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Nintendo Fusion Tour

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Nintendo may not have been at the Tokyo Games Show, but they haven’t been idle in promoting the Wii. With only a month away and the future of Nintendo in the balance, the Fusion Tour hit New York City’s Roseland Ballroom with Hawthorne Heights headlining in a push to build up hype over the next-gen system. Over a thousand fans of music and gaming attended as music groups Emery, Plain White T’s, The Sleeping and Reliant K rocked out while Wii stations on the other end of the hall gave attendees a taste of the next-gen system before its big release on Nov 19th.

The waiting time to try Wii Sports, ExciteTruck, or WarioWare: Smooth Moves was over an hour. However, the tedium of waiting was broken by a couple of things: One was obviously the music, which some might even have called the main attraction (suckers). The other was the overwhelming number of people who brought their Nintendo DSs. Pictochat rooms were filled to capacity with people looking to join multiplayer games of Mario Kart, Metriod Prime: Hunters and others. Through the wireless DS Download Station, attendees also played demos of Elite Beat Agents, Mario Vs. Donkey Kong II and Star Fox: Tactical Assault.

Even those who didn’t have something portable to play on line found the wait worthwhile. One 64 year-old man brought his 11 year-old grandson to the show. “I don’t really play games,” said George Allard, “except when my grandson asks me to.” When the two played doubles tennis, it looked like a scene taken directly from a Wii brochure. The child was swinging the controller with his whole body, mimicking a real tennis player. Meanwhile, his grandfather was keeping pace just fine with simple, short hand movements and a flick of the wrist every now and again. They both seemed to enjoy it. “You could probably teach a gorilla to play that thing, it’s so simple,” said Allard. The excited grandson, Jeremey, was catching his breath as he said, “I think I’ll have more fun moving around when I play. It’ll make me want to go out and play real tennis.”

The graphics were bright and smooth, but simple for this game, which will be included with the system. The characters resembled Lego people more than real ones, but it suited the game well. In the boxing mode, their unattached limbs followed hand movements from the nunchuck controller perfectly as players blocked and jabbed at each other. “I really got into it!” said a player who asked only to be called “ch0d3.” “I was really nervous about which way [the other player] would punch me and how I would block. He even threw a few feints. I was pwned.”

WarioWare: Smooth Moves allowed for a faster moving line, as expected from a game with nothing but five to ten second mini-games. If any one game could display the multitude of uses for the Wii controller, it was this one. Before each mini-game, a picture popped up displaying one of 20 ways to hold the controller, from the over-the-head “tomahawk” position, to the open palmed “waiter” position. The game even got people to hold it at their waist and gyrate their hips to make a monster hula. “I really liked how the controller was used like a steering wheel in the last part,” said Jason Kelly, 23, just after playing the game. “I could see that making real racing games a lot better.”

ExciteTruck gave players just such an experience, racing off-road trucks over and around hills with the precise movements of the controller. It was easily the most graphically intense game there with mud splatters and flaming nitro boosts looking spectacularly real. John Laino, 17, and a self described diehard Nintendo fan, came from New Jersey just to play the Wii. “In most games, you have to hit a button to turn, which means you have to be full out turning, or not turning at all. This game lets you steer slightly in the direction you want to go. It’s a good thing this impressed me, because I don’t even like Hawthorne Heights.”

To Laino’s dismay, the games were stopped when it was time for Hawthorne Heights to play. Nonetheless, their performance was well received by the rest of the crowd as the band wordlessly bounded onto stage and started their set. After a few songs, they gave away a DS Lite signed by all the members of the band.

The Nintendo Fusion Tour still has many stops to go, ending just a week before the big Wii release on November 19. To find out if the tour is coming to your neighborhood, check out http://www.nintendofusiontour.com/.

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