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Nintendo shrinks the Wii, drops Gamecube support

Nintendo has unveiled a redesigned Wii, to be sold as the Family Edition, but the news isn't all good: the slimmed-down hardware ditches the console's famed backwards compatibility.

Like Sony and Microsoft before it, Nintendo is trying to interest buyers into parting with more of their cash in the run up to the launch of the Wii's successor, the Wii U, in 2012 by slimming its hardware down into a more pleasing form factor.

The new Wii retains the visual style of its predecessor, but in a much smaller package: designed to sit horizontally, the new Wii is barely wider than the slot-loading DVD drive itself.

Sadly, Nintendo has had to make a few sacrifices to get the size down. Gone is the hardware that allowed the original Wii to play games from the company's previous-generation Gamecube console, along with the four controller ports and memory slots for Gamecube hardware.

As a result, the new Wii won't play any old Gamecube games, and neither will it accept Gamecube controllers for use in selected Wii titles like Super Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Brothers Brawl, where the wireless Wavebird controller is still the weapon of choice for many players.

Worse still, Nintendo has confirmed that the redesigned Wii is to replace its backwards compatible predecessor, telling Eurogamer that by the start of next year all new Wiis will be of the slim form factor and lack the backwards compatibility.

That's a real blow for gamers with a back catalogue of Gamecube titles: despite some support for older titles on Microsoft's Xbox 360 console and certain models of Sony's PlayStation 3, the Wii was unique in being the only current-generation console to guarantee compatibility with 100 per cent of last-generation titles.

While showing their age, classic Gamecube games like Eternal Darkness, Luigi's Mansion, and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker are still much loved by fans, who now have until the end of the year to pick up a backwards compatible Wii if they haven't done so already.

Nintendo will be selling the slimline Wii in a bundle dubbed the Family Edition, which includes a white version of the console along with a Wii Remote Plus controller, nunchuck, Wii Sports, and Wii Party. Pricing has not yet been confirmed, but it is expected to be on a level with the company's existing console.