TOKYO – Nintendo's "Wiimote" is getting a cushion cover.
The Japanese gamemaker's Wii machine has become a global hit among players young and old alike who use its wandlike remote control for fishing, golfing, tennis and other video games.
To help prevent accidents and soften possible blows, Nintendo Co. (NTDOY) is shipping for free rubbery silicone covers for the handheld devices — just in case overly excited players see the Wiimote flying out of their hands.
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The notice about the free Wii "jackets" has been sent as a message to owners who have their Wii machines connected to the Internet, and a notice is also posted on the company Web page, company spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa said Wednesday.
Wii remotes going on sale after about Oct. 15 will come with the covers, Nintendo said.
The company has already strengthened the straps for the remotes that go around the wrist to help keep them fixed in players' hands. It recalled the remotes to exchange the straps in December after people complained they were coming loose, even crashing into TV sets.
Minagawa said the company has not received any reports of bodily injuries from the Wiimote.
The Wii console from the Kyoto-based manufacturer of Super Mario and Pokemon games has drawn relative newcomers to gaming, including the elderly and women, with easier-to-play games such as brain teasers, cooking recipes and virtual pet dogs.
"This is a totally new game experience. There's a chance some people may still be a little worried," Minagawa said of the covers. "This is not because there were any problems. It's strictly a precaution."
Since the Wii went on sale late last year, Nintendo has shipped 9.3 million of the consoles around the world, with supplies barely keeping up with demand, especially in the U.S. and Europe.
By the end of this fiscal year in March 2008, Wii global shipments are expected to have reached a cumulative 22.3 million.