The noise and congestion are stifling. Even in the sanctity of my own home, the grimy outside world creeps in. Suddenly, I’m away from it all. Not a soul is in sight. A lone flower sits before me and soon a single petal flutters free. The petal and I fly forward through the valley, skimming across the blades of grass, grazing their tips as we wake up the rest of the flowers. More and more petals join the parade. In a cornucopia of colors, we zoom across the landscape and breathe new life into the world.
At first glance, my tank doesn’t seem like it has what it takes to topple the enemy. In fact, it’s downright cute. But take another look and you’ll see that not only can it move in any direction in a flash, but it’s easily upgradable with formidable firepower. In other words, my tank may be small but it is definitely mighty. That’s a good thing, too, as I’ve got to charge through plenty of hostile territory before the day is done. I’m being blasted at from every direction, but my vehicle is deft enough to dodge the attacks and lob plenty of explosives back at ‘em. Still, it seems amazing that one vehicle can topple such a massive army. Then again, with enemies including a dragon-headed tank wearing boxing gloves, a gigantic mech that keeps tripping over its own two feet, and a lunatic metal clown whose main weapon appears to be its long tongue, perhaps my enemy is more comedic than fierce after all.
My poor, sick little son. His skin feels so warm and his eyes look out at the world with sadness and fatigue. I take him in my lap and hold him close. Lately he’s been obsessed with all things “car” and I know what’ll make him feel better. I pick up the Playstation 3 controller from the table next to our chair and fire the system up. Soon we’re zooming through the streets in GTI Club Plus. My son points at the screen and whispers, “Whoa.” Daddy’s not so good at this game and in our first run we don’t even make it through the second lap before time expires, but neither of us care. We start over and try different paths, weaving between opponents as we veer around the sharp turns. My son readjusts his position and snuggles against my chest. I kiss the top of his head and keep steering the car, both of us with our eyes fixed on the screen.
We decide to celebrate Valentine’s Day a week early. My wife, son, and I are enjoying lunch at our favorite Indian food buffet. I open my gift and grin: Big Bang Mini. I already know what to expect: shoot, dodge, collect — all in rich explosions of color for the eyes and ears. I take a look at the box then set it down and focus back on my plate. Palak paneer and chicken tikka masala, with a bowl of kheer to finish off the feast. I take a sip of water and sit back, picking up the game box once again. I should’ve brought my DS. Later I’ll be finding paths through waves of projectiles as I launch fireworks into the night’s sky. But for now, I’m just letting my meal digest as I watch my son nod his head and smile at the restaurant’s background music.
My wife and son are in bed next to me, fast asleep. The sound patterns of their snoring intertwine and create an odd but calming unison of white noise. Lying on my back with my head propped up on a couple pillows, I’m holding my Nintendo DS overhead. I’ve got the system tilted away from the sleepers so as not to disturb them with the light of the screens. Too lazy to put in headphones, I have the volume all but turned off, with only a faint sound effect or hint of music escaping the DS’s speakers from time to time. As I arrange the falling blocks to clear lines, I smile at Mario adorably running across the top screen. My eyes are getting heavy and harder to keep open, but I want to play for just a few minutes more. I know that once I turn off the DS and close my eyes, I’ll be fast asleep, speeding towards the sound of my alarm clock barking at me to get out of bed and get ready for work.
Cute Pink doesn’t seem to recognize me. I thought she was on my side, but instead she’s hindering me from proceeding. It’s as if she’s been brainwashed. She issues a challenge and states I can’t pass unless I’m able to complete it. With giant mallot in hand and jet pack on back, I smash sections out from under a massive Bomberman statue built from stacked blocks, making sure not to topple it by accidentally hitting the wrong segments. I’m not successful at first, but after a few tries I finally best Cute Pink’s top score. Suddenly, her bright personality returns and she remembers who she is. After a brief conversation, she steps aside and I head forth to whatever new challenges await me.
I’m standing near the object of my affection… but not near enough. We’re watching fireworks explode in a shower of colors over the city’s skyline. I want to move closer to her, but I’ll have to be smooth. From time to time she glances over at me. I think she really likes me! When she turns her focus back on the fireworks, I make my move. I inch closer with each explosion, taking my time so she doesn’t notice. Finally, I’m standing right next to her. She turns and takes my hands in hers. One final firework illuminates the sky and dissipates in the shape of a heart. It’s love.
I make the first turn on my favorite course, Airport Lap. It’s sunset and the sky is adorned with a beautiful orange hue. My car drifts through the curve and I power ahead. “Whoa-ho-ho! Nitrous ready!” The game’s announcer is extremely excited. “Watch out! Someone just fired off some nitrous!” A rival car speeds up behind me from the left. It’s time to take action. I use a can of nitrous and regain the lead. “Woo hoo! Nitrous!” Turn after turn, drift after drift, “nitrous” is the only thing the announcer is concerned with. As the race progresses, planes come and go all around the course, but I’m too focused to take much notice. I speed past the finish line with the help of my last bit of “crazy” nitrous. “Ha! Ha! You did it! First place!” How I love that nitrous-obsessed announcer.
The flow of mice is almost dizzying. The screen is filled with them. Unfortunately, there are also hungry cats in the mix, devouring as many mice as they can. Place arrows to manage the traffic of mice and cats. Up, Down, Left, Right. Mice my way, cats towards my opponents. All’s fair in Chu Chu Rocket. The time’s almost up. Mouse mania: It’s a flood of them! Get into my ship! Five, four, three, two, one. Blast off! My rocket ascends toward the heavens. Victory is claimed and the little world of Chu Chu Rocket is slipped back into my pocket until next time.
A massive airship darkens the sky above while a fierce, dual sword-wielding menace embroidered with a massive skull on its chest unleashes a direct assault toward my mech. Thankfully, my robotic warrior is equipped to handle just such an attack. Armed with a formidable chainsaw and a machine gun-like laser cannon, my mech dashes just out of reach of its pursuer before doubling back with a damaging counterattack. In the blink of an eye the challenger falls, but another quickly takes its place and brings forth a volley of projectiles. The battle is certainly epic, but a nearby soccer ball towers above the action as a reminder of the scale of the combatants. Nevertheless, the size of the fighters does not equate to the intensity of the combat, and the war rages on.