Wii wish you a merry Christmas

Originally posted on 11 October 2007 at 1upGamers.com

Hi again,

So, how is your Christmas shopping going to date? What? You have not started yet? You leave all your shopping until after you come out of the pub at 4pm on Christmas Eve to swagger down Oxford Street (or your local main retail metropolis of choice) handing over this year’s bonus to anyone who will gladly separate you from your cash in exchange for any over-priced tat that they have left on the shelves? OK, anything in Oxford Street (in December) is over-priced, but you get the idea. Anyway, 74 (shopping) days to go.

My kids are, as usual, asking for everything gaming related, or Pokémon related, or Pokémon gaming related this year. In favour seems to be a PSP handheld for our eldest (aged 9), and a Wii console for our two youngest (5, & 6). The PSP has been relatively easy to source; given the recent release of the “Slim & Lite” the older, original (’legacy’ or ‘retro’) “Fat & Heavy” (or “Phat & Heavy”) console is readily-available with or without <cough> custom firmware. But I would not know about that. So do not ask me!

White Console Wonderlandment

Having missed out on the 39 Wii consoles delivered to the Canary Wharf branch of GAME on Tuesday this week, with only 12 left yesterday at 11:50am, and not being one of the first 22 customers queuing outside the door (who I thought was an over-eager audience for the price reduction of the 60GB PS3, and the release of the new entry level 40GB model), I spent a few desperate minutes on the Amazon.co.uk, SoftUK.com, ChoicesUK.com, Gamestation.co.uk, & GAME.co.uk web sites trying to find a Wii in stock. It seems the delivery at GAME had taken the store staff by surprise too, as the Wii boxes on the shelves still had stickers saying “out of stock” on them, or perhaps they were just saving themselves time expecting all the consoles to sell out within 24 hours anyway?

So, having rushed back to my laptop, I finally snagged one, the second Wii Console for our household; the first already in prominent place beneath our (10 year old CRT ["fat" screen not flat screen]) TV that is threatening to give up the ghost[ing] any day now… if only it could hang on until the January sales (as I do not want to be on Oxford Street on Christmas Eve trying to carry a HD-TV through the crowds). Yeah, I know, two Wii consoles for the kids is excessive considering there are so many people in the world without one (Wii consoles, that is, not children), but I did not want to be left in the same situation as I was in 2004 when I thought I would be able to get a PlayStation 2 without any trouble at the end of November/start of December. I even rejected one in stock at Blockbuster mid-November as it was £9 over the Recommended Retail Price.  Trying to save a relatively small amount of money turned out to be a Big Mistake!

Revolutionary Idea

I eventually ended up buying a pre-owned PS2 from GAME two days before Christmas as stocks just dried-up completely. My three kids were happy, thank goodness, but it could have gone so horribly wrong. The name of the white-bearded fat man in the red suit, who rides the night by reindeer in a saintly manner whilst scoffing so many mince pies & drinking so much wine he would be a danger to other airborne courier services, would have been taken in vain for many months to come if he had not delivered that year. The PS2 itself broke a few months later, just out of the three-month warranty period (surprise, surprise), due to over-excessive use, and we had to buy a brand new one (for almost the same price we paid for the pre-owned one, but hey-ho-ho-ho, it is the thought that counts at Christmas, right?).

So yesterday… there I was working my way down the list of bundles on the GAME site, and every time I added one to my basket & progressed in the checkout pages to pay I would find stock levels had run out in the few seconds it had taken. Luckily one of the bundles, a Wii Console (including Wii Sports) & “Resident Evil 4 (Wii Edition)”, proved fruitful, probably due to the fact that the title is not particularly child-friendly. The other available bundle included “Super Paper Mario”… I am sure the recent news that this title may cause the player to have to re-boot their console & restart the game had no bearing on availability here.

