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Pokémon Sword & Shield Launch Event at Nintendo NY


It was a chilly November night in New York City, as I approached the corner of 47th St. and Sixth Ave. I was greeted by metal barricades holding back a line of people going around the block. Scanning the line, I noticed that a majority of those confined by the barricade were primarily female, most of them seemingly would not be able to purchase cigarettes or beer, many were snuggled into sleeping bags and gave the impression they have been here for several days. I pondered…man that’s some dedication to Pokémon, which was seeing its first mainline iteration release on a home console at the stroke of midnight. However upon closer examination this female dominated queue was actually for standby ticket line for Saturday Night Live, which was being hosted by teen heartthrob Harry Styles. This revelation gave me pause, has the pre-launch controversies regarding the lack of a complete pokedex in Pokémon Sword and Shield hampered fan enthusiasm for this launch. Will longtime poké trainers, stay home and not support the title until their demands were met. Have I wasted my time to come down to cover a lackluster launch?

Thankfully as I reached Nintendo NY those fears would dissipate. Roped off in a makeshift pen, the poké faithful did gather to start their journey to the Galar region at the stroke of midnight. The demographics of this crowd was more in line with the crowds one would expect of a video game launch, mostly male in their late teens and early 20s. Some already adorning clothing which would declare which partner Pokémon they would choose. An odd sight was two fans dressed as knights, one holding a shield, the other holding a sword, taking the new game’s theme literally. As the crowds began to grow in the enclosure, I was lucky to be whisked inside the store to participate in the media hour because the public would be let in.

Once inside the store, I was greeted by a clocktower which is the Galar Region’s analogue to Big Ben. Behind the building replica was a gate welcoming all those who entered, to the Galar Region. Three racks were dedicated to the partner Pokémon of this edition of the game. Grookey, Scorbunny, and Scobble. Each rack featured merchandise emblazoned with each partner Pokémon, offering T-shirts, sports jerseys, hats, plush toys and even a wool banner for sale. Another display showcased the newly released Nintendo Switch Lite and a look at the Pokémon Sword & Shield version of the console, that features an etching of Legendary Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta on its back plate. Store staffers also manned a table with giveaways for those who will be amongst the first to purchase the title, gift included branded lanyards, luggage tags, pins and a book of postcards. As the halfway point of the media hour passed, attendees were shuffled to the second floor of the store for a special presentation. All of us were greeted by series favorite Pikachu, who was on hand to greet fans and take photos with all comers. A short presentation showcasing the title as well as a quiz from a Pokémon expert would reward those who paid attention during the presentation.

While the presentation finished upstairs, Pikachu stepped outside to greet the waiting crowds and commenced a countdown to launch. At the stroke of midnight, the crowds were finally let in and they orderly made their way to the three registers of the store to get their hands on the game. The first official owner of the title in North America actually bought both Sword and Shield and once he was done with his purchase, he was shuffled off to sign a photo release form and take photos to showcase his newly acquired title. After the purchases have been made, attendees were welcomed to take photos in front of a green screen depicting them in the Galar Region.

At this point, I quietly made my way out of the store into the cold night with two things on my mind. The first was to hope those who were waiting on that SNL standby line will get the opportunity to see the person they camped out to see (some of whom have been out on the streets since Wednesday of that week) and the second thought which is more relevant to this article, which partner Pokémon will I take on my journey through Galar. It probably should require a lot of analysis…but it’ll probably be Grookey, ‘cause he’s holding a stick.

Pokémon Sword – Nintendo Switch (Video Game)


Manufacturer:  Nintendo
ESRB Rating:  Everyone
Platform:  Nintendo Switch
Genre:  role-playing-game-genre

New From: In Stock
Release date: November 15, 2019.

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