ORIGINAL STORY 8.40AM BST: Pretty-posh UK retailer John Lewis is selling the Wii U at an absolutely ravishing price: £112!
That's an 8GB Wii U with New Super Mario Bros. U, Mario Mascot and an 8GB SD card. It's marked by John Lewis as "reduced to clear", discounted from £234.95 to £159.95 to £149.95. Evidently the £10 drop didn't lure people in.
"Phew! Made it!" Luigi's post-stage cry is a classic example of Nintendo's economical approach to characterisation. While his brother's celebratory "Oh yeah! Mario time!" is the sign of a man enjoying himself, happy to be bounding through these joyously bright, precision-designed worlds, those three words reveal a humble guy just happy to have made it to the goal pole in one piece. Luigi's no hero: he's just bound by duty, tasked with rescuing the Princess while big bro's away.
The trouble with Nintendo's first major experiment in downloadable content - it's dabbled before, but this 80-stage remix is easily its most substantial add-on - is that Mario's absence is too keenly felt. Here, Nintendo has taken the original's levels, trimmed them down significantly and made them much tougher: a fine idea in theory, but one which Luigi's presence often seems to undermine.
He's meant to feel different to his brother, a little more skittish and difficult to control. That's a problem, though, when you have stages seemingly made for precision speed-running. Sure, the trails of coins might be a perfect match for the parabola of Luigi's leap, but that extra bit of airtime seems counter-intuitive when you're being asked to race to the finish. The best 2D Mario levels have a consistent rhythm; here it feels like the metronome is skipping a beat every fourth bar.
Currency exchange gains push results into the black.
Nintendo has missed its revised sales targets and shifted just 3.45 million Wii U consoles worldwide - but still made a surprise profit for the financial year.
The company had originally expected to sell 5.5 million Wii U consoles by the end of March 2013, a figure already slimmed down to 4 million in January.
Company-wide, Nintendo recorded poorer sales than last year, when the company made its historic first ever loss. It avoided a repeat performance entirely due to currency exchange gains, which pushed an otherwise disappointing result to 7 billion yen (£46 million) in the black.
Nintendo has hailed sales of the Wii U in the US and investors have responded in kind.
More than 460,000 Wii U units were sold in December, according to the NPD Group, which means the Wii U has now sold nearly 890,000 units in the US after 41 days on the market.
Nintendo compared the amount of money the Wii U has generated versus the amount of money the Wii had generated after the same time period: the Wii U has set tills ringing to the tune of $300 million in the US. After 41 days on sale the Wii had generated just over $270 million.
The first UK games chart of 2013 shows another week of no Wii U-exclusive titles in the top 40.
It's the third week in a row this has happened. The last time a Wii U-only game was spotted in the top 40 was the week ending 15th December, when Nintendo Land was 39th.
A week earlier, Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U were 26th and 35th respectively. A week before that, when the Wii U launched, Nintendo Land was 11th and New Super Mario Bros. U 14th. The brilliant ZombiU made its only top 40 appearance at 17th back then.
HD Wii emulation vs. Wii U - Digital Foundry on how the Mario makers have utilised Nintendo's new hardware.
One of the big highlights of the holidays would undoubtedly be the arrival of Nintendo's Wii U launch title, New Super Mario Bros. U - a reprisal of a familiar formula that now lets us crank the player count up to five, and also play the game solely via the GamePad's LCD. As if to imply the tussle of the Wii version's multiplayer mode wasn't manic enough already, this new release allows a fifth person to lay down platforms via the touch screen, delay the march of Koopa Troopers, and even reveal secret 3-Up blocks to the other four players. Of course, there's nothing to stop them abusing their new-found powers, supposing they've just had a rough day at the office.
The Wii U sold 425,000 units during its US launch week, Nintendo has revealed. That's just 5000 less than the Wii recorded six years ago.
November US figures revealed that Nintendo shifted 420,000 units of its ageing Wii over the whole month (down 51 per cent on last year).
But it was Microsoft who claimed the sales crown. The Xbox 360 sold 1.26 million units, a 25 per cent dip from 2011's sales but more than the Wii and Wii U combined (although, to be fair, the Wii U was only out for one week).
Five games, one demo and ten retail titles to download.
Turn on your Wii U now and you'll find an array of digital content to download (once you've sorted that day-one firmware update). We've just had a quick shifty, and here's what we saw.
Ten of the Wii U's retail launch games are available in digital form, including Nintendo's own New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land. Both cost £49.99, a few pounds more than you'd expect to pay in store.
Darksiders 2 and FIFA 13 are also priced at £49.99, while Just Dance 4, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed cost around a tenner less.
