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Wii Mini coming to U.S. later this month

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Wii Mini (Credit: Nintendo)

The Wii may be winding down its life cycle, but the Wii Mini is just getting started.

Roughly a year after introducing the scaled-down version of the last generation console to Canada, Nintendo has announced plans to bring the Wii Mini to the U.S. in the coming weeks. Nintendo declined to give an exact release date, saying only "mid-November."

It's hard to argue with the value proposition -- assuming you don't already own a Wii. The Wii Mini will cost just $100 and comes bundled with Mario Kart Wii.

"Wii Mini offers the same fun experience as Wii, which has been enjoyed by millions of people around the world," said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. "It is an extraordinary value for shoppers this holiday season."

It does come with some drawbacks, though, the biggest of which is the system's lack of Internet connectivity. While the Wii was never an online gaming powerhouse, its users are big fans of streaming services like Netflix. The Wii Mini effectively removes that option. The system is also not backwards compatible with GameCube titles, though that's likely less to be an issue for most potential buyers at this point.

The bigger question is why Nintendo is promoting a new version of its old hardware when its next-generation system is struggling so desperately.

Between the end of March and end of September this year, Nintendo sold just 460,000 Wii U consoles. The seven-year old Wii, meanwhile, sold 470,000 in that same time frame. Nintendo's hoping a September price cut and new games -- including Super Mario 3D World -- will help boost the Wii U this holiday.

Reducing the size of existing consoles is an old, but effective trick in the video game industry that can bring in extra revenue. Sony introduced a "super slim" PlayStation 3 in September 2012, and Microsoft's revamp of the Xbox 360 into a slimmer form factor in 2010 led console hardware sales for 20 consecutive months.

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