On Nov. 19 … Wii-joice?

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Nintendo made their formal announcement regarding the release date and the price of the Wii console. As the headline says, the system is set for a Nov. 19 release in the U.S. (as the fanboys go ‘wooooo’) and will erase about $250 bucks out of your wallet, or a more than half of what one might pay for the higher-end PlayStation 3. In Japan, Ninty execs announced the Dec. 2 release date.

The out-the-box package includes a Wii Remote and a Wii Nunchuk (the pair of motion-sensing controllers), and one disc containing five Wii sports titles. Sadly, no Zelda, which would have been truly outstanding. However, Zelda IS going to be a launch title.

Nintendo is expecting about a 30-game lineup between launch day and the end of December. First-party (that means Nintendo original) titles are going to cost $49.99. Wii will also be able to play every GameCube game.

Then there’s the Wii Channel Menu, which lets players either pick stuff they can play or access stuff like the news or weather. You’ll also be able to view and send photos. There’s also a system of Wii Points that you can redeem — and you can also download classic games to the Virtual Console, which is a godsend for retrogamers.

From what Nintendo says, you’ll be able to play stuff from the Super Nintendo, the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, and even some titles from the Sega Genesis and the Turbografx 16. Bonk’s Adventure, anyone? Perhaps a little Altered Beast (“rise from your grave” … BOOM).

Now, the circle is complete. Basic info on all three next-gen systems (probably with more on the way), and it comes at a time where more ambitious holiday shoppers are already assembling gift ideas.

There’s the Wii, which you just read about, which is the friendly, fun system built on a philosophy of inclusion. It also helps that it won’t cost you a piece of your soul, and comes with ready-to-play games as well as access to a massive library of classic Nintendo stuff.

You’ve also got the Xbox 360, which certainly costs more, but also already has an established fan community and next-gen games library. Oh, and it also has mighty Xbox Live, where the Marketplace and Arcade have tapped into the casual gamer market.

Finally, there’s PlayStation 3. The mere mention of this system either gets you a storm of expletives from people in shock over the $600 price tag or a tingling of anticipation of what could be the most powerful console on Earth.

Sony has taken a public relations beating concerning everything from the price, execs’ remarks about how the system is a computer, not a console (and will make the PC obsolete), to the fact that the controller can’t vibrate. Sony-bashing has become something of a trend — it’s hard to toss out the term “massive damage,” or belt out “Riiiiige Racer!!!!” to gamers without them knowing what it means. After that, you usually get a derisive laugh.

However, Sony is still seen as the king — royalty more of the Nero variety, but on the throne nonetheless. There are still some great releases coming out for PS2 (God of War II), and if any one system has the potential to make a lot of critics eat their words in a very short time, it’s PlayStation 3. I hope it does well — not for Sony’s sake, but for gaming in general.

As for the Wii, you can check out the official Web site for the console for extra knowledge. The system’s going to get huge props in Japan (Shigeru Miyamoto is still viewed as a gaming deity), and the fact that it comes out two days after the PS3 shows some moxie.

And of course, there’s the “gaming for everyone” philosophy. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from readers and non-gamers is that they certainly have the desire to try games, but everything from the controllers to the consoles themselves caters to people who’ve been playing for years. Telling a non-gamer to simply “get-used” to a contemporary controller is like asking someone to operate on their own heart. With the Wii, the learning curve is roughly the same size. Therefore, no intimidation.

I’m not saying Wii will rock the holidays, but if a few families check in and make the plunge, who knows?

Jump away to see the Wii early lineup, via press release. Keep in mind, this is the stuff we’re hoping to see from Nov. 19 to Dec. 31.

From Nintendo:

Battalion Wars II
Big Brain Academy (temporary name)
Excite Truck
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Mario Strikers Charged
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Super Mario Galaxy (temporary name)
WarioWare: Smooth Moves
Wii Sports

From Activision:

Call of Duty 3
Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
Rapala Tournament Fishing
Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam
World Series of Poker

Atari:

Dragon Ball Z Budokai: Tenkaichi 2

Atlus:

Trauma Center: Second Opinion

Buena Vista Games:

Chicken Little: Ace in Action
Disney’s Meet the Robinsons

Codemasters:

Dance Factory
Sidewinder

Electronic Arts:

The Godfather
Madden NFL 07
Need for Speed: Carbon
SSX
Tiger Woods PGA Tour

Konami:

Elebits

Majesco:

Bust A Move Revolution

Midway Games:

The Ant Bully
The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
Happy Feet
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
Rampage: Total Destruction

Sega:

Sonic and the Secret Rings
Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz

SNK:

Metal Slug Anthology

THQ:

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Barnyard
Cars
SpongeBob SquarePants:
Creature from the Krusty Krab

Ubisoft:

Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII — (“I am the fist … YOU ARE THE BOARD!!!”)
Far Cry: Vengeance
GT Pro Series
Monster 4×4: World Circuit
Open Season
Prince of Persia
Rayman: Raving Rabbids
RED STEEL
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent

Vivendi Universal:

Ice Age 2