Life Of Navin

Random Musings, Random Bullshit.


Thank You Mario. Your Quest is Over!

For as long as I can remember, I've been addicted to technology. And I can happily credit a childhood spent interacting with technology as the reason for that. The first time I was blown away by technology was when I was lucky enough to own a Nintendo NES console (a FamiCom rather).

I spent hours and hours saving the princess in Super Mario Bros, and shooting up ducks in Duck Hunt, and building mazes in Battle City, or simply running around shooting people as Mega Man.

Ah Childhood!
So when Nintendo announced the Mini NES Classic just before Christmas, I was possessed by a near Gollum-like need to possess one of these beauties. Alas, Nintendo really underestimated the nostalgia quotient of the NES, and for over a month, the NES Classic supply chain seemed nearly non-existent. I had a (sort of) planned visit to Mountain View starting the first week of Feb, and decided that I simply could not return without getting my hands on a NES Classic.

My Precious!
So this is where my story starts:

From the day I got to MV, I started lurking around message boards on Reddit which discussed the Mini NES. /r/MiniNES was the best forum, with a lot of likeminded, nostalgia-fuelled gamers looking to get a late Christmas present. This is where I read about this amazing site called BrickSeek. The concept of Brickseek itself is so amazing. Basically, they collate data from Target/Walmart/CVS etc. using their own inventory IDs (or SKUs as they call them) and allows people to query to find product availability in different stores. While they do not claim to be 100% accurate, they are nonetheless a godsend when looking for hard to find products. I had a BestBuy a block away from my hotel, a Target a couple of blocks away, and a Walmart about 2-3 miles away. So I assumed I had a good chance. Oh boy, was I wrong!

The NES Classic turned out to be so much harder to find than I expected it to be. Nintendo even put out a press release apologizing for the delay in restocking, and BrickSeek just kept showing a total count of 0 in all stores in a 100 mile radius from me. I read 1-2 posts a day on Reddit of people who somehow managed to get one, and that mostly included people who saw an update on Brickseek and camped outside a Target from 4:30 AM!

And then it happened. This post came up on Reddit:

Moist_Cookies for President!
I clicked on the link 9 minutes after it was posted. Was it too late? Load you damn page, load! And almost unbelievably, it was still "In Stock". Buy Now. Buy Now. Buy Now. Typed out my card details faster than I ever have and pressed Buy. Credit card debited $$$. OMG THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. There's an email confirmation as well! Doo-doo Do-doo-do Doo doo!

But wait, what's this? Another email from BestBuy?

NOOOOOOOO! I quickly visited the page again to reorder but by now, it's gone back to it's dormant state of "Out of Stock". Y U NO GIVE ME NES CLASSIC BESTBUY?

This event really felt sad. More so, because almost everyone else on the MiniNES reddit seemed to have gotten their order placed successfully. Stupid international credit cards. Either way, the wait continued.

The next few days I almost gave up on the idea of getting a MiniNES. People on forums got more and more cynical about the stock being replenished in physical stores, and even when they were, stories of store employees themselves buying them to sell later at hyper inflated prices (3-4x the MSRP) became common place. These grapes are sour anyway, I though to myself at a point.

One fine evening around 9PM, after a day spent tinkering with code, I remember the quest I had left incomplete, so I open up BrickSeek. Target, as with every other time I have checked, shows zero stock. Walmart, as with every time I've che... WAIT WHAAAT? The Milpitas Walmart, which is about 12 miles away from my hotel shows a stock of 6. Not 1 or 2.... but 6! How can this even be true? The most ANY store has shown has been in the range of 1-2. Six is too good to be true, but I need to get this. I google the store timings, and it says it's a 24 hours Walmart. I know everything I need to know. I pull on a hoodie, and I jump into my car to drive down to Milpitas.

Is this the real life?
It's about 10PM by the time I get there. And I practically run to the electronics section. No one at the counter, though I see a couple other people waiting, and I already know what they're waiting for! I do a quick count, and there's 7 other people there already. Gulp!

