As much as I try to dedicate myself to loving every game of a particular franchise, the fact is that I’m a fan of video games generally; they usually bring forth lots of joy and happiness. And sometimes they don’t. And sometimes that really baffles me. Looking back, there are still two titles, both for our trusty Wii that is still Skyward Sword-less, that I just didn’t enjoy as much as I thought I would. They were surely two of the better titles made for the system, and both came from two of gaming’s top franchises. I was really, really, really looking forward to playing both games till my wrist arthritis set in.
Super Mario Galaxy (SMG) was second reason we stood outside our local Circuit City in the early morning cold of February 2007 – the first was the Wii. Even then, a year after its release, Wii’s were still hard to get. But we had called ahead and were “promised” a unit if we got there early enough to grab one of the few that were schedule to arrive. Needless to say, we were not the only ones standing in the cold – the nervous parents, the best buds, the slightly stoned guy and his girlfriend in goddamned uggs and pajama pants, yes, they were all there too. Thankfully, we were near the beginning of the line and the cold had stunted everyone’s nerves to the point of a quiet if anxious calm. Once the store opened, we hustled in, grabbed and paid for a Wii, SMG, an extra controller, etc., and headed home, prizes in happy hands.
After we got the Wii hooked up, and after the necessary trial of Wii Sports, we popped in Super Mario Galaxy. At the risk of beating a dead unicorn into the ground with a rainbow, the experience was like unicorns and rainbows. The three-dimensional levels, bright graphics, and Mario-filled goodness splashed all over our eyeballs and seeped into our very pleased brains. It took a bit to get used to the remote and nunchuk, but there was nothing but happy happy joy joy all around.
After a few rounds of dual-play, we called it quits and each eventually started up our own games. I didn’t expect that my fiancé would play the game much, and he didn’t. He was pretty sure that I was going to completely monopolize our single TV — and I did, for a little while at least.
SMG was such unique fun that I thought I would never put down the controller. But I did, because that Christmas my very thoughtful fiancé got me The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (TwiP). He had apparently come to terms with the fact that he would never get to watch TV or play the Wii ever, ever again. Mwahahaha! (Not really though, cause he also got a second TV. Evil plan thwarted. Oh poo.)
Anyway, like SMG, TwiP was simply fantastic. Both franchises we re-born all fancy and new and dazzling through the Wii and its unusual controllers. I had convinced myself that the Wii was the greatest invention of all time and that SMG and TwiP were going to be the greatest games of all time.
Or maybe I had taken a severe blow to the head.
Either way, I was wrong.
Because both games eventually ended up on the shelf, that shelf of games that we all intend to play again someday. I ended up giving away TwiP to my brother when he finally got a Wii (even he couldn’t understand why I didn’t finish it); and SMG was traded in.
So what happened? Why did I shelve two of the (perceived) greatest games ever? Why did I come to no longer care about my beloved Mario and Link and their new 3D adventures in their new 3D lands? I’ll offer three reasons, none of which you probably care about at this point. Yes, I feel the hatred flowing in you. I’m just going to step over…here……
(1) In late 2007, we moved to a new apartment. In this new apartment, our game system setup changed drastically and the Wii was moved to a less-than-ideal situation with bad lighting and seating. We tried to make the best of a bad situation (and we knew this was going to be an issue before moving in), but we constantly had trouble with the placement of the sensor bar and finding a good place to view the TV. We didn’t have enough room to actually use the Wii as nature had intended, flailing about and all, but we managed, sort of. I gave SMG and TwiP my best shots, but playing had become annoying and uncomfortable.
(2) Along the lines of annoying and uncomfortable, SMG’s rotating planets and upside-down play started making me queasy. Again, this probably had to do with the poor setup, but I became very displeased with the constantly shifting environments and my inability to properly orient Mario. Suddenly, I was always dying, falling off ledges, or misjudging jumps. As for TwiP, maybe I just wasn’t drinking enough coffee at the time, but I couldn’t follow its story to save my life. I also got very annoyed by Midna’s nagging (Midna was Link’s little steampunk-y tinkerbell helper). I also never quite succeeded as Link in wolf form. Maybe I’m just a terrible gamer.
(3) A bazillion great games for the PS3 and 360 were released around this time. And the thing about those games, Mass Effect, GTA IV, Gears of War 2, and so on, is that they were so story-driven and, well, adult. And by that I mean, well…um…not like “senseless” adult — it wasn’t like sneaking into an R-rated movie as a thirteen-year-old and being all like Teehee! Guns and cursing and naked people! Whee! It was more like seeing that intense R-rated movie about the orphans and their plight against humanity and really understanding where all the drama was coming from. It was like seeing the cruel, crass world in all it’s wonderful, horrible glory. Once I entered the realm of Mass Effect, there was no going back to Mario and his cute wittle stars or Link and his firefly muse. The stories and content were just not on the same level.
In one sense, the old idea “Nintendo is for kids, Sony and Microsoft are for grown-ups” came into play. SMG and TwiP were certainly more geared towards a general audience than most PS3 or 360 titles. And sure, my obsessions with ME and GTA IV further drove that wedge between Nintendo and I. But I didn’t really have a truly good reason for giving up on SMG and TwiP other than I had just found other (better) games to play. I guess I could have claimed that I only *really* liked Mario in his 2D environments and that I only *really* liked the cell shaded Link and his adventures. But, in truth, Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess just didn’t capture my attention as much as other games in those franchises.
P. S. We did get other Wii games during that time to no avail, Resident Evil 5, a Star Wars game…Battlefront or something. And despite all signs pointing to “NO NOT EVER IN A MILLION YEARS FOR THE EFFIN LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY,” my fiancé even gave Tony Hawk’s RIDE a chance, deck and all. We recently saw one of these *still* on sale at the Best Buy. Oh, the humanity. I’m giving the Wii another chance though – somehow, sometime, in some other universe probably, I’m going to get Skyward Sword.