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Nintendo European Press Conference

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If you read my report from E3 you’ll know that I’m pretty excited about the Nintendo Wii, and that excitement hasn’t lessened over the months since the LA based gaming show. I had another chance to get my hands on the Wii hardware back in July, which only confirmed my initial impression, that Nintendo was onto a serious winner. Now I’m sitting on a train heading home from the Nintendo European Press Conference for the Wii and once again, I have a big smile on my face.

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This was the event that most journalists had been waiting for, especially since the day before Nintendo had announced pricing and launch details for the Wii in the Japanese and US territories. So, let’s get the big news out of the way – the Wii will hit Europe in time for Christmas 2006, although not as quickly as the US or Japan. With a European release date of 8th December 2006, the Yanks will be getting their hands on that superb controller a couple of weeks before us, while the Japanese will only get the jump on us by a few days.

Some could complain that this isn’t a worldwide release, but to be fair, Nintendo never promised a worldwide release, unlike Sony who has now backtracked and left Europe out in the cold until March 2007! It’s almost a repeat of the launch timings for Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which saw a similar release schedule over a couple of weeks in 2005. Obviously everyone in the crowd was hoping that Europe would be getting the hardware before the rest of the world, but I don’t think that any of us really expected it.

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Nintendo has always promised that it would be making the Wii affordable, but last week’s unofficial announcement that the console would cost £149 turned out to be inaccurate, with Nintendo announcing a retail price of £179. This compares to pricing of €249 and $249 – once again proving that our friends over the pond get a slightly better deal than us Brits. That said, it’s still an affordable price point, especially when you consider what you’re getting in the box.

It’s been a long time since I bought a games console that had a game free in the box. In fact I’d probably have to go as far back as the Sega Master System, if my memory serves me correctly. As everyone had been hoping for months, Nintendo will be bundling Wii Sports with the console, and you couldn’t ask for a better game to demonstrate the true individuality and pure entertainment that the Wii offers.

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Nintendo decided to show off the Tennis game in Wii sports during the presentation, and just to make things more interesting, the curtains behind the stage drew back to reveal Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski playing real tennis, on a real court. After the applause died down, Tim and Greg went about playing Wii Sports Tennis against Satoru Shibata (President – Nintendo Europe) and Laurent Fischer (Marketing Director – Nintendo Europe). The match went to the full three games, with Tim and Greg losing the decider (rather suspiciously it has to be said) after Gabby Logan informed them that this was “Nintendo’s day”.

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