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.

I’m Suing Microsoft and Harmonix

hqdefault Way back in March 2008, I wrote an April Fool’s entry about potential Rock Band add-ons. In case you need to have your mind refreshed (or didn’t even know about it in the first place), here’s the link.

Thinking it was just a lame blog entry that would get absolutely no attention, I just let it simmer and wrote a follow-up the next day explaining how bad I thought it was. Turns out that years later, that post is still one of my blog’s most popular entries:

One year later, Microsoft launched their idea of an April Fool’s joke: Alpine Legend, a game which shows gamers playing yodeling and dancing around like fools:

It would have been really funny—if I hadn’t written about it first in 2008:

Harmonix also plans polka yodeling, allowing previously reluctant individuals languishing for oddball octaves lively, spirited dancing all year-round.

Huh. Imagine that. The mind boggles.

Then comes news that Rock Band 3 will be purportedly gaining a keytar, as reported in this Endadget article and teased in the Green Day: Rock Band demo:

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Let’s go back to that April Fool’s entry, shall we?

Rock Band’s mature fans will appreciate the Rock Band Wireless Keytar, an exciting addition that will introduce the synth-pop and electronic genres to the game, with music from bands such as Depeche Mode and Devo planned for downloadable content.

Either I’m the Nostradamus of video games or somebody’s been reading that blog post and getting ideas.

So what do you think this’ll get me? A couple of million? A toaster and a few broken baseball bats and a ticket to a minor league game?

I think it’s time to get Larry H. Parker on the horn–no foolin’.

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Bargain Hunting

Ann and I made our first trip to Target yesterday to see what was left of their Christmas stuff. There wasn’t much left, but when you take into consideration that it was all marked down to 75% off, I guess you can’t really expect much. 

But oh, I did score a few goodies worth mentioning. 

First off, Ray-O-Vac batteries were marked down to a mere .25 cents a pack (AA and AAA 4-packs; C and D 2-packs). I bought as many as I deemed neccesary since not only were the prices just insane, you can never have too few batteries. This is especially true with a kid in the house. So not only do all of my Maglites now have a fresh set of cells and I’ve got a few packs in reserve, I also have enough AAs to power my Wii and Xbox controllers until [insert appropriate deity here]-knows-when. 

Wait, there’s more! 

While wandering the Electronics Department I came across something that made me do a double-take. Check it out:

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That there is a clearance sidecap filled with Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero Aerosmith bundles. I thought meh, they’re probably still at least sixty bucks for them. I checked out the clearance price tag and one read $24.98.

That had to be wrong…right? I grabbed both and took them over to the price scanner which verified that the price was indeed $24.98 each. For the bundle with wireless controllers. $50 if I bought both. Holy shit.

Not too bad when you consider this:

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The games alone were still being sold for $49.99 each. Pretty strange stuff if you ask me. Needless to say, I ended up taking both bundles home since hell, wouldn’t you? Besides, I needed new controllers since my Rock Band guitar is toasted and my Guitar Hero II is holding up but…come on! A wireless controller!

By the way, I went back to that store tonight for more D batteries but they were all gone–as were the game bundles, which I’m sure ended up on eBay.

Either way, I’m rockin’ out tonight. So if you hear a really bad voice signing Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench” coming from the direction of California, it’s probably me.

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Wii Fit Progress So Far

Keep in mind that this is in addition to everything else I do: eating right, walking, etc. That long stretch downward was the week I was sick; the sudden spike afterwards was Father’s Day when I obviously felt good enough to eat plenty. The red dot is a note: “I ate too much.”

Also know that the Wii Fit scale seems a bit off at times, nowhere near what my bathroom scale reads.

A nice investment so far. Now if I can only get my employer to reimburse me for it…

This entry is a SimulPost and can also be seen at 200by40


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I Got a Wii Fit!

I’m a Wiik (ha!) late to the party, but I got my Wii Fit at Target this morning! Watch for an interesting follow-up later today.

UPDATE 7 p.m.: My experience at Target when purchasing my Wii Fit is about as interesting as anything.

I arrived a bit before their 8 a.m. opening time where the usual group of Hot Wheels Dorks was congregating in the hopes of finding the latest Treasure Hunt vehicles. When the doors opened, I bolted to the Electronics Department and stood in line.

That’s when things got, um, interesting. There were about two groups of men speaking in a foreign tongue that I could not decipher (or even take a guess at). And at the risk of offending anybody I won’t even venture to give their native tongue a name. But these guys all had a few things in common. They all:

  • Had California Reseller’s Permits, which means you’ll see plenty of overpriced Wii Fit units on the street real quick;
  • Worked in teams, speaking with their cohorts at a blazingly fast rate of speed during the checkout process so as to confuse the cashier(s);
  • Bought Target Gift Cards in addition to the units, one of them for $1,000;
  • Paid in cash;
  • Bought the same brand pre-paid cell phone with their Wii Fit unit.

It all seemed rather strange to me and their transactions were pure and utter chaos. One of them claimed he gave the cashier $150 and not the $120 she had tendered, one claimed he was charged too much, and once they were all done and trying to sort out their take in this little con, one of them actually tried to take the unit I was paying for as it was being rung up. By then I had had enough of their bullshit.

“That one’s mine, fucker,” I told the greedy bastard. His hand retracted quicker than he could speak.

So to the Electronics Department at Target T-195 in Long Beach, CA (my former store, BTW), if your registers are off at the end of the day, this could very well be the reason why. Those guys worked fast, talked fast, and seemed ready to swindle.

Anyway…I’ve only had a few minutes to spend with the Wii Fit. Here’s a few helpful hints:

  • If you have carpeting, place a piece of wood underneath for an accurate weight measurement. At first I weighed 146 (!) but after placing a piece of wood under the platform, it was correct.
  • The Weight Loss Goal only goes up to 22 lbs. so if you plan to lose more, you’ll have to start at 22 lbs. and once you reach that, start again with the remainder. In my case, it’ll be 22 lbs. plus another 10+ lbs.
  • I “jogged” and did the Hula Hoop exercise. It’d definitely fun!

I’m sure I’ll be adding more to my other blog so check it out for more info and results. I begin using it tonight so we’ll see how things go!

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This entry is a SimulPost and can also be read at 200by40.