Nintendo took over Times Square in New York City today to celebrate the launch of Super Mario 3D Land. Since it’s not often that you can see a life size Bullet Bill, we decided to check out the festivities. The celebration kicked off at 10 a.m. with a few dozen acrobats dressed as Mario crossing Times Square to converge on Military Island, where Nintendo had a full size portion of a Mario level built. The “3D” construction was built because Super Mario 3D Land is the first actual Mario game to hit the Nintendo 3DS, a handheld system with glasses-free 3D. The playplace of sorts was fun to see and was full of trampolines so that everyone could jump like Mario. Piranha Plants, Goombas, a Bullet Bill, coin blocks, flying coins, warp pipes, a warp pipe slide, and an end-of-level flag pole were all present, along with a lot of AstroTurf.
Crowd members were given free pizza, Tanooki tails and ears, and kids were invited to come and jump on the life-size replica and the Toys R’ Us next door had a day-early sale on the game, allowing participants to buy Mario 3D Land before anyone else in the country.
We got a chance to sit down with Cindy Gordon, VP of Corporate Affairs at Nintendo who said that the new game is part of Nintendo’s strategy to shore up sales of the 3DS system and give it a proper boost into the holiday season. In August, Nintendo slashed the price of the 3DS due to low sales. However, since the company dropped the price of the hardware, sales have been phenomenal, she said, and the 3DS is now on route to surpass the first year sales of the Nintendo DS, which has been Nintendo’s most successful handheld to date. She is confident that the combination of Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land will resonate with current and potential 3DS owners through the holidays.
Finally, when asked about the proliferation of games on smartphones and tablets, Gordon didn’t seem worried, commenting that Nintendo is making its systems more connected, but the rise of smartphones and tablets doesn’t seem to correlate with a reduction in interest for its systems (the price may have just been too high at first). Nintendo’s attitude toward the expanding world of smartphone and tablet games seems to be in line with its past strategies of expanding the gaming population with the Wii and DS: the more people who play video games, the more potential fans Nintendo has to win over.
Update 11-13-2011: Corrected a paraphrase.