It's game on for the battle of the next-generation video game consoles.
Nintendo Co. on Thursday kicked off the high-stakes competition by announcing that its highly anticipated Wii U video game console will hit stores Nov. 18 with a price tag starting at $299.99 for a basic package. A deluxe package, which will include the "Nintendo Land" game and more memory, will be sold for $349.99.
At a news conference in New York, the Japanese video game giant also rolled out Nintendo TVii, a television-viewing experience on the Wii U's wireless tablet-sized touchscreen game controller.
Viewers in North America will be able to use the Wii U controller as a remote control for their TV, search for live and recorded shows as well as online videos, get additional information on the programs they're watching and socialize with friends on Nintendo's Miiverse social network.
The Wii U represents Nintendo's effort to recapture the glory of its Wii, which sold more than 95 million units worldwide since it launched in 2006. It has outpaced Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, which has sold more than 60 million units, and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, which has sold 64 million units.
But the Xbox 360 and the PS3 have started to catch up in recent years as Wii sales significantly tapered off. Part of the Wii's disadvantage compared with its more powerful rivals was its lack of high-definiton graphics capabilities.
The Wii U will include high-resolution graphics, while its biggest hardware differentiator is the touch screen game pad, which features a "second screen" that can display a different view of the game than what is on the TV screen.
Nintendo showed off several games that used the two-screen feature at its event, including "Metroid Blast," which was designed to appeal to hard-core gamers, and "New Super Mario Bros. U" for the more casual player.