When I worked at the cell phone store, people were always talking about Plants Vs. Zombies, a cool game in the Android market.
I totally didn’t have time to play video games back then. I worked a ton, plus I worked at home a ton, plus I did laundry and some of the other mundane work of adulthood and occasionally talked to my kid and my lover.
One day, Plants Vs Zombies was free in the Amazon App Store, so I got it on my Droid X. Oh man is it fun. Then my lover and I were playing Peggle one night on the Xbox (we got it for like $5.00 through the Xbox Live thingy), and we noticed that we could have Plants Vs. Zombies on the big screen. I beat the version on my Droid, and then got hammered after like the third round on the Xbox. My lover had been playing along, so he is now extremely good at Plants Vs. Zombies, so I had to practice a bit on my own before I played with him.
But oh man. Man oh man. Cooperative mode is fun, except for that we are both sun greedy. And since the last time I played video games with any even minor regularity it was on N 64, and that was in college and generally under the influence of substances, I am not as coordinated as I need to be.
My fingers are not nearly so nimble as my lover’s. He’s been on this video games thing all along. From youth to adulthood. He used to play World of Warcraft, but he stopped. I’m not really sure why other than that it’s expensive. He was never one of those partners my girlfriends bitch about who can’t be bothered to emerge from, what are they?, RPGs, but with a couple of letters up front that means something about the online community. I forget.
Also, he was showing me one day about his World of Warcraft guys and he said, “basically it’s like playing with digital dolls.” He said it by way of explanation and it was sort of automatic. He is witty and a very good teacher, so I know he did not mean anything insulting by it, but apparently revelation bothered him.
Anyhow. So I also used to play Atari and Nintendo when I was very young. Only the Mario games. Maybe I played Duck Hunt one or two times. And that was back when the controllers had like 5 buttons maximum, or only one trigger.
I’m sure many of you have seen the Xbox controller. It’s got like 20 buttons. You have to be thinking fast both to play the games, which have increased their demand of cognition considerably, and have really clever thumbs and forefingers.
The thing that gets me, though, is the animation. Playing games now is like playing paintings. My love man has got these games that are really stunning. I mean, why isn’t this stuff in art museums? It is incredible. And the code that underlies it? The whole thing baffles me. I recognize amazing innovation when I see it, and I have got to hand it to these video game people. They are really doing some impressive stuff.
Plants Vs. Zombies is like a fluff game. It’s all cartoony and more 2-dimensional than a lot of the games, but some of the games–in addition to being incredibly beautiful–even have this really complex narrative. And the way it gets put together is also really impressive, because in a lot of ways it’s like the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I’m thinking of Fallout and this other Western one he plays… I really love the soundtrack to Fallout 3. It’s all 50s and the songs are real, but they’re full of innuendo that I didn’t notice prior to hearing them as the soundtrack for a video game.
My one gripe would have to be the quality of the writing. It’s often (not always) clever, but poorly rendered. Full of a lot of the wordy faux pas of the rookie writer. Since the work is so finely tuned, and since a great deal of money, time and expertise go into these things, I don’t understand why they don’t hire really excellent writers. I would be proud to say that I wrote the dialogue for Fallout. Or really any of these games. Even Peggle. Peggle is imaginative and also not a serious game. But there are these ridiculously worded instructions that are basically impossible to understand. Especially in Peggle Nights.
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