Crazy Taxi (Arcade)

Balancing a 14-month-old on my lap is proving to be detrimental to my performance. I used to play this game for hours at a time on my Dreamcast a decade ago, but I’d never played the original arcade version until now. My skills are definitely rusty, and my daughter is not helping one bit. “No no, Yoshie!” She’s not listening. I turn my body sideways to keep the wheel out of her reach, but that leaves me with only one hand to work with. We’re running out of time and our customer is getting impatient. At least B.D. Joe has got our back with this unruly passenger. “Shut up and move your butt!” The drop-off location is coming into view but there are only seconds left. There’s no way we’re going to make it. I look down at my daughter and she’s grinning, her eyes fixated on the screen and her hands still reaching toward the steering wheel. Our final score was laughable, but this was the best game of Crazy Taxi ever.

The House of the Dead (Arcade)

Well, I suppose we should have expected this. We assumed our son was asleep for the night, but only minutes after putting him to bed we heard him crying. My wife went upstairs to see what was wrong and a minute later she was back downstairs, carrying our boy. Her expression said it all, but she clarified all the same: “He’s afraid of ‘The Zombies.'” Earlier in the evening my wife and I enjoyed a round of The House of the Dead at Peter Piper Pizza, much to our son’s displeasure. “That game’s too scary!” he said as we dropped our tokens into the slot. We assured him that the zombies weren’t real, and he even starting laughing and cheering along with us as we “blasted those silly zombies!” And honestly, the game’s zombies look so blocky and cheesy, it’s hard to think of them as frightening. But the imagination of a child is very powerful, and now we’re paying the price for letting him watch. It’s going to be tough getting our little dude back to sleep tonight. Playing The House of the Dead in front of a four-year-old is definitely not the smartest parenting move on our part, and without sleep tonight we’ll be suffering like G did when the morning rolls around!

Shenmue II (XBox)

Ryo makes a quick stop at one of his usual hangouts, Pine Game Arcade. Just as he is about to start a game of Outrun, he notices somebody familiar sitting at one of the tabletop cabinets. “Joy?” She looks up from her game. “Ryo!” Her face lights up. Ryo does his best to make small talk, but he’s not necessarily the world’s greatest conversationalist. He awkwardly asks Joy if she has a job. She seems slightly taken aback at Ryo’s directness but acts amused all the same. “Well, you know…” She then turns the tables and asks Ryo about his employment status. Seeing as he’s at an arcade in the middle of the day, he’s doesn’t really have much of a retort. Joy then digs deeper and inquires as to what type of girls Ryo likes. He fumbles over his words, excuses himself, and quickly heads over to play a game darts, leaving the question unanswered.

Phantasy Star Portable (PSP)

This may have turned out to be a bad idea. Instead of forming up a proper party, I decided to venture through the desert on my own. All of the enemies I’ve faced until this point pale in comparison to the massive beast that looms before. Not only is he gigantic, but the fact that he can fly makes him a difficult target. After cruising around for a couple minutes, he finally he decides to land and I run up to pummel him with my weapon of choice — a long bone with a slab of meat on it. To my dismay, my blows do absolutely no damage. I try other weapons in my arsenal and come away with the same sad result: nothing. Meanwhile, my adversary seems to be toying with me, throwing boulders at me and generally doing his best to be a pest. In a last ditch effort I unleash a flurry of autogun fire his way and miraculously discover the monster’s weak point: his wings! Ah-ha! I refocus my shots and whittle away at his strength until before long the behemoth falls to the ground like a ton of bricks. However, he doesn’t go down without a fight, and it takes what seems like an eternity until he drops for the final time. What a battle! I’m glad I was able to make it out alive, but I’m definitely bringing friends along on my next adventure.

The Rub Rabbits! (Nintendo DS)

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.

Chu Chu Rocket (Game Boy Advance)

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.