Oh! Argh! Damn! Fuck!
There’s nothing like the excited panic of hunting down a game that’s sold out fucking everywhere. I can even remember the first time I went huntin’ with m’ pa. It was 1988, and everyone with a NES was anticipating Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Well, not everyone, but everyone enough. Quite frankly, I don’t recall any of my friends shitting their pants to get it, but maybe that’s because nobody showed more enthusiasm than me and it just didn’t register. But that game was so fucking hard to get that Nintendo Power felt compelled to offer this up in the coming attractions or “Pak Watch” section of their second issue:
That’s real cute, and it stuck with me for a long time because I’ve never heard a video game character apologize for being late to their own game since. Link even makes an excuse for the limited number of copies being released in the first run, which I find hilarious now, but at the time, it kind of created a lot of stress and agitation in our home. What I remember was a series of whirlwind shopping weekends as I begged my parents to drive me all over town to “just one more store” in search of Zelda II which could absolutely not be found anywhere. We’d go to K-Mart, the K-Mart on the other side of town, Target, Kay-Bee Toys at the mall, Toys ‘R’ Us, and some dump called “Hills.” We went to Big Lots, Menard’s, Lazarus, L.S. Ayers, and Sears even if we were pretty sure that some of those places didn’t sell video games. When we got really desperate, we even went our local rental store, Videoland, since they had been known to occasionally sell games, but really now.
I can’t even remember where or how many weeks later I finally acquired Zelda II. How strange that is. It pretty much validates that shit that sensible adults would say about how the anticipation of having something is more thrilling than actually having it. Those smug bastards.
But I am back on the hunt now. It figures that the one time I don’t make a preorder that the game is released in limited amounts and cannot be found anywhere. I guess I kind of lost faith in the usefulness of preorders because for the last five games I preordered, there was a surplus of copies and I was never in any danger of not being able to purchase them. This has not been the case with Final Fantasy TheatrhythM.
If you’re not familiar with the name or these images, TheatrhythM is a rhythm-action game based around music from the Final Fantasy series. I see it as a great excuse to listen to Final Fantasy music. I’m not great at rhythm games, but look back and see that I’ve actually played quite a few of them: Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy, Space Channel 5, Vib Ribbon, Pop’n Music, and if you want to count it, the low-rider mini game from Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. I played TheatrhythM’s downloadable demo stage about 97,000,000 times and eventually wrenched an S ranking out of its Normal mode. Not easy, slightly repetitive, a bit stressful, but a whole pocketful of fun and I sure dig the soundtrack.
The real problem with the game is that there’s so much beautiful artwork, but it’s not really possible to take in because you’re keeping your gaze fixed on the dots that tell you when to touch the screen. One can only hope that the pattern of the flying dots can be registered at a lower mental level and allow your eyes to wander around the classic stages and eyeball all the characters in their weird stylistic forms. But it never ever happened for me in that demo stage, and I tell you I seriously played that shit to death, so I’m not counting on it. And I really can’t tell you why I’m so obsessed with finding a copy of the game. It must be the thrill of the hunt, pure and smelling of blood.
I’ve been everywhere. No I haven’t. But I’ve been to a shitload of stores that sell videogames, and I’m getting back to my old desperate search methods. Maybe the 7-11 has it? Yeah, maybe they don’t. They sell video games sometimes, though, and that’s reason enough to check every 7-11 in town. Hey, what about that dinky video game section in the K-Martish AEON store? Worth a shot. Sometimes the smaller the place, the more likely that no other consumers thought to look there. Nope.
My most recent gambit was a new one but it’s pretty lame and reeks more of pity than blood. I went to the Yamada Denki, which is like the king of electronic stores in Japan and a major, major retailer of games. Of course they’re not going to have it, but I go anyway and see that in the Square-Enix section (yeah, that’s a section in a lot of game stores, actually) they have an empty display box from the time they were taking preorders. It says “Now Taking Preorders” in Japanese, but it’s the size of a regular 3DS game box. I decide that I’m going to feign ignorance as a foreigner, pretend I think it’s the empty box you take to the register to get the real one, and just pray that the guy behind the counter is stupid enough to take a copy from the untouchable stash of emergency exchange copies or maybe somebody else’s preorder that hasn’t been picked up yet. That’s how selfish and dumb I am, but it’s worth a shot, and I go up to the counter, headphones in ears, give the dude the box and take out my wallet to get my point card ready. I think it just might have worked if the clerk had been alone. Unfortunately, there was another dude back there (probably the clerk’s trainer) who knew that this particular game was sold out everywhere, and said, “Oh sir, I’m awfully sorry, but TheatrhythM is all sold out! It’s terrible, I know, but we ran out of them on the first day and haven’t received any since!” His face contorted to convey his utmost regret when he said this, and it was just such a lovely apology that I was reminded of Link’s letter to Zelda and told him, “Oh, I see,” and just smiled rather than jump into the indignant customer schtick.
However, they allowed me to make a free preorder for the next shipment of TheatrhythMs with no obligation, which means I can continue hunting all over Osaka for it, but as soon as they get it in again, they’re going to let me know and hold a copy for me if I haven’t already poached one from somewhere else. I don’t know why I’d want to get it anywhere else now, or if it’s even worth the trouble or time of visiting all those goddamn other stores again (and again). Those stores won’t give me 10% points toward my next purchase. Those stores didn’t express any sincere regret at not being able to service me proper. Those stores might not even take my credit card.
Besides, I need to finish Ocarina of Time before I start playing anything else on the 3DS. I promised myself I would, and ye gods are holding me to my word. We set upon Ganon’s Castle at dusk. See you in the back row.