Call it "The Lighter Side of Gaming", if you will, but "JoySchtick" just sounds so much cooler! Join Tim Snider through his irreverant (and completely true) misadventures in videogaming.
(Atari With Out ‘Lectricity)
In mid-January, a major ice storm rolled through my town, taking down power lines and trees - which in turn, fell upon more power lines. Transformers blew across the city, and relay stations caught fire throughout the night. (It was like living through a Jerry Bruckheimer movie, only without the crappy dialogue.) When all was said and done, I was without power for 6 straight days.
The first 2 days went by quickly enough, as Chris (my wife) and I spent the hours talking, sleeping, and trying to stave off the effects of hypothermia. Sometime during Day 3 of Life Without Light, I was really jonesing for a videogame fix. Since all of my game systems were pretty much useless paperweights, and since I had stupidly forgotten to recharge my Gameboy Advance SP (and since it was stupidly designed to no longer use AA batteries), I was forced to get a bit creative to fill the videogaming void in a World Gone Dark.
All of my handheld games had fresh batteries, thanks to a recent sale at Sam’s Club. So this was the first game I grabbed. It was nice to get that “retrogame” feel of trying to maneuver the bright red dash through the dimmer red dashes.
I tried to get my wife interested in a two-player game, but she didn’t want to play since “it was football.” That’s like saying-tapping keys on a calculator is “advanced accountancy.” The heck with her, I thought. I’ll play a game by myself.
Tap-tap-tap-TWEET! Tap-tap-tap-TWEET! Tap-tap-tap-TWEET-TWEET-TWEET!!
I was bored in 10 minutes.
Not a videogame per se, but Blip somewhat captures the feel of Pong in a purely mechanical manner. Push the correct button to send the little LED back to your opponent.
“Do you want to play this, or is it too much like tennis?” I asked my wife, who sneered. We ended up playing this for a while, actually, but I’m uncertain as to whether it was out of sheer boredom or the fact that the little bouncing point of light was the first bit of illumination we’d seen outside of a flashlight for 3 days.
Remembering that I had loaded up the VB with fresh AAs a few days earlier, I dragged my beloved 3D system out of storage. Chris passed on playing it, as she’s one of those “eyes-bleeding, blinding-migraine, neck-cramped” VB players. I plugged in WarioLand, popped on the headphones, dipped my head into the system, and began to play.
I played for hours, not taking a break, until - unknown to me - the sun went down. Apparently Chris got bored with watching me silently work a controller, so she went to bed - taking our only flashlight with her. I was in complete and total darkness.
I’m unsure of exactly HOW long I had played, but I finally leaned back and blinked, trying to acclimate my eyes. The darkness remained. I thought I had gone blind.
Chris said my screams of panic woke her up.
Remembering that I had charged up my portable DVD player, I popped in Dragon’s Lair by Digital Leisure. It’s strange, but most complaints with this DVD are that there’s an obscenely long pause between moves. However, my portable DVD player doesn’t pause at all during movement and is pretty close to spot on in terms of movement timing.
I had never really won the game without continuing a handful of times, so I made it a point to try to rescue Daphne with only my 5 original lives. Once all 5 were gone, I would start the game over. For hours I played until I was finally able to kill Singe and rescue the Princess within my 5 original lives.
“Can we now watch an actual movie?” Chris pleaded. So I popped in a DVD, and we settled down to watch it. The DVD battery pack died 7 minutes later.
“Let’s play Scrabble,” Chris suggested. I said no, as she regularly kicks my ass at it - which drives me nuts, me being a professional writer/editor and all.
“Let’s play Trivial Pursuit,” I offered. She said no, as I regularly kick her ass at it - having an infinite amount of nonimportant pop-culture crap stored in my memory.
So we compromised and played Donkey Kong. (By “compromise,” I meant, “She got tired of hearing me whine and relented to play it.”) I made the house rule that you had to make the appropriate sound effect with every play. Which was amusing, as Chris had no idea what the original Donkey Kong sound effects were like.
“OK honey, you jumped the barrel,” I said. “Make the noise.”
“That’s Pac-Man. Try again.”
“I think that’s Space Invaders.”
She growled at me. It didn’t help that I said she was closer, as that was the sound DK makes after causing the girders to collapse.
And, just like Mario, I spent the rest of the night jumping over the little plastic barrels my wife hurled at me.
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