I had to defer to an expert when testing the upgraded Nintendo Fan Network during its debut at the Mariners game this afternoon.
Namely, Cutter Locking, an 11-year-old Nintendo enthusiast and Mariners fan who has been coming to games for as long as he can remember. Locking is named for a kind of Randy Johnson’s fastball, which his parents watched in the Kingdome while she was pregnant with Cutter.
“This is awesome — it’s sleeker, better, faster,” he said seriously, looking into my eyes, after I handed him the DSi loaned by Nintendo, which also provided a seat at the game.
Locking had watched from the next seat as I put the DSi through its paces, trying the new ESPN news feeds (fine but a little underwhelming, basic RSS feeds); the real-time streaming game video (great, but a few brief network pauses); and the nifty pitch tracker that instantly shows whether the ball is in or around the strike zone.
I ordered a hot dog and soda on the DSi — the food cost $16.25, including a 17 percent service charge — and it arrived in 12 minutes, delivered in a cardboard take-out box. I did have to enter my (company) credit card information twice, apparently because I mis-typed it the first time.
Then I passed the device to Cutter, who has a Wii and an older Nintendo handheld at home that doesn’t have the wireless radio needed to connect to the NFN.
Cutter (above) tried the games but seemed to mostly use the pitch tracker and the MLB data feeds to check progress of other games.
A few innings later, his dad, Mike Locking, went out to get a loaner DSi from the kiosk near section 127. The main kiosk near section 142 ran out early, but the smaller kiosk at 127 still had them after the game started. It was also selling units and helping people who brought their own.
Loading the software took several minutes, and the connection had to reconnect a few times in the concourse and in the stands when I lowered the unit below the seatbacks. It would periodically need to reconnect, and there were pauses of sometimes 10 seconds when connecting to the video feed.
“Dad — the hydros!” Cutter said when the big screen’s hydro game appeared on the DSi’s video feed. “This is so cool.”
“This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever played.”
A few minutes later dad’s credit card was out so they could order fish & chips on the DSi.
“This free thing ended up costing me money, didn’t it?” he said with a smile.