A while back, when the Wii was still big, Nintendo showed off a new add-on called the Wii Vitality Sensor. Although this add-on might sound kind of weird, it is important to remember that it was originally shown off during the height of fitness games like Wii Fit.
Once this little add-on was first shown off, people started to wonder just how it could be used. Obliviously it was going to be used to track your heart rate after playing fitness games like Wii Fit. However, some believed that Nintendo would try to market it towards the hardcore gamer by incorporating this device into other games. For example, there was some speculation that the Wii Vitality Sensor would be used in horror games as well. As the player’s heartbeat increased, the Vitality Sensor would read this, and those readings would be used in the game. In short, if the player was scared in real life, the onscreen player would be scared too.
However, after the Wii Vitality Sensor was shown off at E3 2009, it just kind of faded away. Nintendo kept saying that the project was still in the works, but here we are four years later and still no Vitality Sensor. Well, it seems that Nintendo has finally come clean and reported that the Vitality Sensor has been canceled.
According to Nintendo, it decided to cancel this add-on because the sensor was never able to give consistent results. It also felt that it could not use this add-on to enhance other games like originally planned. The user would have to sit still in order for the sensor to read his heartbeat. Nintendo believes that this would have been more of a pain during a game rather than an exciting feature.
This information was brought to light during an investor Q&A with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. During this Q&A, Iwata said that they have not been able to launch the Vitality Sensor as a commercial product because it did not work as expected. It was a much narrower application than what his team first thought.
The Wii Vitality Sensor was not Nintendo’s first failed add-on by any means. To prove this, all you have to do is look back at the Power Glove. This add-on for the NES was supposed to allow players to control their games with “movement” instead of buttons. Unfortunately, the Power Glove made controlling games extremely difficult and was more of a hassle than a luxury. Unlike the Vitality Sensor, however, the Power Glove was actually released to the public and became a commercial failure.
Other commercial failures for Nintendo include the Nintendo 64DD (a disk-drive add-on for the Nintendo 64), the Virtual Boy (a red, monochromatic, 3D virtual reality console) and Radar Scope (an arcade game). This just goes to show that even a company as respected as Nintendo can release a turd from time to time. Now we just have to sit back and wait to see what Nintendo’s next add-on will be.