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Nintendo Wii release details: Nov. 19, $250 with a game included

Nintendo Wii release details: Nov. 19, $250 with a game included

After major outlets such as Yhe New York Times and USA Today revealed the big news--that the Nintendo Wii will come out in North America on Nov. 19 at $250, with one game, Wii Sports, included with the console--Nintendo used its morning press conference in New York to provide more details regarding the system's launch:

  • In addition to the console--available only in white--and Wii Sports (a compilation of games including tennis, golf, bowling, baseball, and boxing), the Wii will have power and A/V cables, one Wii Remote, one Nunchuk controller, and one remote sensor. Extra Wii Remotes will sell for $40 and Nunchuk controllers will sell for $20. So to get the same controller accessories that are sold with the system, you are looking at a hefty $60.

    The classic controller--a more conventional-style game pad designed to better control the large library of retro titles available for the system--will be sold separately for $20. When we asked Nintendo about the A/V hookup, they said the system would include an all-in-one composite-component cable much like the one included with the premium Xbox 360. We did not get to see those cables, so take that one with a grain of salt.

    We did get a good look at the console's ports and slots after the conference, and we spied an SD memory card slot in front to complement the 512 MB of internal memory. We also saw four GameCube controller and memory card slots on the top of the Wii. The rear panel housed inputs for the power cord, A/V cables, and the motion sensor, along with a pair of USB ports.

  • There will be 30 Wii titles on shelves by the end of the year, with 15 available at launch. Nintendo confirmed that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and ExciteTruck will be among the titles in stores at launch. Nintendo's titles will sell for $50--the same price as Microsoft's internally-produced Xbox 360 titles. Prices for third-party titles have yet to be revealed.
  • A wide variety of third-party titles were confirmed, including Call of Duty 3, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, Madden NFL 07, Need For Speed: Carbon, Red Steel, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, and Far Cry: Vengeance. In addition to proving that Nintendo has a good number of companies in its corner this time around, the slate of shooters available should also serve as proof that, despite appearances, this console ain't just for kids.
  • In addition to Wii-specific titles available at retail, the new console is also fully backwards-compatible with all GameCube discs. Moreover, the system's "Virtual Console" will allow users to download a bevy of classic titles from past Nintendo consoles, as well as games originally released for the Sega Genesis and NEC TurboGRAFX. There will be about 30 classic games available on the Wii at launch, including such fan favorites as Donkey Kong, Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64. Approximately 10 additional backlist titles will be added every month. Games will be purchased with Wii Points, a proprietary currency that will work much like Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360. The games will run between 500 and 1000 points. Nintendo will sell 2000 points for $20.
  • The Wii's navigation will be done through a variety of pages called "Wii Channels" that take advantage of the system's "always online" capabilities. Among the channels shown at the event were a forecast channel (weather), news channel, and a message channel, which allows you to send messages to other Wii owners and e-mails to friends. The channel "home page" is the system's default gateway, which also provides access to the disc-based Wii/GameCube games and Virtual Console titles. Rounding things out is the Mii Channel, which lets you create your own digital avatar, save it to your remote, and bring it to other Wii consoles, as well as use it in games like Wii Sports.
  • Unlike Nintendo's previous consoles and portables, which shied away from performing multimedia functions, the Wii will have Web-surfing and photo-viewing capabilities, though the previously announced DVD-playback support has been nixed, according to IGN. To use the photo viewer, you simply plug in an SD memory card with photos on it to view them on your television. The system will use Opera as its Web browser, which will be purchasable through the Wii by using a still-undisclosed amount of Wii Points.
  • The Wii's Wi-Fi gaming capabilities will not be available at launch, nor will connectivity with the DS. Pokemon Battle Revolution will be the first title to utilize an online multiplayer, though no U.S. release date was set.
  • Nintendo had previously announced that the system would not exceed $250, a promise the company kept. While a few people were expecting an even lower price, the inclusion of a pack-in title should help ease the pain. Another widely held assumption was that Nintendo would try to release the system before Sony's PlayStation 3. Instead, it's coming out two days later, though in much higher quantities: four million consoles worldwide by the end of the year to Sony's two million. While we had a few qualms--the accessories are a bit pricey, and the games haven't improved much in terms of graphics since E3--Nintendo's combination of unique control features, an ultra-affordable price, and a huge back catalog of retro games make the system appealing for casual and enthusiast gamers alike. Be sure to check back soon for pictures and videos from the event.