Following the news out of Japan last week, Nintendo UK has officially announced the British launch details of the new Wii Speak Channel and Wii Speak community microphone accessory.

"Socialising and communicating with friends and family has just got easier – and more fun," claims Nintendo, "as the new Wii Speak and Wii Speak Channel are launched for Wii across Europe on 5 December 2008."

Nintendo's new microphone comes to our shores, unsurprisingly, on the same day as the release of the cutesy and cartoonish sim-world of Animal Crossing: Let's Go to the City (at a cost of £25 for the mic on its own, or £60 as a bundle with the game).

Families get involved

While we still have to get a hands on the kit, Nintendo assures us that Wii Speak can effectively "pick up the conversations from an entire room of people, meaning friends and families can all get involved in conversations, sharing gaming and social experiences together."

Up to four Wii users can chat, text each other and share pictures via the Wii Speak Channel, with each user being represented by their own Mii on-screen during conversations, with their Mii avatar's also being seen to 'talk' as their microphone picks up speech.

Child safety paramount

Of course, with child safety in mind, Nintendo requires that users have to share their private Friend Codes before being able to chat with other users which, despite drawing criticism from older Nintendo gamers, is a perfectly reasonable and necessary requirement for the company to make.

TechRadar looks forward to spending our Christmas holidays picking (virtual) flowers and catching (pixelated) fish in Animal Crossing: Let's Go to the City.

Nintendo and its third-party development partners plan to incorporated Wii Speak into other Wii games in the future.

TechRadar will be speaking to a number of Wii developers this week to poll them on their ideas for making use of this rather cool new gaming accessory because, after all, while the tech itself may not be particularly groundbreaking or cutting edge, it's what the game creators do with it that really counts.