mario-themed wallpapers.

It will be interesting to see if Mario's future is as successful as his past. Nintendo hasn't produced a franchise on par with "Super Mario Bros.," "The Legend of Zelda" or "Final Fantasy" in a long time and it remains to be seen whether or not any new titles can capture the imagination of gamers the way these three have.

For details about Nintendo's Mario-red 25th anniversary Wii, visit nintendo.co.jp/ mario25th/wii (Japanese). Rick Martin is a contributor to Gizmag.com. Read more of his work at 1rick.com.


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