Okay, so I had a lot of time on my hands today. I mean, a lot of free time. I decided, in my never-ending pile of boredom, to head on down to my basement and look through some games I bought a long time ago. I don't have very many objectively old games; most of my possessions are from this century. Most of my recent gaming has been dedicated to multiplayer experiences, however, and today I decided to go back to my roots. I unplugged my Xbox 360 and PS3 (I have no NextGen consoles, so get your pointing and laughing out of the way now) and plugged in my Wii (can't wait for someone to chastise me for considering that an older console) and my PS2. I also popped out my GameBoy Color and prepared myself for flashbacks to early childhood memories. I opened up a cabinet and games of varying platform spilled out: Xbox games, PS2 games, Wii games, and one singular GameCube game. As I can promise you I have never in my life owned a GameCube, this perplexed me. I have no idea why I own Frogger: Ancient Shadow for the Nintendo GameCube, and I have no idea why the disc is riddled with scratches. Maybe there are some Nintendo-loving apparitions in my house that brought their phantom GameCube with them and just forgot to de-materialize a game?
I just remembered, I forgot to take my meds.
The first thing I noticed was something pretty obvious: I own a lot of Dance Dance Revolution titles for several different platforms. To be exact, I own eighteen DDR games. Eighteen. I remember enjoying maybe seven of themes games, so what's up with the other eleven? I did brief play-throughs of every single one of these games, and it slowly started coming back to me. The games on the PS2 are pretty excellent; the gameplay is smooth, arrows are synced with the music, and the music choices are pretty solid. There's just something so endearing about jumping around on a mat, doing what looks like the farthest thing from dancing, loosely to the rhythm of a Sean Paul song. Who here actually remembers Sean Paul? What a relic. Talk about irrelevant. Anyway, I noticed there was one bad egg among the solid PS2 releases: Dance Dance Revolution Disney Channel Edition. "Oh, I remember this one! I think I got it for free at a failing Blockbuster store!" I pop it in I start to regret the preceding eighteen years of my life. The primary song choices of this game are themes to Disney Channel shows like That's So Raven and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. The game was released at the time those shows were booming. I want to give you an idea of how bad this game is, you guys. This game is so bad, Disney didn't allow Konami the rights to the original songs, and Konami had to make covers of all of them. Hahaha! What kind of discussion went on behind the scenes between Disney and Konami?
"Okay, you guys can use our songs, but you can't use the original ones. You have to make your own covers."
"Oh, come on, this is a game about hitting arrows with your feet. Do you realize how ridiculous you look when you play this thing? You look like a horse that rolled over on its stomach and can't get back on its feet. Don't make me laugh at you. Call us in the morning."
After finishing up that scarring experience, I turned on my Xbox and started playing one of the other games. They aren't particularly interesting, though one of the song choices is Men Without Hats' "Safety Dance." I don't know about you, but I had a plenty good time with this one. If you can flop around on a plastic mat to a corny 80's tune by Men Without Hats, I don't know what else you need from life. I would also like to take this time to mention that in between songs I tripped over the mat and smashed my chin on the desk by the mat. Truly remarkable. Anyway, I popped Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party into my Wii and, almost immediately, remembered that every licensed song on that game is a very half-baked cover of the song. There's like some J-Pop cover of JoJo's "Too Little Too Late" on there and it's just the most hilarious thing. Did anyone ask for J-Pop JoJo? Did anybody really, truly need this in their lives? Well, whether you asked for it or not, here it is, as if proudly sitting atop a birthday cake that looks ravishing in the window, but is just a disappointing pile of fat and regret when you purchase it.
So, after exhausting myself on the, ahem, dance floor, I went to go nurse my chin, because even though I used my pain and anguish as a side joke I definitely still bled from my face. After crying in my kitchen for 20 minutes I slapped the MAN back into myself and returned downstairs. I fiddled around in the cabinet a little bit, looking for more PS2 games. I threw a bunch of cases behind me before discovering a profoundly dead cockroach. I don't know how long he's been sitting in there, you guys, but I know it's been a while since I opened this cabinet. After nearly vomiting I went and got a lot of toilet paper and picked him out of there and doused that quarter inch in Lysol. I accidentally breathed a lot of it in and had a coughing fit for five minutes. After nearly Google'ing how to tie a noose, I remembered why I was suffering in my basement and resumed rummaging through my cabinets. I stumbled upon a copy of Family Guy: It's a Trap! I laughed faintly and recalled how I do not remember playing this game nor buying it, but after seeing the $34.99 price tag on it I decided to call 911 to report a robbery.
"911, what is your emergency?"
"Yes, hello, police, hi, I'm Grant. I'm here to report a robbery."
"Alright, Grant, and where is this robbery occurring?"
"My basement, over several years?"
"I apparently bought a copy of Family Guy: It's a Trap! for $35 and no piece of Family Guy merchandise should be that expensive."
