Hands-on: Wii Games Summer 2010

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Nintendo is running a series of competitive events this summer at malls and amusement parks across the nation. My partner-in-crime, Catherine, and I got to check out one of these events at the Natick Mall, here in the uncomfortably hot-and-smelly state of Massachusetts. Words and videos that describe the event are to follow.

Sadly, I had no camera operator or video editing equipment to work with today, so I had to shoot everything myself, with no editing allowed. Get ready to see some of the most laughably bad camera work ever. You have been warned.

So without further ado, hit the jump and see what kind of fun we had.

The event was pretty huge, larger than the Rhythm Heaven event and Wii for Women events from years past, but nothing compared to the Brawl tournament from 2008 (still the coolest thing I think Nintendo’s ever done.)

There were about twenty game stations set up, about thirty Nintendo employees on-hand wearing Wii-themed referee shirts, a registration booth, a kiosk for prizes, and a T-shirt design station. Registration went extremely fast. Sign a waiver swearing not to sue Nintendo if you hurt yourself, give your team name, a team icon (chosen from a selection of Nintendo mascots) and then print you out a lanyard, and you’re done. They were also giving out some buttons at the registration booth, one with a Bowling Ball on it that said “This is how I roll” and one with a Super Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros. that said “Grow Up!”

Ugh. Why Pun-is Why?

Catherine and I chose the name “B-Berry and Ala-Gold” for our team, in honor of the two undervalued Toads from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. We got to design free t-shirts in honor of our team, but there was very little to choose from to represent Bucken-Berry and Ala-Gold. There was King Hippo (hooray!), Link, Wario, the Koopalings, the usual Mario representatives, even a random screenshot from Just Dance. The closest we could get to Bucken-Berry and Ala-Gold was the “Ala-Gold, Mario, Bucken-Berry, Luigi” mug-shot pic that we’ve seen a million times before. There was no option to cut Mario and Luigi out of the picture, or take a picture of Toad and change the colors, so we had to improvise.

From there, we went to the “free play” area to warm up. Then were given the run down on how to win stuff and we got a closer look at the prize kiosk. Luckily for me, you didn’t have to do well in order to get prizes. Persistence, not skill, was the way to win stuff.  Play (almost) any of the seven games in the “free play” area and you get a coin sticker for your lanyard. Prizes were divided up into three groups; five coin prizes, seven coin prizes, and eleven coin prizes. The better prizes, like the Mario-themed Yahtzee set, cost eleven coins, though the five coin prizes weren’t that bad either.

So if there were just six games, how could you get eleven coins? Well, five of the games, Wii Fit Plus, Wii Sports Resort, Just Dance, and Mario Kart Wii could be played up to three times for more coins. Weirdly enough, there was one game available for play that didn’t give you coins. It also just happens to be one of my favorite games ever made.

I played a little TvC anyway. I may not have gotten a coin for it, but I had more fun than I would have with Just Dance. The HORI sticks were a lot nicer than I thought they’d be, though I still prefer the Mad Catz special I reviewed earlier this year. We didn’t have the time or the battery-life in the camera to play any more games after that, so from there, it was on to the “real” competition.

The “national competition” section was nearly deserted. Nintendo reps were milling about, each with a clipboard and a DS XL in their hands. I was hoping that we’d get to play some games with them, but they said that the DS’es were for work only. They were apparently using them to upload everyone’s scores to an online leaderboard. It was weird to see the DS XL used for something so fancy and high tech. I love Nintendo, but they aren’t known for their clever use of online functionality. Looks like they were trying to step it up a notch for this event, probably to show off to all the cool teens.

There were five events available for national competition: Wii Sports Resort Bowling, Wii Fit Plus Hula Hoop, Mario Kart Wii Mushroom Gorge, Wii Sports Resort Basketball, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii Coin Battle. I was told that the New Super Mario Bros. Wii Coin Battle was an “all new level” designed specifically for this competition.

I wish people wouldn’t say stuff like that unless they really mean it.

In reality, the level itself was not new. It was 5-4; the one with the purple poison river and the raft that wont move if there are too many enemies on it. It was a level I knew well, as it’s killed me countless times.

What was new was the coin layout. I could be wrong about this, but there seemed to be a whole lot more coins than there normally are in that stage. Together, I think Catherine and I got over 300 coins, and that was far from a perfect run. I’ll need to play the stage again at home to be sure, but it seemed that the stage layout itself was old, but the coin arrangement was new. Either way, it was fun. I just wish they hadn’t teased me with idea of playing an all new Mario stage.

Overall, I’d say the event was a huge success. The national competition section wasn’t that big of a hit, but the free play area was constantly packed with kids, adults, and teenagers. I’ve been saying for a while now that I think that the arcade is poised for a comeback, and this event only furthered that belief. Set up a store in the mall with a bunch of Wii, Kinect, and/or PS Move games, charge a fifty cents a game, reward high scores with tickets, and give out cheap-but-unique prizes for those tickets, and you’ve got yourself a goldmine.

So yeah, go to this event. You’ll get a lot of free stuff, and the experience of playing videogames against other people, up close and personal, just like we used to in the arcade days. Good times were had by all.

[Update] I forgot to mention that they were also giving away $5-off coupons for select Wii games; Monster Hunter Tri, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Sin and Punishemnt 2 were definitely three on the list.

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Jonathan Holmes
Destructoid Contributor - Jonathan Holmes has been a media star since the Road Rules days, and spends his time covering oddities and indies for Destructoid, with over a decade of industry experience "Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Just like in a Gameboy game... a nice tight little world... and all its inhabitants... made out of little building blocks... Why can't these little pixels be the building blocks for love..? For loss... for understanding"- James Kochalka, Reinventing Everything part 1 "I wonder if James Kolchalka has played Mother 3 yet?" Jonathan Holmes