But I did get some juicy info before I bailed. A quick disclaimer before I continue:
The information I am about to present came from show staff and not official Nintendo Public Relations employees. Therefore it cannot be considered true at this time, and reasonable doubt should still be maintained.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I learned. While playing Wii Bowling, I commented about the Mii avatars. The demo guy told me that the one I was using was pre-fabricated for the show, but in the final version of the game I could customize my own. I already knew that, but he told me that I could store no less than 10, that’s one-zero Mii’s on my personal Wiimote. For 6KB of non-volatile memory, that’s a lot.
When I asked about what games would be included in the “Wii Play” compilation, I found out something else. Wii Play, for those who don’t know, is another introductory collection like Wii Sports. It includes the Duck Hunt game (Wii Shooting), Billiards, and a couple other classics. In Japan and Europe Wii Play is slated to arrive on each region’s respective launch date, and come bundled with the first Wiimote you go out and buy separately. There hasn’t been any official word yet from the Nintendo brass, but the demo guy told me that it would indeed be released at launch in America, packed in with the controller. I thought it was odd that Nintendo had confirmed the title for UK and JPN launch, but not for the states, as it just makes sense as a US launch title. The fact that they had it demoed at two kiosks at the Fusion Tour gives me more confidence that it’ll see a US release.
My last little tidbit came from some casual observation. On multiple occasions, the Metroid and Wii Play kiosks locked up. This was probably caused by several factors. The poor demo units were being played to death, nonstop, reset time after time, and there were also the relentless, organ-jarring peals of vibration coming from the stage below. A crash was inevitable, and I heard that similar freeze-ups happened at Nintendo’s New York show a few weeks ago.
Then an interesting thing happened. The demo staff milled about for a few seconds, conversing with each other, and then one proceeded to reach inside the glass case containing the Wii, and reboot the console with a press of the power button. There was an actual, working production Wii console wired to each of those displays. It seems that Nintendo is no longer issuing modded GameCubes for public events, like the rather unsightly black boxes hidden behind the kiosks at E3. I know it’s been several months since E3, but the presence of Wii consoles at this event tells me that they have enough Wii units to go around.
At first I thought maybe they had developer kits in the back, with empty, blue LED-lit Wii shells there to look good for the audience. That button-press reboot confirms that the Wii is far into production and I have high hopes for a solid, if not excessive release. There will be shortages I’m sure, but if they have real units for the Fusion Tour, then there will be enough to go around come November 19th.
So, I left the 2006 Nintendo Fusion Tour with temporarily deflated enthusiasm. It wasn’t the gaming high I experienced at E3, and while I know the Fusion Tour wasn’t supposed to be on that scale at all, I didn’t get enough of a Nintendo vibe. I guess I was expecting a cleaner, less intimidating presentation. I suppose emotive hardcore does not lend itself well to such aesthetics. I’m still excited for the Wii, I just felt that the music and the gaming didn’t blend well into one enjoyable event. Would I go again next year? Well, not unless we get some media access next time. I don’t want to be treated like a VIP, but I would like some honest time with the upcoming products so I can give decent impressions. As it is, I left with sustained hopes for Wii, some suitable swag (Wii guitar picks!) and a minor headache.
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