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Wii U Experience in Los Angeles


Saturday was a busy day for us.

In addition to attending an L.A. Galaxy soccer game, the family went to the invitation-only Wii U Experience in Los Angeles (or more precisely, Hollywood) to experience firsthand what Nintendo’s latest system has to offer.

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The event was held at Siren Studios on Sunset Boulevard and was scheduled to last two hours. There was a pretty big crowd waiting to get in when we got there at around 11 am, our scheduled time. Once we were checked in, we were issued our snazzy IDs with lanyard.

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Anthony was more than happy to put his on and get to gaming.

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After we were issued our IDs, we made our way into the studio to a small holding area where we waited until the previous group was cleared out and the studio cleaned. I’ll explain why in a bit.

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Now this was cool. These kiosks were located at various locations in the studio, each with an event attendant. What they would do was tap your ID on the plus symbol, have you strike a pose, then look at the camera (see the small black dot below the Nintendo logo) for a photo and you were done. If you previously linked your Facebook account to your ID, the images were immediately posted to your page. Here are our pictures taken in the holding area and then with Mario.

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I couldn’t get Mario to throw a peace sign. Oh well.

Once inside we were allowed to wander as we pleased.

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Music was pumping and all of the event workers were very enthusiastic; it made for a great vibe. (Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” was first on the playlist and seemed to fit perfectly.) Here’s Anthony giving Scribblenauts Unlimited a try with a little assistance.

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Many of the games were still in the development phase and had working titles like The Wonderful 101 and Game & Wario.

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One of the more fun games we tried was Wii Fit U, the third entry in the Wii Fit series. Like the other games, it was a demo version and could vary greatly by the system’s  launch. I tried the trampoline minigame and racked a score that the attendant told me was one of the highest she’d seen to date. That or she was just being nice.

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I was happy to learn that my current Wii Fit Balance Board is compatible with Wii U but disappointed that like the last generation Wii, it will not support Gamecube games. I guess I’ll just have to hold onto my old Wii system if that’s the case. Aside from that, Wii Fit U looks to be a must-have for anybody who enjoyed the previous incarnations.

Of course with all of this gaming going on, you need some refreshments. There were plenty.

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This is what I meant about cleaning the place up since there were plastic bottles everywhere when we left.

One of the other games we tried was Nintendo Land which consists of a bunch of minigames like Mario Party.

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The image above shows a hide-and-seek type of game in which the person holding the main controller is Mario and is given a 10-second head start to run and hide. Mario’s exact location is only visible on the control’s display to the player controlling Mario while the other players (up to four) must rely on a hot-cold bar at the bottom of their screen. Overall, I was a bit disappointed at how slow Mario moved and as a result, I was found in no time flat.

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New Super Mario Bros. U looks to be everything Mario fans might be expecting: multiplayer, new moves, new powers. It was the most popular game there and while we only tried it once, it was definitely fun.

And if you wanted to try a 3DS system, there were a few of those around as well. Both Ann and Anthony loved it.

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The place was riddled with white leather couches and these cubes that changed color. I wanted to take one home.

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There were also contests on some of the games with the winners getting small prizes. I almost won the Wii Fit U competition but was edged out. Anthony was near the host as he awarded the winner her prize then looked at Anthony, reached into his goodie bag, and game him a small tin of mushroom candies. Very cool!

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Not to be outdone, I also won a prize at the end of the event when the host was asking trivia questions. The question I answered was simple enough if you know Nintendo’s history:

“Which was the first game Nintendo ever made?”

The answer: playing (or hanafuda) cards. Nobody else was even close! I won a little Koopa figurine that I immediately handed over to Anthony.

After the trivia questions, we escorted out and got yet another treat: mushroom cake pops! Could this day get any better?

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Here’s a close-up. I ate it and didn’t grow as I had hoped but it was delicious.

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And I saw these on the way out which I thought were great. You know, in case you had to go Wii before you went home.

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We entered this event knowing very little about the Wii U and left it wanting to put my name on the waiting list. While the chances of that happening are pretty slim at the moment because of the Wii U’s price point of $349.99 for the 32GB system with one game, it’s definitely on my list down the road. It’s taken the Wii concept to a new level that won’t appeal to all gamers but it still a whole lot of fun. Keep in mind that we only played games at this event and did not see all that the Wii U is capable of doing: video chat (controller has a front-facing camera), TV remote control, DVR capabilities, etc.

The Wii U Experience was indeed memorable. Thanks to all involved for being great hosts and for answering all questions we had regarding the system. I’d better start saving my spare change for this one.

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