After six years, the Nintendo Wii is finally ready for retirement. With the exception of niche titles like Xenoblade Chronicles and compilations like the Kirby 20th Anniversary Collection, Nintendo hasn’t released a major new game for the console since last year’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The Nintendo Wii U, meanwhile, has debuted with swift sales and tempered but positive reviews. Based on a retailer release schedule, though, Nintendo may be giving the Wii Sports machine one last hardware refresh.
Nintendo World Report said in a Friday report that an internally distributed release schedule for an unnamed retailer claims Nintendo is planning to release a new version of Wii in December. The Wii Mini, planned for Dec. 7 2012, will include a remodeled, smaller version of the console, a sensor bar, a nunchuck, and a Wii Remote Plus.
There is precedent for this sort of late game redesign at Nintendo. Back in 2004 when the company first unveiled the Nintendo DS it also announced the Game Boy Advance Micro, an extremely small portable console with a bright screen. Nintendo also released remodeled versions of the NES and Super Nintendo following the release of their respective successors back in the 1990s.
The key difference between the Game Boy Advance Micro and the Nintendo Wii is a big one: Nintendo was still making Game Boy Advance games. The Nintendo published re-releases of Final Fantasy I + II and IV – VI didn’t came out between 2004 and 2007 while other big games like The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap came out in 2005. Nintendo confirmed last week that it isn’t developing anymore Wii games from here on out. If there was new software coming, maybe a Wii redesign would make sense, but it’s hard to imagine that Nintendo would go through the effort of changing its Wii manufacturing operations at this stage.
The Nintendo Wii also already had what is likely going to be its final big sales push. Nintendo announced on Monday that it sold 300,000 Wiis during the Black Friday week. Unless the new Wii Mini reduces manufacturing costs but an incredible margin, this release can be chalked up as a rumor.