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November 27, 2012

Nintendo's $99 Wii Mini Gets Unexpected Launch Set for December 7

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

With many gamers focused on the Wii U, it would be easy to not notice Nintendo's plans to release the Wii Mini on December 7. But it's not just background noise from the Wii U that will do that job, as Nintendo's own launch plans will leave a few scratching their heads as well.

Nintendo does indeed plan a December 7 release of the Wii Mini, and will offer the device for $99. But only gamers in Canada will get access to the device.

Described as "a gaming-only system without Internet connectivity," the $99 Wii Mini offers compatibility with over 1,300 Wii games, as well as the ability to work with Nintendo Selects titles, like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and several others.

It's set to come with a sensor bar, red Wii Remote Plus controller, as well as a red Nunchuk controller, matching the overall red and black color scheme of the Wii Mini.

Best Buy (News - Alert) Canada, who was reportedly first to offer the device on their website, will start taking pre-orders for the device later today, as the current pre-order link simply routes customers to the current Wii sales page with Nintendo.

The downside here is that not only is there no Internet connectivity with this device, as mentioned previously, but it will not play GameCube games. Given that full versions of the Nintendo Wii can be found online for only slightly more than the Wii Mini – prices start at around $120, and that's before the issue of used versions even comes into play – it's enough to make some wonder why Nintendo's even bothering with this version.

But considering that the Wii U has lately seen some impressive sales totals – a complete sellout by some reckoning – this may be an attempt at what was once called "managed disappointment." A model commonly used by video rental stores, managed disappointment allows stores to essentially deliver a substitute for a desired product that is unavailable, in the event that the customer doesn't leave completely dissatisfied.

With the Wii U sold out in many stores, and likely to be difficult to find for some time, offering a new version of the original Wii might be just the ticket, especially for those shoppers who thought they'd get involved starting with the Wii U, only to find that there are none left on shelves.

Just what the motive behind the Wii Mini's release is somewhat unclear, as well as the motive behind such an unusual launch strategy. But whether it's managed disappointment or something else, the fact remains that Canadian gamers are going to have one more opportunity to engage in Wii fun very soon.

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Edited by Braden Becker
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