Nintendo’s repackaging the Wii once again for U.S. gamers, with a slighly different design that removes Gamecube support.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because Nintendo introduced a similar model for Europe a couple months ago, saying at the time that it “does not currently have any plans” to bring the console stateside. (But as I noted back then, “no plans” usually means “we have plans that we’re not telling you.” Nailed it!)
Anyway, the new Wii bundle costs $150 and includes New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a vamp on Nintendo’s classic 2D platformer that supports four players on the screen at once. It also includes the soundtrack to Super Mario Galaxy, which is a puzzling addition, but also kind of cool if you like boppy orchestral music. The console’s physical design isn’t much different from it’s predecessor, but it removes the stand that allows you to prop the Wii up vertically.
In the United States, Nintendo will continue to sell its existing Wii model and bundle, which supports Gamecube games and includes Mario Kart Wii and a Wii steering wheel. At least, that’s the story for now. In time, I expect Nintendo to phase out the backwards-compatible Wii. No one’s developed a Gamecube title in four years, and demand for backwards compatibility is surely dropping among whoever hasn’t bought a Wii yet.
Still, I’d urge anyone who’s interested in a Wii to consider the old model, and the treasure trove of great GameCube games it supports. You might want games like Metroid Prime and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in case the novelty of motion control wears off.