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World Hobby Festival 2017 Report

The World Hobby Festival, WHF for short, brought the excitement of the hobby and game worlds to Fukuoka last Sunday (Feb. 12). The event, held in the monstrously large Yahuoku! Dome, showcased the latest products from Nintendo, Sony, Bandai and more.

The floor of Yahuoka! Dome filled with enthusiasts.

If you’ve been inside the Yahuoku! Dome, you’ll understand how hard it is for an event to make that space feel cramped. It’s 68 meters from the floor to the apex of the dome and the dome’s diameter is about 212 meters. Given the overwhelming size of the structure, I was more impressed than annoyed as hundreds of men, women, and children rushed past me to see the various ornately decorated exhibits.

Fighting my natural inclination to take every single flyer someone wants to hand me, I weaved my way through the crowd. Staff, some dressed in the white lab coats of Pokémon professors, others dressed like Minecraft creations, surrounded each booth like bees swarming around a hive. The large staff presence proved necessary as excited children pressed in as closely as possible around the flashy attractions.

Pokémon, Yo-Kai Watch, and Minecraft franchise exhibits drew some of the largest crowds. But, the star of this particular WHF was, arguably, Nintendo. With the impending release of the much-hyped Nintendo Switch console and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild game, Nintendo stole the show.

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Children and adults alike lined up to get a few minutes of play time with the newest additions to the Nintendo empire. In between pillars built to look like the unique Nintendo Switch controller, children were picked from the audience to challenge a Nintendo employee to one of the built-in games. Dressed in a Nintendo branded martial arts uniform, the employee was virtually sliced to pieces by a ten-year-old girl, in the Samurai sword mini-game.

Nintendo’s new console: the Nintendo Switch

Nearly as large as the Nintendo Switch area was the demo area for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The line to try the game went something like: child, adult, child, child, adult, child. A true testament to Zelda’s agelessness.

Having convinced myself that I wouldn’t be robbing a child of the opportunity to try the game, I joined the line and waited my turn. The mood in line was that of joy, partially dampened by nerves. It’s that special combination of emotions you get while on the cusp of discovering whether your expectations will be met.

My number was called and I was led to a personal gaming area. The Nintendo employee, wearing a bright blue Switch jacket, excitedly explained to me how the console worked. It may have been more of a sales pitch than an explanation but my Japanese isn’t very good, so I can’t be sure.

You can believe me when I tell you that the Switch is intuitive to use. I can also say that Breath of the Wind is pretty amazing. Don’t be surprised if, while scanning the list of those who have hit home runs at Yahuoku Dome, you find the name Nintendo.

Written by Nathan Spencer for Fukuoka Now.

This guide was originally researched and published in Nov. 2016. If you notice that any information is out of date or missing, please use the website’s contact form to get in touch.

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Published: Feb 14, 2017 / Last Updated: Jun 26, 2017

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