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By now if you are a Kingdom Hearts fan you already know about the Dream Drop Distance Mark of Mastery edition. Some of you may even have it. From the minute I heard about it I knew I wanted it, I mean look at this, what’s not to love?
For me the long road to getting my hands on this has just been obliterated, along with my hopes of enjoying what seems to be one of the best entries Kingdom Hearts has seen.
Due to financial issues and recently becoming a new father I don't have the same kind of money to throw around on games, but because I knew I wanted this I planned far in advance. Having saved up enough money I went to my local GameStop over a month before game was to be released to put in my preorder only to find GameStop had stopped taking preorders. Still determined to get my business the clerk told me to reserve the regular edition and he would hold the Mark of Mastery for me if they got any extras or someone cancelled. I was a little unsure about this so I declined and waited. Eventually I did put some money down on the regular version of the game hoping it would be a good back up plan if I couldn't find the game elsewhere.
After asking around at other retailers like Target and Kmart no one was taking preorders for the Mark of Mastery. I didn't try Best Buy because of several bad experiences I've had preordering things with them. I decided my main plan would be to search online. I have never preordered a game online and I was a little hesitant but I decided I wouldn't have much luck locally since El Paso seems to get the bare minimum stock on anything that isn't Mexican food. Naturally Amazon was the best choice since the game was both still available, and I have Amazon Prime which gets me free two-day shipping. I nearly jumped for joy when I completed my transaction and the game was guaranteed for delivery on the 31st, release day.
As the weeks passed and it came to July 29th, I checked my Amazon shipping status, expecting to find that it was happily in transit. This was NOT the case. Instead my estimated date of arrival was now August 3rd. Pretty angry and confused I called up Amazon customer service who got to the bottom of the situation. I was then informed of something very puzzling. According to this customer service rep they did not receive the full shipment from Square Enix they had initially anticipated, meaning some orders had to be delayed. Mine was one of these "lucky" ones. I asked them more about when my order would be shipped and he told me the 3rd was a tentative date, and they had no idea of knowing if they would even get more copies. Great. I voiced my frustration, letting him know that this was my first preorder with them, and that my faith as a customer was pretty shaken by this. The rep promised he would do what he could to ensure I got the Mark of Mastery edition. He even made a note to follow up with me on the 3rd. I appreciated his help but the reality is as a customer service rep I knew there wasn't much he could do, especially in a large company like Amazon that seems to be a well oiled machine.
A few days later, it was the 31st and I got to see the happy social media posts of ecstatic fans proudly taking pictures with their MoM editions. I called up the clerk at GameStop and asked him if he got any extra. I was told the entire district was shipped the bare minimum, only enough to meet preorders. Strike out. Sure, there was still the hope of someone cancelling but I'm not sure I wanted to leave it to chance considering just how much I wanted this game. I went out to Best Buy on the off chance they had some stock. Asking the gaming department met with expected results, they only received three Mark of Mastery editions, all preorders, all sold. The nearest unsold copy was in Tucson, a meager 5+ hour drive. A good friend even checked Toys R Us for me, where the clerk didn't even know what the Mark of Mastery edition was. After my friend described it to him with me on the phone, the clerk assured us he didn't get anything like that. I was beginning to lose hope until at the end of the day I got an e-mail. My Mark of Mastery was being shipped after all! Needless to say I was relieved to have hope of finally obtaining this game! The new shipping date was set to be August 2nd, so I marked my calendar and crossed my fingers.
Hope is really the key to torture, as Bane would say. This became evident when the 2nd rolled around. I got a message saying my item was shipped right to my doorstep. I called my wife, who was home with our son, and asked her to check. I wasn't worried in the least when she didn't call me back, I only thought she was busy caring for our son, and that the package would probably be happily waiting for me when I got off work. Unable to wait any longer I got off work half an hour early to beat traffic only to find the package nowhere in sight. I checked in my house, outside my house, around my house, and behind my house. I would have checked under my house too, if I could have. Needless to say I was on the phone with UPS minutes later. That call was severely frustrating because they could not release any information to me, other than their scan says it was delivered and that Amazon would like me to call them. She told me that three times.
So I called Amazon again, and explained the situation. He said I had two options. I could wait until the 4th if by then I still had not received it they would ship a replacement, or I could get a refund. I explained to him my previous troubles with this orders and after talking with a supervisor, he was able to give me better news. His supervisor would allow a replacement to be shipped immediately and to placate me he would even ship it over night. If the other package did end up reaching me all I would have to do was ship it back to avoid being charged twice. Success finally. I was put on hold while he would complete the order for me, until... failure. I was informed there were absolutely no Mark of Mastery editions in stock by Amazon. Suddenly I was back to the same two options. Wait on a wing and a prayer that my game would eventually reach me by the 4th, or get a refund. I told him I didn't want a refund, I only wanted what I ordered and asked if there was any way I could be put on a list for the next shipment, the way I had before. Sure, it meant more waiting but since every retailer in my area was seemingly sold out I decided why not. He told me he didn't even know they would be getting more. Only an inquiry of the orders department would be the extent of what he could do for me and that would take three days. I tried explaining to him they had done this before and he apologized and told me there was nothing he could do. I didn't feel that he understood what I was saying in the least so I asked to speak to his supervisor, only to be told all supervisors were on calls. I left my number and asked him to have a supervisor call me back, but after waiting all night I got no call back.
The next day I went out to as many local retailers as I could. There was not a Mark of Mastery in sight. I checked even more online retailers; though I was definitely jaded any online order would succeed where Amazon had failed me. Kmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop, Wal-Mart, and yes, Amazon were all sold out. Secondary retailers on Amazon and eBay had the game, but most were nearly double the MSRP, the kind of money I simply didn't, and still don't have.
As I write this it is the 5th, and I'm sure it will come to everyone's surprise there is still no Mark of Mastery in my hands. I honestly don't even know where to place blame with this one. I can't rightfully say it is Square Enix's fault, or Amazon's. I guess I could be angry at UPS for possibly losing my package, but the sad truth is someone could have simply stolen it from my doorstep. Either way I have had to deal with repeated attempts at getting the Mark of Mastery, only to be denied by some unseen force at every turn. Is it karma, fate, bad luck, or just good old-fashioned coincidence that prevents me from celebrating the 10th year of Kingdom Hearts in style? I'll probably break down and buy a regular copy of this game but I can only think of what could have been, no, what SHOULD have been. Needless to say I don't think I will be preordering anything with Amazon ever again. I realize it is not entirely their fault but I don't think I can take this happening to me a second time. Maybe I will get lucky and in another 5 to 10 years Square Enix will release another Kingdom Hearts special edition, one with I will not hesitate to reserve in full the moment it is announced.