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Nintendo's Wii U launch date set

Nintendo has a knack for changing the course of video games, appealing to the masses from kids to grandparents even if its technology isn't the most advanced.

The creator of Mario Bros and Donkey Kong said on Thursday that it will launch its first high-definition gaming console on November 18 in the US, later that month in Europe and on December 8 in Japan.

It's the first major game console to launch in years. But Nintendo is merely catching up on HD with Sony and Microsoft, which began selling their own HD consoles six and seven years ago, respectively. The question is whether a touch-screen tablet controller, coupled with TV-watching features, will be enough to surpass them.

The original Wii console revolutionised gaming and surpassed its rivals not because it had more power or better graphics, but because it gave people a new way to play. Its motion-sensing controller was not the most advanced, but it got people off the couch, swinging virtual tennis rackets, bowling and flailing around in living rooms around the world.

But over the years the novelty faded even as the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 have managed to keep loyal, hardcore gamers enthused with massive shooters and multi-player features.

Whether the Wii U can bring people back will depend on Nintendo's ability to lure people in with classic games from Mario to Call of Duty, entertainment features that go beyond gaming and a price that doesn't break the bank.

Nintendo first announced plans for the Wii U last year, but it had not disclosed the price or availability date until Thursday.

The Wii U will start at 300 US dollars (185) for a basic model, which is just 50 US dollars more than what the Wii initially sold for. For 350 US dollars, gamers can buy a deluxe version that is black instead of white.

The deluxe model will also have a charging stand for its controller, 32GB of memory instead of 8GB and Nintendo Land, a smorgasbord of 12 popular Nintendo games.

Nintendo has been trying to drum up excitement for the Wii U. What sets it apart from other consoles is the tablet-like Wii U GamePad. This controller allows for asymmetrical gameplay, so two or more people can play the same game but have different experiences. Players can also turn off the TV entirely and play on the GamePad, watching the game on the tablet's screen and using the controllers on the sides.

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