Mario fans, get ready to salivate. Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) has announced the release date for its long-awaited Wii console. The system will begin its sales cycle on Nov. 19 in the States and on Dec. 2 in Japan.

There's going to be a lot of excitement this holiday season, as Sony (NYSE:SNE), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Nintendo all vie for the coveted hardcore gamer. Granted, there will be some who opt to own all three brands, but let's be real -- most people won't spring for every system, especially before the first round of price reductions.

Speaking of price, this will be Nintendo's grand advantage. Sony's PlayStation 3 will set you back at least $500 (there will also be a $600 model); add on some peripherals and software, and you're talking north of $600. The Xbox 360 isn't as bad, coming in at $300 for the core unit and $400 for the premium system -- again, though, you'll need software, so keep on saving those dollars. Heck, we're almost talking seed money for some mutual funds.

The Wii? Try $250 in the U.S. That's pretty cheap. And now that Nintendo has set a date -- positioning the Wii right against the PlayStation 3, which is set to make its debut on Nov. 17 -- you can be sure that video-game fever will reign at the retailers. Plus, here's something even more exciting for Nintendo shareholders -- according to news out on Reuters, the company believes that the economics behind the Wii will make the investment profitable right away. This might make the prospect of due diligence on Nintendo even more compelling (see Tim Beyers for an analysis on Nintendo). Remember, Mario has been powering the Nintendo DS handheld system as of late and has been taking some of the cool factor away from Sony's own PSP handheld. That steal could translate into a lot of Wii sales.

Nintendo must be pretty confident in the Wii, since it isn't shying away from the November release frame that Sony declared. Those of you who haven't looked at companies like Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI), THQ (NASDAQ:THQI), and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) had better get moving -- although I'm unable to predict the future, these stocks are likely to make good investments going into the new console cycle. Another idea to check out is GameStop (NYSE:GME); it's doing well with its used-game business and will certainly reap a lot of sales growth during the next several years. I'd imagine that its used-game operation will also benefit from the higher price points of the next-generation software.

You can bet that the Wii will make a splash because of its Mario aura and relatively economical price. Will it be enough to start a coup and dethrone the reigning king of video games, Sony? We'll have to see.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Activision. The Fool has a disclosure policy.