Nintendo's latest console has been priced and dated across the world, and responses are varying wildly as gamers start counting their pennies and marking the days before the Wii U hits shelves around the world before Christmas.
Bucking a Nintendo tradition, the Wii U will launch in North America, Europe and Australasia before arriving in Japan. Mark your calendars: November 18th for the United States, November 30th for Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and December 8th in Japan.
This was all pretty much what we'd been expecting, but Nintendo's announcement wasn't without surprises: Unlike the original Wii, the Wii U has been designed in two different models, with two different price points.
The Basic Pack features a white console, white Wii U GamePad and 8GB internal storage - plus an AC adapter and HDMI cable. It'll set you back ¥26,250, US$299 or AU$349.95, depending on where you are in the world.
The Premium Pack includes a Wii U console and GamePad both in stylish black, with 32GB of internal storage for all your downloadable digital content and save files. The Premium Pack also contains a stand for the GamePad and console, a GamePad charging cradle, a sensor bar and the Nintendo Land software and a Nintendo Network Premium subscription, as well as the standard AC adapter and HDMI cable. It costs ¥31,500, US$349 and AU$429.95.
European pricing was not announced for either bundle, with Nintendo suggesting you chat directly to local retailers - many seem to be using a price structure between £210-£280.
(Note: The sensor bar included in the Premium Pack is the same one you've used for years with your original Wii. If you don't have an original Wii, the new peripheral will set you back around AU$30.)
Statistically speaking: Wii U has 2GB of RAM - 1GB for system memory and 1GB for games - a sizeable serving compared to the 512MB used by the PS3 and Xbox 360. The console is 46mm x 172mm x 268.5mm, uses 45 watts in power save mode and 75 watts when operating. Wii U game discs are 25GB capacity, and the console outputs true HD graphics in delightful 1080p. Nintendo claims the Wii U is around "20 times" more powerful than the original Wii, which is now six years old.
...but what's a console without the games! The Wii U launch lineup has been confirmed, and it's an eclectic blend making up the headliners: FIFA 13, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, ZombiU (which also comes in a Premium bundle), Mass Effect 3 and Rayman Legends join Nintendo's own offerings like Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U.
Plus, there were a couple of Wii U exclusive bombshells, including Bayonetta 2, developed by Platinum, directed by Yusuke Hashimoto and published by Nintendo (no more Sega, for those playing at home).
For the full launch lineup, stay tuned - there are some big names being thrown around, and it looks like Nintendo is going out of its way to avoid some of the troubles suffered by the Wii, with a healthy dose of "hardcore" releases on the way.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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