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Wii U Launches in North America

New console system hopes to repeat the success of the Wii

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Nintendo's Wii U console – the first new home video game system in six years – has arrived, aiming to change the landscape of games and entertainment with its new Wii U GamePad controller.

The console launched overnight, and is available in stores across North America today, November 18 2012. Things kicked off at midnight at Nintendo World in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, where Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime was on hand to count down the launch and sell a new Wii U to the first consumer in line.

Wii U Launch Countdown

The Wii U Basic Set is available for $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 is available for 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. The actual usable space on the hard drive will be smaller due to internal system files, which take up approximately 5 GB. Wii U owners can expand the storage capacity of their systems by adding their own USB external hard disc drives.

Wii U GamePad controller features a 6.2-inch touch screen, comes with dual analog sticks and traditional buttons for gaming. The GamePad is wirelessly connected to the console, providing an integrated 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.

Wii U

Wii U is launching with 29 packaged games, plus a handful of digital games, marking the largest launch lineup in Nintendo history. 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, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two from Disney Interactive, 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.

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 Shin'en.

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.

Wii U Launch lineup

In the coming weeks, an array of movies and TV shows will become available to Wii U owners on Amazon Instant Video and to Hulu Plus and Netflix subscribers in the US. These services will also be accessible from Nintendo TVii. 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 can video chat with one another on a broadband Internet connection using the built-in camera and microphone of the Wii U GamePad. Wii U 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.

The original Wii was released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006 and was a surprise runaway hit thanks to the popularity of its motion controls. As a seventh-generation console, the Wii competed directly with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 - and as of the first quarter of 2012, the Wii lead in worldwide sales. Back in December 2009, the console broke the sales record for a single month in the United States.

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