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Of Nerds and Men: Nostalgia

by Zachary Miller - September 17, 2012, 4:28 pm PDT
Total comments: 5

Zach recalls how he got his Wii back in 2006.

I've bought several Nintendo systems at launch: GameCube, GBA, GBA SP, Wii, DS Lite, DSi, 3DS, and 3DS XL. Of those, I've only sat outside for hours for the consoles in that list. The GameCube experience was the less exciting of the two, and I've told that story before. The Wii launch, however, was fraught with peril, and with the ominous launch of the Wii U just two months away, I thought it might be a good time to relive that horrible, but ultimately very exciting experience. Maybe I'll learn my lesson, but probably not.

The date was November 18, 2006. I drove my Toyota Corolla to the Fred Meyer on Abbot road. I knew it would be a long night, so I packed appropriately: North Slope winter gear, including long johns, a coat so thick it was good for -40 F temperatures. I brought my snowpants, sock liners, and wool socks. I brought a wool hat and a facewarmer. I brought my thickest mittens and my snow boots. I brought a lawn chair. The clock hit 7 p.m. as I pulled into the parking lot. I put on my outerwear and marched to the building. A hand-written sign said "Wii line starts here" with an arrow pointing down. I was the only person there. This is good--I would be guaranteed a system in only five short hours. I didn't actually bring anything to DO, however, since November temperatures and my inability to use my hands (in giant mittens) necessitated that all of my gadgets stayed home. Besides, I didn't want my iPod or GBA SP to freeze in the less-than-temperate Alaskan winter.

I should mention here that I actually pre-ordered my Wii from a local, now defunct, gaming store. I had pre-ordered it weeks in advance, but the day before launch, they called me up and said they were only getting four units, and my name was too far down the list. So Plan B was hatched: like I had with the GameCube so many years before, I would brave the weather and sit in front of a store for hours to procure my system on launch day.

I set up my lawn chair and sat down. The temperature hovered around 15 F. A handy outdoor thermometer within eyesight tracked the ever-downward slant of the ambient temperature. People walked in and walked out of the Fred Meyer, giving me the occasional glance, knowing I was a crazy person. About an hour later, some other people finally started lining up. It was dark now, at 8 p.m., and the temperature began to slowly decline. By 8:30, a small line had formed. Most people had chairs. One small group had a card table between them. Nobody was really talking to anyone else. My brother came by. He was wildly underdressed--basically wearing sweat pants, a hat, and a sweater. He didn't have a chair. But it was nice to have somebody to talk to. We actually took turns going into Fred Meyer to buy things like food and hand/foot warmers.

There's a Carl's Jr. in the Fred Meyer parking lot. People had been leaving the line, asking others to "save my spot," and coming back with massive burgers, dripping with flavor. My own hunger, ballooned by the bottoming temperature (which was below zero at 9 p.m.), demanded that I make the walk over there. My brother took my spot in the seat, and I began trudging toward the restaurant. When you're wearing this much padded Arctic gear, you walk a bit like the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man. It's quite a sight. Everything you do is slow. I got myself two burgers and one for my brother. By the time I lurched back to the Fred Meyer, the burgers were half-frozen, but we didn't care. They were delicious.

By 10:30, the line wound around the building's northeast corner. Few people were as dressed for the event as I was, but then again, they hadn't arrived five hours early. The cold was beginning to really set in now. In another hour, that outdoor thermometer would read -22 F. My brother spent most of his time in the Fred Meyer, and I couldn't blame him. But at 11 p.m., the store closed. He was forced back into the cold, but he had bought another pack of hand warmers. He'd only need to survive for an hour. But even I was feeling it--especially my feet and hands, which have poor circulation. The line fell silent. People were conserving energy. A truck, filled with jocks (I assume), drove past the line while the passenger told us all, in no uncertain terms, that we were losers. I gave him a thumb's up.

