Each holiday season, a couple hard-to-find toys send parents hunting from store to store. And, each season, they're soon forgotten: Has your Elmo gotten any tickles lately?
But this year, it looks like the gift everybody is looking for is the same as last year: the Nintendo Wii.
A year after its launch, the small video game console sells out almost immediately when it reaches stores, even after Nintendo Co. has ramped up production several times.
"Right now, if you work at it, it's not too hard," said John Lawrence, of Fort Worth, Texas, who bought a Wii a few weeks ago for his 9-year-old grandson. It took him some online sleuthing to find one at a local GameStop.
"People have not gotten into the Christmas shopping mode. Once people get into that mindset, this is going to be an impossibility as it was last year," Lawrence said.
With the Wii, Nintendo set out make a console that would entice people who were not hardcore gamers, and it has succeeded. Janet Presti stood an hour in line at the Nintendo World Store in New York on Tuesday last week to get a Wii for her three children, but it wasn't just for them.
"I played it at my sister's house and I loved it," she said. Her household already has three game consoles: an Microsoft Xbox 360, a Sony PlayStation 2 and a Nintendo GameCube.
The Wii responds to the user moving the wand-like wireless controller, while other consoles are controlled by a confusing array of buttons and joysticks. It also comes with an array of casual, nonviolent games that appeal to adults.
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