Back in July Nintendo announced WiiSpeak, a mic and speaker combo that brought out the scepticism in me, and then promptly did nothing with it. Three months later and all becomes clear...
The 'Wii Speak' channel will unite with this curious piece of hardware and enable up to four people ('four individual locations' strictly says Nintendo) to chat simultaneously either in a dedicated chat room or while gaming.
In a crafty move however the Wii Speak channel will only be added if you purchase the WiiSpeak hardware since it provides a code that is used in the console's shopping channel to download it. Sneaky and a devious and not entirely nice way of keeping customers from using their own third party wired or wireless headsets for free.
To make you feel better the hardware will come packaged with the light strategy game 'Animal Crossing; City Folks' so there'll be a little bit more for your money.
How much money? 7,800 Japanese yen (approx £40 - ouch) and it will hit stores in Japan on 20 November. Quite when we poor saps will get it and for what price is another matter entirely.
As for my earlier scepticism, it's still there: after all Wii Speak is unlikely to work anywhere near as well as a dedicated headset and it offers no privacy of any kind. Factor in the compulsory purchase to even get the Wii Speak channel (come on a cheap channel only price would be nice) and I'm not convinced Nintendo has got this one quite right...