There will be two versions – a basic edition and a deluxe set, which has more storage and an associated kit.
Nintendo’s stock has fallen 29% since March as investors fear casual gamers will instead opt for tablet computers while hardcore players will wait for a new PlayStation or Xbox.
The Wii U console itself looks a lot like its predecessor, which launched in 2006 for about $250. The Wii U’s big difference lies in its special wireless GamePad controller. It gives the bearer special powers, adding a new layer to both single- and multi-player games. The GamePad features a 6.2-inch touchscreen that works differently with each game.
In the US the cheaper model, which features 8GB of storage, will sell for $300. It does not include an infrared sensor bar or nunchuck controller. Customers who did not buy these along with the original edition of the Wii will have to purchase them separately.
The premium edition costs $350, has 32GB of storage, a sensor bar and the firm’s new Nintendo Land game.
Both versions include a touchscreen GamePad, but users wanting a second controller face an extra cost.
The device features a touchscreen offering players to ability to carry out in-game tasks, such as checking their inventory or setting an explosive, while the main action continues on their television. Gamers can also continue to play a title using the device when they do not have access to their main screen.
However, the gadget has been criticized for lacking multitouch – the ability to recognize different fingers on a hand.
It also faces a challenge from both Sony and Microsoft who have introduced similar facilities for their existing consoles: the PlayStation 3 can be controlled by the firm’s Vita handheld, while the Xbox 360 can be connected to existing tablet computers via software called SmartGlass.
Nintendo’s president, Satoru Iwata, highlighted the fact that the Wii U would launch alongside New Super Mario Bros U – the first time a title in the series’ release date had coincided with a new console in 16 years.
In addition to games, the Wii U will offer some features for social networking and “Nintendo TVii”, an interface that features streaming media apps from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Google-owned YouTube. You can see what shows your friends are recommending and categorize content, and choose across platforms — Netflix vs. Amazon, for example — how you want to watch a show.