About a half hour before the midnight opening, the store manager came outside and announced that the store only had 100 units, and they'd be handing out numbers for everybody. About half the line groaned audibly and shuffled back to their cars--their time had been wasted, and they would probably not get a Wii for months to come (remember the infamous shortages?). I got my piece of paper with #1 proudly, and hurriedly, written upon it. Once the doors opened, I stomped my way inside, handed my slip of paper to the person at the door, and marched to the electronics department.

It was a glorious day. I picked up my Wii, Twilight Princess, and a Classic Controller. I'm glad I did that, because Classic Controllers, like the Wii itself, also became notoriously hard to find in the coming months. I took my system to the one open register and paid down the balance--something like $320--and walked out the store, past the line, which had now moved inside. People cheered. I'm not even kidding. I held the system aloft as I walked out, feeling something like a rockstar.

My brother and I got in my Corolla. I turned the heat on and began the tedious process of scraping the iced-over windows. After about ten minutes, we took off for home. Somewhere around 12:45, we got to my apartment. I immediately went to bed, but my brother stayed up to hook up the system and play Zelda. He was asleep on the couch the next morning, but after I did my meds and ate breakfast, he showed me how to make a Mii, and I began my tumultuous relationship with my Wii.

And history will repeat itself once more this year. Whether or not I'm completely sold on the system, I will doubtlessly find myself sitting outside that same Fred Meyer for probably the same amount of time, wearing the same Arctic gear. The difference is that this time I'll be bringing a propane heater.


purevalSeptember 17, 2012

We getting a Wii story is a lot less interesting than yours. Much like now I wanted one but could not possibly afford it. On Christmas morning my Mother told my wife and I she was buying us one as a present, as soon as she could find one. Knowing how bad the shortages were I was prepared to wait a while. A week or so later I came home from work and sat down on the couch. I glance over at my pile of presents waiting to be put away and noticed something new. A Wii. Apparently my Mom had stopped at Walmart on her way home and while shopping they announced that they had 1 Wii available, first come, first serve. She drag raced some other lady to the department, got their first and scored it. I quickly set it up and popped in Zelda (which I had bought on sale at Target in November, the price was too good to pass up even though I did not have the system).

The only thing I have ever waited in line for like that was the 6th Harry Potter book. We preordered it and got to Barnes and Noble around 5pm. They had several people handing out numbers, announcing they were going to be letting us in in batches, so the number was not our exact place. I scouted them out and saw who had the lowest numbers and jumped in their line. We ended up number 12. Once 11 hit they had us line up in our sections and I forced my way towards the front. We ended up being the 3rd into the building. I had the exact amount in cash ready and put it on the counter. I was the first person out the door. I held the book aloft like you did your Wii and the 600 or so people waiting let out a cheer. I will never forget that moment.

SarailSeptember 17, 2012

My Wii story goes a little something like this...

I had no pre-order ready, and no way of getting a Wii at midnight other than going to my local Walmart and standing in line for hours on end - which I was prepared to do...but a last minute call from my girlfriend (at the time) to come hang out with her and her family at her aunt's house, put a major skew in my plans for the evening. I was majorly whipped, so, of course I was going to go hang out with her.  :Q  I told her I was planning on going and waiting in line to nab a Wii that night, and she actually wanted to go with me...much to my surprise, and also after calling me a nerd. I was a bit overjoyed by her actions. Anyway...

I was told to bring my guitar as her two little nieces wanted to hear me play some of my music. I brought my songbook over, and started playing through a couple of songs. The girlfriend decided to go elsewhere in the house (I thought she went upstairs, but instead went into the living room - the room right next to me). Here's where the fun begins...

So, her oldest niece was thumbing through my songs, and came across a particular song of mine I wrote several years before - titled Amanda. This was a song I wrote for a friend of mine who was having a horrible day/week/month/whatever, and I wrote it for her to basically cheer her up. Nothing more. Her niece begs me to play it (I didn't really want to); I play the song, and here's where the poo hits the fan.

