I have discovered the most amazing thing of all about living in the future, and it is that you can call up the nostalgic, rosy past whenever you like, with a click of your fingers and a credit card number. Did you know that onto the Nintendo Wii you can download the classics of your gaming childhood? Did you know that if you had a Wii , and a wireless connection and six bucks, you could be playing the original Legend of Zelda? This is among the most beautiful things that I can think of, and it makes me happier than happy. It makes me the happiest, in fact.
My baby brother and I spent a ridiculous number of hours in the basement with our Nintendo and our enormous collection of games, flailing our arms and yelling at the screen and mashing buttons and throwing our controllers and stomping around and hunching forward filled with grim determination and saying things like YOU CAN DO IT GO GO GO GO YAY YOU WIN YOU ARE SO GREAT! My brother was so great far more often than I was–he was the one who could koopa the troopa out of those little fucking turtles and save the princess and find the wand and discover the treasure and blow right through the enemy line.
Me, I spent a lot of time falling off platforms and getting frustrated, and eventually I was just content to sit and watch as he won, though I would provide extremely valuable advice and wisdom and unassailable observations like, You just died, and You have to kill the guy. We were a very great team, and would pour over the Nintendo Power magazine looking for clues and information and secrets and maps to guide us through the dungeons that we could not figure out how to get through on our own, which made us greatly furious and full of anger. I was the official Map-Reader and Keeper of the Tips, and interpreted directions, and together we destroyed the 8-bit world with our magic and might.
Though I was never good at the behind-the-controller portion of the gaming, I stayed a gamer, playing role-playing titles that more or less only require you to navigate your little man through a story and around dungeons and choose spells from lists in the correct orders in order to destroy the evil bad guys who were full of evil and badness. I never quite got over the sense that I couldn’t do it on my own, and for every game I purchased I would purchase the strategy guide, which was less a guide full of strategies to employ and more a step-by-step hand-holding extravaganza full of maps and bulleted lists in large, bold-faced type. Gaming for dummies, essentially. I was a dummy.
It has been years x years since I’ve played any games, until I got a Wii for my birthday because I have a spectacularly awesome boyfriend. But it took me awhile to actually appreciate my Wii–I was afraid to play it. I wouldn’t be good at the games. I would be so sad when I was bad at the games, and embarrassed, and there was no one around to take the controller and let me be the map person with the very good tips. Because I wasn’t really using it, I lent the console to E and his house of boys, who discovered almost immediately that you can hook the sucker up to the World Wide Web and start doing amazing things like visit other Wii consoles and download classic games.
“Oh my god, for real? For real, for real?” I shrieked when I came into the living room and they were browsing a list of games that included Secret of Mana and The Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong country, and I jumped up and down and exploded with rainbow fireworks of gleeful hyperbole. Greater than the greatest thing ever! I spent a lot of time downloading games. “Why don’t you play the games you already downloaded?” E would say. Because I can’t and will be bad at them, I didn’t reply. I just kept downloading games because it made me happy to own them, and reminded me of my brother. Kid Icarus, holy crap, we were obsessed with that game, download thank you!
Sick this past weekend, on the couch, tired of reading. I turned on the Wii (you can do it with the Wiimote! Wiimotely!) and I hesitantly clicked on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and started to wander through the game, gingerly and a little afraid. Crazily afraid! What is there to be afraid of? It is a game. They are pixels. I hate not being good at something immediately and spectacularly. I hate to be wandering through a puzzle feeling as if I have missed something, that I’m clueless and lost and unsure of what’s going on and completely walking by things that are utterly obvious. I hate the feeling that I may have made a mistake.
I was tempted to get off the couch and go get my laptop and find some step-by-step walkthroughs that would tell me exactly what to do and how to do it and when, how to go through the dungeons and defeat the evil and save the day, but I was sick and tired and didn’t want to do anything but move my thumbs, and I persevered, bravely, through the dungeons. And I beat the dungeons and I defeated the evil and figured out what my items did and where to get bombs and how to get flippers and increase my health and save the day and a few days later, I am jonesing to play, flush with accomplishment, feeling like a badass. Feeling competent.
You know, I hate Learning Valuable Lessons so we’re going to pretend that didn’t happen, and I am not quite as dorky as I appear, and that no one needs a strategy guide to navigate my remarkably simple psyche. I’m going to just go downloadTetris Party, now.