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Nintendo Fusion Tour 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & N & lt;/span & intendo's Fusion Tour is aptly named. It's an attempt by marketers to affix the console giant's next-generation console (called the Wii, but pronounced "Wee") to your existing lifestyle. Like videogame bionics.





Like bionics, though, it's an imperfect fit. Nintendo is the least American (that is, the most Japanese) of the big console companies and thus tends to give us unique gameplay elements (touch screens, motion-sensor controllers), rather than raw, load-blowing computing power. (Sony and Microsoft should just whip them out and measure already.) Before we'll even think about buying the Wii, Nintendo knows they need convince us that our national hot rod mentality doesn't necessarily create better gameplay experience. Enter the Fusion Tour, which brings five more or less punk bands (a very American youth movement) to get you to drink the cool band = cool console Kool-Aid.





Prepare to be deprogrammed:





Hawthorne Heights


Despite the occasional listless screamo groan, Hawthorne Heights are a straight-ahead punk band. Punk, since its mid-'90s mainlining -- thanks a lot for that, Blink 182, Green Day and skate culture in general -- has become the de facto pop genre for suburban high schoolers, which makes Hawthorne Heights the Fusion Tour's Super Mario Bros. -- an inoffensive flagship and mascot that's targeted for the largest group of potential consumers -- though, sadly, only really fun in short, frenetic bursts.





Relient K


The kind of pop-punk that goes very, very well in the background of X-Games commercials, Relient K will appeal to whatever middle school skateboarders Hawthorne Heights misses. It will also, though, connect nicely with the SportsCenter set. Most ESPN viewers are already gamers -- and most likely Xbox owners -- so what Nintendo wants to do with Relient K is to one-up Microsoft, suggesting to sports fans that, with Nintendo's "groundbreaking" new controller, the same game (EA Sports' Madden '07, in this case, which launches at the same time as the Wii) plays like a totally different experience.





Emery


Remember those Bible games your friend Ezekiel's parents used to make you play? The ones that worked on the original NES but certainly weren't authorized by Nintendo? The ones you could only buy at the Christian Bookstore -- like Moses' Promised Land Adventure or whatever?





Emery caters to that demographic. One of the betcha-can't-tell-we're-Christian acts on Tooth and Nail Records, they caterwaul conservative values rather than peddling Christian orthodoxy, so they'll remain ambiguous to those outside the ChristRock community but will certainly connect with the RAWK kids.





The Sleeping


You can tell Nintendo's marketers have actively targeted the quarter-life crisis clique when a band resonates with me, personally. Loud, brash, sloppy and even a little progressive, the Sleeping are garage-mo types who holler and rant without stooping to that wanky guttural bark thing. Yeah, they sound a little like Panic! at the Disco's geeky, D & amp;D-playing burn-out older brothers, but at least they aren't actually Panic! at the Disco.





The statement's strong: Nintendo reminding all those who emigrated to the Playstation that it's them, not Sony, who hooked us nerds on both Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. That, of course, provides the right backdrop to promote Nintendo's Squaresoft exclusives.





Plain White T's


Their new album Hey There Delilah oscillates between Britpop, folk and operatic pop-punk, meaning the Plain White T's serve two very specific marketing functions. The dalliance with Britpop and folk is meant to secure a base of backpack-toting indie kids, while the operatic flits are evocative of classic gaming ("Hate" sounds exactly like this one specific cut from Castlevania II).





The point, then, is to get the Urban Outfitters-shopping hipster in a classic gaming mindset, connecting the high-concept, hard-sell design of the Wii with the simple, timeless brilliance of the Atari and the NES. Clever.





Nintendo Fusion Tour at the Big Easy on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 5:30 pm. $26. Visit www.ticketswest.com or call 325 SEAT
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