Nintendo introduces 'streamlined' Wii console

The company, so far, says that the device will be available in Europe. For now, Nintendo says it won't launch in the U.S.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
The upcoming bundle with the "streamlined" Wii.
The upcoming bundle with the "streamlined" Wii. Nintendo

Nintendo has announced a slightly reconfigured Wii console.

Nintendo says that its new "streamlined" Wii will come in a bundle with Wii Party and Wii Sports. Consumers will also find a Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk. The company announced the bundle in Europe today, saying it will be made available to customers in October.

In a statement to CNET, a Nintendo of America spokesperson said that the company does not currently plan to release the console in the U.S.

According to a statement from the game company, the Wii's new look is designed to make the console sit horizontally, rather than vertically. Nintendo didn't say exactly how it accomplished the feat, but the company's decision to do so is rather surprising, since the current Wii console can be placed both vertically and horizontally, and still allow users to play games. However, Nintendo has largely promoted the current version as a console that stands vertically for those who want to save space in their entertainment centers.

Nintendo's new Wii console will lose a key feature that was previously available in the device: backward compatibility with GameCube games and accessories. According to CNET sister site Gamespot, the Wii will be losing controller and memory card ports that allowed users to play GameCube titles from the hardware.

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Nintendo's decision to slightly alter the look of its console is a first for the company. Since 2006, when the Wii launched, the device has featured the same design. However, Nintendo has offered several color options, including red and black, over the years.

As Nintendo prepares to offer its new Wii, the company is left wondering how it can revitalize its ailing business. Last month, the company announced that it lost $328.3 million during its fiscal first quarter ended June 30 as hardware sales plummeted during the period. Nintendo reported that it sold just 1.56 million Wii units worldwide during the quarter, down from the 3.04 million it sold during the same period last year.

In the U.S., things have been especially tough for the Wii as Microsoft's Xbox 360 console continues to win the sales lead each month. After outselling all competitors in July, Microsoft announced that it has led the way in unit sales for 13 of the last 14 months.

However, Nintendo has something to look forward to next year: the Wii U. That device, which is scheduled to launch in 2012, is the company's Wii successor, boasting improved graphical capabilities and a new controller featuring a 6.2-inch LCD touch screen. That controller will also work as a standalone gaming device for those who want to continue their in-game progress while away from their Wii U and television.

Updated at 9:51 a.m. PT to include more details.