(Refiling to delete "EMBARGO" from headline)
By Malathi Nayak
LOS ANGELES, June 10 Nintendo Co Ltd
offered the first glimpse at interactive figurines of Mario and
other characters on Tuesday at video gaming expo E3, aiming to
fire up sales of its two-year-old Wii U console, which have
fallen far short of targets.
The "amiibo" models, which mark Nintendo's entrance into the
"toys-to-life" category popularized by Activision's "Skylanders"
and Walt Disney Co's "Infinity," contain a chip that
activates and trains characters in the games when placed on the
Wii U GamePad controller.
Around 10 figurines will be introduced with the release of
"Super Smash Bros. 4" for the Wii U in time for the end-of-year
holiday season, Nintendo said. The models will also be made
compatible with other existing games, such as the recently
launched "Mario Kart 8," in the future, the company added
without providing details.
Nintendo has come under pressure from investors to change
tack after booking a third straight year of losses on
disappointing Wii U sales but has so far resisted calls to put
its games on smartphones.
However, the company is moving to lessen its dependence on
the volatile and cyclical game console market, with a
health-related platform and a low-cost machine for emerging
markets in the works.
The amiibo figurines are part of an effort to increase the
appeal of the console, which has suffered from a lack of hit
games to match the fitness- and family-oriented titles that made
its predecessor, the Wii, a bestseller.
Nintendo said it would release a peripheral device for its
handheld 3DS console at a later date to make it compatible with
the amiibo figures, which will include characters such as
Pikachu, Donkey Kong and Link from the Legend of Zelda.
The company also announced a new eight-player action game,
Splatoon, for release in 2015. Created by the same team that
developed the Mario and Zelda titles, the game features
squid-like characters that compete to cover as much space as
possible with colorful ink.
Other games in the pipeline include "Bayonetta 2" from
Platinum Games, for release in October 2014, and a new iteration
of "The Legend of Zelda" for the Wii U scheduled for release in
(Writing by Sophie Knight; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)