Today’s Penny Arcade is a fairly obvious illustration of the implications of the Pokewalker. Although I rolled my eyes when I heard a new Pokemon game was coming out with a formula virtually unchanged in twelve years, that was because no one told me about this.

In short, the Pokewalker is a Pokemon-themed pedometer that rewards the wearer–with in-game benefits–for every step they take throughout the day. Every hour spent outside running around equates to more in-game experience, items, and Pokemon. To quote Tycho from Penny Arcade,

As a peripheral, no sale. As a pack-in [with the Pokemon DS cartridge], it’s a manifestation of tactical prowess so stunning that it borders on precognition. Young people benefit on multiple fronts, surely – but parents? Brother, we get paid for days.

On a related note: I spent yesterday home with my girlfriend playing Super Mario Galaxy with her while she recovered from dental surgery. This is a game with a fantastically asymmetric multiplayer component that allows a second person to help collect in-game currency by pointing at it on the screen. It is a cooperation that is both devilishly simply and amazingly strategic. Let me just say I was most distressed when I had to manage both aspects of the game (platforming and collecting) by myself after my cohort went to sleep.

Also, despite Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine being in 3D, they are not recognizably similar in gameplay. This is a game where virtually every level involves navigating the surface of spheres, cylinders, spheroids, and cubes. Except, that is, when they decide to put you on a manta ray and have you race around a course of water hovering in space, held there by the magic of stars.

Is anyone really in the same market as Nintendo? I like Modern Warfare games as much as the next guy, but comparing the gaming experiences of the Wii and DS (including things like the Pokewalker) to anything else the competition can cook up seems fundamentally dishonest at this point.

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