Samantha (my ex-gal pal) walks in to the kitchen with the most angst-ridden look on her face. I'm still playing, mind you. She grabs something to drink out of the 'fridge, slams the door, and walks back into the living room. I immediately stop. Her niece wants me to keep playing, but I knew it was time to put my stuff up and prepare for the pain that was about to be dished out.

Minutes pass as silence fills the ENTIRE house, and Sam comes back into the kitchen - asking very nicely that her niece leave and go upstairs. More minutes pass (at this point I was wishing I would just magically vanish and reappear in line waiting at Walmart), and then she finally says to me, "I can't believe you.. I can't believe you would do something so horrible. Do you not even care about me? Do you not love me?" I tried to get a word in, but couldn't. "Well, you can forget about your little nerdy game thing tonight. You can go be with your nerd friends without me." (...like it was a big loss; I wasn't even planning on her being there anyway!) "Apparently you care more about them and that stupid game thing, more than you do me!"

So, of course I leave. Haha, I honestly was thrilled to get out of that house. A friend of mine called me up, and to my surprise, has been holding a spot for me (I found out when I got there that Walmart only has reserve "seats" in this line for so many people). He knew I got weaseled into going over to her aunt's house, and he already had a Wii reserved at the local GameStop - man, what a pal.

I got there, someone standing on the outside makes a snide remark at me as I take my friend's spot, and we all fire up our DSes for some multiplayer... *RING RING

It's her.

I just can't have any fun, can I?  :P: :  So began the constant stream of girl drama - insults flung toward me, guilt-ridden texts saying how I don't even care about her, etc etc ETC! Psssh. Stupid girl. Way to ruin my night of excitement, anticipating a new console launch. Way to be a total B. Sam was a G-D-B that night (Community reference, FTW).

I got texts and calls (none of which I responded to - at this point, I honestly didn't care if the relationship was said and done) all night right up to the very point I purchased the system at - and I remember quite distinctly - 12:15 a.m. My haul? Wii system (duh) with two Classic controllers, an extra Remote, extra Nunchuk, Red Steel, GT Pro Series, ExciteTruck, and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I had to pee all of the way home...because of the cold, and because I was freaking excited to finally play this console.  ;D  I played until probably 3 or 4 a.m., and then I finally crashed. Next day...

She called and apologized, and we continued our relationship for another year and a half before breaking up. :P:

Girls are stupid. And so was I. Hah.

Waiting on line outside of a Target with a few friends overnight to get my Wii was the first time my future wife met most of my friends. They still get along today.

Also, despite not being *that* into video games, my future wife also sat in line all night with me.

Ian SaneSeptember 18, 2012

To use "nostalgia" to describe the Wii launch seems weird.  Honestly it seems like a recent event.  Part of that is probably my general disappointment in the Wii so I don't look back on it fondly like I would other Nintendo systems.  I think part of it is also that my life has not changed that much in the last six years.  When the Gamecube came out I was still in college and lived with my parents.  That's a different routine, a different lifestyle.  The Cube and GBA were also the first systems I bought as an adult with my own money and just being able to buy new games when they came out was a new and exciting experience for me.  I think I'm just too damn old for videogame system releases to be a major life event anymore.

I also didn't get a Wii at launch.  I got one around when Metroid Prime 3 came out.  The purchase wasn't planned.  I was at the store and "holy shit they have Wiis" so I bought one.  During those first few years buying a Wii was entirely a matter of flukey opportunity.  I knew if I didn't buy it then it could be months before I saw one out in the wild again.

S-U-P-E-RTy Shughart, Staff AlumnusSeptember 20, 2012

I think I wrote a tiny blurb about my Wii getting experience and that was about the last article I wrote for NWR. I was in a long ass overnight line in front of a Toys R Us in Tokyo. It was kind of cold and awful, but I got me one. It wasn't that exciting other than I didn't know if I would actually get one when I lined up. Owning one seemed to somehow impress Japanese college girls, though :smug:

N64 launch, now THAT was exciting.

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