Pokémon frenzy took over New York City on April 22 as Nintendo held a party in Rockefeller Center to celebrate the release of Pokémon Diamond/Pearl. Thousands of fans spanning all sorts of ages, ethnicities, and places of origin gathered together to participate in the events both inside and outside the Nintendo World Store.
The highlight of the day was an organized performance hosted by a woman dressed up as Dawn, the female protagonist from the new games. On a big stage set up with speakers and a giant screen, the host introduced the three starting Pokémon as well as some other guests such as Professor John, who talked about a handful of features in the new game. Some of the most anticipated aspects were mentioned, like wireless battling with anyone in the world and the Pokétch, a multipurpose watch that includes up to twenty useful features ranging from a clock to a drawing pad.
The stage also played host to a $10,000 check donated by Gail Tilden of Nintendo in honor of Earth Day.
What drew the most cheers, however, was an interview with game director Junichi Masuda, who gave advice as to how to become a video game designer as well as telling people about some of the game's intricacies. He mentioned that April 22 was a monumental day because it was the first day that American and Japanese Pokémon fans could play together online.
In a designated plaza next to the store, the aforementioned stage was set up along with a handful of tents. Contests, playable game stations, drawing areas, wandering Pokémon, and a scavenger hunt appealed to everyone in the crowd, from kids to teenagers; even adults got into the excitement as they were called upon stage with their children to actually perform as Pokémon. The winning family in this unique contest, determined by crowd applause, won a Nintendo DS.
Outside of the store the lines ranged for blocks as fans waited to get inside. The interior of the store, which was filled with copies of Pokémon Diamond/Pearl, was also packed with people.
Fortunately, it was a beautiful day in New York City, and the weather seemed perfectly timed for Nintendo as their event in Rockefeller Center launched with startlingly large crowds. Even as the day wound down, the line was getting longer and longer as thousands of people hoped to get their hands on copies of the new Pokémon game, which is now available in stores everywhere.