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I woke up this morning with a groan. The week and a half preceding my one day off for the weekend had finally caught up with me. A week and a half of cramped flights and an unusual amount of stress for what one would otherwise call a "holiday". I had merely worked two eight hour shifts prior but it may has well have been a week for how exhausted and sore I was.

No matter, though! It was September 20th! It was Skylanders day! This had been a day long awaited. Since I first delved into the infant toys-to-life phenomenon back in 2011 I have had an obsession with video games that are also toys that also do stuff in video games. It's a whole thing. First Skylanders, then Disney Infinity, now soon Lego Dimensions. There's that Amiibo thing all the kids are hot for but those are just little toys. Pfft I say.

At any rate, Skylanders are totes rad.

So I get up, wash and dress, stuff some toast in my craw, and head out into the triple digit autumn breeze. The latter half of last Friday's Giant Beastcast started to trickle into my ears, Dr. Video Games PhD keeping my head busy while I waited for the bus to arrive. At my local Best Buy I disembarked and entered the mercifully well air-conditioned building to acquire the pre-order I had placed at some point earlier this year.

"Hello!" I said to the kind young lady at the customer service desk. "I have a pre-order I would like to pick up. It is a video game for children that I am totally buying for my son and not at all for myself, a 32 year old man. It is merely for my youth's amusement, not to satisfy a persistent desire to live as a giant amongst a realm of happy faerie folk."

I said that last bit in my head, but the way her eyebrows waggled I fully suspect she was a level three telepath.

After clickety-clacking away at her keyboard for a moment she grinned again and disappeared like a Batman azure-clad. I hung my cane over the lip of the counter and waited. Several minutes passed. Then some more minutes rolled blissfully by. Several people started queuing behind me, holding things presumably for return or exchange. There was no help for them. The guard had left her post on errand for the Lord High King of the Calico Critters.

At this point I believe ten minutes had passed. I had flipped between headlines on my phone and responding to text messages from el husband and back again several times. The mumbling swarm behind me eventually generated enough atmospheric disturbance to materialize a secondary sentry whom began processing their specific transactions. Skylanders Superchargers was still nowhere to be seen.

At this point I suspected just walking towards the video game section and taking a box off the shelf might be the way to go here but I wanted to respect the process, such as it was, and I remained. My hesitation to stay did tempt fate into thwarting me as it might in an airport bathroom, summoning the young lady in blue to reappear clutching a large box under her arm. A quite large and long box. Too large and long to resemble my quarry. She had, in fact, returned to me with the Dark Edition box. I allowed her to key it in, briefly contemplating the possibility of taking the 'upgraded' edition home with me and just as quickly dismissing that notion on the grounds that it was $25 more and I found the alternate paint job on Spitfire and his packaged posse to be incredibly lackluster. Seriously! They ruined Spit's beautiful flame wings with opaque black! Barf!

The poor young lady apologized and placed the box up on the center island away from grabby hands and radioed her boy wonder 'in the back'. An exchange of SKU's UPC's and TL:DR's took place and she bowed away once more. Some ten or more minutes passed, each second grinding away like an anchor dredged through a pit of gravel. I found the cool air of the retailer strangely turning hot around me as my frustration ricocheted off the face of my timepiece and back into my quickly darkening eyes. This was absolutely ridiculous. I had been in this store for literally half of an hour in order to pick up something that I actually went out of my way to pre-order.

Over the following fifteen minutes I received not one but two assurances from two wholly different employees that they were still looking for it. It slowly dawned on me what was going on and I could not help but laugh through a jaw set with exhaustion. My box was 'in the back' because it was still in a shipping box. They had failed to put out or prepare any product for the launch of this game even almost two hours past the store being open to the public. I understand that Sunday launches are unusual, but they always had a fairly sizable Skylanders display maintained at their location... So what gives?

After almost a full hour (and her swinging by one more time with the Wii U version which, thankfully, was actually a pre-order for another customer and not a second failed attempt to serve me) the proper box came 'round the corner. Had it not been for the fact that I had a mountain of rewards credit to whittle this purchase down to a tenner I would probably have left long ago. What was supposed to be an hour tops to get out and back turned out to be almost twice as long. So long, in fact, that I was well starving by the time I stepped back out into the ungodly heat.

A brief McDonalds trip and bus ride later I had arrived safely home with a bag of unfinished fries and the latest addition to my Skylanders addiction. I'll save my full impressions for a separate post but so far I'm really liking it. Skylanders has no reason at all to be as good as it is year after year but this game impresses very early on to be sure. From what I'm hearing around the internet this is the best Skylanders to date with some features that give it some nice longevity even after the credits roll.

A Skylanders with a robust post-game you say? Well now you've got me very curious...

Now Feral sleeps.

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Mark Bradley

October 2015

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