It was a balmy May 11th evening, a large crowd was lined up at Rockefeller Center on W. 48th st. to see the Jonas brothers perform at NBC?s Today Show on the next morning. However I was directed to an even lengthier line on the western side of the block which featured a more familiar sight. Gamers young and old, male and female and a healthy mix of races were waiting to get their hands on the next chapter of The Legend of Zelda series, Tears of the Kingdom. Most were dressed relatively normally, plenty of graphic tees depicting the series logo which would?ve made it easy to discern which line was which. However there were some attendees who cosplayed, but nothing so massive that would stick out in these urban streets (Not a single Goron to be seen?).
For large events such as this, Nintendo has created a system called Warp Pipe Pass to mitigate crowds. In principle it?s a smart move, only allowing folks to stand in line if they have an allotted time slot to make their purchases/attend the event, but like most things, it never goes as planned. Website crashes, people unable to secure a timeslot, accusations of ?Scalpers? securing all the tickets would be flung. I personally attempted to apply, but due to the hectic nature of my day job as of late, I missed out when the twitter notification was sent by the store?s official twitter account. My feeling with these types of things is you can?t win them all, but I?ve eaten a lot of Ls. Nonetheless those who were lucky enough had no problems waiting unnecessarily long hours at a chance to grab the game.
Our outlet was fortunate enough to be invited to a pre-launch event that started an hour before the launch. So not only did we get a first look at the temporary setup, but we were able to watch a bit of the Nintendo Treehouse: Live stream that was situated on the second floor of the store. The stream has been going on since 9:45 PM local time and when media was allowed into the facility, it was about to start the penultimate segment one featuring an interview with The Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma. However prior to that us members of the press were able to purchase the title and merchandise, take photos of a newly installed decayed Master Sword and Link statue and of course mingle. Needless to say if you?re a fan of games media and journalism, you would?ve been awestruck at some of the attendees.
From the Nintendo side, you had executives such as Doug Bowser, Bill Trinen, notable games media attendees included Geoff Keighley, Gene Park of Washington Post and Stephen Totilo of Axios. Brendan, who has as the kids say more ?rizz? than me mingled with some of the guests as if they were old chums, helped Gene pick out a shirt and even got Geoff to film a short video for a member of the staff that didn?t make it. I wasn?t a complete wallflower and finally introduced myself to a member of the Nintendo staff using the tried and true ?do you know ?so-so??? line, although the interaction ended hilariously disastrous after my PAX attendance was called out?(Look, the only PAXs that matter are East and West?anything else is moot!).
As the clock struck midnight, the warp pass holders were slowly being let in and Mr. Bowser was at the counter with the store staff to officially sell the first copy of Tears of the Kingdom. This honor went to David C. of New Jersey, who paid with cash and only purchased the collector?s edition of the title. While he lacked a huge haul he made up for it in theatrics, turning to the cameras and unsheathing a toy master sword, raising it in the air in triumph. All and all an impeccable run event and we made our way out of the store and back to our homes.
As we made the slow walk, people in line asked us how the stock situation was looking, hoping that they wouldn’t miss out on getting the edition they wanted. The rabble rouser in me would jokingly declare that Brendan had the last CE and I urged anyone who wants it to take it from him, but I would quickly pivot and say stock was plentiful and you?ll get what you want. After Brendan and I split for the evening, he thanked the lord that no one took my playful banter seriously as he disappeared into the bowels of the subway system, a man looking in his mid to late 20s waiting with an older gentleman inquired about stock levels. Me being the snarky person that I am, joked ?Stock is fine, so you?re not here in vain? however I apologized to the older man that this person who I assumed was his son dragged him to this late night event. The younger man retorted??This was actually his idea!? and I couldn?t help but to have a genuine smile on my face. That?s the power of video games, it can transcend any differences we as people have and is something that can be shared across generations.
But I packed that thought away as I focused on my most important goal, not ripping the game open and starting Link?s next grand adventure, but was to make the hour plus trip home without having to find a bathroom, cause while New York is the city that never sleeps, it?s a horrible place if you have weak bladder?thankfully I succeed and it was a feeling that was comparable to pulling out the Master Sword for the first time ::Cue Crescendoing Music::
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is available now, exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.