Wii getting a redesign

[UPDATE] "Streamlined" hardware set for Europe this year, but Nintendo of America has no plans to bring new bundle stateside; updated Wii to sit horizontally, lose backward compatibility with GameCube.

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The Wii system turns five years old later this year, and Nintendo believes it's about due for a face-lift. The company's European arm today announced that it would be launching "a streamlined Wii console with a slightly altered configuration" in a new bundle this holiday season.

The new Wii looks very similar to the old one.
The new Wii looks very similar to the old one.

As for the alterations, Nintendo said that the system would be designed to sit horizontally, unlike the current Wii, which can also stand vertically. Additionally, the new version of the Wii hardware is losing backward compatibility with GameCube software and accessories, which means the current console's row of controller and memory card ports is being removed.

The first announced bundle including the redesigned Wii will pack in a white version of the console and a Wii Remote Plus with Nunchuk. As for games, it will feature Wii Sports and Wii Party. Nintendo has said that other Wii hardware bundles will be announced this fall and shipped to stores in time for Christmas.

The Wii is the last of the three major consoles this generation to receive a redesign. Sony was the first to introduce a new look for its console, debuting the slimline PlayStation 3 at Gamescom 2009. Nearly a year later, Microsoft made the Xbox 360 Slim a highlight of its E3 2010 media briefing, giving away the redesigned hardware to everyone in attendance.

[UPDATE]: This redesigned Wii may wind up a European exclusive along the lines of Sony's recently announced PSP redesign. A Nintendo of America representative wouldn't confirm a domestic launch for the redesign in a statement provided to GameSpot, but didn't explicitly rule it out, either.

"Nintendo of America does not currently have any plans to release the Wii bundle that was announced by Nintendo of Europe on August 17," the statement read. "Consumers in the United States can currently purchase a Wii console bundled with the Mario Kart Wii game and Wii Wheel accessory for a suggested retail price of $149.99. The Wii Party game is available separately for a suggested retail price of $39.99."

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