June 12, 2013

The Nintendo Experience - Event Coverage

Today, a Best Buy in Santa Monica hosted The Nintendo Experience for all of southern California - A Best Buy exclusive event where fans were allowed to demo one of four upcoming Wii U games showcased at E3 and shown during the Nintendo E3 2013 Direct on Tuesday (Click here to read up on that coverage, and here for pictures from it). The games were Super Mario 3D World. Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Before the event started, Nintendo representatives had the first twenty in line sign release wavers to be on camera, providing us with black wristbands. Our names were then taken down and put in multiplayer groups for our demos of choice. A Best Buy clerk also handed out fliers advertising the four Nintendo Zone exclusive promo items** for Animal Crossing new leaf on 3DS - a game which we are currently enjoying and had attained a little early.



This particular Best Buy was blatantly unaware of how substantial the turnout would inevitably be (being that they were the only participating location in So-Cal) and were painfully malprepared. One single console was all they had set up in anticipation for this event. They also started forming the line inside the store. Upon observing the growth rate of the line, they soon moved us outside where it proceeded to grow to about eighty or ninety of us.

Many a Nintendo rep, several from Japan, and a couple media teams arrived to the electronics retailer anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes before the start of the event. Once they escorted us first twenty to the single Wii U console toward the back of the store, they began positioning us very carefully to look lively, crowded and excited about these games for the camera. About ten minutes were spent fixing the first group of four and the rest of us to seem ideal on set before any game demos were initiated.

The first group had chosen to partake in some Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. A game that definitely looks appealing overall, though we feel was a bit of a waste of Retro Studios, who could have been working on something far more breathtaking and innovative given their team's immense talent. Throughout the duration of the demo, the media team was dead focused on production value, directing our gamer kin to smile, look in certain directions, hold the Wii remotes and game pad a certain way, etc. all while they are trying to focus on gameplay.

Sideways racing and motion controls for steering don't mix well.
It was quite clear to us by this time that the purpose and focus of the event was not on the fans, but on the film. After the first group reached the end of the demo stage, they were moved away from the console and each individually interviewed about their thoughts on the game. The second group took up controller and selected their track in Mario Kart 8. Much of what we know about this new installment excites us - the crazy anti-gravity wall racing aspect, the return of bikes and the addition of hover karts to list a few. But, at least with the demo, we took a somewhat negative reaction to the game's motion controls, especially when the camera is sideways.

The player who won the race (the one using the Wii U game pad, naturally) received a leftover, very limited Year of Luigi coin that was only given away as a special promo item at E3 this week. Click here to see one on eBay for a hard $150. We felt strongly that such a rare and valuable prize should have been distributed much more properly and fairly than just to give them to the first couple players of only the Mario Kart 8 demo, who win at a huge advantage with the Wii U game pad versus a Wii Remote. But that's just our opinion.

Our group's turn should have been next, but the staff apparently felt that it'd help production value more to escort a six or seven year old boy (likely from the back of the line) ahead of us. The kid played the Wind Waker HD demo. When we had seen the first screenshots from this game, we determined then that the Gamecube classic reborn looked superb! However, as of yet, Nintendo not announced enough new features and content to sell us on it. Ideally, it'd be great to play again, this time in HD, but there are just too many great new games announced that are going to have to take precedence for us. After all, the cost of retail console titles adds up fast these days. Thus, one must be picky.

Once the kid took his sweet time and wrapped up the demo, we were up. And, of course we chose... Super Mario 3D World! With the controllers in hand, we picked our characters. Luigi. Toad. Peach. Mario. Then, we selected World 5. This particular level was shown briefly in the Nintendo Direct trailer on Tuesday - The part with the big, orange, swimming, Yoshi-esque thing. Unfortunately, the stage didn't allow for us to experiment with our characters' unique features hardly at all. But instead, all four of us jumped aboard the creature's back and had to all collaboratively tilt our controllers in sync with one another to steer around enemies, avoid falling from waterfall ledges, and otherwise keep on the preferred path while the dino was constantly swimming forward. This unique state machine and its play mechanic forced our group of four to coordinate our quick plans with one another in verbal shout-outs and to think together in a lightening fashion. While turns were inevitably wide, we could only finish by planning as a unit, several moments in advance, as to complete the turn in time. We were also forced to worry about one hazard at a time, which the stage's setup reflects. Ultimately, we feel that Super Mario 3D World, while it's Super Mario root concept is nothing new (and that's okay), brings plenty of new and innovative gameplay ideas, mechanics, features, power-up, etc., into the experience to ensure a promising chance for an excellent game title come December!

We were quite impressed by the demo stage and what the game has to offer, which made it worth the trip to Santa Monica, and the wait in line. If you went the the event yourself, or have any questions or anything to say, we want to discuss it with you, so please feel free to leave a comment below. Also, if you haven't already, be sure to check out our E3 coverage from this week:

Sony:          Article     Gallery coming soon
Nintendo:    Article     Gallery
Microsoft:   Article     Gallery
Ubisoft       Article     Gallery
EA:            Article     Gallery

**Items and dates are as follows: Raccoon wall clock, 6/16 - 6/19. Cat tower, 6/30 - 7/13. Rolling suitcase, 7/14 - 7/27. Double-neck guitar, 7/28 - 8/10. Only at Best Buy. Mark your calenders, Animal Crossing fans!

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