The guy manning the counter comes up. He's a senior Korean gentleman, who fits every Korean stereotype you can think of. "Hey, I am looking to get a NES Classic for my son" says a distinctly Indian gentleman ahead in line, pointing to the kid next to him. Oh, so they'll just buy one. So there's 6 other people there. But wait, a huge american guy is also here with what looks to be his partner. And maybe they'll also buy just one. Just 5 people! "Are you all waiting for the NES Classic?" asks the Korean Gentleman. "Yes". "Yes". "Yup".  "Yeah". "No, I'm waiting for the PS3 controller". OMG! Just 4 people. But Korean guy has vanished now, and no one knows what to do but wait for him to return.

As people start walking around looking at us, the Indian dad comes up with an idea to make chits, just to ensure sanity. Everyone agrees, and he takes up a brochure lying on a table and makes 6 chits, expecting more people to join the waiting line. Huge American Guy gets #1, Desi Dad gets #2, Solo Gamer Chick (I'll tell you about her soon) gets #3 and I get #4. All Fair and square so far. Korean guy comes back and says that he's paged a manager but no one seems to be responding because it's late. We ask if he can at least check inventory. He says Walmart uses internal skus. Literally all 4 of us offer the internal skuid for him to track, but he mumbles something and goes away again. Will this night end in glory or despair?

It takes literally 20 minutes of us just standing there before a manager comes. "Hey, what you guys here for?". "Thee YenEeEss Classic konsowl" offers the Korean gentleman.  "Oh yes, we have them in the back..." says the manager. Phew, I think. "... but we have just 2 with us right now." What? No, What? How many? What? "Not again" squeals the Solo gamer chick, who's holding the #3 chit. Turns out the same thing has happened to her at a Target a couple weeks back and at another Walmart a week ago! Damn. Damn. Damn.

Sigh. I guess it's just bad luck. Maybe it's not meant to be after all. Maybe I'll just get a PS4 instead. Maybe I'll not tell anyone I came to Walmart at 10PM to look for a gaming console. All these random thoughts going on in my mind, and a good 5 minutes have passed since the manager went into the back to get the NES for the lucky two. I at least want to see what the box looks like. And apparently so does Solo gamer chick, who has also not moved an inch for over 5 minutes at this point.

Out comes the manager with a box, and puts it on the counter proclaiming "Turns out we have 4! Do you know who all are getting them?" "Eep" squeaks the Solo gamer chick (or maybe it was me and her both... or maybe just me....  but it's my blog and I want to sound Macho). In a way, even the Huge American Guy and Desi Dad are happy because everyone there gets an MiniNES! As they say, "Fortune favors the brave".

After three consecutive "Would you like replacement guarantee?" "No thanks" "It's $64.xx" "Thanks" conversations, I'm up. I don't want any replacement guarentee. Just shut up and take my money I think, channeling my inner 9Gag. And that's it! The beauty was mine!

I've played around with this only a couple of times since I got it, but I must admit, it really is as awesome as I expected. I'm not really going to get into a full review because many people have already done that and the Pros almost always outweigh the Cons in most reviews. Be it simply for Nostalgia (the CRT Filter mode is especially nostalgia inducing), or for paying homage to a company that led the gaming revolution, the NES Classic is everything it promised to be. I actually spent a little more to get a second controller to allow multiplayer mode and can't wait to get home and play with my little sister!

Mario, the princess is in another castle!
At some point, I'll also probably use the now famous hack/mod to add more games to the NES Classic, but that'll happen only after I've run through everything on this device right now! :)

All in all, My quest well played and memories to last for a long time to come.

up - down - up - down - left - right - left - right - b - a
up - down - up - down - left - right - left - right - b - a
up - down - up - down - left - right - left - right - b - a 



Finally after all these years, here's to the beginning of what was there, what is there and hopefully what will remain!! So here are my thoughts & words -Online!!

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