A Brave New World
Today, I will make a happy post!
If I were to sum up today in one word, it would be, whimsical. Today was just a fun day from beginning to end. Here is a recap.
I woke up at 9am and took a shower and got dressed. This is a good way to start the day and getting dressed is a handy thing to do if your going outside, which I was.
After going through the morning routine, I headed into the great outdoors and found it was raining. Hard. This was the down point in the day because by the time I got to the train station I was soaked to the bone and had to hang my jacket on the luggage rack on the train so it could dry a little. During the ride, I enjoyed a bottle of low-calorie latte drink and a tasty pair of pancake snacks with maple syrup and margarine in them. That was breakfast. After being on the train for a while, my co-worker and new daytrip buddy, Terri got on too. She would accompany me on my quest. I decided that she would need fuel for our adventure so I remembered to pick her up a pair of pancake snacks as well and she liked them. As our train moved further down the line and we happily talked and munched on pancake snacks until we hit Osaka. At Osaka/Umeda station we jumped on the first of a couple of subways to get to our destination. I am happy to note that we did not get lost like I was anticipating and found our way to our goal without getting sidetracked or led astray by me even once. This also made me happy.
We got off our train and made our way with the rest of the crowd to an exhibition center that was located on a little island just off the shore from Osaka. Finally, we got to a point where it was time to stand in line. The line was abuzz with energy and anticipation and a lot of people playing their Nintendo DS. This is what I saw:
Everyone in the line was happy and gleeful because they all knew what they were about to experience, everyone but this woman:
She also knew what was coming and had just realized that she had been duped by her boyfriend and he was not taking her shopping as promised, nor was he taking her to a nice place to eat or a movie, nor were they going to relax quietly in each other's arms at a nearby park. He was taking her on a romantic getaway to:
Thats right, Nintendo World 2006!! Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!! But I wasn't excited or anything.
Somewhere along the line of Nintendo doing a heavy marketing campaign in the United States, Nintendo realized it was shafting its Japanese customer base and decided it should also do something for them too. Thus, Nintendo World was born. Basically, Nintendo World is everything I wanted TGS to be but better because it was absolutely free. Today, I saw the Nintendo Wii in all of its glory and had I felt like waiting in line for hours, I could have played almost every game that will be available for the Wii's launch, including this one:
Yeah, thats the new Zelda game and had I felt like waiting for about an hour and a half just for it, I could have played it today. Sorry, I am not that big of a fanatic....and Terri was with me and I didn't want to keep her waiting. Having seen the game in action though, I have to say, IT LOOKS GREAT! Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and looked at ease with the control scheme so I am confident that Nintendo has probably hit on a stroke of genius with the Wiimote. I was also able to see Super Mario Galaxy and the new Warioware game. Both looked fantastic but I think I want Warioware more than Super Mario Galaxy. I took a look at the much touted Virtual Console and I think it may be one of the coolest aspects of the new system. The Weather Channel and the old school games are going to make the Virtual Console a hit, its hard to describe them without being able to show pics of it but I think its going to rock.
Of course, Wii Sports was being offered as well:
It was fun to see a dad and his son be able to stand next to each other and watch the dad go through the motions of pitching a ball and the son take a swing at the pitch with the Wiimote. People look goofy while playing with the Wii because some of them really get into the game. I also got to see couples play tennis with each other and cracked up when they assumed the tennis stance and and started swinging the Wiimote as if it were a racquet. A level of immersion is evident in gameplay that has never been present in another console. Its funny to think this was all started with a squarish joystick with one button and a clunky, brown console that has evolved into this:
Other things of note about Nintendo World 2006 was a full lineup of new DS games on display. Again, I didn't feel like waiting in line for them so all I can say is some of them looked really spiffy. Oh yeah, remember those pics of the people standing in line and playing their DSes? As it turns out, most of them were talking to each other on the DS's PictoChat program. I pulled out my DS after deciding that I would probably be lynched if I were to play my PSP and booted up the chat client to find about eight rooms going at once, each with a handful of people in them. I joined one with seven or eight people just to say hello and found people making goofy drawings for everyone to see and talking...in Japanese. After a couple of minutes of wirelessly conversing with my linemates, I was edging close to the entrance and decided to log out. It was just cool to be able to see that many people enjoying video games and their DS all at once. It felt like I was part of a community albeit, a nerdy one.
If anyone wants pics of anything else to do with the Wii, let me know and I will post them for you. I have pics of all of the accessories and all of the Nintendo launch titles and packaging. As for Nintendo World 2006, I will leave you all with this:
On to other things!
After Nintendo World, we headed back to Osaka Station and stopped at a bookstore that carries a lot of English stuff, stopping along the way to get a bag of Baby Castellas. Baby Castellas are usually only available during festivals and I guess Nintendo World qualified because I was able to buy the tasty, fluffy, waffly snacks outside the convention center from a vendor's stall. Terri picked up a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet bean paste and she said that was good, though I have my doubts.
While at the bookstore, I finally decided to pick up a proper English to Japanese and Japanese to English dictionary. I also picked up two sets of Kanji flash cards to help me learn those faster. Kanji is what’s really keeping me from reading Japanese effectively and I am going to see how many of them I can learn in the next year. I think I have flash cards for the first 900 kanji that most Japanese people learn while in elementary school so soon, if I practice hard, I can be at a fifth or six grade reading level, YAY! If you ever want to embark on an exercise in humility, try being illiterate for a while.
On the way home, I practiced with the cards and was able to memorize a few more in the hour that I was looking at them. I think they are going to help me a lot because since most of them are the very basic kanji, I can see them everywhere and they will stick in my head faster. Flash cards are now my new train trip pastime and I think by learning them I will help myself out a lot and that makes me feel pretty good. That and there is no way better to impress other people than by knowing a ton of kanji. Kanji will get me chicks...okay...probably not but here's to hoping.
Lastly, on the way home from the train station, I saw this:
I had never really thought to put Christmas lights up on my apartment's patio but evidently someone thought it would be cool and they became the Japanese equivalent of Clark Griswald. Tis' almost the season and those lights coupled with that thought left me with a cheerfully illuminated way to end my day.