Broken Guitars, No Wiis, a Trip to NYC

Two of the biggest news stories this holiday season relating to gaming is the shortage of the Nintendo Wii games console and of the startling frequency at which Rock Band guitar controllers break.

On our marathon walk through New York City last Friday, Kristin and I stopped in at the Nintendo World store that opened uptown. The store occupies two floors and is very clean, white, and bright and not wholly unlike the Apple stores you see in malls. The lower floor contains plenty of games, a collection of wildly-colored GameBoy SPs, a Pokemon section, some Nintendo DS stations, and enough accessories and Nintendo-themed watchamacallits to outfit a legion of Nintendo fanboys. There was even enough 8-bit era clothing and jackets to not only make you long for the days of the NES, but to make you think Molly Ringwald was still cute. Long Duk Dong would have loved this place.

Attention Gamer Nerds: You must get the girl
BEFORE wearing jackets like this. And even then, only for laughs.

The second floor of the store was reserved for a number of Wii demo stations. I tried my hand at a number of different stations but, I have to admit, am still utterly uninterested in the Wii. I'm sure I'll eventually have to write a guidebook for a Wii game and perhaps my appreciation will grow when forced to really dive in and get familliar with the controls, but for now, I must say I still find it utterly gimicky. But I am clearly alone in this as the Wii has become the hottest must-have gift since dolls sprouted from cabbage.

So how dire is the Wii shortage? Well, let's put it this way. I was in a store called Nintendo World. To my knowledge, it's the only one in North America, and not only did they not have any Wiis on hand, but I heard the sales clerk refer people to Best Buy. Actually, he recommended going to Best Buy and waiting in line for them to open. Of course, anyone interested (or uninterested but innocently within earshot like myself) has known this has been the situation since the console launched in November of 2006. I've seen one Wii in the wild. The console has been out for over a year and I've seen one. I believe Nintendo does deserve some congratulations for that.

Later in the day we made our way over to Times Square and after a mandatory dash through the Hershey store, we continued south to the MTV store which, oddly enough, seemed to be little more than a hole in the wall with a "stage" set up to promote the game Rock Band which MTV partnered with Harmonix to make. Yes, the same Harmonix that once upon a time created the Guitar Hero franchise. There were a bunch of people in the delapidated space milling around outside the roped off stage and a few clerks/roadies picking people to get up on stage and play the game in the windowfront. One guy jumped up for drums, another grabbed the bass, and I stepped forward to play guitar. I tried to get Kristin to take over vocals, but she refused. It didn't matter though because we couldn't play.

Remember when I said the other major news story in gaming this holiday season was the unreliability of the Rock Band guitars? Well, as it turns out both guitars in the MTV store were broken. This wasn't like some Gamestop-babysitting-kiosk where hundreds of kids are left to play the game all day while they're parents go shopping. This was the MTV Store in Times Square. It was a display roped off and actually managed by people paid to make sure people treat the controllers with care. And both guitars were broken.

I believe that's what we in the biz call "no sale".

So lets recap my NYC trip: Nintendo World doesn't sell Nintendo Wiis. The MTV Store doesn't have working guitars for their own game. But a guy selling scrap-metal statues in Bryant Park has an awesome looking 16" Big Daddy on sale for $300 (my 10" one cost $70, by the way).


Brad Gallaway said...

Although i've tried exactly *two* games where i didn't feel like the motion control was gimmicky, i'm with you in thinking it's just a novelty. i haven't done any research into Nintendo's justification for the Wii shortages, but part of me thinks that it's all part of a master plan to keep demand high. if people actually managed to get some, they'd see through the smokescreen pretty quick. ; )

Nightdreamer said...

On the other hand, buying a Wii in the Philippines is easier than buying a PS3 or X360. And PSP, but not NDS, sells by the bucketloads. It seems like none of us are very much appeased by Nintendo.

I'm mildly interested at Wii, mostly because of Mario Galaxy, Zack and Wiki and Wii Fit. But besides those games, I have to agree with both you and Brad on this one, in that I feel it was gimmicky.

I heard that the Guitar Hero's guitar works with Rock Band. Is this true?