(If you are interested, a spokesperson for Nintendo claims the issue is avoidable, stating that, “At the start of Chapter 2-2, you will come across a character called Mimi. She will tell you to go to the farthest room on the first floor to meet a character called Merlee. Enter that room and press the green switch. A trap will be triggered, and a spiked ceiling will descend upon Mario. Before the ceiling reaches him, flip into 3D and jump on it to find a key. If you pick up the key, you won’t run into any problems. Use it to open the locked door to Mimi’s right. However, if you talk to Mimi without picking up the key, the game will freeze. You will then have to turn off your Wii console and start again from your last save point”. Nintendo has been quick to assure users the problem will not damage their Wii console or the game disc, but has promised to replace the disc for anyone who feels concerned)

I purposely did not attempt to buy from Amazon (UK) or, rather, I would have done at a very last resort, as they always seem to botch my orders. They either do not arrive at all, take an absolute age to be despatched even if all the items in my order are in stock (last week I even had to contact them to ask why it would take 4-6 weeks for four items to be delivered when each item was in stock on their site at the time!), or are just plain tiresome with cancelling orders because they have listed an item with an incorrect price & make it sound like it was my fault for not noticing their mistake! But I refreshed the Amazon web page I had open in my browser anyway, and found they too had also sold out within minutes of my initial search, and were only offering “marketplace seller” listings that were so vastly over-priced I would not have bothered anyway… no wait… remember the PS2 fiasco of 2004… OK, I may have bought one, but only because it was not really Amazon, it was somebody who has learned that selling on eBay costs way too much & have decided to pay less fees to Amazon instead).

Annoyingly I already have the “Resident Evil” title for the Wii; it is, in fact, one of the only titles I enjoy playing on the console as I find Nintendo’s offerings a little too child-centric for my gaming tastes. I will, therefore, probably be trading-in or selling this title as soon as it arrives. Hopefully this should be quite soon as we seem to be between Royal Mail strikes in the UK at present).

In Stockings or Out of Stock

So anyway, the reason for my post, if you are in the market for a Wii for your darlings (large, or small) this festive season, and do not wish to risk waiting to see if a new version is released in time for the over-hyped big day at the end of December; be it a Red console, a Black one, or a console bundled with the “Wii Zapper”, then may I advise you set the home page of your browser of choice [Mozilla Firefox, of course], to one of the following URLs:

[ http://www.wii-consoles.co.uk/wii_console_realtime.asp ]


[ http://www.wiipreorder.co.uk/Wii-Stock.aspx ]

Both these pages refresh every few minutes & list online e-tailers that have Wii consoles in stock. It may just save your, or rather Mr Christmas’, neck this year. The turkey or goose, on the other hand, may not be quite as lucky. Yes, some people are suggesting that Nintendo are deliberately making their new console difficult to buy (again, for the second year) by restricting availability as this gives them free press in the media, and makes the consoles themselves sound in such a high demand. The real hold-up seems to be with the production of the silicon jackets for the Wiimote devices as Nintendo have finally bowed to public pressure (or is that legal pressure?) with respect to legal action resulting from over-excited activity & broken objects in the same environment whilst using the motion-based Remote devices. A £25-£30 Wiimote does not seem to be favoured embedded within a £1000-£2000 HD/Plasma TV, it seems. Personally I think it is an interesting feature that offers a central point of conversation during coffee mornings & after dinner parties. But each to their own, I guess.

Festive Fashion

Although Nintendo-branded and third-party silicon jackets are already available for additional cost, all future Wii console packs should include a jacket for free.

(Existing owners can apply to Nintendo using the UK online form, or the US online form, offering up to four jackets for free once the site is supplied with the serial number of the associated Wii console).

UK production of the silicon jackets was initially slow, but this is now being resolved, and delivery channels to the high street stores & online sites should now improve.

Hmmm… Silicon jacket? That sounds like a good idea for slipping through the crowds on Christmas Eve.

Good luck everyone…

Further Comment

Additional comment originally posted on 12 October 2007 at 1upGamers.com

The Wii console I bought from GAME yesterday lunchtime has just been delivered by Parcel Force!

Faith in the UK postal delivery services is restored, for today, anyway.