As the clock ticked 10pm PST, I knew the time had come. I donned my usual traveling apparel, gathered my effects, and took to the road. As Southern California finally realized we are already almost through November, it decided on having a brisk chill to the air. The roads were mostly clear, and I made haste to the Game Stop one town over in preparation to receive the latest in the long line of Pokemon core games, my copy of Pokemon Moon. Upon arriving, I noticed several others had had a similar idea of showing up several hours early.

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Actually they had many left it seemed. RIP to the saps that WEREN’T told.

Not only was I not the only one there early, it seemed I’d missed out on some serious entertainment opportunities while waiting. Yes, those guys are playing Spongebob ‘Sorry’ while chilling in line. Everyone had filtered in at different times, some having gotten there earlier in the night to receive a number that got you in quicker. Thankfully, they still had a few left once I arrived.

I always love these late night nerdy gatherings. Everyone automatically has something to talk about, and we all settled in to chatting about the game. Who are you starting with? (Popplio) Which legendary is cooler? (Lunara) Who’s excited for the Ghost in the Shell live action movie? (No one). As the clock struck 11, we were instructed to form up in line based on our numbers. A good thing too, as the amount of people had grown drastically in the 45 minutes since I’d arrived! A moment of silence for poor number 4, who never showed up. Sucks for them, means I get mine quicker!

As you can tell, the game was fairly well looked forward to.

More waiting, punctuated by one of the employees passing out various bits of Pokemon swag to whet our appetites (lanyards, wristbands, candy, cards with codes on them for well built legendaries…) Thankfully one of the Sorry players had the foresight to bring a Bluetooth radio, so our wait time was serenaded with songs one would expect to hear on Albino Blacksheep or old-school Newgrounds. Finally, as the time crept closer and closer to the witching hour, those of us with our numbers were allowed to file in.

Allowing people to take their game early is technically a no-no, so we all continued discussing various games as we waited, going over whether or not Final Fantasy 15 will be fun (it will), if Pokemon GO will ever be as popular again (it won’t), or why Spyro looks so bad in Skylanders. FINALLY, it happened! The clock struck midnight, the OK was sent, a coach turned back into a pumpkin, and they began to give over the goods! Each of us filed past the counter, mostly ignoring the various bits of merchandise spread out to entice a few more dollars out of us, taking the shrink wrapped piece of glory with big eyes and quickened breath, and thanking the employees as we shuffled back out the door. Finally, it was mine!

This game has received an enormous amount of hype from the community, due in no small part to Nintendo and Game Freak using the franchise’s 20 year anniversary as a springboard for marketing. Fans all over have been speculating what could be in this game every time we got a new piece of news. With so many new innovations (introduction of the not-really-Pokemon Ultra Beasts, the lack of traditional gyms, and the Alolan forms of pre-existing Pokemon), fans have been chomping at that bit to get our crack at it, and at last, it is here!

Pokemon has been a familiar friend to me for most of my life. I’m 26, Pokemon released in the US when I was 8. It was the game I bought a GameBoy for…OK, my parents bought, but still. The franchise, from the TV show, to the games, to all the merchandise in between, has been one of those rare constants. Ask anyone about Pokemon, and they at least have a smattering of knowledge. Show them a Pikachu, or a Pok├ęball, and chances are even a total stranger can identify them. When something you’ve loved for so long becomes ingrained in your very culture, you know it’s something special. I’ll be playing these games until they stop making them, so if you will excuse me, I have a new region to explore!

Stay Kultured, Gamers!