Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Serenity to Accept the Things I Cannot Change (720 and 1942)

A bit of updating of my game list led me to backtrack after playing 720 and pick up 1942, which I had skipped. I'll also be grabbing one or two others that got missed before I hit 8-Eyes, which is otherwise up next.

1942, it turns out, is a much better game than its sequel. It possesses an elegant simplicity that allows one to enter a sort of shooter zen where you just weave about the endless chain of identical enemies indefinitely. The game passes time with a sort of ruthless efficiency, and the indefinite number of continues takes the sting away from losing. It is the first game I've played in this project (and of course, as game #4, that's not saying a lot) that I've genuinely enjoyed, and if I hadn't needed to go to bed it would have gotten more than its half hour. It is a game that captures the very essence of video-game-as-distracting-timesink, NOT THAT THAT IS THE CORE OF THIS PROJECT OR ANYTHING (my dissertation is great thank you for asking).

720, on the other hand, is a game utterly without merit, but it is without merit in such an absurd way as to become a strange sort of art object. It's a skateboarding game. You skate around town to various skating parks after earning enough points to get tickets in. You are also randomly:

Mowed down by cars.
Mowed down by motorcycles.
Mowed down by invisible skeletons.
Mowed down by bodybuilders.

Interestingly, none of these things kill you. You take a stumble and get back on the board. What does kill you?

Killer bees that are released if you take too long.

I strangely love this game. I think it is because of the degree to which it seems such perfect psychological preparation for the real world. For instance, today I learned that my mail was being stolen over the last few days, opening me to risk of identity theft, plus meaning the part I need from Ikea has vanished. This pisses me off. So do politics, the absurdity of my divorce, my dissertation, the job market, and many other things.

But somehow I feel like if I can learn to accept invisible skeletons, I can learn to accept anything.

This is strangely empowering.

1 comment:

  1. Hey man,

    I really love what you're doing with your site, and, although this post is years old, I've just started reading through all of them. This is the kind of thing I should have done myself, because I have so many in-depth, and sometimes strange, thoughts and memories tied to most NES games.

    That being said, I look forward to catching up, and will let you know what I think (if you care) when I get there.