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“Game Over” For This Gen Xer
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
I don’t feel my age, and I don’t think I look my age, but one thing for sure: I’m totally ancient when it comes to video games. Robert has been trying to get me interested in the “shoot the bad guys” kind of video games, but I’m struggling with them. First off, the games systems of today are a hundred times as complicated as the systems I used as a kid. I’m not a patient person. I just want to get started and play the damn game. I don’t care about the history of the bad guys I’m supposed to eliminate, I don’t want a pep talk about how I’m the world’s only hope. I don’t care about choosing a team, making my character look just like me, the kind of weapons I have, the view mode, the length of play, the challenges I face during the first round or whatever. My needs are simple. Show me some targets, and I’ll shoot at them, providing I know where the “fire” button is.
I miss the old days, where all you needed was a joystick and the fire button. Either that, or a mini steering wheel with a lever or button to go from high gear to low.
About the only modern video games I enjoy playing are “Crazy Taxi” and “Mocap Boxing.” “Crazy Taxi” is simple: drive like hell to get your passenger to his/her destination as quickly as possible. This game fulfills my urge to drive over lawns and smash into garbage cans and telephone booths. In this game, you are allowed to do that, in order to get bonus points for speed. My character choices are simple: I can be the chick, or I can choose from three or four men. There’s no snagging the Rasta man’s car AND being able to be the chick. Whatever ride she has, I’m stuck with it. But that really doesn’t bother me.
“Mocap Boxing” is a game that hasn’t reached Fort Wayne and probably never will. I’ve humiliated myself with “Dance Dance Revolution,” but I’m pretty good at “Mocap Boxing.” It’s basically a boxing simulator, wonderfully simple. Two plastic gloves are wired into the game console. The machine scans you before you play, to see what kind of a target you are. You punch at the screen, trying to beat a virtual boxer. Your first opponent is fairly easy, but as you move up, future opponents become more difficult. I’ve never been able to beat the 39-year-old Russian. But what I really love about this game is that at the end, it will tell you your strengths as a fighter, and tell you how many calories you burned. Like “Dance Dance Revolution,” this is a game that if you play it frequently, you’ll get in better shape, as opposed to 99.9% of the games out there which cause your butt to spread on the sofa and gradually take root.
I loved playing video games as a kid. I’d play hours of “Asteroids” only to hear the menacing music and noise of the space ships long after I shut off the game system. “Galaga” was my game, and I spent a lot of time at Putt-Putt playing it. It too was wonderfully simple: you get three space ships, and you aim at these space insects, some of which could shoot at you. If you were skillful enough, you shot one of the insects, it would kidnap you, and then if you could shoot it again without hitting the abducted ship, you got the ship back and you’d have double shooting power.
Contrast this with “Rogue Spear,” which was given to me. Several frustrating minutes were spent going around and around and around a museum, hitting walls, looking up, looking down, circling to see if ANYTHING was in range, only to hear, “man down!” and boom, one of my team members waslost. How the hell did that happen?!!! Where’s the bastard that did this? Obviously, I’m going to need lessons in how to play this. And that just seems wrong. In the old days, a brief on-screen tutorial was all you needed to get going. If I have to watch someone play a video game before I can enjoy it, well, what’s the point?
After running into pixilated walls and seeing too few targets, I gave up and put in Midway’s “Arcade’s Greatest Hits.” Call me hopelessly old school, but having one disc with games like “Gauntlet,” “Marble Madness,” “Millipede,” “Paperboy,” “Roadblasters” and “Crystal Castles” gives me a sense of relief. I mainly bought the disc for “Paperboy,” which offers a sense of humor (and satisfaction; I’m pretty good at this game, too). Maybe someday I’ll step into 21st century gaming, but having to master a game controller with 15 buttons and two joysticks might be too much for this Gen Xer.
Besides, I felt embarrassed when my Sims character burned to death because she didn’t have the brains to put out a kitchen fire. With the old school games, you just got blown up. Game Over. Simple, but just as violent. And less humiliating.