UK launch: Wii draws the crowds

The Wii has landed in Britain--London events see celebrities battle on Wii Sports; Nintendo UK hails the "biggest launch we've ever had."

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The Wii went on sale in the UK at the stroke of midnight on Friday, drawing huge crowds on London's premiere shopping street in two massive lines.

At Nintendo's official event in HMV on Oxford Street, celebrities Ian Wright, Nell McAndrew, Pat Cash, and Ricky Hatton turned up to play Wii Sports. Cash and McAndrew played Wii Tennis, with Cash winning two games to zero. Wright and Hatton sparred at Wii Boxing, with the ex-footballer winning the virtual game against the boxer.

Marwan Elgamal, who had been camping outside the store in an alley for two days, was first in line for a console at the HMV store, and it was presented to him by Ian Wright. Elgamal bought The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess with his purchase, and Wright asked him if Zelda was a fighting game--which didn't go down well with the crowd.

A few shops down the street at Game, Vic Ainsworth was first in line and held his Wii box above his head in victory as photographers snapped his photo. He admitted that he'd never had so many pictures taken of himself. He laughed, "I always look grumpy in photos, but I'm not! I'm really excited!" He revealed that he was surprised when he got to the store and found he was first in line. "I thought there would be people here already because I read on the news that people were camped out for like two days outside HMV. People were asking where was the queue, so I jumped in and started it."

At Game, glasses of champagne were given out to the first customers through the doors as well as baseball caps, scarves, blankets, and pizza while people were standing in line.

Game's marketing director Anna Macario said, "We're so pleased with the turnout. I've never seen a queue go round the block here before. I know so many people personally who have never bought a console before but who are now after playing it. It's universally appealing." She added that the company would be getting more stock in from Nintendo before Christmas but that she didn't know as yet when or how much.

Nintendo UK's product manager for home consoles, Rob Lowe, told GameSpot that he believed that the launch events had been a huge success. He said, "I think this is the biggest launch we've ever had. It's also great to see so many girl gamers in the queue. I think one in 10 was a girl gamer." Asked whether he believed that Nintendo's approach to make a console that tried to appeal to everyone had paid off, he raised his arms to gesture to the crowd behind him and said, "Yes, definitely."

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