Hours before the official launch of Nintendo’s SNES Classic, around two hundred fans were lined up outside of the Nintendo store in New York City, with excitement momentarily boiling over to the point police had to be phoned.
At 3:30 p.m., the line stretched down two blocks, starting at 48th Street and Sixth Avenue. Some people had waited in line for more than 24 hours, including Queens native Brandon Paul, whose childhood memories made it worth it.
“It's special for me because some of those games I played in diapers…so to get a chance to play them again, it is really the nostalgia that makes it all for me,” Paul said.
Some people sat in camping and lawn chairs. Others read books, played Nintendo Switches and ate bites of food as they waited to gain access to the gaming console. This was not the first time waiting in line for some loyal fans. No. 1 in line, Alex Pekala, came from Wisconsin ready to document his experience for his YouTube followers.
“I am a huge Nintendo fan…I make videos about Nintendo and for the community," he said. "I have been coming out here every day for the past 10 days. I haven’t moved from the line since yesterday morning around five. It is a big community and lots of people talking about games and having fun.”
Store employees handed out wristbands to the first 150 fans in line for a midnight launch party where they could play classic Zelda, Mario and StarFox games that would be available on the newly launched mini-console. They would also be the first to get their hands on the coveted gaming system.
Early in the afternoon, fans grew frustrated by a sudden rush of people who cut in line, they said. Nintendo store employees called police, who were seen tempering the frustrations of people who feared they would not be able to purchase the console.
The incident -- and the long lines, generally -- harkened back to a similar hubub outside the Nintendo NY store in December, when hundreds of fans stood in the cold overnight, thinking they were going to get a limited edition NES Classic console or a spot on a pre-order list for Nintendo's latest offering, the Switch.
Meanwhile, Nintendo NY manager PJ Sadler assured fans they would be able to purchase more of the consoles on Friday.
"There are tons more available," he said. "We are ready for the weekend. I think today what you are seeing is that Nintendo passion… It is the middle of New York City, so you are going to have different element involved. …The last thing we want is for anyone to feel unsafe."
In spite of the tension, people were excited to talk with each other and prepare for the game’s launch. Many expressed excitement and were sharing memories of their favorite vintage Nintendo games -- some of which haven't been playable since Super Nintendo production ended in the late 1990s.
Fans like Long Island native Aaliya Mondesir said they were excited to access 21 games they hadn't played since childhood.
“It's just a bunch of old games that I already have and some new ones that I never got to play that are too expensive now to buy because they are practically antiques, so now I can get them for a fair price,” she said.
As NYPD and Nintendo store employees sorted out confusion within the line, some Nintendo fans expressed a desire to have a more organized system that would ensure safety and fairness.
According to store employees, there would be enough SNES games to meet the demand. The game will be available for purchase at midnight for the lucky 150, while more would be made available at 9 a.m. Friday.