Launch time for Wii

EG talks to gamers, shopkeepers and Pat Cash about Nintendo's new console.

As you're reading this, the dreams of 17 year old Marwan Elgamal from Wembley are coming true. A lifelong Zelda fan, he's finally getting the chance to play Twilight Princess on his shiny new Wii.

Well, either that or he's actually dreaming, seeing as he's probably knackered from camping outside HMV's Oxford Street store from 5pm on Tuesday until midnight last night. Eurogamer popped down there to observe the console launch, and to have a chat with Marwan about why he was prepared to spend more than 50 hours camping on a pavement and peeing in bins to get his hands on a Wii.

"I'm a Nintendo fanboy, so I'll buy anything Nintendo. The Wii is just so different, and it just feels so great playing it that I had to be the first one to get it," he said.

"I've enjoyed myself so much during Nintendo games... They keep bringing the gameplay, so I'll keep playing. They're still bringing out titles for their hardcore fanbase and taking a different direction to the casual gamers, and it's just bringing everyone together."

It certainly brought people together last night, most notably a group of lads who had met in the queue and were celebrating their newfound friendship by shouting "Wii! Wii!" at passers by. (Along with things like "Oh my gosh where did you get that HMV media pass you robbed that coat" and "I fancy you", for the record.)

"We're Wii buddies. We love each other. It's all about the Nintendo Wii, at the end of the day," said one member of the group.

marwan

17 year old Marwan Elgamal from Wembley, a lifelong Zelda fan.

"Videogaming is not racist," another observed sagely. "We're all here, black, white, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, we're all here for the Wii." So it's kind of like a One Wii, One Love thing? The group erupts. "Yes! Yes! Oh my gosh that's it!" Righto.

But while there might have been a lot of multicultural love flying around, there was also racism of a kind - to steal a phrase coined by an EG forumite, console racism.

For example, when asked if any of them owned an Xbox 360, one member of the harmony-loving group replied: "No way! I burn that sh**. I buy one every week and I break it."

Will he be buying a PS3, then? "I'll break the PS3. I'll buy one every month and break it." The speaker did not clarify whether the decision not to break a PS3 every week was down to its higher price point or predicted stock shortages.

Other, perhaps less wealthy members of the group offered a more balanced view. "To be honest, I'm going to get both - you've got to have a 360 and a Wii," said one, while another added, "It's either PlayStation 3 or 360, but I'll go for 360 because of the online service. The Wii can't compare with the 360's online service, but that doesn't mean the Wii is anything less. We love the Wii, that's it."

kirby

19 year old Daniel Kirby had to get his hands on the revolutionary Wii.

But what is it about the Wii they like so much? "Zelda," came the answer from more than one person. "It's all about the sensor thing, innit," said someone else. Other answers included, "Everything," and, "It's Nintendo. Every system has been a winner. Even the Cube."

For 19 year old Daniel Kirby from Kingsbury, the decision to buy a Wii was made as soon as he got the chance to try one out. "I've always liked Nintendo consoles, because they're always party-oriented and you can play them in big groups," he said. "I played it and I thought, 'I have to get my hands on this.' Because it's completely revolutionary. It's amazing."

There were two queues - one at the front of the store and another snaking down an alley alongside. At the back of the line was 21 year old Med, who was queuing at HMV despite the fact he works in a branch of GAME.

"All staff are being cut off from the Wii. We're not allowed to buy one until we have some free stock, so I'm here," he said.

"But it's fun, there's a good atmosphere, and Ian Wright's going to be inside; it'll be nice to meet him. So I'm quite happy my company isn't going to sell it to me even though I work for them."

yarnton

Nintendo UK boss David Yarnton talks up Zelda.

Inside HMV, staff were busy constructing Wii displays, bringing out stock and setting up a stage area where Ian WrightWrightWright would later join boxing star Ricky Hatton, tennis champion Pat Cash and former Lara Croft model Nell McAndrew. (Wasn't it meant to be Jodie Kidd?) The staff were clearly expecting a sell-out, with one spokesperson saying, "If we have got any units left by the end of the night, I won't have done my job properly."

HMV's head of games, Tim Ellis, observed, "It's difficult to pull all the elements together and get your shops ready and things like that, and it's equally difficult for Nintendo as it was for Microsoft and it will be for Sony.

"You know what the frustrations are going to be. We knew six months ago that we weren't going to get enough stock, so you work with that. As long as we can give the public what they want over the next six months, then everyone walks away happy."

Back outside in the queue, talk turned to the software launch line-up - with Zelda top of the list for most of those looking to buy a Wii.

"I can understand why," said Nintendo UK boss David Yarnton.

"I've been playing Zelda on Wii, and it's fantastic. The musical arrangements on it, the graphics, the storyline - even if you're not a gamer, Zelda is the game to have."

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