James Peter
30 Mar, 2003

GBA SP play-off goes off

GBA Feature | 70 Constants… 6 hours of pokémon… A year's supply of games. Fun? Find pictures and PALGN’s impression of the event inside.
Darling Harbour, Sydney: It was 2:30pm and all seemed quiet as I walked down to the SP event from Town Hall station. The event started at 1pm, but I thought it would go on for a while, and I didn’t exactly fancy spending my whole day watching other people play pokémon, so I turned up fashionably late, as usual.

As I rounded the corner from where Sega World used to be, I saw a crowd of people standing around a big, sterile, white tent facing out over the harbour. As I saw Meowth walking around out the front, I knew I had found the right place.

First Impressions

I must confess; I’m not really a pokémon fan. I’ve played some of the early games, and watched a fair bit of the series a few years ago (I am an anime fan), so I wasn’t really hoping for much when I turned up. Unbelievably, my first impression of the event was even worse than my already meagre expectations. There were 70 people sitting there facing the “crowd” outside the tent. They did have two television screens facing the audience, but these were only displaying a picture saying Pokémon GBA-SP play-off on them. Even if they had been displaying anything, the sun’s glare would have conveniently made watching it virtually impossible. After 10 minutes of watching 70 people sit there doing nothing but moving their fingers a few centimetres, I was about ready to go home. There was a slight increase in the crowd density around the tent, but it looked like the street performers were attracting more people.

The event worked by having several rounds of play with a half hour break in between. At the end of each round the score of each player was counted and several were eliminated. The final two competitors played a battle on the big TV screens with the winner of the battle winning the competition and a trip to Singapore. Both finalists received a year’s supply of games.

Long shot & close up

As my patience quickly diminished, I went over to check out the gaming area.

Gaming Impressions

I’m sure you’ve all read enough Zelda and Metroid Prime impressions, so I’ll keep mine short. Yes they are both good icon_biggrin.gif Metroid is much more fun to play for the 5 minutes that you get on the demo units, but Zelda was also a good experience, although I feel that it would need a good hour to get a decent impression. There were four demo units with where you could choose either Zelda or Metroid on all. These are the same demo discs that you should find in your Nintendo demo unit at your local store. The line was quite short (or non-existent) most of the time, so there was plenty of chances to play.

Demo Units


As the day wore on things did get better. Every 20 mins or so they would have a competition or simply throw Nintendo gear out into the crowd. They must have given away literally thousands of dollars worth of items. They had GC & GBA games along with wavebirds and pokémon minis. Unfortunately for me I refused to demean myself to screaming like a girl (no offence girls) to get pokémon minis and ended walking away with nothing despite spending quite a few hours hanging around. I also cursed my size. I saw one tall guy with 3 WaveBirds, a couple of GBA games and one GC game in a bag!

The police got called in to deal with some of the rowdy 6-year-olds

The event was hosted by Ryan Lappin and Jade Gatt from Cheez TV. I’m sure some people will know them, but having commitments which prevent me from watching TV 24 hours a day, Cheez TV is not on my must watch list. Thus I was severely underwhelmed by Ryan & Jade’s presence. However, I must say they did handle it pretty well, and the occasional comment such as “Now the moment you’ve been waiting for… well you’re probably just waiting to get home” went down for me.

These mini competitions made the event worth watching. I haven't included much commentary on the main competition, because it was really very boring. The idea sounds cool, but that’s as far as it goes. When they had the mini competitions the size of the crowd grew significantly.

Pokémon Characters

Of course, what Nintendo event could be complete without people dressed up as pokémon wondering around? There was Meowth, Odduck, Charmander and Pikachu. Ok, I’ll fess up. The only reason I put this section here was because I had a few good pictures of them:

Be alert, but not alarmed; Pikachu checks the bin for hidden explosives.

Meowth & Odduck feel hot and sweaty, so go out the back together…

Final Impressions

My main criticism that clouded my early opinion, is that they needed to have more action on the tv screens of the contestants playing pokémon. They had GBA player on a GC and had attached a WaveBird to the GC. This allowed one player to play using an SP and another using a WaveBird. I would have had more matches on the big screen. They only had the final battle using this system.

What they did have, was a couple of mini competitions of GBA Mario Cart on the TVs with one person on the WaveBird, while the other was on an SP. This was seriously awesome. The races were always close and great to watch. Even I got excited a few times and cheered for one of the players. It was the ultimate SP multiplayer spectator experience.

My favourite event was the rapping competition. They had 10 people come up and do a rap about pokémon. I could not stop laughing the whole time. Picture this. Ryan standing there doing a beat on the mike, while one of the constants raps to the tune of Eminem’s Lose Yourself changing the words to make it about pokémon. This is blasting out on the loud speaker across Darling Harbour. Some of the raps were actually very good. It was the best part of the day for me.

At the end of the day, I guess the best word to describe the experience is fun. The mini competitions were good to watch, and I’m sure more than a few people walked away happy with plenty of brand new Nintendo gear. I’m sure it will sell numerous SP units, if nothing else.

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1 decade ago
At least you had better luck than me when I went to a Nintendo thing...
1 decade ago
I got there at about 3 and was bored of watching people just sit there and play Pokemon after about 3 minutes. And like zemaj, I wasn't about to start screaming to win stuff...My friend and I, after playing some Zelda and Metroid and after laughing about Pikachu pushing over some little girl, decided to go to Burger King where we would devise a plan to try and obtain some of the yellow bags that the losers of the competition received, which contained an SP, ruby and saphire and a Pokemon Mini, without the security guards seeing.

After an attempted watch of the Mario Kart competition commentated by Jade and Ryan (If Jade acts like he did there in real life, I'm surprised he isn't dead.) we decided to go home.

BTW I think i saw zemaj there but I wasn't sure, so I didn't say anything. Don't want to go up to someone I don't know and say "Hey I know you from PALGN!!"

All in all, I thought it would be bigger and more exciting than it was.

EDIT: By the way these yellow bags with the losing contestants prizes had Pokemon Park 2000 printed on them. Way to cut costs Nintendo. icon_rolleyes.gif
1 decade ago
...Sounds like a really boring event if you weren't participating. Interesting report, though. You should have tryed to massacre a few people, so you could grab some freebies for a PALGN giveaway. icon_wink.gif
1 decade ago
One word for that event;


How boring does it look? Even the kiosks were empty! icon_confused.gif
1 decade ago
Again, it all comes down to one person... DAVID YARNTON!

I swaer he needs to get fired, and replaced with someone from Japan or America.
1 decade ago
SubElement wrote
Again, it all comes down to one person... DAVID YARNTON!

I swaer he needs to get fired, and replaced with someone from Japan or America.
Or Europe icon_wink.gif
1 decade ago
Did anyone else read PGC's report on the event.
Seems like the event was quite good.
1 decade ago
Yes, his report wasn't exaclty objective. At least I looked at both sides icon_razz.gif

And that's why those guys were hanging around all day too!

1 decade ago
zemaj in the article wrote
They must have given away literally thousands of dollars worth of items.
So THAT'S where all the Australian advertising money went.
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