NEW YORK — They were a line of two.
William Francis and Julio Sarmiento took to the streets of Rockefeller Center Friday night to wait nearly 50 hours for a video game.
They knew there was a good chance that if they showed up Sunday morning they’d still likely form the front of a line for people waiting to buy Super Mario Galaxy 2 from the Nintendo World Store when it opened at 11 a.m.
But instead the two planned to hang out for the weekend in front of the Manhattan retailer.
“I wait in lines because it shows dedication to the company,” Francis told me Saturday afternoon. “I don’t stay in lines for Xbox 360 games.”
Video-game launches have long elicited lines. It is, among the most fanatical of video game fans, a badge of honor to wait for hours, for days, for games and the systems that play them.
While Super Mario Galaxy 2 isn’t the sort of game that is being kicked off with giant parties in Times Square or celebrity events in Los Angeles, its launch highlights the power Nintendo still has over its fans.
Sarmiento is such a fan of the company that he was going to form the line in front of the Nintendo World Store Friday morning, he told me.
“I was extremely excited,” he said. “I came to the store Friday morning and I told everyone there I was first to be in line and they were like ‘Go to work and come back later. No one is going to be waiting until Saturday night.’”
So he went off to work and when he returned at 4 p.m. that evening he discovered that he was now the second person in line for a game not due out for days.
Sarmiento didn’t know Francis when he got in line behind him Friday night, but he was happy to have someone to share the line with.
“I have someone to talk to and someone to watch over my stuff,” he said.
When Francis showed up to the store Friday night he came wearing a t-shirt, shorts and carrying a DS. Sarmiento brought a DS, folding chair, blankets, change of clothing, even a spare hat. The guys spend most of their time waiting in their line of two, but when someone has to use the bathroom, get something to eat, or charge a Nintendo DS, the other held his place.
And getting to a launch so very early does have its benefits. On Friday, Charles Martinet, the man who voices Mario in many of Nintendo’s games, noticed the two hanging out in front of the store and came out to chat.
Touched by their dedication to the franchise, Martinet handed out some Nintendo freebies to the two and signed lithographs
“Standing in line,” Francis said, “is like getting the collector’s edition of the game.”
Brian Crecente is managing editor of Kotaku.com, a video-game Web site owned by Gawker Media. Join in the discussion at kotaku.com/tag/well-played.