Let's Do Launch: The Quest for the Wii

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‘No, we don’t got any, so stop calling’

[Forbloggers wantedlast month, Sir Charles of Shred reflects on one of the crazier periods in the last 20 years, the dawn of the Nintendo Wii. And straight out of New Jersey, no less! ~Stider]

Despite being fortunate enough to own a major console during every console generation occurring within my lifetime, I’ve only had two console launch experiences. One of them, which I wrote about in my last blog (thanks for reading!), was the Nintendo Switch. The otherwas once again in search of a Nintendo console, and once again in search of Zelda: for the Nintendo Wii. Allow me to regale you with a tale from the days of yore. A cautionary tale fraught with adversity, triumph, and reflection.

THE QUEST FOR THE WII

Flakes of snow softly hit my laboratory window, as I remember another snowy day back in 2006, for the launch of the Wii and the PS3. I was 16, and my brother Alec was 12. At the time, I didn’t know much about the pre-ordering process in terms of games or consoles, so my dad decided that we were going to get up early and try to get a Wii. Just like many around the world, all three of us were charmed by the commercials leading up to the launch. My dad woke us early that Friday morning, to hit three different stores in the same vicinity, to increase the chances of obtaining the new Nintendo dream machine.

This was a typical New Jersey winter morning. Snow mounds were pushed to the sides of store parking lots, and the blue sky had agreyhue to it. Cold winds hit our faces as we stood in line at our first stop, the local Best Buy. Despite the weather, everyone’s spirits were high. Discussion of the Wii’s potential performance, excitement for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Red Steel (there was actually a time where people were excited for this), and the ridiculous price point of the PS3 were the main talking points of the line. Alec and I just wanted to play Wii sports with my dad. For us, Nintendo representedpotentialfor greater things.

Morning sun pierced the frigid sky as the doors to Best Buy opened. With bated breath, we waited for a chance at the Wii. After advancing about halfway up the line, and spending about an hour total there, the Best Buy employees informed us that the Wii stock had sold out. We could not be discouraged, for Target was just around the corner, and was going to open shortly. A momentary course change could not stop us from Nintendo glory!

At the Target parking lot, a similar-sized line with similar discussions had formed, and we were just another three new additions. Our conquest for retail glory was once again shared with kind people in line, waiting for the same thing we were. In particular, I remember a woman waiting outside to get a Wii for a child, much in the way my dad was for us. Tyingintomy previous blog, system launches are another case of gaming bringing people together.

Our hopes were once again dashed by the terror that manifested itself in the form of a Target manager: they only had enough for the people that preordered. Now Alec and I started to get discouraged. Two different stores, and two times we came up empty handed. A glimmer of hope was just a few miles away at GameStop.

Another line to wait in, but this time we got there just as the store was opening. My dad was trying to console us in our console woes, telling us we would get one eventually if not today. This was simply not an option for Alec and me. Anticipation grew as we, for the first time on this day, made it closer and closer to the front of the line. Soon we would have the new Nintendo console and all would be right with the world once again; ah, to be this young and have “I need the new Nintendo console” as my life’s greatest problem.

My brother and I exchanged excited looks as we got to the front of the line — success was imminent! Pretty soon, we could be at home, out of the cold, and playing Wii Sports! Then, later in the evening — ZELDA!!!!!!

Three words that I was unprepared for came out of the mouth of the GameStop employee. Tthree words that would change the course of my gaming experience for years to come.

“Did you Preorder?”

“No,” responded my father meekly, as he realized before we did what this meant. We weren’t getting a Wii here either. A day that began with hope, ended in despair. The disappointment was palpable. Now I had to go home and play my stupid outdated PS2! What a rip!

TWILIGHT OF THE THUNDER DAD

Credit goes to my father, who simply would not let my brother and I remain disappointed. The next day, he took us to Sam’s Club — not exactly the first place you think of when you think of video games — and asked us if we would like an Xbox 360 bundle. This bundle contained Tony Hawk’s Project 8, two controllers, a battery charge pack, and a carrying bag for the 360 that I still use to this day for my guitar pedals. Of course, we excitedly agreed. Both brothers were excited about different reasons. Alec was into skateboarding in real life, and I knew the Tony Hawk games were great. Having awesome parents is always great. We got many great years of use out of that 360, and it’s not like it red ringed on us and we had to get a new one, marking the only time in my life (thankfully) a console has failed on me. Alec and I learned what the Rolling Stones had been saying for years: You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but if you try sometimes, you’ll get what you need.

Too bad my grandma moved the system while it was on and redlined our only game, on the same day we got the system, making it so that we could only play the first level before the game froze. We didn’t have the heart to tell my dad.

With love and console Launchpad McQuacks,

-Sir Charles of Shred