4:32 AM. Wii Day. My phone rings. I roll over and check the clock. It’s a good 12 minutes before my alarm clock is set to go off. “I’m awake,” says Jenn. “I am too,” I say. My head spins. It feels like I haven’t slept at all. “Ok. 4:32 AM. Next time I call, I’ll be heading out the door,” Jenn sets up the communication protocol succintly. This, after all, is a military operation.
4:41 AM. I suit up for battle. Three shirts, a sweater, and a heavy down-filled jacket. I rummage through a bin of old ski gear. A scarf, a pair of ski gloves, ski mask, and a nice woolen hat. I also find ski goggles I thought I had lost years ago; I consider wearing them as well, but then reluctantly return them to the bin.
4:48 AM. Weather channel. Zero chance of precipitation, but a balmy 2 degrees Celsius. I quickly add a second pair of pants to my wardrobe. They barely fit over my other pair. I look at my baggy self in the mirror, ski mask and all. I look like I’m about to rob a bank. I wisely ditch the ski mask.
5:00 AM. Driving. The theatre of operations is Newmarket. Forward reconnaissance the previous day indicated that Richmond Hill and Markham locations were likely full: about twenty-five or so lined-up at 10 PM. The drive to Newmarket at five in the morning is uneventful: local roads all the way up, one red light, two other cars, and a family of raccoons just north of Aurora. Maybe they’re out to get a Wii too.
5:15 AM. I arrive at Best Buy (48 units, opens at 8 AM). I’m sweating profusely in the car with my five and a half layers of clothing. I see about 60 people standing around. “There’s 48 people here,” a guy calls out to me from the car, “I’ve got a list.” He suggests that I try my luck online at Best Buy (20 units per hour) or at Future Shop, down the street. I neglect to ask him which street, and which direction is “down”.
5:20 AM. Three streets and two very illegal U-turns later, I’m at Future Shop (40 units, open at 10 AM). I see about 50 people standing around. “There’s 43 people here,” a guy calls out to me. Not to mention a four-and-a-half hour wait. I pass, in lieu of the Walmart across the plaza.
5:22 AM. Walmart. I sign the list, in 46th position, one behind a guy named Vince, who arrives moments before I do. I ask around about stock levels. Rumours galore. 40-something, 54, 48. The lady with the list says they counted 44 Wiis this morning. That puts me at missing by two. Drat. I also ask when Walmart opens. 7 AM. On Sunday. Amazing. At least that’s only a ninety minute wait…
5:28 AM. Jenn arrives at Walmart, having explored all of Newmarket with my awful direction giving capabilities. She sneaks into line behind me, with a bag of granola bars. They’re frozen. I chow down anyway, starved. The clothing keeps me warm, very warm. The line starts to fill out behind me, starting with a young girl immediately behind. Rumours persist that there are only 44 Wiis; this is a disconcerting fact. I am on the bubble.
6:04 AM. “One hour left!” I proudly exclaim. I am very warm everywhere except for my feet. Jenn scolds me for not wearing warmer shoes. I was not aware shoes had varying degrees of warmth. To keep my feet warm, I do jumping jacks and other assorted calisthentics. The kids in front of us in line start playing Winning Eleven on a PSP, alternating between taking a turn at the controls and then thawing out their hands in their pockets.
6:29 AM. Walmart employee shows up and asks us to form a line. Some commotion at the head of the line; someone then shouts “Number One!”, thrusting a blue plastic card in the air. Applause. The ticket handout has begun.
6:36 AM. By the time they get to us, they’re at the 50s. Jenn gets 52 and I get 53. The list was completely ignored. The young girl, now replaced by her father, gets 54, the last one. “That’s it,” says the blue-smocked employee. Young girl can’t believe her luck. Talk ensues excitedly about the Wii and games. Everyone squeezes their tickets tightly in a death grip.
7:01 AM. Starting at the head of the line, five lucky blue ticket holders at a time get to go into the store and purchase their Wiis. They come out cheering and holding white Walmart bags. Many drive past the Future Shop and Best Buy, not to open for hours still, and taunt the others waiting in line.
7:55 AM. Even more people show up and join the line. It’s too late, we tell them. They go away, and are instantly replaced by more. Finally, I’m lead into the store, finally, with young girl’s father, as the last two ticketed persons in line. My Wii is waiting for me. It’s almost anti-climatic: I pay for it, Zelda, and an extra controller (no more nunchuks). I then wander aimlessly around the rest of Walmart for ten minutes, clutching the Wii box to my chest.
Unfortunately, young girl’s luck ran out. The 54th Wii had gone missing, and, being last, she didn’t get a Wii. What’s worse, for the last hour and a half, she had thought she was going to get one too. Shame on you, Walmart. I felt real bad. Jenn had already gotten hers for me, at 52, and we didn’t really need the second one (it was going to a friend), and so after a few minutes of wandering I tried to find young girl’s father to let them have the last Wii. But he was nowhere to be found. My only regret was not thinking about this earlier…
A bit about the Wii. It’s a lot of fun. Kudos to Nintendo for making a very playable system that’s accessible to both gamers and non-gamers alike. The Wii Sports game is simple but extremely entertaining — a great party game. Zelda’s gameplay is fresh, and easy to use; sword-fighting and shooting slingshots is insanely fun with the Wiimote. I was afraid about the sensitivity/accuracy of the remote control, but I find it quite good; some accuracy is still desirable but it’s much better than I had expected. The WiiConnect24 feature is a real winner, connecting your Wii to your friends’ Wiis even when it’s off!
And that concludes my Wii little adventure.