Going to Nintendo World in New York City is like a pilgrimage for Nintendo fans. An entire store dedicated to all things Nintendo, hosting launch events and StreetPass get-togethers, selling merchandise and memorabilia, and even playing classic game music over the in-store speakers. But Nintendo World has always had a second purpose: to get those non-hardcore fans to try out, and maybe even buy, Nintendo products. The store is located in the tourist-heavy Rockefeller Plaza, mere feet away from the Today Show’s studio, making it a perfect stop for anyone with any interest in video games. So with the Wii U now upon us, Nintendo World has gotten an upgrade to accommodate and promote the new system.
The Wii U’s arrival marks one of many makeovers for Nintendo World. Originally a Pokemon Center store, the 10,000 square-foot space was converted in 2005 to encompass all Nintendo products (don’t worry, Pokemon fans: the Pokemon Center lives on as a sub-section of the store). The store then saw a notable renovation in 2010 with the inclusion of a larger museum section and new demo stations for DS games.
For the Wii U, Nintendo may not have chosen to make as many drastic changes, but it did revamp the Wii section. Replacing the multiple Wii stations of the past are 15 Wii U demo units, split between the main second floor area and a three-walled, backlit side room. Each kiosk currently runs the same menu found at any Wii U demo station nationwide, allowing you to browse a variety of games to view trailers or play demos. However, unlike Nintendo World’s old Wii demo stations, the Wii U demo selection is more limited. For the original Wii, Nintendo World had a custom demo setup that allowed for a huge variety of game demos to be played at any one unit. For the time being, it appears that each Wii U kiosk only features a single playable game.
Beyond the Wii U stations themselves, Nintendo World features new Wii U branding throughout the store. From Nintendo Land archways that greet visitors as they head upstairs to elevator doors covered in “How U Will Play Next” slogans, the store is making it abundantly clear that Wii U is here. One side of the store features a large New Super Mario Bros. U window display, while the second-floor windows are all covered in banners that highlight individual Nintendo Land attractions, such as Metroid Blast and Pikmin Adventure.
To coincide with the Wii U’s launch, the in-store museum currently highlights major Nintendo system launches. The exhibit features games, hardware, and corresponding Nintendo Power issues for every system from the NES to the Wii U. The inclusion of Nintendo Power is particularly significant due to the recent decision to shut down the magazine. To celebrate the publication’s 24 years, the front section of the museum is displaying covers from throughout Nintendo Power’s history, as well as a special guest book. Visitors are encouraged to sign this book with a note or drawing about Nintendo Power, and it will then be given to the magazine’s editors in January.
Nintendo World has also dedicated a significant amount of space to Paper Mario: Sticker Star, the 3DS’s big holiday title. A large first-floor window display, complete with a motorized hammer-swinging Mario, greets passersby on 48th Street. Inside the store is an equally big “paperized” Mario hanging over the 3DS demo area, as well as Goomba stickers that cover the floor of the main entrance.
Nintendo World is obviously a must-see for any fan. For those tourists and visitors who may not be as familiar with Nintendo, the store’s Wii U makeover certainly brings attention to the console and provides plenty of hands-on opportunities. Of course, since Nintendo World is only in New York, not everyone who wants to check it out can do so. Below, we have included photos of the store’s Wii U revamp, as well as of the museum, Paper Mario: Sticker Stars displays, and other sights. Hopefully they give a good sense of what Nintendo World is like. If you’re ever in New York City, make sure to stop by and see it for yourself!