Nintendo, the Japanese maker of the Wii video game console, and Oslo, Norway-based Opera Software have joined forces to offer gamers a free beta version of the Opera Web browser for use with Wii, and the software will be available via Nintendo’s Wii Shop Channel online store on Dec. 22, according to a press release on Yahoo Finance.
A high-speed Internet connection and a Wii console are required to obtain the beta software, and once the browser has been downloaded, a new Internet Channel will be accessible via the console’s Wii Menu.
The beta version of the Opera browser will be Adobe Flash-enabled, and a final version will be available to Wii users for free starting in April 2007 and running through July. After that point, gamers who want to obtain the Opera browser for Wii will have to pay 500 Wii points at the Wii Shop Channel, according to the release.
Nintendo sells 2,000 Wii Points for $19.99.
“This newest Wii Menu channel provides yet another feature to draw non-gamers in,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America president, in the release. Nintendo’s strategy to keep up with its main rivals in the game console space, Sony and Microsoft, has been to market Wii to non-traditional gamers who may be less inclined to play the complex or in-depth games that have made Sony’s PlayStation systems, as well as Microsoft’s Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles, so popular.
Nintendo Wii features an innovative, new controller design that enables users to swing it like a sword or wand, and even position it as a bow and arrow, to control game play. Wii users who download the Opera Web browser will be able to use the Wii Remote to help browse the Web. The controller can be used to click on specific links, or to zoom in or out on a screen, as well as work in conjunction with a keyboard displayed on screen for point-and-click text entry, according to the release.
“Our software brings the power and reach of the Internet to the hottest video game system available,” said Scott Hedrick, Opera’s executive vice president of devices.
In related news, Nintendo recently said it would voluntarily exchange 3.2 million wrist straps that come with the Wii Remote for stronger alternatives, after receiving reports of the straps breaking and the controller flying through air.