March 15, 2010

Breakfast With Pikachu

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , , , — Christina Wilson @ 8:17 am

On Sunday morning Jamie and I made the trek to Wizard World at Exhibition Place in Toronto to catch our very own Pikachu. We arrived early enough to be blasted by children’s music and a wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man, which was admittedly overwhelming given our still half sleeping state.

As the bright colors and screaming children within Wizard World roused us from sleep, we saw an area filled with kids wearing Pikachu hats and spotted a giant shuffling Pikachu being led through the crowd for photo ops and suspected we’d found the right place.

Checking out the release of Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver with both fans and children eager to simply get their hands on videogames made it a more unique press event, and made for an oddly relaxed atmosphere even with all the commotion.

Catching them all is serious business…

We were met by a jovial Nintendo staff who found themselves constantly moving t-shirts and other Poke-swag, to avoid losing them to the eager young hands reaching over and under the roped off area to get to them. And although it was a bit early on a Sunday to handle so much stimulation, it was great of Nintendo to promote Pokemon SoulSilver and HeartGold in an environment that could include such an eager audience of young gamers.

Jamie and I were able to have some hands on time with both titles, and got to take our Pokemon for a walk around the event with the Pokewalker. Carrying the walker around in my purse reminded me of when Tamagotchi’s first came out and I thought they were the greatest toy ever created – I took that with me everywhere, constantly checking what my pixilated blob was up to.

Pictured Above – WIN!

The Pokewalker gives you that same maternal feeling as your chosen Pokemon walks with you and the pedometer inside the device counts steps. As you walk you gain wattage which allows you to collect prizes and battle your Pokemon directly on the walker. Walking your Pokemon will also help it gain experience and level up more quickly.

The Pokewalker counts the steps you take per day. If you keep it with you for several days without connecting it to your DS it tracks each day for you, resetting the steps to zero at midnight, but recording all of your activity from the previous day. While I was playing and thinking about the opportunities to keep up with my Pokemon at work, and if this was a clever way for Nintendo to promote physical activity in children, I looked over to see Jamie shaking his walker wildly to see how many steps he could get it to take without moving from his seat, dashing a bit of my optimism. But even he couldn’t resist playing with it throughout the day.

The game itself looks fantastic. My last serious bout of Pokemon was on the GameBoy Color, so obviously the graphics on the DS are significantly improved. The rich color palate rejuvenated the series for me in those first moments I spent with it. I still have fond memories of the simple colors of the GameBoy, but I quickly saw room to appreciate the series anew with this release. The game still feels intuitive, something you can pick up and take on the go like all good DS releases.

After some chatting with Nintendo we packed it in and waved goodbye to make the windy and wet journey back to the office.

Oh! And I got to cut in a line of 30 kids to hug Pikachu, which is obviously the highlight of my week.


  1. Haha… I like the line about Jamie shaking his pokewalker. I haven’t played any of the Pokemon games since the Red & Blue versions on GBC also. Still the same basic game right?

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — March 15, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

  2. After spending some more time with it today it is essentially the same game, just shinier.
    Oddly enough Red and Blue were the versions I played on the GBC as well. It was during my two weeks of recovery after having my wisdom teeth out.

    And yes Jamie likes to see how he can fool hardware!

    Comment by Christina — March 15, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

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