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Nintendo’s E3 booth is both a nightmare and a delight

by Brandon Russell | June 15, 2017June 15, 2017 2:00 pm PDT

There are thousands of people at the Los Angeles Convention Center for this year’s E3 conference, all of whom seem to have converged onto Nintendo’s booth. I’ve never seen anything like it. Being there is like sitting on the metro on the hottest and most crowded day of the year. You simply can’t move, or breathe.

At the booth, there’s an area to try out Splatoon 2, along with gorgeous props from the Mario universe. Even Charles Martinet was there to take pictures with fans. (You may not know his name, but you definitely know his voice. Hint: It’s-a me, Mario!)

But that’s not why Nintendo’s booth is so damned crowded. The reason it’s so chaotic is because Super Mario Odyssey is there, available as a playable teaser ahead of its October release.

There’s no other mascot or property at E3 that can attack such a fervent fandom; the entire E3 conference could be dedicated to just Mario and it would be just as crazy. Couple that with the serious hype surrounding Super Mario Odyssey, and you have a recipe for success—and a lot of waiting.

There were lines to wait in other lines that would maybe grant you access to play Super Mario Odyssey, which was playable on dozens of Switch consoles setup around the booth, connected to TVs, sitting on park benches, propped on cafe tables, and whatever other “real world” situations made sense at Nintendo’s booth.

I’ve never seen so many Switch consoles in one place—and all of them were commandeered by fervent fans, eager to see Mario’s fancy new hat and the wackiness of New Donk City, the Nintendo-ified version of New York City.

The fictional city, by the way, was charmingly recreated at Nintendo’s booth to ostensibly provide gamers with a more immersive experience. The booth attendants were even dressed up to look like the humans featured in the upcoming title—as in, striped suit and matching cap, like you would have seen back in the 1920s. It looked like a movie set.

It’s just too bad walking through the booth was such a nightmare. We did live-stream our walk through the booth on Tuesday, and it wasn’t pretty. A walk through an area of that size should last a leisurely two minutes. But when you’re moving inch-by-inch as people stop and gawk at the games, the props, the voice celebrities—it gets pretty chaotic.

Luckily, the second day wasn’t quite as bad as the first, which made touring the booth a little more bearable. But it was still impossible to get hands-on time with Super Mario Odyssey without waiting in line for way too long. Weirdly, that’s what I loved about it.

There was an enthusiasm and energy emanating from Nintendo’s booth that you just don’t see from any other developer. As Joey said, Nintendo is one of a few companies in the world that can say so much without saying anything at all.

At least the decorations were nice. Where else will I see a power block streetlamp? Perhaps Nintendo’s booth was a small taste of what’s to come from its upcoming themed attraction being built in Universal Japan.

If you didn’t get a chance to get hands-on time with Super Mario Odyssey at E3, you won’t have to wait too much longer until it’s available for the Switch. Nintendo announced the game will be released on October 27.

In the meantime, you can watch a delightful gameplay trailer that showcases some of the cool locations down below.

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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