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Nintendo's Wii launch party (Universal Citywalk, LA)

Kevin Kelly

We attended (and holy schnikes, are we tired of "Wii! jokes) the launch of the Nintendo Wii at the Universal Citywalk EB Games store in Los Angeles last night, and lived to tell about it.

When we arrived at about 7PM, a Citywalk employee told us there were 500 people in line. We did our own informal count-type math thingy, and came up with at least double that number. The EB Games execs and Nintendo folks assured us that they'd have enough to go around, but wouldn't confirm any numbers for us. One loose-lipped EB Games grunt told us that they had just over 1,000 units, and that everyone who had a wristband would be getting one. After re-checking the line and finding out where the bands stopped, we realized there would be some unhappy people going home early this morning.

Everyone waiting in line was surprisingly in very good spirits. There were tons people gaming on their DS handhelds, and a lot of picto-chatting going on. Some folks were even playing Life, the old-school board game. As far as entertainment went though, the pickings were fairly slim. Universal Citywalk is already a cacophony of neon, pumping techno music, and video screens. It was about times 10 for the the Wii launch last night. They had a DJ spinning on a stage, and at one point a group called "Antigravity" performed a sort of "Cirque du So Lame" style show. Yawn.

The real fun to be had was in talking to all the people and finding out their stories. The first guy in line, Jonathan, was dressed as Mario and wrote his own song about the Wii (part of which can be heard at the end of the video). He was a real character, and runs his own gaming blog called GameJew, check it out. We asked around and only found one guy who was selling his on eBay. Not only that, he was selling it to help pay for a PlayStation 3. Traitor! We also spoke with Jacqueline, who it seems had either drank an entire case of energy drinks, or eaten a shoebox full of sugar. Check out the interviews with them in the vid as well.

We were really surprised how calm things were, especially given the size of the crowd. After the first Wiis went on sale, we watched a few people fork over their dough, and then decided that with only four registers it was going to take a hell of a long time to get through everyone, and we didn't really need to see the last Wii sold, did we? We wandered back out through the crowd, watched people play with the Wii, followed the SegWii (a Wii mounted on a Segway) around, and eventually vanished into the wee (Wii!) hours of the morning.

Anyhow, check out the video and stay tuned for more Wii news, FTWii! (Sorry, couldn't resist).

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