First off, I didn’t go through any of this with the Wii; that boat was well out to sea before I started lighting fires to get its attention. The pre-orders had started and finished before I even fully knew what it was, and the system was never in stores, of course. I decided to order a couple games so I’d be ready to go when I finally did get a system (Twilight Princess and Madden NFL 07, if memory serves), but still didn’t go out of my way to actually buy the thing.
But then a coworker who had a Wii wouldn’t quit singing its praises. He wanted to talk about games so badly that he offered to buy a system for me if he found one (provided I paid him back, of course). So, we started spending our work days on those websites that supposedly tracked availability. We had a few false starts (you suck, Walmart) and a couple missed opportunities before a phone call to CircuitCity (remember them?) revealed that they had two Wiis in stock.
That became our lunch hour, then, as we headed out to pick one up. Of course, half an hour after the phone call, the systems were gone…supposedly. Nothing on the show floor, and a sales rep could only say the units should be “… out here somewhere.” Not in the Wii section? “According to the computer, it hasn’t been sold.”
I kept looking around while my coworker sought the manager. After talking with her for a few moments, she called the sales rep and one other for a hushed conversation. That conversation was even shorter, and my sales rep returned to announce, “We found it in the back. I’ll have it in a moment.”
Ah. Not too hard to figure out what was going on there. The second guy was holding it for someone…or himself. I may have ruined his day, but he made mine, and I had my Wii.
I was smarter with the Wii-U. I mean, I have to be since I’m getting paid to play with these things, so I had a conversation with my local GameStop employee (and by local, I mean one of the nine that are within a ten mile radius of my house) before pre-orders were even being accepted. He said if I pre-order a Wii-U game, they’ll let me know when system pre-orders are being taken before the general public knows, and I’ll be able to transfer the game pre-order to the Wii-U. It was a dubious claim, but I had nothing to lose, so I pre-ordered Pikmin 3.
The day Nintendo announced the Wii-U ship date and price, I still hadn’t heard from GameStop. I called them, and they said I’d have to come in to pre-order. Fine. I headed over after work and managed to get my pre-order in for the black one. “How far behind am I?” I asked.
“So there’s a good chance I’ll get it on drop day?”
“I can pretty much guarantee it.”
That’s a useless phrase, right? “Pretty much guarantee it?” You can either guarantee something, or you can’t, there’s no in-between. No “pretty much.” But again, it is what it is, and I’m a hell of a lot better off here than with Wii, as I won’t have to wait in any ridiculous lines, sleep on some sidewalk somewhere, or go anywhere near a Circuit City…a chain that still hasn’t served its penance after attempting to push DIVX DVD players on everyone.
For now, all I can do is count down the days and attempt to get my kids pumped up for a couple games so my wife will agree to buy them for them (because purchases for myself are frowned upon). It’s hard to convince the six-year-old that he needs Bayonetta 2, but not impossible.
I won’t be pre-ordering a Zelda or Madden game this time around, but I will use this column to prepare myself (and you, gentle reader) for the November 18th launch. Stick with us, there’s plenty to talk about.
Read all entries in the Wii-U Countdown.