Remember when pre-order bonuses were cool? I remember a time when the bonuses we received were actually something to get excited about. Now, it’s either an in-game outfit or, if we’re lucky, $5 off our purchase. That’s perfectly fine for someone like me, but I’m considering those who may have a bit of a problem. You see for me, I live a 5 minute walk away from a GameStop. For others, going to GameStop may be a 30 minute drive. With the bonuses the way they are today, is getting a bonus helmet really worth going to GameStop before the release of a title? Is it really worth wasting over $5 in gas or bus fare to get to a GameStop twice for one title? Sure, we have free will and no one is forcing anyone to do anything. But why has pre-order bonuses become so lame? What happened to all the cool stuff that was actually worth reserving for?
My first ever reservation of a game was Soul Calibur II for Nintendo GameCube. This was also the first time I had ever received a bonus for reserving a game. I received The Art of Soul Calibur II and an art lithograph. Both were nice bonuses that were worth the trouble of reservation. Sure, these two bonuses may not be too different from the stuff they give out today, but I’ll take something tangible over digital any day.
One of the best pre-order bonuses I ever got was the Pokémon Colosseum: Bonus Disc. Getting it was like getting two games. With one purchase, I got to open two freshly sealed GameCube cases and pop in two different discs for different reasons. Why can’t more bonuses be more like this? Maybe it’s that they want to save plastic, because of how much they use of it on cases? Well, that’s an entirely different issue. But it was nice to get something truly worthwhile. Today, we reserve a game like Street Fighter IV, and get a 5 cent piece of cloth that is passed off as a headband. Give me a break…
Another issue with reservations, at least at my nearby GameStop, is the uncertainty of actually getting the pre-order bonus. I remember reserving Pokémon Pearl Version and when I picked up my copy on the day of its launch, I was told that I didn’t make some deadline. I’m not sure if this deadline was advertised or if it was displayed heavily during that time, but I was not told that it was too late for me to receive any pre-order bonus when I was making my order. Apparently, I reserved my copy a little too late.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still some pretty cool pre-order bonuses, but they are becoming much more uncommon. Additionally, even the best ones are not that special. Remember when reserving The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker got you Master Quest? That was a whole, never before released video game. I doubt we will ever be seeing anything close to that in the future. Oh well, reserving a game for something is at least better than nothing. But I sure do miss the good old days.