|Mew Day at Toys R Us|
09.30.06 / 11:56PM / Joe / all entries in Pokemon LeafNotes
Apparently in celebration of the release of a new Pokemon movie DVD, today was the day you could receive a free Mew download into your Pokemon GBA games, EXCLUSIVELY at Toys R Us. This has to be the widest Mew distribution that Nintendo has ever attempted, since previous Mew-fests were at far more limited locales.
I was fairly convinced that my local TRU would bone this, so I called them around 10:30am to see if they had any idea what was going on.
Me: "Hi. I was wondering if you were doing a Pokemon event today, where you can download something in your game?" Note the simplified language at work here. No mention of "Mew" or anything too specific. I even began the sentence with the vague phrase "Pokemon event," so I could set up his or her little mind for the true question in the second half. I did, however, insist on pronouncing "Pokemon" correctly... although I considered the more popular long-E slang on the grounds that it might make it easier for the store to parse my request.
Them: "Yes, sir, we are." Egad! An immediate affirmation! This is unexpected!
Me: "Is there any set time that you're doing it?" I had discovered an online rumor last night that they would only be giving out Mews from twelve to three, and, mysteriously, "while supplies last."
Them: "Ummmm... it says between twelve and three."
That's actually a really terrible time, since it matches up almost exactly with Clark's afternoon nap, but I figure it will take about ten minutes, so we saddle our horses and ride. That's Clark with my GBA and Pokemon cartridges just before we left. He opened up a wide grin about .0001 seconds later.
We landed at Toys R Us almost right at noon. Turns out, it's Geoffrey's Birthday Party Weekend, so the place is mad with people and there are activity stations and free giveaways all over the place.
There are no signs to direct eager Pokemon Trainers. Two years ago, during the Toys R Us Trade and Battle Day, they had the demo unit just sitting at the customer service desk and I had to go ask about it. So naturally I'm counting on me being the only person here and it will be a repeat of September 2004. ...Holy crap, that was two years ago?!
Against all odds, we run smack into a kids parade, led by Geoffrey himself. Rhon takes Clark over to meet the giraffe, who, as a costumed character, is far creepier now than he ever was when he was a cartoon creature. The costume looks like a real giraffe head with a human body. It's some kind of a sick evolutionary parody. But I digress. While they ran to join the parade around the store, I turned towards the game aisle and found this:
A line. I file in right away, even though it could well be a queue to receive a free sheet of Ninja Turtle stickers, the way things are going around here.
I snapped that shot almost as soon as I fell in, just after noon. Note that time, because it will be important later. The end of the line is at the end of the Nintendo aisle, pretty much at the center of the picture. I do love these Vanishing Point shots.
Hilariously, a mom three people ahead of me turns around to ask why we're all in line, and that's when I get the third-party verification that this is indeed the Mew Queue. The two slack-jawed miscreants in the tan and black belong to her; they kept a very low profile while waiting, no doubt supremely embarrassed by their private vices being made so public. Staring at Forza Motorsport probably helped.
What is up with that ancient Xbox demo unit? Are we ever going to get a 360 kiosk out here in the sticks?
I got to know the two people in front of me pretty well, or as well as you're ever going to get to know some random strangers in line to download a rare breed of pokemon on a rainy Saturday morning. Right in front of me is a mom in her mid-40's who is holding a second place in line for her 8-year old son (who is about ten people ahead of us). She is super-cool about it and surprisingly knowledgeable about the whole Pokemon thang. She gets it. They have every single game and she mentions how much she likes that the cartoon delivers cool messages (friendship, hard work, good choices) and how the card game has helped his reading comprehension. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the timeline here, the first Pokemon video game came out two years before her son was even born.
Right in front of her is a guy who is maybe in his mid-20s. He is alone. He remarks right away that my presence in line makes him feel less stupid. This dude is hardcore. We start "talking shop," and I can barely keep up. I bring up the Mall Tour where I downloaded Celebi and he is appalled that I haven't bothered to do anything with it yet. He works in the TV department of Sears and is going to be late for his shift, thanks to this sloooow-moving line. He figures his co-workers will consider him incredibly retarded over this, so when he calls in to ask them to cover, he says that he "has some stuff to do."
The line is barely moving, in part due to most people showing up with multiple cartridges, but mainly because the patented Pokemon trading sequence is egregiously long and not at all suited to events like this. My new pals and I remark how much easier this will all be once the DS version comes out and we can just WiFi the download.
It takes me 90 minutes to get to the finish line. 90 minutes to walk up one aisle.
Unlike the Mall Tour, where you brought your game and the handler plugged you into some kind of infinite-Celebi-generator, this giveaway runs the old fashioned way. You need to actually trade something out to the clerk to receive the Mew. Fortunately, I anticipated this and caught some crappy low-level fodder last night. I don't know if everyone else in line was as informed. In fact, one kid bought a copy of Pokemon Emerald while in line and immediately set to playing it so he could get the game up to the point where he could receive the download. (Which, my hardcore friend suggested, would probably take the kid 26 hours.)
This does explain the "while supplies last" caveat. The store just has a normal copy of some Pokemon game that Nintendo thoughtfully filled with Mews. When the clerk trades out the last Mew in the supply, that's it. Event over.
Although I brought Sapphire, Ruby and LeafGreen, I only got a Mew for Sapphire and LeafGreen. I had been there long enough and we needed to get Clark out of there.
Rhonda was awfully glad that TRU timed the Mew thing during the big birthday sale, because that gave her plenty of options for keeping Clark busy. He grabbed lots of free junk and shook Geoffrey's hand three times. Of course, his scheduled lunch and nap time was totally grenaded, but he bounced back by sleeping until 4:30pm.
Some of the people in line were convinced that the Mew download will continue tomorrow, because the birthday party thing goes all weekend. We may stop by, but I doubt this is the case.
Just as at the Philly Mall Tour, I have to marvel at the ongoing reach Pokemon maintains. Here was a ton of local people, waiting in a ridiculously unplanned line, to download rare bits for a GBA game that came out, at the earliest, two years ago. That is power, folks. That is what keeps Nintendo in the business. Awesomeness.
In case you're interested, the Mew shows up at level 10 and has Synchronize. His attacks are Pound and Transform. I remarked that I felt spoiled by receiving a kickass level 70 Celebi back at the Mall Tour, and my hardcore buddy said "No way, man. I like to train 'em up. I like them as low as possible, level 5."