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Wii Like September 14, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Technology, Video Games.
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Nintendo has finally set November 19, 2006 as the release date of its next generation console, the Wii. If things go the company’s way with this release, and if previews of the sleek console live up to expectations, Nintendo just might be able to reclaim its former glory in the console market, where it now ranks third behind Sony and Microsoft.

It has been a long time in coming, but the Wii – pronounced “We”, and formerly dubbed the “Nintendo Revolution while in development – promises to revolutionize the gaming-as-entertainment experience. Its controller is a wireless Bluetooth device that’s like a mouse and remote control on steroids. The console is backward compatible with all Gamecube games. It has built-in wireless capability that not only allows multiplayer gaming – for which reason there is more than one “I” in “Wii” – but will also allow connectivity with the Nintendo DS, access to a pay-per-download service of Nintendo games from both the NES and SNES, and the ability to surf the internet on tv.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it’s not clear as of yet how the console will perform in the marketplace and whether developers will take to it in droves. After all, the Playstation 3’s release is looming in the future, the Xbox 360 is exceedingly popular and impressive, and it’s difficult to imagine at this point how user friendly the Wii’s controller will actually be. But right now on the business side, there are two things that Nintendo appears to be doing right. First, it is pricing the Wii well below both the Xbox 360 and and Playstation 3. At around $250, and given the functionality it promises (the Wii Channels look particularly interesting), it is most certainly a steal. Second, Nintendo is planning to bundle the console with at least one game: Wii sports. While bundling is usually disliked by game developers, it is a good idea from Nintendo’s standpoint in order to get players accustomed to using the innovative controller as quickly as possible.

It’s only a matter of time before anyone can form a definitive opinion on Nintendo’s new offering, and that’s about as good a reason as any to save the date. November 19, 2006. Wii will be waiting.

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