Nintendo's announced that it will have over 7,500 Wi-Fi Connection hotspots active in the UK from 25th November when Mario Kart DS launches, and will be rolling out the service across the rest of Europe at the same time.
In the UK, the announcement owes a lot to deals with BT Openzone and The Cloud. Piggybacking their infrastructure, Wi-Fi Connection will allow gamers to play Wi-Fi-enabled multiplayer games like Tony Hawk's American Sk8land (Nov 18) and Mario Kart DS (Nov 25) from all manner of locations.
Those named include McDonald's restaurants, Coffee Republic, Hilton and Ramada Jarvis hotels, Road Chef and Welcome Break service stations, First Great Western railway stations, over 25 student unions and city centre BT Payphones and airports, football stadiums and the British Library and Canary Wharf.
An American version of the press release suggests that pay-service Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those at airports, will require use of a laptop and USB dongle to act as a bridge, but that the actual gameplay will be free - you just won't be able to access any of the other paid services. Presumably this is down to the specific log-on processes of pay-services.
UK gamers can establish the location of their nearest Wi-Fi gaming spot by plugging a postcode into www.thecloud.net or www.btopenzone.com. According to The Cloud, there's one in this writer's local pub. Good bit of PR there!
Nintendo says it will also be installing hotspots in major game retailers and other outlets throughout the land.
Those who would rather play at home can do so through a broadband connection, either connecting directly to their wireless routers or access points using the DS, or, in the absence of a home wireless network, using Nintendo's Ł30 Wi-Fi USB Connector device plugged into the back of a PC.
However it's done, Nintendo's keen to stress that there are no fees or subscription costs for playing, and no risk of harassment as players will not directly communicate with each other while playing.
In terms of in-game options, games will allow players to play with friends - specified using unique identifier codes entered into the DS's memory - or people of a similar skill level worldwide, and Nintendo's confirmed that games will work across borders, so the US version of Animal Crossing: Wild World, for example, which is due out on December 5th, will work fine if you bring it back home from abroad.
Wi-Fi Connection launches on November 25th then - and Nintendo adds that Revolution, whenever that launches, will use the same technology.