Can the Wii-U save Nintendo?

At long last, the legendary gaming company reveals pricing and a release date for its next-generation console — but smashing success is hardly a sure bet

Wii U
(Image credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

More than a year after the Wii U was first announced, Nintendo has finally revealed pricing, hardware specs, and launch titles for its next-generation console. On Nov. 18, gaming fans will finally be able to get their hands on the next-generation system, at a price of $299. The Wii U boasts a touchscreen controller, which is packed with buttons, motion sensors, and its own screen (which allows the controller to become a portable gaming system when you're on the go). And through a new feature called Nintendo TVii, the Wii U will transform into a media center that can handle live television, DVR, and streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu. A lot is riding on the big Wii U launch, with Nintendo reporting its worst year ever following the flop of the handheld 3DS. When the original Wii launched six years ago, it was a huge and surprising success. Can the Wii U help get the house of Super Mario back on track?

The Wii U might be too expensive: At $300 for the basic 8GB model, and $350 for the premium 32GB model, the Wii U might be too pricey for cash-strapped consumers, says Sebastian Anthony at ExtremeTech. The normal Wii costs just $100, the low-end Xbox 360 is $150, and Sony's PlayStation 3 is $200. The Wii U "certainly has better specs than the other consoles, but they're not that much better."

"Nintendo confirms Wii U specs and release date, prices it above Xbox 360 and PS3"

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But TVii could be a difference maker: "Bringing disparate video sources into one interface has been a holy grail for set-top box makers," says Jared Newman at TIME. Nintendo's TVii has a clean interface that gets rid of cable providers' clunky grid layout, opting instead for a system that offers recommendations and groups shows by categories. "For a company that's always prided itself on being about games above all else, this is a big step in acknowledging that game consoles aren't what they used to be."

"TVii for the Wii U: Nintendo's bold move beyond gaming"

Either way, this could be Nintendo's last stand: Early reviews of the multi-purpose GamePad controller have been "lukewarm" at best, says Darrel Etherington at Tech Crunch. That's bad news, considering that this could be the legendary video game company's last chance to excite investors with its consoles. Shareholders have been pushing Nintendo to become a "platform-agnostic game publisher" and get out of the "thin-margin hardware game," perhaps even bringing popular titles like Super Mario Bros. to the iPhone. If the Wii U fails, Nintendo might not make another console.

"Nintendo's Wii U hits U.S. stores November 18, starts at $299.99"

And it will be sad if the Wii U fails: The Wii U is a "make-or-break move for Nintendo," says Russell Brandon at BuzzFeed. Ever since the original Wii hit the market six years ago, the company has been "a bit rudderless," launching just a few "incremental changes to the DS and surprisingly few new flagship games." If the Wii U doesn't sell, it could "easily be their Sega Dreamcast — one last ill-advised project before they get out of the hardware game entirely." That would be a sad way for the legendary company to exit the industry it revolutionized.

"Everything you need to know about the Wii U"

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