Super Mario Galaxy officially goes on sale today in the UK, but last night eight Game stores opened their doors to offer the Italian plumber's latest adventure over 12 hours early. Shops in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow, Newcastle, and Belfast sold the game from 6 p.m. GMT, which gave eager fans an overnight jump on the rest of the country.
The Super Mario Galaxy event was notable for being the first major UK video game launch not to take place at midnight. Recently, Westminster Council in London has deterred retailers from holding late-night events in the capital, specifically around the PlayStation 3 hardware and Halo 3 software launches. Nintendo UK's Rob Saunders described the move as a response to customer safety. "People are concerned about turning up at stores and going off into the night with no transport," he said. "Plus, the 6 p.m. opening time gives people a chance to come from work and school and get the game early."
And get the game early they did. According to Game's PR manager Fiona Haldane, around 500 people were gathered outside the retailer's flagship Oxford Street store, many of them dressed in Mario-themed costumes. Marwan Elgamal, who was also at the head of the queue at last year's official Wii console launch, led the charge in a pink Princess Peach outfit. On being the first in line, Elgamal said, "I want to show that I'm a dedicated gamer. I want to be here supporting Nintendo in every way. The game is beautiful and it's living up to everything I was hoping for."
Also in attendance was Charles Martinet, who has provided the voice for Mario for 17 years. On hand for photographs, interviews and autographs, Martinet told GameSpot, "[The crowd is] magnificent. There are loyal fans, fun fans, just lots of people having a great time."
Super Mario Galaxy is currently lining up to be one of the most critically acclaimed games of the year. On CNET's score-aggregation site GameRankings.com, the game currently has a 98 percent average score, edging just ahead of other highly rated games such as BioShock and The Orange Box.