This article comes from the heart. The NES Classic Edition is nowhere to be found, and without the option of a pre-order, getting one before Christmas always seemed like a longshot. At the same time, I am also reminded of that one time I was able to purchase a game on day 1 way back long ago without a pre-order thanks to simply being in the right place at the right time thanks to the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XV.
I’ve recollected once before my story about Super Mario Bros. 3 and how we were lucky enough to get it before an annual get together with my cousins, but this is not the only time I was fortunate enough to buy the game I wanted while being horribly unprepared. The second time happened 15 years later when Final Fantasy X came to the PlayStation 2 on Dec. 17, 2001.
Before buying the game, I actually wasn’t really looking forward to it that much. As much as I love the Final Fantasy franchise overall, I’ve had my on-years and off-years with it, and both Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy IX left me feeling a little slighted by the franchise. I can appreciate them better now, but at the time, they weren’t as approachable as Final Fantasy VII and therefore weren’t good enough in my mind.
Final Fantasy X’s commercials had been rolling for weeks, and of course, I had followed its development in my gaming magazines. I was reading GameInformer exclusively at the time. The dorky protagonist, his metallic world, the lack of classic Final Fantasy imagery, all of it rubbed me the wrong way. More specifically, it reminded me of Final Fantasy VIII, which I considered to be the most disappointing thing on Earth at the time.
This was in the post-Phantom Menace world too, mind you. That’s how much I loathed Final Fantasy VIII.
Final Fantasy X was not the direction I wanted the series to take, traveling away from the classic fantasy settings that had been popular in the Super Nintendo days, when I first got into the series. I snarled at the trailers, thinking that Final Fantasy was a franchise that no longer spoke to me. However, glowing reviews pushed me over the edge to check it out, and I thought I might as well seeing how I had stuck to the series for this long at least.
I went to my local Funcoland, and naturally, it was sold out. It was days before Christmas, and the PlayStation 2 had been pulverizing the gaming world. Grand Theft Auto III, Devil May Cry, and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty shook up the rocky launch year, and suddenly everyone wanted one. I was lucky enough to already have the console, but Final Fantasy X seemed so far away after being told it was sold out.
This was actually back when the idea of “pre-ordering” was still becoming new. Up until this point, games just happened to come out on loose release dates, and gamers could swing by their store and pick them up. It’s hardly like today when these launches are really just calculated marketing schemes. The PlayStation 2 was the console that solidified the idea of buying a game before it came out, and I hadn’t learned how to do that yet.
But then, there it was. I was looking through the shelves after just being told off, and a store worker came from the back room with a box. It wasn’t labeled, and neither guy behind the register knew what was in it. They opened it up, and boom! A box full of Final Fantasy X copies they didn’t even knew they had. Talk about lucky. They called me over to the counter, said these weren’t accounted for in any pre-order, and they let me purchase one right away.
Sweet, being in the right time at the right place.
Of course, it almost seems like this lucky fortune was wasted. After all, I wasn’t really looking forward to the game. Why should I deserve to have been so lucky? Well, we’ll call that a retrospective look on my Final Fantasy X opinions. I went home with my game, took The Bouncer out of my PlayStation 2, (yes, I’m a being enough Square nerd to have owned a copy of The Bouncer), and fired up Final Fantasy X…
And it was like destiny, like I was supposed to find Final Fantasy X there on that day. To date, it’s one of my all-time favorite games, both in the Final Fantasy series and in general, and I was lucky enough to get it before the holiday season, giving me plenty of time to blast through it and revive my love for Final Fantasy without the need to worry about schoolwork. Of course, being a young man at the questionable age of his early prime, I also had to deal with certain feelings I felt towards Yuna.
Then there was this too, of course.
Ugh, just as cringe-worthy as I remember.
It’s a shame though because the advancements in distributing video games and digital downloads mean people being aren’t going to be able to have these stories for very long anymore. The magic of buying a video game has been reduced to the click of a button, and the thrill of your game being at the store when you arrive is slowly becoming a thing of the past. It might be pointless sentimentalism, but I’ve always thought back happily not just on how Final Fantasy X destroyed my expectations but also how I came about purchasing it.
These personal stories do mean something to the people who experienced them after all, even if others can’t properly enjoy the story either. Even something so simple as buying a video game can be a powerful moment for someone.
Would I like to scrap the modern day digital distribution and risk not having my video game on launch day? No, probably not. Playing the game comes first and foremost with this hobby, but with the ease and convenience the modern market provides, this happy memory of mine wouldn’t have existed at all. Final Fantasy X would be just another video game I added to my cart and clicked on checkout to buy.
I much prefer my personal story than that. No matter how hyped I am for Final Fantasy XV, there is no way it can top the feeling I had when I bought Final Fantasy X.
How about you. Do you have any “right time, right place” moments for any product? Not just video games but anything really.