Nintendo continues to play coy
No launch date or price for new gaming system, but it will launch with Zelda
LOS ANGELES (CNNMoney.com) – Gamers hoping to mark their calendars for the launch of Nintendo's new gaming system are going to have to wait a little longer.
Nintendo did not announce specific pricing or availability for the Wii at its pre-E3 press conference, but reiterated the system will sell for less than its competitors.
"We believe it's in our best interest to keep the details private for now," said Reggie Fils-Aime, executive vice president of marketing for Nintendo of America. "However, we will give you more fun for less money – and you'll be playing Wii in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Nintendo also declined to say how many games would go on sale with the system, although it did confirm one primary launch title. "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" will be released the same day as Wii. (A GameCube version of the game, which was previously announced, will also be released that day.) A new franchise – WiiSports, which features baseball, tennis and golf games - will also be available on launch day.
Several other familiar franchises also have Wii games in the works, with the company showing footage from "Super Mario Galaxy," "Sonic Wild Fire" and "Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles".
While Nintendo did not focus extensively on new feature announcements, the company did unveil one previously unknown feature of the Wii. Instead of turning completely off when users are finished playing, the system will enter a standby mode called Wiiconnect 24.
"This means the console can be constantly connected to the internet," said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. "For hard core gamers, this means developers can push a new feature or weapon to your system while you sleep. For beginning gamers, let's say those who enjoy 'Animal Crossing,' anytime the console is in standby they may return to discover a friend has visited their village and left them a message or gift."
A Nintendo executive later said more features for the Wii will be revealed in the months leading up to its launch.
The Wii's primary distinction is a remote-control styled controller that translates wrist movements into onscreen movements. The company announced a few minor revisions to the controller, including a small speaker that will offer ancillary sounds to enhance gameplay (i.e. the thwip of a bow or the distinctive audio sounds of Nintendo franchises).
The primary controller will not be the only motion sensitive device on the Wii, though. A secondary controller (dubbed the 'nunchuck') used for more advanced games, will feature the same capabilities. For example, if a game is related to fishing, the primary controller would act as your rod, while the 'nunchuck' controller can be used as a reel.
"Today there are people who play and people who do not," said Fils-Aime. "Wii will help destroy that wall between them. Regardless of age, gender of game experience, anyone can instantly understand Wii."
Graphically, the system's games look virtually identical to Nintendo's current generation system, a significant difference from the high definition focus of Microsoft (Research) and Sony (Research). How much of a difference that will make to consumers is one of the lingering questions about the system.
"Risk allows progress," said Fils-Aime. "We're a company that doesn't run from risk; we run to it."
Price tag for the PS3? As much as $599