Demo stands are so passé. Sure, you can stick some TVs on some kiosks and call it day, but when you’re Nintendo, you get more creative. Need we remind you how incredible Nintendo’s Zelda booth at E3 was? Now, the trend continues with the second-ever Play Nintendo Tour. Nintendo first revamped its mall tour into a full-fledged playground in 2014, and for the 2016 edition, they’re fine-tuning the experience. We swung by the tour’s kickoff in Culver City, CA earlier this month to see what changed, what remained the same, and just how many robot trees they brought along (answer: one). Here’s our breakdown, along with a full photo gallery below.
If the focus of the previous Play Nintendo Tour was on the latest 3DS games, think of this year’s tour as the victory lap for the greatest 3DS games. Unlike past mall tours, Nintendo chose not to focus as much on new releases and instead demo their evergreen titles. This led to a lineup that many diehard Nintendo fans may find familiar, but is perfectly suitable as a checklist of must-haves for those first getting into the 3DS. Demos on hand include Mario Kart 7, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, Yoshi’s New Island, and two newer releases: Kirby: Planet Robobot and Yo-Kai Watch. Just playing all these demos is a game in and of itself – Nintendo distributes a “passport” to visitors of their booth and for each game played, a stamp is earned. Receive all seven stamps and you’ll be given the chance to win Nintendo merchandise from a crane game machine.
The demos are only half the fun of the booth, however. The other half comes from the creative areas Nintendo put together for each game. Want to play Yoshi’s New Island? You’ll be doing so in a polka-dotted egg chair next to a life-size Yoshi egg. Interested in Planet Robobot? You can play it on a 2DS attached to a large statue of the game’s first boss, the robotic tree Clanky Woods. Each game provides its own photo-op, similar to the experiences found on the first Play Nintendo Tour. There is one notable new addition, though: a massive fake New 3DS XL for multiplayer competitions and trivia – the “touch screen” of the system acts as a stage and the “top screen” is, well, the screen. The booth also features a section dedicated to the Vans x Nintendo collaboration, as well as tablets to look up further information on the games displayed.
The entire booth feels built for two audiences: the game-themed displays are perfect for kids (as are the free activity books available), while parents are targeted with aspects like the informational kiosks and a nostalgia-fueled commercial looping on the 3DS stage that amounts to, “Remember playing Game Boy as a kid? Buy the 3DS and your kid can follow in your footsteps!” Nonetheless, any Nintendo fan can appreciate the booth for what it has to offer, and we encourage visiting the tour if it stops near you. A full list of dates and locations can be found on the Play Nintendo Tour website. And for those of you who unfortunately won’t be able to visit, the below gallery offers a taste of the experience.