For many years now, I've held the unenviable position of being a non-gamer in a gaming house. We've got more gadgets than NASA in our front room, but they're all a bit foreign to me with their blinking and whirring. There's almost a stigma attached now, especially in a group situation, when you're the only one not 'having a bang on Wipeout'. It's like you were born without co-ordination and jelly hands that can't keep you on the track, or hold the gun, or fight the rocket launching robo-Hitler. But in life hand/eye co-ordination didn't seem to be an issue. I wasn't constantly hitting myself in the face with independently swinging monkey arms, or walking into walls. With certain games it was all fine, so what was my gaming problem?
Let's take a stroll down memory lane shall we?
So lets skip to the Doom years. Now this was fun, not too much running away, loads of slowly moving while picking up bits of armour. Great stuff. So when Resident Evil came to my attention I thought ‘problem solving and Zombies, what a winner’. Sadly I was mistaken, it was all very well putting this pole there and picking up that key, but when it came to fight or flight scenarios I would always end up having my face munched off by zombie dogs, or being licked by that weird hybrid monster on the roof. It then became really obvious what the problem was. I can’t run. Especially in high-pressure situations. I run into walls, off cliffs, into Zombie mouths, helicopter blades. You can name almost anything and I guarantee at some point my speeding character’s body will have been munched by it, dropped off it or aimlessly run up against it. This also involves any high-speed manoeuvre, flying, driving and jogging.
Why is this?
Because that little pad thingy with pointy arrows that supposedly moves you about just does not compute inside my tiny non-gaming brain. If I have a joystick, I know which way is forward, but give me a little square with arrows on it and I guarantee I’ll end up in the river. It’s the same for all actions that involve a bit of finesse. Fighting games for instance, lots of ducking and diving, special moves and defending yourself. Or in my case mashing the buttons till my hands are blue, and using the one special move that I found out how to do by accident. And the problem with this situation is, you don’t want to do it anymore, it’s embarrassing. Especially if your other half is some kind of gaming specialist. You want to play because it’s fun, but you can’t because you suck. So what could happen, would we be about to create a super race of gaming specialists, who have to leave their malco-ordinated other halves just so they can enjoy a social night of gaming fun with a loved one? Would I have to deal with my spaz-handedness and be always excluded from the fun? No, the all-powerful Nintendo eye was watching, and thought ‘enough is enough’. Lets have something that even a cock-handed muppet can play.
So enter the Wii. It’s shape is easy to understand; it looks like a remote control, and I don’t have a problem with those. Often. It’s a dream machine for all the biffers who’ve been excluded for being a bit crap. The screen says bat, and you bat. The screen says bowl, and you bowl. It’s not A+C trigger forward A A A to hit the ball. You line it up, and you hit it. It makes you out of breath, your muscles ache, and your back feel like you’ve been at super-yoga, but you’re actually doing it. Before if you wanted something that felt like ‘real-life’, well as real as swiping at your enemy with a samurai sword could ever be (except if you’re a Samurai of course) then it was a trip down the local arcade or Namco. My favourite machines there were always the ones were you had a gun, or a sword, or the one where you were in a white water raft with a paddle (I’ve yet to see this for the Wii, but it can only be a matter of time). Now, minus the paddling, I can do this in my own living room.
I won my first game of golf outright, and it felt good. No bogeys for me, I was all birdie and the sweet smell of success was mine. And it smelled like streamline white plastic. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still a few moments of tension, it almost came to blows over one of the party games on Super Monkeyball, there was one with a spear, and fish, and I was too short, and the Wii almost went through the TV. But after years of falling at the first hurdle, it was great to be able to play, and win, with the big boys and girls. It was like when you’re at school and you go up a year, and are finally allowed into the senior school playground. That feeling of a world that’s been hidden away, and slightly superior, is now yours for the taking. I was in Game the other day, and it was me pestering for new games, new attachments, all the fun of the fair. Tonight I think it’ll be a round of golf, followed by a boxing match (now that we’ve got another controller), then maybe a serene game of catching fish. This console is complete genius, and whenever the white water rafting game is done, I’ll be first in the queue. And no, Nintendo didn’t ask me to write this, although if they are reading, we could do with another couple of controllers. Just so everyone can play tennis. Including my Mum.
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