Mario's latest outing does some clever stuff with the Wii U's multiple screens, but it's worth taking a moment to appreciate what it gets up to with good old-fashioned maps, too. The plumber's new 2D adventure sees the return of the fully-fledged world map, last seen in the 16-bit era. Islands, forests, babbling brooks and tidy oceans: the Mario atlas is back in fine, charismatic form, ditching the mostly-linear corridors of recent over-worlds in favour of a cluster of colourful, interconnected continents. It stitches dozens of scattershot stages together into a mad, sprawling and yet oddly convincing whole.
Does 2D Mario require a proper map? Not in the traditional sense: it's hard to get lost when you're en route from Acorn Plains to Frosted Glacier, so long as you take that crucial right-hand turn at the Layer-Cake Desert. This particular map isn't there to limit confusion, though, it's in place to pull the motley collection of gimmicks, in-jokes and nutty one-off ideas that make up a Mario game - especially one that comes on odd new hardware - into some kind of shape. Its job is to offer choices, junction points, alternate routes and secrets to hunt for as you move deeper into the adventure.
The map's riddled with playful surprises. One section here sees you ducking penguins as they slide along on their bellies and another sees you advancing across a wooden lattice with various Mushroom Kingdom critters matching you, move for move, on the opposite side. Occasionally there will be a mysterious level-sized gap that your nagging brain won't quite allow you to forget. Frequently, Nabbit, a thief with a distinctly Miyazaki-esque design, will raid a nearby Toad House and you'll have to chase him through a stage you've already completed. All the while, the world map gives Mario's latest adventure room to breathe, providing a fresh collection of 2D stages with a sense of identity that other New Super Mario Bros. instalments have sometimes lacked.
Asymmetry and a focus on local multiplayer suggest great promise for Nintendo's new box of tricks.
Console launches can be tense affairs, can't they? First there's the worry about getting home from a midnight opening without being mugged by the bigger kids. Then there's the fear that the arrival of expensive new hardware will magically coincide with your rent going up and your wife walking out, landing you on the streets with an old paper bag for a house and no electrical sockets to plug your brand new Fairchild Channel F into.
More importantly, though, there's the software line-up. You've probably got a limited amount of money to spend - if you don't, incidentally, have I ever mentioned that I'm a bone marrow donor and I love receiving gifts? - and you want to make sure you end up with Twilight Princess rather than Red Steel. Nintendo showed off quite a few of its launch titles in Frankfurt earlier this week, and with Red Steel still fresh in my mind, I wandered around trying to spot potential winners - and also eating some of those weird menthol boiled sweets I can only ever find in Germany. Tangy!
Let's put aside the ports and the cross-platform stuff for the sake of this piece. The likes of Darksiders 2 and Mass Effect 3 look great, but the true star of any launch is going to be something console-specific, right? When Nintendo's involved, you can bet the true gems will probably be self-published, too, and sure enough there are two titles you should keep an eye on.
"Every edition in the series is foundationally sound."
When questioned whether the recent glut of Mario games (Super Mario 3D Land last December, New Super Mario Bros. 2 in August, New Super Mario Bros. U this November) risked endangering the IP, Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime had a simple reply: no.
Every Nintendo console needs to launch with a Mario game, or so the saying goes. Nintendo itself reiterated that mantra on stage at E3 as the curtain was pulled back on New Super Mario Bros. U. What's surprising, though, is that for a Mario launch title there's little new in the game to show off the Wii U's unique features.
New Super Mario Bros. U won't convince the masses of the GamePad's potential (that concept is far better explained in Nintendo Land, or Game & Wario). Neither is it designed to set out Nintendo's stall for the Wii U's technical prowess. The game's HD visuals are delightfully crisp, the action utterly smooth. But its looks still pale to the depth-filtered 3D world of Pikmin 3, or the hand-crafted feel of fellow 2D platformer Rayman Legends.
It looks like a Mario game in HD, which is admittedly a fairly stirring achievement when you first see it. It's designed as a familiar face for prospective Wii U customers, a task it lives up to admirably. Do you want the new Mario game? You'll need a Wii U. The gameplay, controls and world design are all heart-meltingly familiar, from its simple D-pad control scheme to the shuffling dances of the Mushroom Kingdom's Koopa Troopas.
Nintendo will reveal Pikmin Wii U at E3 in June, it has announced.
Yesterday an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto in Spanish newspaper El Mundo suggested an appearance at E3. Now Nintendo has confirmed it.
"In a recent interview, Mr. Miyamoto confirmed that a new Pikmin game will be shown at the E3 Expo in June," a Nintendo spokesperson said. "He believes that anyone who has played Pikmin games in the past will enjoy playing."