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Nintendo announces launch date, pricing for Wii U

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(Credit: Nintendo)

Nintendo's next generation will kick off November 18.

That's the day the Wii U will go on sale in North America, with two versions for consumers to choose from. But neither is going to be dirt-cheap.

During a press event in New York, Nintendo announced that the "basic" white-colored model Wii U will retail for $300 and come packaged with the console, one tablet gamepad, an HDMI cable and 8 GB of memory. For $350, however, gamers can opt for the "deluxe" version, which comes in a sleek black color and includes everything in the basic set as well as a charging cradle for the gamepad, a stand for the system, 32 GB of memory, and a copy of Nintendoland.

Neither bundle will ship with Wii controllers or nunchucks (both of which are compatible with the Wii U), since Nintendo expects most buyers already own them for their Wii systems. The company says there are 100 million Wii remotes in people's hands already.

While Nintendo noted it was still too early to announce the official launch lineup, it did indicate that New Super Mario Bros. U would be the system's flagship title. By the end of the launch window (technically defined as March 31, 2013), it expects to have 50 games available for the system.

Among those will be Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Mass Effect 3, and Skylanders: Giants. Also in development exclusively for the Wii U is the action-packed sequel Bayonetta 2.

Nintendo is also hoping to branch out beyond its gaming roots with the WIi U, revealing what Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's president and COO, calls "the most different non-gaming initiative Nintendo has ever introduced."

It's called Nintendo TVii — and no, that's not a typo.

It's a service that brings together various programming options under one umbrella. Using the tablet controller, owners of the system will be able to search for content from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, live TV and even their own DVR. They'll also be able to set individual profiles for each family member, allowing parents and kids to pick separate favorites. Other social elements include polls and live discussion of programs during broadcasts. Nintendo TVii also integrates online resources like IMDb and Wikipedia so that users can research information on the tablet while the show is on the main television. The service will be available for free to all U.S. and Canadian purchasers of the Wii U.

"It has always been our goal to maximize consumer value with what we include in the hardware purchase," said Fils-Aime. "It's not just a high definition console that will change the way people play. Wii U is the only game console with a seamlessly connected, fully integrated second screen."

The $300-$350 pricing plan could be a sticking point for consumers during what's expected to be a busy holiday season. A starter Xbox 360 retails for $200, while a basic PS3 costs $250. Nintendo did not reveal how much a standalone tablet controller will cost.

Nintendo could certainly use the boost. Wii sales have slumped in the past year, dropping to roughly half of what it sold in 2011.

Gamers in other regions will have to wait a big longer to get their Wii U fix. The system hits Europe on November 30 and arrives in Japan on December 8.

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