E3: Wii peripherals, hands-on

by Erin Bell, special to CBCNews.ca

Capcom's first-person shooter Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Nintendo's Wii Fit offered the first opportunities to demo Nintendo's new Wii Zapper and Wii mat peripherals for the Wii console.

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles' storyline, according to Capcom, fills in some of the plot points of Resident 0, 1 and 2 that players didn't get to see the first time around. The demo resembled a typical arcade-style rails shooter with Jill Valentine and Carlos Olivera playable characters in two-player co-op.

Screenshot from Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

While the game is playable by holding the WIi remote and Nunchuk in the traditional way, The Wii Zapper helps to recreate the arcade feel of holding a heftier weapon in both hands. The Wii Zapper is essentially a plastic rifle-shaped casing that houses a detachable WIi remote and Nunchuk. The Wii remote is used to point and aim at enemies, and a trigger built into the Zapper is used to fire. The Nunchuk fits to the back of the Zapper and lets players look from side to side using the thumbpad, change weapons, and pick up objects.

The Wiimote's motion sensitivity features are also put to use in the context of the Zapper. Players can reload with a quick flick of the device, or shake it around to break free of an enemy's grip or execute a melee knife attack.

I also got "foots-on" time with Nintendo's Wii mat, which is being packaged with Wii Fit. Based on the demo shown, Wii Fit seems to be similar to the Wii Sports and Wii Play titles, offering short easy-to-learn and fun experiences that revolve around simple concepts. When a player stands on the Wii mat, the device uses sensors to detect how much weight is being put on each foot, and based on that can sense actions including crouching, leaning to either side, and standing tall.

Nintendo's Wii Fit game

The first Wii Fit game I tried out was a ski jumping game where I had to crouch while on my way down the hill to pick up speed, then stand up at the correct time to launch myself off the ramp. There was also a soccer-based game that involved heading soccer balls into a net as they launched to the left or right or straight up the middle.

What I'm most excited about, but didn't get to try in person, is the Wii mat's potential as a workout aid for performing yoga, step classes and other exercise routines.

Erin Bell is a Toronto-based freelance video game and technology journalist, and is reporting on her fourth E3.