If there’s one thing at which Nintendo has always excelled it’s bringing their games to the people, and I’m not just talking about the fact that they revolutionized the handheld gaming market. From the ubiquitous DS kiosks at your local big-box store to the Pikachu Car, Nintendo is all about making their systems and franchises equally visible to rabid gamers as well as the blissfully uninitiated.
This summer, for example, they’ve taken their highly successful Wii console out of the living room and into that mecca of modern American consumerism the shopping mall with their Wii Games: Summer 2010 promotion. Last weekend, my family had the pleasure of checking out such an event at Concord Mills, and I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
Part family gaming competition part interactive demo, Wii Games: Summer 2010 invites individual gamers and groups to come out and play some of the best that the Wii has to offer. With a free-standing setup devoted half to the proper competition and half to eight or so individual free-play stations, the event that we attended boasted an accessible, if slightly crowded, environment in which to experience a number of great first-party titles.
The free-play zone offered access to games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Wii Sports Resort and Just Dance with an added bonus. Participants earned coin stickers which were collected on personal Coin Cards, and could be redeemed for prizes. These prizes ranged from simple character charms and candy-filled mushroom tins to character plushies and Nintendo-branded board games. Not a bad selection of swag for an afternoon of free gaming.
The other half of the setup was devoted to the titular Wii Games: Summer 2010 contest where families competed in events centered on Wii Sports Resort Basketball, New Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart for a chance at a trip to Los Angeles to participate in the Wii Games: Summer 2010 national championships next month. Sadly, the geeklings and I were ineligible for the competition (the minimum participant age is 6 years old), but the contest area was spacious and the family teams present really seemed to be enjoying themselves.
While the event layout was as comfortable as can be expected for a mall-based promotion, the prizes properly geekworthy and the game station attendants helpful and cheery, my only real complaint was the games themselves. I went into the Wii Games: Summer 2010 event hoping to be dazzled by the next big Wii titles only to find the same games on which Nintendo has always relied. And while, thanks to the inherent strength of these games, this was only a minor disappointment, the bevvy of explicitly Wii-branded titles did serve to remind me of the unfortunate track record of the Wii’s third-party support.
Still, should you get the opportunity to attend a similar event – the Wii Games: Summer 2010 promotion will continue to run through mid-August – I highly recommend you make your way down to the local food court and waggle a Wii-mote for fun and prizes. Pre-registration for the competition is available at the official event site, as is a handy list of event locations.
So slap on that wrist brace, dust off your Balance Board and prepare to get your game on!