Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wii Sports Will Kill You

About a year or so ago I bought my daughter a Wii.  Every once in a while I decide to torture myself with it and play Wii Sports.  The one game on there I usually play is boxing.

If you haven't ever played the boxing mode, understand that any semblance to real-life boxing is entirely absent from this game.  You have no arms.  You box strange Asian men or '70s looking male porn stars.  The controls could only be less responsive if they were mired in caramel.  And pulling off a punch is satisfying if only because it's so damn hard.  No, I take that back.  It's fairly easy to pull of a hit.  It's hard to do one that's worth it.  So why do I torture myself so?  It's fun and great exercise.

Depending on how long I pound strange Asian men or '70s porn stars, my arms will ache for a day or so after.  Win a bout and your skill level climbs.  In other games this will make your character better.  In this game it just means you'll be facing harder enemies.  Your actual physical skills while matched with unresponsive controllers is all you'll have.  It doesn't matter what your skill level is in the game.  You're either gonna get your ass creamed or not.

The game is frustrating.  Not frustrating like N+, but frustrating nonetheless.  That frustration, however, translates into harder swings and more satisfaction when you take down your opponent.  Yes, your chest will feel like its about to explode, and your arms will hate you the next day, but you're working up a sweat and you just punched some big-headed weirdo in the face.  That's the sign success.

I have a skill level I'm trying to get to.  I'm about three hundred and some points away from it.  Getting there will be a minor victory in the game of life, but it will be a victory.  Can I make it?  Honestly, I don't even know if the skill level goes that high, but I'm going to push myself to try.  If I have a heart attack in the meantime, so be it.  I'm sure I won't be the first one to have that happen, and I won't be the last.  And that's the only way I'll let the game beat me.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Run, Coward!

In 1982 I must have spent roughly $3,486 in quarters playing Sinistar. Readers of a certain age surely remember the game with its loud roar, iconic phrases, evil skull-like space station that ate your ship if you got too close, and chaotic game play.  Next to Centipede it took more of my time and money, with Xevious coming in a distant third.  I played this game so much that my dad actually fired me from my job at his bar.  It's the only job I got fired from in my life, and he did so because all I did was play "that game."  It was his fault for having it in the bar.

Later on in life I got a version of it for the Super Nintendo and the PSP, both on those museum pack games. Playing on a small screen and/or with less-than-desirable controls took away some of the fun, but it was still a joy to hear that all-too-familiar roar and, "Beware, I live."

Wander into a standard arcade today and you notice quite a few things.  One: less pedophiles.  Two: less kids (hence less pedophiles).  Three: less games like Sinistar.  I know the reasons for this.  As games became more advanced, so did gamers.  They demanded more out of their games, and games like Sinistar just didn't cut the cake.  With the rise of games for mobile phones, however, and the success of things like Bejeweled, games like Sinistar have their place once again, and I think arcades could benefit by pulling in a few of these classics.  They do well when they are stocked at bars, mainly due to a nostalgia factor.

Good games never lose their appeal, but they disappear because there are no venues to play them anymore.      I know if I passed an arcade and heard the roar of a completed Sinistar, I'd be sinking some quarters.  As of now, though, all I hear are sounds of games in demo mode that I have little interest in playing ... and due to the fact that they're in demo mode I'd say that other people feel much the same way.

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