Atari has announced the launch of a NAMCO BANDAI's Family Trainer this September. The game is, as the name implies, a family orientated affair encouraging parties to get physical in range of "easy-to-understand, fast-paced and wildly entertaining activities". Or 'mini-games' if you like.
The combination of the Wii, mini-games and party modes isn't an unusual one, but here's where things get a bit odd: Family Trainer comes with its own mat controller which combines with the Wii remote to ensure that you have to flail your body wildly around and can't laze on the sofa making minute hand gestures. It sounds almost exactly like the Balance Board which launched just a couple of weeks ago.
It's not clear what Atari is up to. It can't really hope to rival the Balance Board seeing as that has the weight of Nintendo behind it and the prospect of having many future games from a wealth of different publishers take advantage of the technology. Family Trainer's mat can only look forward to more Family Trainer games at best.
Given that NAMCO BANDAI's Family Ski will use the Balance Board, we have to assume that the new mat peripheral offers some decent qualitative differences. However, the mini-games themselves don't sound overwhelmingly ground breaking: There are "over a dozen frantic single and multiplayer challenges to choose from all based on outdoor challenges amusingly interpreted for the world of Family Trainer, such as river rafting, mine karting, log jumping, rope skipping and much more."
We'll be waiting for more screenshots of the actual hardware before we can really tell, but Atari is probably going to struggle if it hopes to persuade players to buy yet another peripheral for their Wiis.