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Appeared on: Friday, November 16, 2012
Nintendo's Wii U Console Debuts This Weekend

Nintendo's Wii U console - the first new home video game system in six years - arrives in the U.S. on Nov. 18, hoping to change the landscape of games and entertainment with its new Wii U GamePad controller.

Pressure is mounting on President Satoru Iwata to repeat the success of the Wii console after the 3DS handheld player failed to meet sales expectations in overseas markets, prompting the company to cut its profit goal by 70 percent last month. If the Wii U fails to return Nintendo back to strong profitability, there is likely to be questions asked of the strategic direction of the company and the execution of that strategy.

The machine, which also goes on sale in Europe and Australia on Nov. 30 and in Japan on Dec. 8, will be available in two versions.

The Wii U Basic Set will be available at a suggested retail price of $299.99 and includes a white Wii U console with 8 GB of internal storage, one white touch-screen GamePad controller, AC adapters for both the console and controller, a sensor bar and an HDMI cable.

The Wii U Deluxe Set will be available at a suggested retail price of $349.99 and its components are black. This set includes all elements from the Basic Set, as well as the Nintendo Land game, increased internal storage totaling 32 GB, a console stand, a GamePad stand and a GamePad charging cradle. People who purchase the Deluxe Set also will be enrolled in the Deluxe Digital Promotion, which allows Deluxe Set owners to earn points when they purchase downloadable games and then redeem those points for codes that earn them credit toward even more fun digital content in the online Nintendo eShop.

We should note here that the Wii U system reserves a lot of space for OS use. The result is that the basic 8 GB Wii U only has 3 GB of free space to hold your stuff. So you'd better grab a USB hard drive while you're at the store picking up your Wii U.

Highlight of the new Wii U console is its Wii U GamePad controller, which features a 6.2-inch touch screen that allows players to interact with their games, their entertainment and one another. It comes with dual analog sticks and traditional buttons for gaming. The GamePad is wirelessly connected to the console, providing a second-screen experience with the TV, no matter how it's being used. Different players can enjoy different experiences in the same game, depending on which controller they opt to use. Players can even move select games from the TV to be played on the GamePad or use the GamePad as a TV remote control.

The Wii U's success will heavily depend on what Nintendo and other developers do with that second screen on the GamePad controller.

Wii U is launching with 29 packaged games, plus a handful of digital games. Nintendo-published games available on launch day include Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, SiNG PARTY and NINJA GAIDEN 3: Razor's Edge. Third-party publishers also will have an array of games available on launch day, such as Just Dance 4, Assassin?s Creed III and ZombiU from Ubisoft, Skylanders Giants and Call of Duty: Black Ops II from Activision Publishing, Inc., Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two from Disney Interactive, EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer 13 and Madden NFL 13 from Electronic Arts, NBA 2K13 from 2K Sports and Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition and Scribblenauts Unlimited from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. A number of these titles will also be available for purchase digitally in the Nintendo eShop alongside a launch-day lineup of downloadable digital-only games, including Little Inferno from Tomorrow Corporation, Trine 2: Director's Cut from Frozenbyte, Chasing Aurora from Broken Rules, Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition from WayForward and Nano Assault NEO from Shinen. Wii U owners can expand the storage capacity of their systems by adding their own USB external hard disc drives. Downloadable content for select games, such as additional levels or maps, will roll out in December following a system update. Wii U is also backward compatible with almost all Wii games and Wii accessories.

The introduction of Wii U also brings the Miiverse: Miiverse, a global community in which gamers from all over can share experiences, discuss games and learn more about the video games they love. Using their personalized Mii characters, players with broadband Internet access can enter Miiverse and see games and entertainment content they have interacted with recently, expressed interest in learning more about or that their friends are playing or discussing. They can also challenge their friends to play together, ask for help from the Miiverse community about a difficult level or discover elements of their favorite games they never knew existed.

In the coming weeks, an array of movies and TV shows will also become available to Wii U owners on Amazon Instant Video and to Hulu Plus and Netflix subscribers. These services will also be accessible from Nintendo TV. Wii U owners will also be able to watch YouTube videos and channels through the YouTube application, as well as sign in to their account and control the application with the GamePad. Wii U owners who have connected their systems to the Internet will receive a notification as each video application becomes active.

In December, Nintendo will activate the Nintendo TV application, which has been designed to make watching TV simple and fun by bringing together a program guide, remote control and social interaction into one, second-screen experience on the GamePad. Nintendo TV comes with Wii U at no additional charge and requires no additional equipment. It works with existing cable and satellite channels. Viewers can engage with others in a variety of ways, such as commenting on moments as they happen on live TV, and then sharing those thoughts via Miiverse, Facebook and Twitter. Users can also discover more about what they?re watching, as information from a variety of sources is automatically linked to the program they are watching, including sports data.

Wii U owners will be also able to video chat with one another on a broadband Internet connection using the built-in camera and microphone of the Wii U GamePad.

The console also comes with a browser that lets users surf the Web from the comfort of their couches. Users can browse purely on the GamePad while watching a program on TV. Additionally, they can pause a game, launch the browser and search for something, and then re-enter the game right where they left off.

Last but not least, Wii U features parental controls that let adults manage the content their children can access.

While Nintendo put its hopes on a succesfull Wii U launch, Microsoft and Sony are also trying to keep their fans happy.

Microsoft's Xbox Live celebrated its 10th anniversary and you can visit the Xbox Live Anniversary page and download the Anniversary gamerpic to be entered into a sweepstakes to win a custom-themed Xbox 360.

Sony has also announced that Playstation Plus comes to the Playstation Vita next week, launching with 6 free games. These include Uncharted: Golden Abyss, WipeOut 2048, Jet Set Radio HD, Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!, Gravity Rush and PSP title Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions.

Playstation Plus also brongs users online storage for game saves, trophy syncing, automatic update and discounts in the PSN store. PS3 owners who are already Playstation Plus members will get all this for free. Otherwise Playstation Plus costs about $50/year.

The PS Vita is also getting a software update to version 2.0, which brings an email client, wireless transfers between the Vita and a PC, and 1080P video playback. The browser has been also improved.

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