Nintendo Unveils 2 New Mario Games, Updates Wii Fit

Chris Morris|Special to

While its competitors focus on new hardware and new peripherals, Nintendo is focusing entirely on the games.

The game maker, which leads Microsoft and Sony in hardware sales this generation, plans to release a new Mario game and an updated version of its extraordinarily popular "Wii Fit" game for the Wii later this year.

Two big existing franchises will also receive updates. "Super Mario Galaxy" and the "Metroid" franchise, which will see its next installment developed by Team Ninja, a Japanese development house best known for the "Ninja Gaiden" line of games.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata also introduced the company’s next unique game controller. The "Wii Vitality Sensor" resembles a fingertip pulse monitor — and lets you see things like your internal stress or excitement levels.

"Maybe everyone under pressure in our stressful society could use this to relax," said Iwata.

The device was not shown live, nor was any gameplay footage shown. The company did not announce any potential release date.

"New Super Mario Bros." revives the company’s most beloved franchise. The game supports up to four players and has new maps and features, but doesn’t rely heavily on the Wii’s controller. Players control buttons using more traditional controls. The game is due this holiday season.

Nintendo also showed a trailer for "Super Mario Galaxy 2," showing the plumber once again soaring from planet to planet. This time, though, he has some friends with him, including longtime ally Yoshi. The company did not give any release information about the game, however.

The follow-up to "Wii Fit" will feature new exercises and more personalization options — as well as incorporating some Mario mini-games that involve exercise.

Nintendo also announced a partnership with author James Patterson for a new handheld game. "James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion," due this fall, combines elements of gameplay with the author’s popular book series.

While Nintendo’s Wii is the best selling console of this generation, sales have been falling in recent months. Iwata briefly acknowledged the decline, saying it has conducted internal research to look into the momentum slowdown.

However, he said, he believes there is still substantial room for growth.

"For every two people playing a game, there’s one waiting to jump in," he said.