Like most discerning gamers, I have a number of very good reasons not to do business with GameStop if I can help it. Aside from their corrupt policies, I’ve recently found they also have a better chance than not to smell like stale food, cigarettes, and mold. It’s as though, after years of diligence, they’ve finally acquired the quintessence of the seedy, dingy pawn shop.
But they must have the Devil’s own luck (which would follow), because circumstances keep drawing me into their squalid grasp — now twice in one week. The first time was for Retro Game Challenge; as a niche title from a small publisher, anyone could predict it might be in short supply, so I pre-ordered it. But Dragon Quest V? A game bearing a popular brand, from Square Enix? Having seen several copies of Dragon Quest IV still lined up on the shelves at Best Buy, I expected the next installment would be just as simple to find.
I was incredulous, then, when it was a no-show on Tuesday. I gave the title to one of Best Buy’s attentive blueshirts, who disappeared into the back of the store. I waited for several minutes, idly eyeing the World of Warcraft expansions and internally shaking my head at the eighty-dollar Rock Band 2 drum sets. Just as I was about to go back and make sure he hadn’t been crushed by some large object, he emerged to tell me that, oh, the release date for Dragon Quest V is the nineteenth.
“Sure it is, fella.” And I resigned myself to what I was going to have to do.
At GameStop, I didn’t ask whether they had the game, knowing the likelihood that the answer would be, “Did you pre-order it?” So I sidestepped the lecture with a question I might ask if I were going to pre-order: I asked the release date. A guy with an accent that seemed to waver between “English” and “surfer” tapped at his keyboard, mumbled some numbers to himself, and, again, excused himself to the back. But he emerged promptly, bearing a large cardboard box; the release date was today, he told me, and they’d only need to crack this shipment open to put the game in my hands.
So maybe I’m not so unlucky, myself, if I can go right into the belly of the beast and return with games rather than sulfurous woe. (I recall there wasn’t even an odor that time!) My only regret is that I couldn’t take the rest of that box’s contents with me — so many fresh, pristine, shrinkwrapped cases, soon but to be opened and gutted and covered in stickers. It is to weep.
[[image:nn_090217_sorrow_01.jpg:Also, DQIV killed itself after DQV slept with Torneko’s Great Adventure.:center:0]]