Nintendo Wii U games console to be released in November

Jeremy Howell weighs up the Wii U's chances of success when it is released in December

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Nintendo said it would launch its Wii U games console on 18 November in the US, 30 November in Europe, and 8 December in Japan.

There will be two versions - a basic edition and a deluxe set, which has more storage and associated kit.

Nintendo's stock has fallen 29% since March.

Investors fear casual gamers will instead opt for tablet computers while hardcore players will wait for a new PlayStation or Xbox.

The cheaper model is being sold for £250 in the UK. It does not include an infrared sensor bar or nunchuck controller. Customers who did not buy these along with the original edition of the Wii will have to purchase them separately with the exception of the US where a sensor bar is included.

The premium edition is being sold for £300, has 32GB of storage, a sensor bar and the firm's new Nintendo Land game.

Touchscreen technology

Both versions include a touchscreen GamePad.

Users wanting a second controller face an extra cost - the figure given for Japan was 13,400 yen ($173; £107), but it is not being offered elsewhere as a standalone unit at launch.

The device features a touchscreen offering players the ability to carry out in-game tasks, such as checking their inventory or setting an explosive, while the main action continues on their television. Gamers can also continue to play a title using the device when they do not have access to their main screen.

Nintendo has claimed it would help "revolutionise" gaming.

However, the gadget has been criticised for lacking multitouch - the ability to recognise different fingers on a hand.

Wii U game pad The Wii U can be controlled by a new touchscreen game pad that can also run games on its own

It also faces a challenge from both Sony and Microsoft who have introduced similar facilities for their existing consoles: the PlayStation 3 can be controlled by the firm's Vita handheld, while the Xbox 360 can be connected to existing tablet computers via software called SmartGlass.

Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata, highlighted the fact that the Wii U would launch alongside New Super Mario Bros U - the first time a title in the series's release date had coincided with a new console in 16 years.

One games journalist said the relatively low price of the equipment could help its chances.

"We were all expecting a price point around the £250 mark so it's good that they've gone for this - it will help," Keza MacDonald, UK games editor at IGN, told the BBC.

"Most people expect that the new Xbox and PlayStation will be released at the end of next year and will cost more - so some people may prefer to save up.

"But many of the consumers that Nintendo is targeting may not be actually be the same audience as for those Microsoft and Sony's machines - so the issue is whether it can convince the casual, family gamers who bought the original Wii, to upgrade."

US and Canadian owners will also be given access to a new service called TVii allowing them to watch movies and television shows via Amazon Video, Hulu and other products. There was no mention made of plans to launch this in Europe.

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