Free global DS WiFi service

Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Tony Hawk this year.

Nintendo today took the wraps off "Nintendo WiFi Connection", the online gaming system set to service Nintendo DS in association with GameSpy.

"It's no secret that we didn't invent the concept of online gaming, but we do intend to reinvent it," Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime told the gathered crowd.

WiFi Connection will allow DS users to play online for free from home or via hotspots and Nintendo not only envisions its system overcoming key problems inherent to online gaming like difficulty levels and connectivity but also intends to offer it all for free.

Although it was ambiguous when it came to the question of whether third-party software makers would charge players to use the service, Nintendo itself will charge no monthly bills for either the service or the software, the company said.

It's about "control, ease and entertainment", according to charismatic Nintendo MC Reggie Fils-Aime, and the company "expects participation rate for Nintendo DS to reflect a clear majority of owners" - as high even as 90 per cent.

Nintendo outlined the key problems in achieving this, identifying and explaining how it would overcome the difficult and cost of connection, and pledging to "overcome the overly macho attitudes" of online gaming by allowing you to choose to find a friend or friends to compete with, or link up with "similarly skilled" unknown opponents.

It will "turn the key for full Mario Kart action" playing against people on multiple continents on your lunch break, Fils-Aime said, so it's "as welcoming as sitting around the living room with friends".

A roll call of 25 games companies working on WiFi titles then appeared on the big screen. Amongst them were Namco, Capcom, Square Enix, Konami, THQ, Bandai, EA, KOEI, SEGA, Hudson, Vivendi-Universal, From Software, Spike, 2K Games and Activision, who will launch a LAN/WiFi Tony Hawk title on DS this year, allowing for players to form online skate crews and perform tricks using the touch screen.

Mario Kart DS and Animal Crossing DS will both launch with WiFi functionality by the end of 2005, Nintendo said, and Mario Kart will, as predicted, be playable via WiFi on the show floor tomorrow.

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