Wayne Gretzky, EA Sports team up for Nintendo Wii game

The Nintendo Wii console has been on the market for almost four years now and only one sports gaming company, 2K Sports, has released a hockey game for it. Gaming giant EA Sports has focused its efforts on improving its NHL series for next-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles rather than release one for the Wii. But as of Monday, EA Sports will finally be entering the world of Nintendo Wii.

According to QMI Agency newspapers, on the same day it releases NHL 11 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, EA Sports will release a hockey game for the Wii called NHL Slapshot, with Wayne Gretzky on the cover. They'll all hit the shelves on Sept. 7.

It will be geared for younger gamers and will feature a "Peewees to Pro" mode that, like "Be a Pro" in the NHL series, will allow you to create your own player and work your way up through the youth ranks like Peewee and Bantam, eventually making it to the NHL. If guiding the career of a 12-year-old future NHL superstar is more your speed, gamers can choose from players like Gretzky or Sidney Crosby(notes) from when they were wee lads and dominate Canadian youth hockey. Gamers are also able to play as goaltenders like Roberto Luongo(notes). Gretzky will be the in-game coach and the Canadian Hockey League, American Hockey League and NHL will all be represented in the game as gamers play themselves through the different levels of hockey.

What will set this game apart from others is the ability to use a peripheral controller in the shape of a hockey stick that will come with NHL Slapshot. As EA Sports' lead producer Joe Nickolls pointed out, because the controller is the first third-party peripheral approved by Nintendo to come with games, there is no timetable if one would be available for future editions of the NHL series. Consider NHL Slapshot to be the guinea pig in this experiment. If it fails, the hockey stick shaped controller will be another Super Scope. If it catches on, then it could be a step in revolutionizing sport gaming controls.

If you're not one for peripheral controllers, the game can also be played using the Wiimote and Nunchuk together or just the Wiimote itself.

Nickolls explained that the reason for waiting to do a Wii hockey game was because EA wanted to get it right and with the unique control system, it makes it all the more difficult to produce something of quality.

Creative director David Littman (he of NHL series fame) sees the game as a learning experience for young kids about the game of hockey. Figuring out what offsides is and proper ways to take a slap shot and wrist shot are all part of the game's intentions.

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