Gamers Go Ga-Ga Over Lightsaber Wii Remote

A new weapon will soon join Nintendo's armory: a lightsaber.

Internet gaming sites across the Web cheered news last week of a new "Star Wars" game for the hit Wii console in which players will wield the Jedi weapon of choice using Nintendo's motion sensitive "Wiimote" controller.

"Star Wars: The Force Unleashed," developed by LucasArts, will also be released early next year on Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's handheld DS machine and Sony's PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable.

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But it's the Wii version that is causing the biggest buzz — literally, possibly, since the Wii Remote is equipped with a loudspeaker.

"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."

In August, the Wii became the fastest-selling video-game console in British history after one million of the machines were sold 38 weeks after the device made its debut.

The Wii achieved the one million landmark in a shorter time than the Sony PlayStation 2, which, after a difficult launch in 2000, went on to become the world's most successful console so far, selling more than 115 million units worldwide.

The Wii, designed to attract "non-core" gamers, is outselling both the struggling PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 by at least two to one.

"The Force Unleashed" "casts players as Darth Vader's 'Secret Apprentice' and promises to unveil new revelations about the Star Wars galaxy," the publisher said.

The game's story is set during "the largely unexplored era" between "Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and "Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope."

In it, players will assist the iconic villain in his quest to rid the universe of Jedi — "and face decisions that could change the course of their destiny."

Earlier this year, Nintendo announced that its first-quarter net profits soared more than fivefold, further vindicating the Japanese group's declared policy of making video games for "people who don't like video games."

The company sold 3.4 million Wii consoles and 7 million DS machines worldwide over the three months. The Wii has now sold more than 9 million units worldwide since its launch last autumn.

Nintendo added that it now plans to ship 16.5 million Wii consoles by March 31, 2008, up from 14 million previously.