I had been on the fence about the New Nintendo 3DS since it was announced. I was excited about the concept, but I really wanted the regular size New 3DS with the changeable face plates; the one Nintendo immediately decided not to release in North America. To add insult to injury, in North America the New 3DS XL only came out in black and red, which are excellent color choices if your company produces children’s battery-operated electric vehicles. So I had resigned myself that I was going to be stuck with my old original teal 3ds until the end of its natural life (which probably would have been the less wasteful option.)
Somewhere, quietly, a Nintendo exec made a decision to release the New 3DS, the normal size one with face plates, in North America. And it was going to come bundled with a little game called Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. It was never announced (to my knowledge), and it may have been a GameStop exclusive, but I heard about it and began my online visitations to the GameStop preorder page.
Now, I love me some Animal Crossing, so I knew I was going to buy the game, but surely buying a whole new console would be a bit much? I mean, my faithful teal 3DS still technically works, a few chips and cracks notwithstanding. The price, a considerable $210 plus CA sales tax (10%!) did include the game (normally $50 with the Amiibo reader), but I knew the initial plunge would be the tip of the iceberg in terms of cost.
I may make some enemies for saying this, but I find the Isabelle face places initially gracing the special edition 3DS to be aggressively ugly (that snaggletooth!), so clearly I was going to have to import some plates from Japan ($35, eBay). Then, there’s the micro SD issue: with only 4GB of storage, you can expect your free download of Happy Home Designer to chew up at least 1/3 of that, so a new micro SD card would be a necessity before long, and then transferring your data is a time commitment. The costs were mounting, and I waffled and pondered…and then the pre-orders dried up and the grey box said “Unavailable”.
I breathed a sigh of relief. My choice was made. Easy.
That self-assured feeling lasted until I went to GameStop the day before Happy Home Designer hit shelves. I decided to preorder the game, and casually asked if they had any preorders left for the 3DS bundle. As expected, they did not, so I preordered the game with the Amiibo reader, and dutifully ignored the Zero Suit Samus, Oilmar, and Gandondorf Amiibo available behind the counter. (The one the GameStop employees mentioned people were fighting each other over when they were released.) Simple as that.
Friday morning dawned, and I arrived early, wondering if I was going to have to beat people up to get a pack of Animal Crossing Amiibo cards, because Gamestop made them “first come, first served”. Luckily, my only rivals in line were a few 20-something young men who wondered aloud “Is there a game release today?” and genuinely laughed when I said Animal Crossing. Bless their hearts.
“Do you have any of the Isabelle New 3DS bundles available, or are they all reserved for people who preordered them?” Why did I even ask? I didn’t even want to spend the money on it, but I had to know. The man behind the counter did not know who Isabelle was, but quickly got that I was waving around a receipt for my Happy Home Designer preorder. “Yeah, it looks like we only have one available,” he said, smelling a sale, “Did you want to pick that up today?”
It was Providence. Serendipity. Manifesting? The Universe wanted me to have that console. So, I bought the system. And then I bought 2 packs of Amiibo cards. And then I went on to buy myself a fancy breakfast at Paris Baguette.
Later, in the parking lot, my companion asked me if I was happy that I had bought the last non-reserved 3DS.
“Pfft,” I replied, “They probably tell everyone there’s only one copy left. Let’s go home.”