Posted by Andrew Hayward December 06, 2012

Nintendo's Wii U console has been in stores for a couple weeks now, but the publisher isn't quite done with its predecessor -- not in Canada, at least. Beginning tomorrow, December 7, consumers in Canada will be able to purchase the Wii Mini, a significantly redesigned and pared-down version of the 2006 home console, for $99.99.

On the surface, the differences are striking. Replacing the slot-loading, white (or black) design is a bold black-and-red facade that recalls the color scheme of the ill-fated Virtual Boy, which now takes discs from a pop-up lid on the top. It also comes with a glossy red Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk combo, completing the shocking new look.

What's most notable is how the typical Wii experience has changed with the Wii Mini. The revised console offers absolutely zero Internet access, meaning players cannot download WiiWare games or classic Virtual Console re-releases, nor can they play games with faraway friends or stream media via Netflix and other apps. The Wii Mini also chucks support for GameCube discs, meaning it's only able to play disc-based Wii games. Engadget has a hands-on piece about the system that confirms that even the internal software has been changed to reflect the omissions.

Clearly designed as a low-cost, entry-level platform for casual or new gamers, the Wii Mini is an interesting experiment in downsizing dated hardware, much like the PSone (vs. the PlayStation) before it -- but the loss of core features makes it a curious release. We'll see if it catches on, especially with the Wii software lineup delivering little of note now that its successor is out, though it's not currently planned to launch outside of Canada.


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