Ah, the venerable midnight launch. The once-expected tradition of camping out for midnight game launches — so timed as to technically adhere to official game street dates while still capitalising on gamer obsessions and enthusiasm — is, at least in New York City, on the verge of extinction thanks to numerous factors like public safety, liability concerns, pandemic precautions, and overall consumer welfare.
But on this date, September 9, 2022, the spirit at least lived on, thanks to Nintendo NY’s formidable RSVP system, which requires hopeful purchasers of — in this case — Splatoon 3, to log in on their My Nintendo account, and reserve a timeslot in a virtual queue to buy the game.
I, for example, was late to the party, and only checked the Nintendo NY Twitter account to see if they had any launch event happening, and they did. By the time I’d checked the details, however, they only had 1 AM and beyond time slots remaining, so I RSVP-ed and made my way over just prior to midnight to get a glance at the queue.
The last time I’d covered a launch, for Pokémon Arceus, things were pretty calm. Perhaps it’s because it took place in the heart of NYC’s winter, or maybe it was because it was a Pokémon spin-off. Whatever the reason, it didn’t require much effort to get in line and buy the game. The Mario Strikers: Battle League launch was similarly drama-free, which is to be expected. Nintendo or not, sports games don’t whip up the kind of fervour usually reserved for a new Zelda or proper Mario game.
But for Splatoon 3 it was refreshing to see the queue go all the way down the block from Nintendo’s doors, almost all the way to 6th Avenue, which is a long city block in NYC terms. There was a sizeable gap between the 12 AM queue and the 1 AM extension, which I was in. After a bit of waiting, the line would periodically move forward in sizeable amounts, so all things considered it wasn’t all that bad.
Whatever Nintendo NY is doing nowadays, they’re doing it right, at least from the perspective of a father of two who’d rather be sleeping at 2 AM than buying games. It was my son’s ninth birthday, however, and instead of simply ordering the game online and waiting for it to arrive in the post, this gives me a good reason to go see a good old-fashioned game launch and to bring home a shiny new copy of the game for my kids, along with whatever launch day swag Nintendo NY gave out.
In this case, my reward for buying the game at Nintendo’s flagship North American store was a promotional keychain of the new Splatoon 3-exclusive Tri-Stringer (bow) and a nice, horizontal poster that’s exclusive to the event. My kids and I have a long history of Splatoon appreciation, as you can see from the image below.
When the original game first launched for Wii U back in 2015, my kids were five and two, respectively, and I was such a fan of the character design I dressed my own kids up as Inklings and had them chase each other all over South Street Seaport in NYC, with the help of some homemade costumes and an official hat that Nintendo had sent me. They’ve been hooked on the series ever since.
So, since it was my son’s birthday, I promised him I’d attend the midnight launch and nab him a copy of the game. I nabbed three, in actuality, because I knew him, his sister, and myself would all enjoy playing the threequel’s new local co-op modes. What better way to learn the ropes before taking on the online community?
In any case, once inside the store, there was literally no one in line buying the game. Everyone inside had either already purchased the game and were perusing the rest of the store (which was, to my surprise, open for business beyond just selling Splatoon 3) or taking photos by the large Splatoon 3 backdrop on the first floor.
Whatever the case, I was just happy to see everyone having a good time, as well as a clear line to the counter where I bought not only the game, but the elusive amiibo set featuring Callie and Marie, the game’s commentators, at normal prices. I also picked up the new Steve & Alex Minecraft amiibo, which they had behind the counter at Nintendo NY.
In all, this was as pleasant a launch experience as I’ve ever had. I’m too old and tired and employed to deal with camping out for three days in advance, living in a tent on the sidewalk, just to be the first person to buy a game, so I’m really glad technological advancements have made midnight launches like this one as convenient, smooth, and hassle-free as possible. This way we all get to play the game a little early, and no one has to suffer for the pleasure.
All hail the new midnight launch. Long may it live.
Definitely a lot more subdued due to....current events let's just say, but a lovely atmosphere all the same.
Also your children look wonderful James, those costumes are adorable!
Nice the know the hype is living!
I used to have three local shops that did midnight releases coupled with tournaments.
Long before the lockdowns, Gamestop bought them all up, and never had a midnight release again outside Starcraft 2.
Very cool to see your byline, Milkman. You were a favorite of mine back during the EGM glory days in the 90s.
Didn't even realize midnight launches were a thing anymore. Only ever went to one and went to bed when I got home anyway, defeating the point. Plus if you're really that desperate to play it the second it's available you can just buy the digital version and install it in advance so it's ready to go. I've never seen the point of midnight launches.