"You know calling the police to write a fake interaction on a tech website is against the law, right?"
Haha, oh, those police.
After that wacky excursion I found this pinball game, and you know what? It was a lot of fun. The gameplay was nice, the aesthetic was flashy and colorful, and there was a real sense of gratification when you did well. I remember playing that pinball game for hours on end and having a real blast with it. A tiny jolt of nostalgia shook through me, and a smile crossed my face. But I quickly realized I'm not here to be happy, my job is to suffer through some bad games for your amusement. When I went back into the dark depths of the cabinets, I found... just, the saddest thing. A copy of Tiger Woods PGA Tour '07 still wrapped in the plastic it came in. It had a "NEW!" sticker on it, as well as the price for a new release at the time, and it was still wrapped in plastic. Nine years, and that game hasn't seen the light of day. Wonder how much something like that would go for on eBay. It sat next to the Burnout trilogy for the PS2, and I remember loving those games. I would play local multiplayer with friends or family and listen to the mediocre punk-rock soundtrack it came with... ah, the sweet memories of childhood clashing with the horrifying realization that adulthood is approaching and will slowly suck the life out of me.
So, after that terrifying revelation, I decided to give up on the PS2 before I broke down in tears again. I re-calibrated my Wii remote and fired that bad boy up. Wii Sports was already in the disc tray, so I decided to play that first. I remember how much of an expert I became at these games, which also came as a bit of a sad realization. I first played tennis, on which I have a skill level of 2,400. Those AI players are no match for my sick backhand, which is my forehand only upside-down. I'm not even kidding, my backhand is just swinging the Wii remote between my legs. 2,400, ladies and gents. Next I played baseball, and got my face beat in by a crudely made Mii named Ai who was left-handed and threw side-armed, and every pitch was a change-up. I sat on the couch and contemplated my life for a second after losing 6-0 after one inning of play. I soldiered on, however, braving the elements and continuing my journey into bowling. I bowled a perfect game until the 10th frame, where I threw a gutter ball and promptly screamed at my cat who was nearby for a straight minute. I haven't seen her for the rest of the day.
Oh, you don't think I played Wii golf and came back with anything interesting to discuss, do you?
Well, that was kind of painful. I moved on to Wii Play, another staple of my childhood. I looked at the game choices and thought to myself for a bit. "Fishing? Skeet shooting? Ping pong? Am I playing a game on the Wii or am I trapped on a senior citizen cruise ship?" I tried my hand at air hockey and failed to score even once. I tried the tank game whose name I forgot, and didn't realize I needed the nunchuck to play it. I lost my nunchuck a while back, so I had to sadly quit the game. I decided to try out fishing, and the line between reality and tired hallucination quickly blurred itself in spectacular fashion. Did I transcend? Did I see the face of an angel? Maybe. There's no telling what happens once you start playing fishing on Wii Play. Some say you learn how to time travel. Some say you learn the meaning to life. Some, like me, eject the disc and put in the final game they're willing to tolerate, Wii Sports Resort.
I remember a lot of Sunday afternoons playing Wii Sports Resort. It just felt right to play on a Sunday afternoon; with the crisp air outside and the steaming hot sun on the television, it felt natural to me. There's no better time to play Wii Sports Resort than on a Sunday afternoon around 1 PM. I fired up basketball first, because that was the only sport I recognized. Ten seconds into the game I began to suffer flashbacks recalling my days of getting cut from the basketball team in 7th grade. I went upstairs, reflected on my failures, and cried into a tissue. Oh boy, lots of crying today. I descended the stairs and hastily quit basketball, showing it who was boss and that I didn't even like basketball anyway. I started playing some hang-gliding game, of which I forgot the name, but I spent the whole time trying to ambush my Mii into falling into a volcano. After several attempts, I realized this was a children's game and Nintendo didn't tap into their dark potential well enough to warrant me playing this mini-game any further. Finally, I decided to hop on archery, and spent a solid two minutes trying to figure out how to aim the bow and arrow at myself to end it all.
Alas, I failed, and in disappointment I turned off my Wii and sat in silence. I reflected; I reflected on life, on time, on the basic elements of life. What is my life? Where is my mind? Was my purpose in life to play all of these games and come to primal truths about myself? Have I reached the apex of existence? I was ready to transcend from my body and become an ethereal being. I had earned this privilege after leaning about the nihilism of existence through crudely-made Wii games. What was I to do now? I knew I had to immediately report this experience back to you guys, because I know you would acknowledge its significance and mark this as a milestone in gaming history. This is the day that the meaning of life was decoded through Dance Dance Revolution and Tiger Woods PGA Golf '07. This was the day everyone would join hands, forget their petty issues, and celebrate life for its basic joys and sporadic woes.
Actually, none of that happened. I sat in my basement by myself and played games for nine hours. How else was I going to justify that to myself?