A year after the Nintendo Wii started out a distant third to Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 in the video game hype wars, the tables have turned.
Savvy shoppers are resorting to special tactics to track down the hard-to-find Wiis, which have benefited from a year's worth of word-of-mouth marketing to remain at the top of wish lists as the holiday shopping season formally kicks off today.
Although Nintendo of America spokeswoman Anka Dolecki said the company will have twice as many Wiis available as it did at the product's launch last November, desperation is likely to grow as demand is expected to match supply between now and Christmas.
As of Wednesday, Wii shelves were empty at Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, Toys R Us and GameStop stores, according to WiiTracker.com, which updates supplies at online retailers. Wal-Mart had the consoles in stock but only as a bundle with games and other accessories for more than $600. The console alone retails for $250.