So Nintendo has been running the "Pikachu-Colored Pichu" event, wherein a shiny Pichu for use in Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum has been made available for DS download exclusively at participating GameStop locations across the country. Naturally I was there on day one. Too bad Pichu wasn't.
Now, I want it clearly understood that this was not my first rodeo. Having attended every Toys"R"Us Pokemon event dating back to the Mew giveaway for 3rd-gen (back when we actually had to wait in line for hours to trade with a single sweaty employee packing a loaded GBA cartridge), I've been doing this for a while, so you can well imagine I've got the procedures down pat. Drive over at twilight, park in the back lot, duck my head low, turn on my DS and start downloading over wireless from the safety of my vehicle, all to the soothing ambiance of passing young children explaining Pokemon to their parents in the background.
As I drove over to that GameStop, the plan remained the same. I parked my car outside the store and readied my DS to download the Mystery Gift.
I couldn't understand what the problem was. I was parked even closer to the presumed source than I had been with any of the Toys"R"Us events. I could only guess that maybe GameStop's Pichu-distributing server was not as dispersive as the ones at Toys"R"Us. That left me with only one option, off-putting as it might be.
I walked into the store, knowing full well that there would be almost no way to hide myself in that tiny establishment. Seeing customers waiting in line and browsing the shelves, I could only hope that clerks and patrons would keep each other occupied as I made myself as inconspicuous as possible, a lone adult male playing Nintendo DS while standing in the corner of a GameStop store.
A less determined man might have given up at this point, but that's not me. I got in line behind two customers and waited for assistance with my Pokemon download. Some minutes later, my turn came up and, thankfully, there was no one else waiting behind me.
"Um, do you guys have this Pokemon thing?" I asked weakly.
"Oh, you mean the pre-order for Heart Gold and Soul Silver?" replied the young female clerk.
"Um, no, the poster on the door says there's a free download?"
She looked baffled. Clearly, I was dealing with an amateur here. Then I noticed that she had, sitting right in front of her, a stack of fliers advertising this very promotion.
"Uh, it's this thing," I said, pointing to the fliers.
She picked one up as if noticing it for the first time.
"Hey," she called over to the other clerk, also a young woman. "Do you know anything about this Pokemon download? It's a Pikachu-colored Pikachu? Pichu?"
"Oh, yeah, I think there was an e-mail about that. It might not be set up yet."
This second clerk was understandably distracted, however, with helping an older lady customer, who was there trading in games with her 6'4" thirty-year-old son. I guessed the games were his, though she had been the one doing all the talking. As their cashier processed the transactions, I noticed the mom looking at me. I smiled sheepishly in recognition before turning away.
"Um, can you set it up?" I asked the first clerk.
"Oh, they're supposed to send us a thing," answered the second clerk. "I don't know if we got it yet. (Boss) didn't mention anything about it, and I have no idea how this works."
"Sorry," apologized the first clerk.
And so I walked out of there bitter, ashamed, empty-handed. The Pichu would have to wait another day.