Nintendo to launch Wii U in Japan from December 8

The Japanese game maker said it will announce international launch dates, also within 2012, later Thursday

Nintendo will begin sales of its Wii U game console in Japan from December 8 for ¥25,000 ($US320), meeting its promise to launch before the Christmas/New Year holiday season.

The company is set to announce international launch dates later, but a spokesman confirmed they will also be set for this year.

Nintendo said it will launch two versions of the console, a "Basic Set" with 8GB of built in memory that is white, and a black "Premium Set" that comes with 32GB of memory and stands for the main console and its controller. The black version will sell for ¥30,000.

The price is about 20 per cent more than the company's current console, the Wii, and is roughly the same price as the rival Sony PlayStation 3.

Both sets come with a single game controller, the "GamePad," which is similar to a full-fledged handheld console in itself, with a touchscreen, motion detection, camera, and stylus. Its small screen can be used to supplement games played on a larger TV or serve as the main display.

The main console will use NFC (near field communication) technology that is widely used in touch train passes and mobile payment systems, as well as an expanded online system that includes online game play and social networks based around various titles.

Nintendo, which in recent years has taken to making announcements directly to customers through its web site, said it will announce games and more details in an online streaming presentation that will begin at 11 p.m. Japan time and be broadcast in various languages worldwide.

The Wii U is the long-anticipated successor to the Wii, launched in 2006, which introduced motion-based gaming to the masses and has been a smash hit for Nintendo, selling nearly 100 million units total worldwide.

Nintendo has continued to focus on "non-core" gamers in its game design and marketing, which in Japan often features families and female models.

The company initially stumbled with the launch of its handheld 3DS last year, but rejuvenated the device with price cuts and an armada of game titles.

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