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Nintendo Wii U draws eager fans ahead of Sunday launch

No, this isn't an Apple launch. Nintendo fans have been waiting in line at its flagship New York store for the next-generation console.

The line outside of Nintendo's flagship store in New York ahead of the launch of the Wii U console.
Mark Licea/CNET

Apple isn't the only technology company that can command a line of hard-core fans.

With the upcoming Wii U console launching on Sunday, Nintendo fans have already started to line up at the Japanese video game maker's flagship New York store in Rockefeller Center.

The line wasn't long -- roughly a dozen people were there, with some hanging out inside the store. But the metal barricades were up and individuals had been camping out for the past few days.

The first person in line, well-known Nintendo fan Isaiah Triforce Johnson, had been waiting for nearly a month, but also has sponsors supporting him. Johnson said he had been the first in line to several Nintendo launches, including a few consoles, handheld systems, and games.

The Wii U comes at a time when interest in the Wii is waning as more consumers spend more time on mobile games found on tablets and smartphones, or gravitate towards more serious systems such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3.

Nintendo is getting a jump on its two rivals with its next-generation console, as neither Microsoft nor Sony have shared much detail on their plans.

The Wii U adds a tablet controller to the console, allowing for more interaction between the controller and display, as well adding a more social element to some games. Nintendo has also stressed the Wii U's capabilities as an entertainment device beyond video games, with the hope of turning the system into an entertainment hub. Microsoft and Sony have both sought to do the same with their consoles.

The tablet controller is the marquee feature for the Wii U.

"I'm looking forward to the immersive experience with the game pad," said Liz Rosado, who got in line at midnight on Tuesday with her two friends. "It's like the Nintendo DS, but the home version."

While she has demoed a few of the games, she said she was looking forward to seeing how games would take advantage of the unique controller.

Randy Grullon has been in line since Tuesday morning, and is staying in shifts with a friend, and likewise said he liked the game pad's ability to play games away from the television.

"When I game, I game for a long time," he said. "To be able to lay in bed and keep on playing is what puts a smile (on) when I walk out that door."

Nintendo is set to sell the first Wii U in the U.S. at the Rockefeller store at midnight on Saturday.

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