Wii Gamers Duel for Jedi Glory

In what could prove to be a classic pairing of a video game with a gaming console, LucasArts has announced that it will release “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” in spring of 2008 on Nintendo’s Wii platform, with gameplay exclusively designed to capitalize upon the Wii-mote and Nunchuk controllers.

“The Wii is a great platform for ‘The Force Unleashed,’ because the console’s motion-oriented controllers really bring the game to life,” said Jim Ward, president of LucasArts. “We’ve worked hard to make the Wii version of the game unique in order to truly let you unleash the Force.”

“The Force Unleashed” (“TFU”) will also be available on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 (PS3), PlayStation 2 (PS2) and PlayStation Portable (PSP), as well as the Nintendo DS.

Feel the Force

“TFU” gives gamers and Star Wars fans the opportunity to assume the role of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, through which they will uncover new revelations about the “Star Wars” galaxy. Staged during the as-of-yet largely unexplored time period between “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” the game will take players on an odyssey as they assist the Dark Lord in his evil quest to purge the universe of the Jedi. As they progress through “TFU”, gamers will be confronted with decisions that will determine the rest of the story.

The Wii edition, under joint development at Krome Studios, will provide gamers with an added sense of realism, as for the first time the Wii Remote becomes their lightsaber.

In addition, Wii gamers will also be able to compete against other players via an exclusive duel mode that allows them to battle one another head-to-head to settle the question of who is the ultimate Jedi Master.

360 and PS3 Get the Force

Versions for Xbox 360 and PS3 are the first next-generation game developed internally at LucasArts that “completely re-imagines the scope and scale of the Force by taking full advantage of newly developed technologies” gamers will see and experience for the first time, including Digital Molecular Matter by Pixelux Entertainment and “euphoria” by NaturalMotion, the gamemaker said.

“The combination of our great story, memorable characters and the revolutionary new technology that we’re introducing will deliver something ‘Star Wars’ fans have never seen before, in addition to attracting newcomers to gaming, something that is very important to us,” Ward continued.

LucasArts and Krome Studies will team up on versions for the PS2 and PSP; N-Space, meanwhile, is developing “TFU” for the Nintendo DS. All versions of the game will feature the same storyline and include opportunities to unleash the Force “in devastating new ways,” the company said.

A Good Marriage?

Considering the realism that is being introduced to the Wii version of the game, Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld he expects the game to be a huge seller and boost the Wii’s already substantial sales.”

“It adds a certain amount of realism because the Wii, of course, has the motion-sensing controllers,” he said. “It adds that certain extra something that would make it worthwhile to pick up the Wii if you didn’t have one. That will make it really interesting and drive additional sales for the Wii console.”

Part of that bump for the Wii will definitely come from the large fan base associated with the “Star Wars” franchise, he noted.

“It is one of the most robust fan bases. Even though they have stopped putting out the movies, the games still pull a fairly good size audience,” he said.

The imminent release of a motion-sensing controller from Microsoft for the Xbox 360 could give that console an edge with “TFU.”

“If Microsoft gets the Xbox 360’s comparable controller to market in time they can also benefit from the interface,” he added. “There’s at least a reasonable expectation that Microsoft could match, in terms of user experience, the Wii experience with these new controllers. But that is all speculation as no one has seen these new controllers yet.”

Enderle said his sources indicate that the controllers should be available by the end of the year and he expects to hear something about them in the coming weeks.

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