Impressions: The Best Buy "Nintendo Experience"

Bringing E3 to the masses

This year’s E3 has come and gone and the Nintendo Life team made it through the coverage mostly unscathed. We brought you all of the latest and greatest news from Nintendo, and our man on the street Anthony John Agnello even brought you our first impressions from games that he got a taste of on the show floor. What didn’t receive as much attention from us, however, is Nintendo’s efforts outside of Los Angeles. Specifically, The North American Best Buy demo events.

On the Wednesday and Saturday following the Nintendo Direct presentation on 11th June, over 100 Best Buy stores across The United States and Canada provided playable demos of four of the Wii U games showcased during the broadcast. The select games were Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, and we were lucky enough to attend one of the events. While the games on display were limited to short demonstrations, and all four are, as our first impressions explain, perhaps considered as new versions of games that already exist – literally in the case of Wind Waker HD – the fact remains that these are unreleased games, and everyone in attendance had the opportunity to give them a try.

The real question here is whether or not events like this are worth holding. Is there enough fan interest to justify setting up events like this? Does Nintendo really benefit from showing off its games six months to a year before release? Do gamers actually care that much about previewing games that will eventually reach them sooner or later? We don’t have all of the facts and figures to provide a solid answer to any of these questions, but based on what we experienced at the chain store this past week, it’s easy to say that Nintendo’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed.

Being the always prepared and ever diligent journalists that we are, we decided to show up to the event a bit early, assuming the crowds wouldn’t start filing in until later in the day. We couldn’t be more wrong. By the time we arrived, Best Buy’s video game section was already swarming with fans adorned with foam Luigi hats and Mario Kart flags, just some of the free swag offered to attendees as incentives by Nintendo. According to Jesse, the knowledgeable and brave Nintendo rep who coordinated the event that we attended, an estimated 500 individuals showed up to his store between the two days. Consider that the number is for only one location out of over a hundred across the continent, and you have a pretty sizable group of fans willing to sacrifice their afternoons for a glimpse of what their gaming future might hold.

People of all ages were in attendance, and none of them seemed overly bothered by the line, as long as they got their chance at a new Nintendo classic. What could have been a brutal wait, matched only by the line at the newest Disney park ride, quickly evolved into an unofficial 3DS StreetPass meet up. The masses whipped out their 3DS systems and began gaming while waiting in line to play games. We engaged in some rounds of Mario Kart 7, talked to some Nintendo Life readers, and even got to visit strangers’ towns in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Everything came full-circle. We were all engaged and sharing in the same experiences. The Nintendo singularity.

The turnout was better than expected, and the added bonus of receiving what was dubbed “Luigi Loot” was definitely appreciated, but that’s not to say that the event was without its flaws. Though complaints were kept to a minimum, and almost everyone in attendance found ways to entertain him or herself, the wait times were a bit extreme. Rather than providing separate monitors or stations for each of the four games on display, they were all made available on only one Wii U console. This is clearly a logistical and economical decision on the part of both Nintendo and Best Buy, but it really did put an undeniable damper on the experience. Surprisingly though, not many people were seen stepping out of and leaving the line. It seems as though Nintendo fans would rather wait 2 hours to play 7 minutes of Zelda than turn their heads and slouch back out the door.

It’s easy to make the argument that the event could have gone smoother, but the point here is that an attempt was made. Nintendo saw an opportunity to reach out to their fans and jumped on it, resulting in something that served a double purpose of increasing the hype surrounding future game releases and bringing gamers together. It’s possible that in the future Nintendo might figure out a way to make their events easier on the attendees, or even reach a more global audience by streaming demos straight to home Wii U consoles. It’s also very possible that Nintendo makes a proper appearance at E3 next year and scraps the demo events altogether, but only time will tell. For now, we think that Nintendo put forth a valiant effort by going above and beyond in an attempt to reach out to their fans – something that the other major companies didn’t even hint at; we can only hope that these efforts continue to expand.

What did you think of Best Buy's "Nintendo Experience" (160 votes)

I didn't get around to going

26%

There wasn't one in my local area

51%

I quite liked it, though it could have been better

9%

I really enjoyed it, and thought it was run quite well

8%

It was fantastic, I loved every minute of it

4%

None of the above

1%

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