The sticks are now available! Find them at Amazon.com:
Last week saw the hockey gaming community abuzz with excitement surrounding the simultaneous release of EA Sports’s NHL 11 and NHL Slapshot titles, and 2k Sports’s NHL 2K11. Wanting to experience the outdoor hockey component of NHL Slapshot for the Wii, I scooped up the only copy left at my local Target early on September 7th. As advertised (and blogged), the game comes with both the disc and a hockey stick controller accessory, the latter being one of the coolest Wii accessories to hit the market. However, it seems that in EA’s pre-launch haste, they were unable to address a seemingly obvious need: that gamers would require more than one stick accessory to play with friends.
It seemed implausible that one of the world’s leading sports gaming companies would miss such an important step, particularly for a revolutionary game like NHL Slapshot. But the more I looked, the more it seemed like the stick only came with the game and not separately. Amazon didn’t have it. Best Buy didn’t have it. EB didn’t have it. And whomever runs EA’s NHL Twitter stream didn’t appear to realize that you could use your 140-character text blocks to respond to repeated questions from money-in-hand consumers (ahem…cough…hack). I stopped looking late last week, annoyed that the attendees for the Saturday night party I was throwing would be relegated to playing semi-intoxicated Rock Band and not full-contact, lamp-shattering, semi-intoxicated Wii hockey. I wanted the Detroit Red Wings. I got Detroit Rock City. And it was as ugly as you can imagine.
Then today, thanks to an email from my buddy Jeff, the search is heating back up. He pointed me here, to an innocuous page on EA Sports’s NHL Slapshot site directing would-be stick purchasers to four separate retailers. Only problem? They’re all in Canada. I have no idea if they will ship to a foreign address, but really, EA? Your distribution model for one of the Wii’s breakthrough accessory items, and a must-have for multiplayer hockey action, is a single page with four links? Remind me never to let you make posters for my yard sales.
So I spent some time today to do more digging. Here’s what I found:
- An employee at a local (US-based) GameStop who told me that they do not yet have the stick available separately. Apparently the manufacturer of the stick (not EA) does not yet have exclusive rights to sell the stick. The GameStop guy also told me that his EA rep didn’t know the name of this mysterious other company, nor did he know when they’d have the sticks in stock.
- This page on the American version of Amazon.com showing a really cool “Team Canada” version of a Wii NHL Slapshot stick. Clearly this is not the same stick that comes packaged with the game, but it’s the closest approximation I’ve seen. It’s made by a company called ICON, and looks like it retails for $14.99. Only problem is it’s “Temporarily out of stock.”
- Further googling (and another message from Jeff) uncovered these two items on Amazon.ca (here and here). The Team Canada stick is in stock in Canada, but the plain blue one is not. Both are made by ICON.
- This ad on eBay for the Team Canada stick. Not surprisingly, the seller is based in Winnipeg.
- Finally, this item on eBay. This looks very similar to the stick that comes with the game, and even has the EA logo on the packaging. It’s made by a company called SAKAR. This seller is based in Toronto.
So that’s where we’re at. More than a week after the release of one of the most anticipated sports games to hit the market, and those of us south of the border are left challenging the system AI. If you’re in Canada, congrats, you have several outlets at which you can purchase the stick accessory. But we Americans pining for a game of two-on-two will have to wait — or take a stab at Ebay. Is this an oversight due to the frenzy of pre-releases in today’s gaming world? A red-tape issue between megacorporations, with gamers playing the role of the victim? Or a more calculated kick in the shins of those of us who cried tears of sorrow when Crosby potted that overtime game-winner? Who knows. But c’mon EA: if you want your foray into the Wii hockey world to be realistic, we need to be able to slash each other in the back of the knees with your foam stick blade. Help us out!
**Update thanks to reader ‘Johngo’: Best Buy has a mysterious new image-less NHL Slapshot stick for sale. Order at your own risk here.
Some links above subject to our Affiliate Disclosure.