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Nintendo readies Euro Wi-Fi gamezone

Free online play for DS owners

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Nintendo will launch a free, UK-wide wireless gaming service for owners of its DS handheld console on 25 November.

The scheme, dubbed the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, comes courtesy of deals struck with Wi-Fi hotspot companies The Cloud and BT Openzone, and will ensure any DS owner within range of a participating hotspot can connect wirelessly to a similarly located player and engage in networked virtual combat.

Together the two hotspot providers run more than 7,500 Wi-Fi access points, and Nintendo pledged to increase that number by installing BT Openzone hotspots in "major video games retailers and other key outlets across the UK".

The games company will also launch a £30 PC-connected USB Wi-Fi adaptor for the DS to allow console owners to create a wireless network from any home computer with a broadband Internet connection.

Gaming is free, attracting no fees or subscription charges, Nintendo said. The catch is that any other usage will be billed at whatever tariffs the relevant hotspot owner charges, so no gratis web surfing or emailing, we're afraid.

The UK roll-out will be accompanied by a similar network across continental Europe, backed by a number of local wireless service providers. Nintendo will ship DS versions of Mario Kart on the launch date, which takes place a week after the similarly network-enabled Tony Hawk's American SK8Land goes on sale.

The UK network takes in McDonalds eateries, Coffee Republic cafes, Hilton and Ramada Jarvis hotels, Road Chef and Welcome Break service stations, First Great Western railway stations, over 25 student unions and city centre BT Payphones and airports, football stadiums and even the British Library and Canary Wharf. ®

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