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Buyer beware! New Wii won’t play DDR, Active Life or other mat games

This new Wii - note the horizontal Wii logo - has no ports for plugging in your mat

The Wii is still a hot item for the sixth holiday season running, and in the past, your biggest problem in selecting a Wii console was fighting off the pepper-spray-wielding Ebay resellers.  Unlike Xbox 360 or PS3, you didn’t have to worry about different models with different features; you just snatched that white box with “Wii” in big letters and you were good to play any Wii game, or any Gamecube game for that matter.

Well, Nintendo thought you buyers just had it too easy, and set out to change that.  Now there is a new Wii appearing on store shelves and at Amazon, and at first glance, it looks like the only difference is a lowered MSRP and a horizontal rather than vertical stance.  And you may have read on game sites that it no longer plays Gamecube games, which is no biggie for most people.

But what many upset buyers are finding out after the fact, is that they got rid of the four Gamecube ports, which means that if you want to play DDR, Active Life Explorer (or other Active Life game) or Walk It Out using a foot mat, you’re screwed.

Original Wii console: note the vertical Wii logo (this console can be either vertical or horizontal) and the Gamecube ports on the left

These mat games may be last century tech, but they’re still around – a new Active Life game, Magical Carnival, was just released.  And the newest Wii DDR game, DanceDanceRevolution II, is being hailed as a return to classic DDR with no hands, gimmicks or balance board, and doubles play for the first time on Wii.  Yet the new console won’t let you plug in even one mat, let alone two!

There are wireless third-party DDR mats, but they’re pricy and haven’t gotten good reviews.  My beef is that a “Wii game” should play on a Wii, not only certain models of Wii.  Nintendo really dropped the ball with this decontented box, and does a disservice to consumers by not making it clear that you can’t use the controllers that came with the DDR or Active Life bundle.

Pass up this no-bargain console, and look for the older Wii models (which are getting harder to find, and more expensive) or buy one used.  Otherwise you’ll have to miss out on some great active games.

Active Life Magical Carnival is coming for Wii

Active Life Magical Carnival screen detail

In an age of hands-free, mat-free exergaming, the Active Life series is keeping both the ol’ foot mat and the ol’ Wii console very much alive.  Amazon has a page up for a fourth entry in the lively family series, Active Life Magical Carnival, coming in October.  There are no screenshots or other details, but the title sounds very kid-friendly, probably a harbinger of Wiis being put out to pasture with the little brothers and sisters when the Wii U arrives.

Update: Here are screenshots and a description, via Namco Bandai.

ExerBeat for Wii is announced

Namco Bandai, makers  of the We Cheer and Active Life sweaty games, announced an upcoming game called ExerBeat that looks like We Cheer with personal trainers.  It’s compatible with Motion Plus and the balance board, keeps track of calories (I hope it’s more accurate than the We Cheer calorie counter!) supports your Mii and has a feature where you travel “around the world” unlocking new games and places.

The screen shots on IGN only show dancing and boxing type moves using the upper body.  I hope there’s a walking mode; Konami’s been dragging its feet on a Walk It Out sequel, so maybe other companies like Namco or Ubisoft can fill those shoes.  (Via IGN)

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