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Monday, November 20, 2006
Nintendo Debuts Wii, Eyes Microsoft, Sony

Nintendo's new Wii video game console debuted at midnight on Sunday as thousands of die-hard fans, some of whom camped out for several days, welcomed the final entrant in the three-way scramble for dominance in the $30 billion global game market.

At the Times Square Toys "R" Us store in New York, a line snaked around the block, with more than 1,000 gamers vying for first rights to take the scrappy game company's new machine home.

More than 900 enthusiasts gathered for the West Coast release at the GameStop store at Hollywood's Universal City Walk.

Instead of trying to steal hard-core gamers from Microsoft and Sony, which have already released the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, Nintendo hopes to expand the traditionally male video game audience by luring new players.

Nintendo priced the Wii at $250, compared with the $600 premium PS3 and the $400 top-end Xbox 360.

The Kyoto-based Nintendo Co. Ltd., which created video game characters Super Mario and Donkey Kong, has hooked girls and seniors with its "Nintendogs" pet training games and its "Brain Age" cognitive fitness title for its hand-held DS machine that is a break-out hit.

The device offers touch-screen and voice recognition capabilities that allow users to "pet" and speak commands to their dog or to write and speak answers to brain teasers.

Nintendo has taken a similar approach with the Wii.

The console's computing power is dwarfed by the Xbox 360 and the PS3. And the Wii does not offer the lifelike, high-definition graphics its bigger rivals boast.

Still, the Wii has captivated cynical gamers with its one-handed, motion-sensitive controller that lets users simulate fishing, playing tennis or shooting a bow and arrow. Nintendo expects to ship 4 million Wii consoles globally by December 31, double the number of PS3s expected by year end.

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