I bought the (physical) game online but it's cool to see splatoon 3 midnight launch like this 😃
@nadroj Thank you! Always appreciated to hear a comment like this.
@Fizza Thanks! They're good kids, which is why I'd actually go to Rockefeller Center at 1am for them and not just order it from Best Buy. Lots of Splatoon love around these parts.
Nice to see them getting with the times and putting out a game at midnight, bought physical version too but nice to see
Current events....I thought Covid had gone away
Some real rubbish toot being given out.
Last time I did a midnight launch was when I bought my switch!
It just wouldn't be NYC without hooded youths walking the streets armed to the teeth....
Nice to see a story from Mielke. Been reading your stuff for 24 years now!
@NEStalgia Well, there had to be one wildly uninformed regional profiling and harmful generalization by someone who doesn't live in NYC, so it might as well be you. My daughter wears a hoodie. I guess she's armed to the teeth.
@WhiteTrashGuy Thank you!
This is so cool. I was just in NY this week for work so went to the store to have a look on Thursday afternoon. Wish we had one in London.
@Fizza a lot.more subdued because its just not simply generating the hype as Splatoon 2. Better game? Sure. But really nothing that much different to make the public excited.
@RickRau5 Definitely agree with you there. To Splatoon fans, it's like the 2nd coming of Christ, but to general gaming fans? It very much feels like how COD Modern Warfare games go: the sequels are definitely much better to their predecessors, but they all follow a similar gameplay loop/structure with the minor improvements being what adds to the overall experience. At least that's what I think it's like, I've never actually played a COD game before so I might be wrong.
@Themilkman Oh, I'm near enough
And it was referring to the picture with the Splatoon hoodies pointing splatter shots at each other.
@NEStalgia Ah I get it now. Stupid internet smashes all nuance. But still no hoodies tho!
Oh boy. Get ready for a huge opening for Splatoon 3.
That's such an excellent store. Apart from the tiny mall store in Israel, it's the only official Nintendo store in the world. I must admit it broke my bank visiting the year though!
Someday I'll make it to the Nintendo Store! I live close enough!
@johnvboy Sadly no. There's a bit of a surge going on here in Ireland now, nothing like previous surges but still. I think the government removing the mandatory requirement of masks in public was the biggest mistake they made but ofc people are selfish too and that is also another we are where we are. If people just did the right thing COVID would go away but people are impatient and think of nobody but themselves. They're just going about their daily lives like it's not even here at all and it makes me angry.
Forgive the slight rant it's just how I see it as.
I get that it's New York but you should have brought your son with you. It would have been a fun birthday memory.
The virus will weaken as it goes on, and at some point people need to be exposed to it, not sure the lockdowns really work as you can't totally lockdown in the first place, then you have the issue coming out of the lockdown at some point.
In the U.K it's pretty much back to normal, I got Covid at the end of July, and was pretty much o.k, with the strange sensation of losing my sense of taste and smell, which was very strange, all came back though.
@johnvboy Damn sorry to hear that. I caught It twice, first in November 2020 which was only mild but the second time was moderate to severe and I had to be put onto oxygen for a while but thankfully no Ventilator. I do agree with you on the Lockdowns as they were only delaying the inevitable to me but that being said if people kept their distance more often and just exercised caution in general things would be better.
Which is what they have done, let the virus weaken then when people get exposed it's not as bad.
People will always go about their business, and it's not always a case of them not caring, it's just very easy to slip into your regular routine, and this has been a very strange time that many are just not used too.
Glad you are o.k, you caught it at the wrong time, might not be as bad now.
Gosh, I've not kept up with James Mielke since 2009, after the closure of 1Up. Good to see him doing well today, and having 2 wonderful kids during those years!
hmm just a normal purchase for me had no issues getting the game and I didn't preorder. I got the physical copy.
That’s cool. Physical take buying ain’t totally dead still, but at the least it isn’t ridiculously tedious waiting either.
Nice article, seems after corona start het in NL there have been almost no events like this at all ,so fun to read about it..
I preordered.. but the mail f*cked up... happily playing it now though
I've been taking a break from Splatoon 3 as I tend to reach burn out with it very quickly. I will be going back to it soon though and I'm hoping in 2023 we get an announcement for an expansion as the game needs it badly.
@RubyCarbuncle I'd say an expansion next year is likely since they've already teased even a story (similar to Octo Expansion?) one during the August Direct unless they need more time to develop it.
Nice pictures design from Splatoon 3 looks really awesome. I think this game is incredible good.
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