2006-11-29

My Wii Launch Experience

Let me start this flashback with a note on what happens after this tale: it was all completely worth it.

Friday, November 17th: myself, CJ and Amy all went to Wal-mart to see if they'd be offering a midnight launch. A notice posted in the electronics section confirmed a Wii launch at 12:01am on Sunday the 19th. They hadn't gotten many inquiries about it, and most of the employees didn't even know what Wii is. Good sign. We decide to start calling them on Saturday around 6pm, and actually go down there at 10pm to wait in line, just to be sure that everybody got one.

Saturday, November 18th: It's around 5pm, I'm walking my laundry down to my apartment complex' laundry room, and CJ passes by in his car. He's on his way to Wal-mart to check out the situation, because they aren't picking up the phone. At 5:30pm, I get a call saying there's already a line over a dozen people long, camped out in Wal-mart in folding chairs. Me and Amy pack up and leave, picking up Tim on our way in. We arrive at Wal-mart 15th, 16th and 17th in line for "about 20 units".

The line continues to grow, with at least half a dozen people coming every hour. There are laptops, portable DVD players, iPods, and DS's everywhere. We can't get an employee to give an official unit count. We passed the time chatting, playing cards, and roaming the store. Luckily they had a McD's in the store or we might've starved to death.

At 10:00pm, they finally gave us an official unit count: 21 units. Some of the nearly 30 people in line were very disappointed. By 11:00pm everybody had an official ticket marking their place in line, and were free to roam as long as everybody was back by midnight. At 12:01, the sales started; the only people that didn't buy Zelda with their unit were buying it as a gift or eBay fodder. Wii's are shipped in boxes of 3, games appear to be shipped in cases of 20 or 24. I was number 16 in line, and they were already out of controllers by the time I got up there; I still got my hands on a Wii, Zelda, Red Steel, and Excite Truck. The 21st person in line was told that there were only actually 20 units - odd, since a hard count showed 21 units, and they come in boxes of 3... I'm guessing one was a display unit, and they failed to deduct that unit during the hard count. Anyway, one customer was HIGHLY disappointed, and I can't blame them.

So, myself, Amy, CJ and Tim all left with Wii in hand. We returned to CJ's apartment (biggest TV), hooked it up, popped in Wii sports, and proceeded to play Wii Sports and Excite Truck for the next six hours. No kidding, I woke up the next morning with tennis elbow.

The next day I finally hooked up my own unit, updated it (a nearly 30 minute process, with as overloaded as the servers were on launch day), configured it, made a few Miis, and then picked up CJ to head to Best Buy. Before we get to that, I'd like to point out that the Wii interface is fantstic, really intuitive, and overall I was very impressed with the unit, before ever inserting a game disc. There are some disappointing qualities, and so far, almost all surround online functionalities. I'll get into more detail in a later posting - back to the tale.

At BB, I picked up a Wavebird, and several GCN games (they're all new to me, since I never had a GCN): Super Mario Strikers, Mario Kart Double Dash, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Pikmin 2 and Animal Crossing for Amy. No spare controllers at BB either.

Went home, packed up, and made my way to Asheville for my own personal Wii Tour. In Asheville my mom got her hands on it for a few hours, and loved it - so far so good for the "all audiences" idea, although my mom is something of a gamer (her current addiction is Burnout Revenge, one of my old faves.) From Asheville we went on to Roanoke, VA to spend some time with Amy's family. Once again, the Wii was hooked up and passed around, with Amy's entire family getting in on the action. Everybody got hooked on Excite Truck up there, while my mom had preferred Wii Sports. We also found one store with Wiimotes in stock, so I picked up 3, plus a second Wavebird, a GCN memory card, and Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam. Me and Amy's brother rocked out on Tony Hawk, and Amy made her way through Animal Crossing and Pikmin whenever she could get the Wii to herself for a few minutes.

On the way back we stopped again in Asheville for some more Wii party action, before finally returning home Monday afternoon. We picked up our insane kittens (who haven't stopped crying and purring and snuggling since we got home), and hooked the Wii back up.

I purchased my Wii, with Zelda, around 12:30am on Sunday, 11/19. At 5:30pm on Monday, 11/27, I finally started Zelda. Sad, isn't it? I had only had a chance to play multiplayer games the entire week, and if I could play single player, I didn't have a long enough block of time to really sit down and dig into Zelda; and I knew I wouldn't be happy with starting it and having to stop before I had at least finished tutorial town. So, I finally get tLoZ:TP booted up, Link and Epona get suited up, and I commenced the jigglin.

If all the hours of play over the past week hadn't made the 7 hours in the middle of a Wal-mart while my laundry mildewed worthwhile, Zelda would have. It's beautiful, the controls are fantastic, and the story is as epic as ever. I'm only in the 2nd of 10 dungeons, but I can already say, this is a truly fantastic game. While I was gone, CJ got himself nearly to the end after over 40 hours of play, and is thoroughly impressed. I haven't even finished it yet, but I still can't wait for the next Wii RPG to come out - I think the platform poses HUGE potential for RPG fans in general, and JRPG fans (of which I am one) in particular. But, I guess only time will tell.

I now nearly have Excite Truck beat, and I'm halfway through Tony Hawk. Stay tuned for end-game reviews of all these titles and more.
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