E3 – Day Two

E3 – Day Two

I woke up this morning and boogied over to the convention centre to try and sprint over to the Nintendo booth once the doors opened up at 9 am. The crowd was massive, a real mob pressing against the security staff, crazily eager to make their way on to the floor. I was honestly worried that there was going to be a stampede. Almost everyone I could overhear was thinking the same thing. They all wanted to hit the Nintendo booth and get a crack at trying the Wii. When it finally began, it was a swarm rushing down the aisles towards Nintendo. When we got there, it was a real shock… a HUGE line had already formed made up of Exhibitors who lined up before the door even opened – it was unbelievable. Over an hour long line already there, full of Exhibitors who just wanted to try Nintendo’s buzz-worthy console. Even still, I had to give it a shot.

A small portion of the Wii line. Mario taunts us.

Waiting in line wasn’t too bad, all things considered. I struck up conversation with the other people around me and the time went by. The other nifty thing was large vertical screens spaced out over the line area. These people were watching the line through cameras and carrying on amusing conversations with us in line or answering questions about the Wii system. After I chatted with one of them, I got her to pose in front of the camera with the ‘rabbit ears’ over my head, which looked really amusing as a snapshot. An hour and a half later we were on the cusp of entering the closed off Wii area.

Virtual social in the Wii line.

So, is Wii the real deal?

From all indications, I’d say ‘Yes’. They had 26 titles that people could line up to demo including Mario Galaxy, Metroid, Zelda, Tony Hawk, Red Steel and many more. Every single game looked great. The Wii controller is easy to use, comfortable and quite intuitive. The feeling of ‘hitting’ a ball in the Tennis mini-game they had on display was surreal and cool. It’s like the virtual play ideas Nintendo wanted way back in Power Glove days finally coming to fruition in the here and now. It had simple virtual movement that you could teach to any age group but was still damn fun and didn’t feel like a “kid’s game”.

Zelda. Zub with the Wii controller. Jim conducting the Wii orchestra. Mario Galaxy.

Panoramic Shot of the E3 entrance hall.
The lines to try the biggest games was crazy, so I committed to the Mario line in the time I had. Mario Galaxy, like Mario 64 before it, looks like it’s been built from the ground up to utilize the new interface style. It plays silky smooth and, even in the 5 minutes I was able to try it, was incredibly fun and interactive.

The Nintendo marketing people mentioned that considering video games are now mainstream entertainment, it’s odd that so many people still don’t play video games. Everyone watches movies, reads magazines or newspapers and flips through channels on TV… but video games still repel a sizeable chunk of the population. Considering the ease of understanding the Wii interface and the genre variety Nintendo is pushing for, they really do seem to be targeting the current non-gamers as well as their video game hardcore. It’s an interesting curveball thrown at Sony and Microsoft’s vast and expensive multimedia console plans. Nintendo has got something special on their hands. I hope the system grows and sees widespread success when it launches this Fall.

After that, the rest of the day went quickly. Some promising business meetings popped up, I demoed some other games and just generally wandered and tried to go through the show floor a bit more slowly than yesterday.

I’d heard rumours of a huge Sony party taking place this evening over at Dodgers Stadium. A couple people who talked about the party said that some executives were selling their invites on E-Bay for $500+. Crazy stuff and I really wanted to go.

In my next post, I’ll tell you how I got one of those Willie Wonka-esque invites… I’m currently exhausted and needing sleep. Zub Tales indeed. 🙂

A couple shots of the floor and booths.

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