It was the closest our family will ever come to being on The Amazing Race.
One recent Saturday afternoon, our family joined with friends to form a scavenger hunt team. We raced in a professionally-organized scavenger course against other teams.
Our bunch was assigned the dreamy-cute Piplup the Penguin as mascot. We were given matching yellow hats, a storied starting place, and tasks sent to us via smartphone.
We Piplups (and all the other teams) were scattered all over lower-downtown Denver to find secret agents, complete challenges, and take photographic proof. The challenges included funny teeth, wacky costumes, making a secret handshake, face-painting, posing like rockstars, and accosting unsuspecting members of the public in totally good natured ways.
After our final task was done, we were instructed to return to Coors Field, Gate D, where we’d be taken to meet a super-special friend.
I knew it wouldn’t be Phil and his mat, but I suspected it would be totally cool. Every other moment of the day had been orchestrated for maximum joy. I was really excited for our team. The entire experience was once-in-a-lifetime.
Team Piplup was taken down to the field where someone yellow, darling, and sweet waited to greet us for some photos in the home team dugout. Hello, Pikachu! How cute are YOU?!
We enjoyed snuggling and smiling for photos, exhausted from racing around to fun task after fun task. Luckily, a lovely lunch buffet was laid out up on the club level—but who can eat when almost a dozen rolling big screen TVs hooked to Wiis line the walls? There was much gobbling by all the teams. Everyone wanted a chance to play the game that inspired so much fun: Pokepark 2: Wonders Beyond for Wii.
The object of Pokepark 2: Wonders Beyond is to “help Pikachu and his pals solve the mystery of the missing Pokemon.” It’s packed with opportunities for individual and group play, with mini-games and a quest. Really, it has all the elements kids love in video games. Cute characters, a sweet story, and accessibility so even little kids can play. I loved watching Beatrix and my niece Evee, both kindergartners, shake and twist their controllers. There were no complicated explanations needed. They just dove in and enjoyed. My older kids had fun with the game as well, playing in groups with new and old friends.
When we stumbled through our front door that evening, we were tired but happy. Shoes were tossed, socks peeled off, and the Wii was fired up for more Pokepark 2: Wonders Beyond exploration. Team Piplup was still competing, long after the last crazy task was completed. But it was happy, good natured, rosy-cheeked competition inspired by a rotund, sun-colored little fellow we met earlier in the day.
Thanks, Pikachu and thanks, Nintendo. You know how to throw a party inside a gaming system and out.
(Disclosure: We were invited to participate in this Pokepark adventure in Denver by Nintendo and given a copy of the game. All opinions and impressions of the scavenger hunt and the game itself are my opinion and the opinions of our team)