This Day in History: Nintendo Wii Video Game Console Launches (November 19, 2006)

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

It launched with a controller that had no sticks and very few buttons, but despite its major differences, the Nintendo Wii would go on to be a massive success for video gaming giant Nintendo.

Originally codenamed the "Revolution," the Nintendo Wii was launched in the United States of America on November 19th, 2006.

Unlike its competition of the same generation--the Playstation 3 and the X-Box 360--the Nintendo Wii's controller was not based around a setup involving two analog control sticks. Instead, built in gyroscopes combined with infrared sensors allowed a simple one-handed controller to translate motion into player movement.

The Wii launched for $249, lower than its competition. It also came packed in with Wii Sports. This pack-in game, which included motion-controls for various sports like Bowling and Tennis, would becme a runaway phenomenon and help to expand the Wii into a much broader audience than the typical video gaming platform. Those who owned games from the previous system, the GameCube, could use all of their games from that platform on the Wii.

The console had a wide variety of games that appealed to all audiences from less-complicated motion-controlled games like Wii Sports, to more advanced sports and racing games, new installments in Nintendo franchises like Mario and Super Smash Brothers and much more. The Wii also enjoyed a rich variety of third-party support. This combined with efforts from Nintendo itself, led to over 1200 retail games for the system being relased across the world.

The Wii also offered a unique "Virtual Console" service, where for prices as small as five dollars, gamers could purchase classic titles from older Nintendo (and later Sega and HudsonSoft) platforms like Super Mario Brothers for original Nintendo and Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo.

The Wii console ended up selling over 100 million consoles worldwide in its seven year lifespan, beating both Sony and Microsoft consoles from the same generation. Although it has been largely succeeded by the WiiU, a few releases continue for the platform. A new Wii Mini console, which removes online functionality and the ability to play GameCube games, is releasing this month for $99 with Mario Kart Wii packed in.

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