A year ago, Nintendo Co. looked like the videogame industry's biggest also-ran.
The Japanese company's new game console, due out in time for the holidays, was a technological laggard compared with more-powerful systems from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. And the machine's goofy name -- Wii (pronounced "we") -- earned it ridicule from some game fans and critics. Nintendo's dominance of the portable-game market, meanwhile, was under assault by a new product from Sony.
But against the odds, Nintendo has become the company to beat in the games business, as the Wii flies off store shelves nearly as quickly as the company can make them. The buzz about the Wii has overshadowed the even greater success Nintendo has had with the Nintendo DS, a portable game player that is still selling briskly more than two years after its introduction.