Last week, I briefly mentioned playing Super Mario after biggest’s birthday party. This was one of those decisions made, fuelled by a few drinks, immediately regretted once sober again.
My children remain foolishly under the misconception I enjoy being attacked by giant toads launching firebombs while all I can do is jump over them wearing a pair of plumbers dungarees.
My big brother won an Atari game console at the Highland Games way back in the eighties. We were the luckiest kids on earth. Along with its paddle controllers, came two games. The future had indeed arrived.
I clearly remember his photo in the paper complete with knee high socks and a triumphant smile. This piece of equipment, presented in a box as big as he was, launched him onto a career path in IT and prompted his love of all thing’s gadgetry and electronic.
‘Our’ Atari (it was never mine) included two games, Pong and Combat.
For those without a winning raffle ticket, Pong is self-explanatory, but Combat required nerves of steel and precision to manoeuvre tanks and conquer your enemy. Many a war fought and lost, testing sibling relations to their limit.
The subsequent arrival of a ZX Spectrum couldn’t have created more excitement had we been in NASA Mission Control launching rockets from my parent’s back garden.
Out of my depth again, I could only voice admiration over its ‘squishy’ buttons as opposed to grasping its ‘impressive graphics’ and speed at which it loaded games. On the odd occasion I was allowed a shot, I never fully excelled.
How did he know about the brick in level three?
How did he know if a brick pushed on a wall in level three would open a mystery door, in a secret room,20 levels further on?
Who told him pressing buttons in a certain order, would make the character representing his very soul onscreen leap in the air, do a fancy double back flip kick turn jab slap bomb drop combination ultimately knocking out his opponent who had so far pummelled him to smithereens?
I’d barely mastered the rules of hide and seek and here he was disappearing into foreign, computerised lands with unfathomable rules.
He went through a period of playing a game where his battle ships were attacked by the enemy and instructions had to be quickly typed in to survive. THIS is where I excelled.
It dawned on him to enlist me as ‘typist’ and barked orders at me. Simply because I could type faster than him. That novelty wore off VERY quickly, and I soon left him and his two-finger typing to fend for himself. No man left behind? Apparently not when you’re nine years old.
So, here I am, approximately 40 years later, cluelessly trying to join in and failing miserably. Again.
I attest to holding my own where required to drive a kart of some sort and I spend an infuriating amount of time ensuring my vehicle has super cool tyres and a pretty parachute thingy. Much to the disgust of my rather impatient opponents.
I believe looking good whilst not knowing which part of the screen to watch is imperative, even if I consistently forget which character I am.
Then there was Muppets Racemania…
My karting skills were honed and developed through a misspent university career where my friends and I enjoyed a game of Muppets Racemania after a night out.
I was grateful to have passed my driving test years earlier, however, I do believe a certain element of class is added to one’s driving ability from hours spent believing you’re Miss Piggy in charge of a vehicle racing round Manhattan launching bananas at passing cars.
As I type this, one of my kids is a plumber, but also a cat at the same time <what?>, trying to free a wee angel from a giant spikey dinosaur dragon thing by chasing sharp-toothed mushrooms armed with a plant resembling a vicious Venus fly trap.
They know how to jump. Slam. Sprint. Climb walls. Throw things. Jump up poles. Collect hoops/coins/stars.
Whatever the game requires of them, they instinctively know how to do it. Even asking all the questions I am certain my participation is only tolerated because I cause them no end of amusement being killed over and over and over again.