With midnight coming and going on the east coast of the United States, Nintendo’s Wii U is officially available to the general population. While select retailers like Best Buy had their midnight events planned out for the launch, nowhere came close to what was found at Nintendo World in Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan.
The Nintendo World location welcomed well over 700 dedicated gamers who stood in line anywhere from three hours to a month and a half in order to be one of the first to get their hands on the Wii U. The man who was first in line, the Power Glove-wielding fan, Isaiah Triforce Johnson, had been in line in front of the store since early October as a part of a corporate sponsorship. The rest of the superfans in the crowd began setting up camp as early as Monday morning.
Throughout the night, gamers were entertained by club music, dancing Mii characters and, of course, a few appearances from the ever-popular Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime. As the clock neared midnight, Fils-Aime took to the stage to count down the final minutes. “Are you ready to usher in the next generation of gaming?” Fils-Aime said to the crowd. “On behalf of Nintendo of America, thank you for spending tonight with us.”
Then, in paying those in line the ultimate fan-service, Fils-Aime referenced his famous E3 press conference. “The clock is counting down. Are you guys ready?” he asked. “Is your body ready? My body is ready!”
With that, the doors opened and Isaiah Triforce Johnson approached the checkout counter. Fils-Aime took his order, a Wii U Deluxe set with accompanying copies of ZombiU and New Super Mario Bros. U, and after several minutes spent posing (Fils-Aime even joked “Alright, alright. There are 800 other people who need to get theirs”), Johnson paid the bill and went on to do interviews with the press.
Following the first sale, I approached Fils-Aime, who was giving a pep talk to the Nintendo World employees. The associates of the store seemed to be very close with the President, making very casual conversation. Reggie expressed very sincere thanks to the team and told them he would see them on Monday so he could buy his copy. I overheard him reference the fact that each of the Nintendo World employees would be taking home his/her own Wii U console for free, while Fils-Aime would be coming back on Monday to purchase one for himself.
“The fact that [the employees] get the console for free while I have to buy mine tells you who really is important in this organization”
– Reggie Fils-Aime, President of Nintendo of America
Amidst a lack of mainstream hype, the Wii U launch event at Nintendo World proved to be a smashing success. The air was cold and those in line were tired, but once that line started moving, the energy spanning the city block-wrapping queue was palpable.
Check out some of our favorite shots from the launch event at Nintendo World NYC.