The Nintendo New York store has been welcoming gaming fans through its Pokémon handled doors since 2001 when it was inaugurated as The Pokémon Center. I believe the first time I heard about it was close to the release of the original Wii back in 2006. I recall hearing about the upcoming midnight event at Nintendo World where Reggie Fils-Aimé, Nintendo of America President, was going to personally hand the first Wii unit sold worldwide to that first person in line. Since then I have continued to hear more and more about the store and even seen store pictures posted by friends but never had the opportunity to go there myself.
Well, during a recent trip to New York, we decided to plan a couple of extra days to sightsee in Manhattan. This happened to coincide with the Super Mario Odyssey release weekend so I decided to make a huge deal out of it and, not only have this be my first visit to Nintendo New York but also make it a point to buy a physical copy of the game while at the store. My excitement was palpable. And, no joke, this was our first stop after arriving in Manhattan.
For a life long Nintendo fan, the feelings walking into that store are truly hard to explain. It is two floors of wall to wall Nintendo, from posters, to screens showing games, to life size statues of many of our favorite characters. To me, it felt as amazing as going to Disney World for the first time.
The first thing that welcomed us was a statue of Mario and Cappy. And, not far off to our left, was a stack of goombas. Both of these were probably fresh from the recent midnight event. The rest of the first floor is almost entirely focused on clothing and accessories. And, while some of the merchandise can be found in other stores, they had plenty of unique stock. Lacking a good hoodie, I snatched a nice dark gray one with the Nintendo New York logo printed on its front.
Going up to the second floor was its own adventure as the stairs circle around a two story flag pole with Mario celebrating at the top:
Once upstairs, the second floor is a sight to behold. This is where the video games reside and there are screens upon screens of demo units playing all the latest games; including a massive wall sized screen playing Super Mario Odyssey. It reminded me immediately of an E3 show floor, except that I was actually now there. As if these were not enough, lining the window wall are displays of every single Nintendo console and handheld ever made; a little museum. An homage. Even better, have you heard about the Game Boy unit that survived a bombing during the Gulf War? They have it on display at Nintendo New York and that sucker still works!
The other half of the second floor is dedicated to consoles, games and Pokémon. Oh, there is also a tower of Amiibo. This immediately reminded me to check if they had any Toad Amiibo, one that I have been really wanting and not had any luck finding. The store actually had some and I was finally able to snatch my favorite character’s Amiibo! Yes, I am a Toad guy.
Ever wanted to snap a picture with a life size statue of Pikachu? This is the place. He is even cuter in person and not as shocking.
After some more browsing, we went to the counter to grab the last, and most important, item on our list: the physical copy of Super Mario Odyssey!
If you have not caught on by now, I can be super sentimental. The fact that I was able to go to the Nintendo New York store on Mario Odyssey weekend and buy my copy there means something to me; makes it special in some way. Throughout our visit to the store, it really felt like we were somewhere unique. This is the ONLY company run Nintendo store in the world and we were there. Even the staff at the store carried that same joy and wonder with them. It was awesome!
I seriously cannot wait for another excuse to travel to New York and go back to the store. The whole experience was so special that, between the store, seeing Mario Odyssey playing on the big screen and asking me tons of Switch questions, my friend from the city was finally tipped over the edge and had us go back to the store the next day so he could buy himself a Switch. He ended up scoring himself the Super Mario Odyssey Switch Bundle.
We did a lot of sightseeing over a day an half and saw plenty of amazing things. Yet, something about Nintendo New York stood its ground against all the rest. I know it is just a store. But to me, it meant so much more. Even after hours, when the store has closed and most of it is shut down, its presence still serves as a beacon to Nintendo and gaming:
Nintendo seems to catch a lot of negative feedback and criticism from gamers much more often than praise. Yet, its influence in the video game industry and unbending belief in their craft is undeniable. And, frankly, after all these years, Nintendo continues to have something that many other gaming companies seem to lack: heart; well, and this terribly cheesy fan.
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