On November 18, 2012, I took a bus ride down to New York City to await the launch of the Wii U. As I shivered for hours in the pale neon light that passed for midnight in Manhattan, I swore to God that I was done with midnight console launches.
As a philosopher once said (or maybe it was Stephen King), God loves to test humankind and make them break their promises to him. In the waning hours of March 2, I stood in line to pick up my Nintendo Switch pre-order and my accompanying Master edition of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
But, hey – this time I was indoors. I never swore off midnight launches held indoors.
Waiting behind walls still kind of sucks, though. I know I won't win any friends by kvetching to a lot of readers who probably shook themselves to pieces while waiting for the Switch in the icy cold, but hey – mall floors are hard to sit on! And I had to walk a lot to find a washroom that wasn't closed for the night.
Let me regale you with the chronicle of my time as a Switch pick-up artist.
All told, there was an undercurrent of "Weird!" to the whole experience because the mall I picked up the Switch at is one I used to do custodial night shifts at. The mall's been heavily renovated since; I used to know every tunnel and corridor, but last night I got lost trying to find the washroom.
Certain things seemingly never change about malls at night, though. The dim lights and soft echo of the Muzak piped through the place made me eerily nostalgic for the time I used to mop corners behind my supervisor while she drove the ride-on floor washer down the corridors.
One night she plowed into a storefront and there was broken glass and shoes everywhere. She was fine. The mall's insurance rates were not.
We got dinner before we lined up. Here's a horse with a lamp on its head. Not shown: The woman sitting beside the lamp wearing a shirt with horses on it.
A line had started forming around 4 PM. It was 9-ish when we arrived. I got a little smug about not having to wait outdoors. This Tweet blew up a little, and I discovered Bill Trinen had retweeted it. I am still thrilled to bits.
The pick up happened at EB Games, AKA GameStop. Interestingly, GameStop changed the names of Canadian EB Games stores when the merger happened, but then changed them back to EB Games around 2008. The tittle-tattle at the time said it was done to dispel bad press GameStop was receiving for its aggressive used game sales, but I don't know for sure.
Sidenote: The location of this particular EB Games has bounced around the mall a lot, but it's always been here in some capacity. Again, when I was a custodian, I got to watch an EB employee throw a bunch of unsold talking Yoda toys into the trash compactor. He pushed the "compact" button and they all died screaming gravelly snippets of wisdom.
The mall set up tape barriers that people were theoretically supposed to stay within. It sort of worked? We all just kind of lapsed into tired anarchy by the end of the night.
Can't have a system launch without at least one relevant cosplay!
Two EB Games employees started up some impromptu games of 1-2 Switch. I caught them at a sad angle. They look like they're saying "Please play our game! Please!", but rest assured there were plenty of takers.
The mall has some gyms and PokéStops! I wasted way too many PokéBalls on a stubborn Golbat I didn't need. It becomes a matter of pride at a certain point, you know? Yeah. You know.
Canadian line-up rations: TimBits. The box assures us TimBits are "Always Fun." They're not lying. Ever been in a TimBit Fight? I once got an impressive mark from a double-chocolate bolt to my left cheekbone.
I don't know what I expected, but the line craaaaawled, especially for the first hour after launch. Only a few people were allowed into the store at a time. According to the store manager, who was honestly a super guy and very apologetic, some of the early picker-uppers took up precious time hemming and hawing over accessories. One guy reportedly took fifteen minutes to choose between four carrying cases. Ohhh my Goood.
When I started to go stir-crazy, I plonked my husband down as a place-holder and took a walk. This picture has nothing to do with the Switch, I just liked seeing the words "DESTRUCTION HATH WROUGHT" in huge letters on the wall of a shopping center.
Where have you been?
Its all right, we know where you've been.
You've been waiting in line, to make Zelda thine,
Sighing at queues, waiting to move.
All right, this stops now.
We got in, picked up our pre-order, and boogied. Not a minute too soon, either. I was good and ready to pull down the wall of Funko Pops and smother myself under the detritus by that point. The guys behind us never stopped complaining about the wait, ever, and that sort of thing is very tiring to listen to for hours at a time.
It was about 2:30 a.m., and we still had to get the toaster home, hook it up, and theoretically wrench our eyes open long enough to start playing Zelda.
We done it! We done it!!
The Switch and the Master Edition of Zelda were cleared by kitty customs. The approval was double-stamped by Metroplex.
We were done-zo.
I swear I will never attend another midnight launch, indoors or outdoors.
("What about a console launch on the moon?")