Sunday, November 19, 2006
Nintendo has released its newest video game console in North America. Known as the Wii, the system and games have an MSRP of US$249.99 and US$49.99 respectively. The North American release is to be followed by the December 2nd launch in Japan and the December 8th launch in Europe.
Launched officially at midnight, more than a thousand people gathered in New York’s Time Square to be among the first to buy one of the Wii. In contrast to the crowds that have challenged crowd control officials over the last two days in connection with the launch of Sony’s Playstation 3, the Wii crowds have been much calmer. Many observers attribute this to the fact that Nintendo had more than ten times as many Wii consoles available on launching day than Sony did for their PS3 that had been hounded by part shortages in manufacturing right up to the day of launch.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said that several tough choices had been made in the design of the Wii. The company decided to develop a new way of playing games with revolutionary controllers instead of following the PS3 and the Xbox down the road of stunning graphic and multimedia options. This produced a console with a much talked-about sensor/controller design and the lowest price point of the three major consoles. While not having a DVD player or high-definition TV capabilities, the Wii retails for about $250 while its competitors the Xbox 360 and PS3 retail for about $400 and $600 respectively.
While the Wii will launch with several games available, one of its advertised advantages is that the new console is largely compatible with older games made for the GameCube, giving the new console an instant and extensive launching library. A GameCube controller will be needed to play GameCube games with the Wii. Several hardware items that GameCube games may be expecting, such as the modem or broadband adapter or the GameBoy player are not supported on the Wii.
Across the country in Los Angeles about 500 people were waiting for the doors to open at Universal City Walk’s Game Stop store. Fearing that the Wii introduction might be as contentious as the PS3 debut just a few days ago, the store handed out numbered wristbands to the throng. No problems were reported.