NEW YORK--At Nintendo's Wii press event this morning--where it had been expected the company would unveil the full monty on the Wii--attendees arrived to find the cat was already out of the bag. The New York Times and USA Today have now both reported the two pieces of information most sought after by diehard fans: The Wii will cost $250 in the US and go on sale November 19. Nintendo told the papers other juicy pieces of information about the Wii release, including a 25-strong launch lineup, pricing on the virtual console's downloadable classic games, and the inclusion of Wii Sports as a pack-in game.
Meanwhile over in Tokyo, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced the Wii would go on sale in Japan on December 2 for 25,000 yen--around $213. Since then, the Japanese Wii site has posted extensive information and videos of the Wii's media functions in action, as well as a slick montage of its Japanese launch games.
The hottest details may have already hit the wire, but GameSpot is still front and center at Nintendo's cozy presentation, expected to be led by prominent NOA president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime. Stay tuned for a live blog with all the pertinent info, with a tape-delayed video stream of the entire presentation to come at 12 p.m. EDT / 9 a.m. PDT. Also, visit GameSpot's Wii Launch Center for all the latest Wii updates throughout the day.
9:05 a.m. EDT: Attendees are just starting to filter into the conference space, and the show is set to begin soon.
9:15 a.m.: The place is still filling up. Time to sheperd the nerd herd into their seats.
9:19 a.m.: NOA VP of marketing Perrin Kaplan has taken the stage to talk about the three near-simultaneous events in Tokyo, London, and here in New York. Now she's introducing the man everyone wants to hear from: newly anointed NOA president Reggie Fils-Aime.
9:23 a.m.: The Regginator speaks! "The next step in gaming is bringing gaming back to the masses." Obviously it's working for them so far, if you'll notice the brain-training craze and the runaway popularity of the Nintendo DS. Not surprisingly, those are exactly the products he's talking about now.
9:27 a.m.: Here comes the hard info. "One price, one configuration, one color." So there's only a white one (for now), it comes with the nunchaku and so-called "Wiimote" controllers, and it costs...$249.99! The system will show up at 25,000 retail locations, so it probably won't be too hard to find one--especially since Reggie just promised 4 million units shipped globally by the end of calendar 2006, with the majority share going to North America.
9:29 a.m.: But what's in the box? One Wii remote, one nunchaku, both included. Don't forget about Wii Sports, the first pack-in game at launch since the SNES. Speaking of which, we're now seeing a demo of Bowling--one of the games included in Wii Sports.
9:32 a.m.: Like almost every Wii game so far, Bowling is played just like you would in real life: throw the ball as if it were real. You can purportedly put some spin on it, too. We'll have a more detailed report later today.
9:33 a.m.: And the final Wii Sports lineup is...Tennis, Golf, Baseball, Bowling, and Boxing?! That's new. This should be interesting.
9:35 a.m.: Reggie's talking about the 25-game launch lineup, not surprisingly being led by The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Excite Truck will also be out on day one. He makes much of the fact that this is the first Nintendo console to launch with a Zelda...though, admittedly, this Zelda was originally intended for the previous console.
9:39 a.m.: Here's a random sampling of third-party games that will be out on day one: Call of Duty 3, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam, Trauma Center: Second Opinion, Need for Speed: Carbon, Madden 07, Elebits, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Splinter Cell Double Agent.
9:41 a.m.: More details that we already knew: roughly 30 games by the end of the year and all first-party games will be in at $49.99 or under. But here's something we haven't heard much about in the US yet: "Wii Channels." Reggie says this idea is meant to expand the console's interface for all the members of the family.
9:44 a.m.: Now we're getting slides of the Wii Channels interface, which lets you start up a Wii or GameCube disc, as well as hit the "Wii Shop Channel" to buy older games for the Virtual Console (look for Super Mario World and Super Mario 64 at launch). After launch, Nintendo is estimating around 10 new games a month to be available.
Surprisingly, full pricing details are here. NES games will be available for 500 Wii points, Super NES games for 800, and Nintendo 64 for 1,000. Wait, Wii what? Looks like they're taking the same tack as Microsoft: Consumers part with fake money more easily than real money. A 2,000 Wii points card can be had at retail for $20--so that's $5, $8, and $10 a pop, respectively.
9:46 a.m.: Bill Trinen is showing off the "Mii" channel, which lets you create your cartoonlike avatar to represent yourself within games. To demonstrate the flexibility of the Mii character-creation utility--which lets you pick hair styles, skin color, facial features, and so on--Trinen is creating a rather, uh, loose interpretation of Samuel L. Jackson. After finishing the Mii, he's got it running around with pretty accurate Mii versions of Iwata and Miyamoto.
9:50 a.m.: The second component of the Mii concept is transporting your Miis elsewhere, since they're stored on your remote. Head to a friend's house, play tennis with your controller, and you'll see your Mii pop right up in the game.
Now we're getting a demo of the photo channel, which is a pretty standard photo viewer. The most impressive thing here is how quickly Bill is navigating the photos with the Wii remote, which works like a mouse. You can also view videos through this thing, even adding mosaic effects or turning the video into a slide puzzle.
9:53 a.m.: Reggie again with some more channels, like weather reports and news headlines (which are updated nonstop through WiiConnect 24 so you can read them anytime). A messaging service is also in place, letting you send messages to other users on the Wii or even to their cell phones (though Reggie didn't say exactly how this will work).
Finally, there's the Internet channel, which is basically just the Opera browser--you'll need to cash in Wii points to purchase it. But the Wii remote does seem uniquely suited to surfing the Web on your couch.
9:55 a.m.: Reggie emphasizes the positioning of the Wii Channels interface for the casual, mainstream user. He makes a point of saying that the Channels interface will come up immediately, with no lengthy boot-up process to get in the way.
9:59 a.m.: That's the end of today's scheduled programming. On with the Q&A!
Additional "Wiimote" remotes will be $39.99, separate from the nunchaku, which will be an additional $19.99. So be sure not to lose the nunchaku or Wiimote that comes with the console!
Will the system have its own internal memory for photos and such? Kaplan says it will have some capacity for internal memory, but "most" of the storage will indeed be through SD cards.
Of the 30 games promised by year's end, Kaplan says about half of those will be available at launch. Sounds like Zelda, Excite Truck, and Wii Sports are the only first-party ones, though. While first-party games are indeed $50 and under, third parties are--not surprisingly--free to set their own pricing on upcoming games.
Uh-oh. GameCube Twilight Princess now pushed back to December.
All first-party games and most (if not all) other Wii content will be capable of the 16:9 aspect ratio used by HDTVs but will not be in high definition.
Will the DS and Wii be interoperable? "You'll be hearing more in the future about that," says Kaplan. Nothing today, though.
It's official: Metroid Prime 3 is now a "2007" title.
Pokèmon Battle Revolution (just announced in Japan) will be the first online-multiplayer-enabled game. Um, good?
10:11 a.m. EDT: The presentation is officially over, and we now have a pretty clear picture of the Wii launch in the US. We're on to check out all the playable games, so stay tuned for hands-on stories and videos later in the day. Also, check back tomorrow for news from Nintendo Europe's event in London.