Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In Control - The Epic Survival of Bowser's Big Blast (Mario Party 2)

Despite the fact that I've been wading through the busy waters of a complete and utter finals week(s) from hell , I decided to take time out of studying to tell you a little story that happened about two weekends ago.  This story involves Mario Party 2 for the Ninetendo 64.  Why do I feel all of you gluing your faces to the screen?  Oh yes, because MARIO PARTY 2 IS AWESOME!

Like I said, our story started on Saturday.  My boyfriend and I were at a friends house hanging out with a large group of friends.  After watching a Hockey game, playing Carcassonne (A Game I plan on reviewing sometime in the future!), and eating way too much Chinese food and ice cream. The gentlemen of the group decided to play some Mario Party 2.  I, being the one girlfriend in the group that gets excited about this type of idea, decided to watch gleefully.  It didn't hurt that I had a Brony there to nerd out with! Still, the game finished up and the players rotated.  Despite my warnings, everyone insisted that I play.  I was okay with this, to be honest.  I've always loved Mario Party because when you suck at gaming you learn to enjoy losing (it just sucks for anyone paired with me in the mini-games).

The game progressed, business as usual.  I was dying right and left, my boyfriend was kicking everyone's ass despite being one too many beers in (they played the drinking game version in the previous game), and the overly satisfying array of quotes were flying around the group from a clip I had introduced them to earlier in the evening....

This video will have an effect on you. How warped you are will decide a LOT.

All in all, everything was normal as usual.  Then the dreaded arrow of doom landed on the mini-game that would lead to a moment of epic-ous-ity (can be substituted with epic-win-dom or epic-il-icious-ness) that would challenge the very idea that drives Mario Party.  Before we get to that game (HAHA the titles MIGHT be a spoiler!) let's discuss that idea.  Mario Party is built on random-ness (also know as random-a-saur-ous or Indiana Jones and the Random of the Crystal Fridge) from head to toe.  Is there some strategy involved?  Yes.  Does it require some degree of skill?  I'm living confirmation.  But a lot of the game is based mainly on luck and the scale deciding it's bored and going to tip in your favor.  One minute you have 83 stars and a few steps on the Bowser space and Boo attacks later (from the one bastard who hoards their coins) and you are left with nothing but your shredded dignity and the promise that you will be the one shmuck to get the pity coins towards the end of the game. 

With that said, there are some games that are designed to do nothing but mock you.  These games take all your accumulated years of button mashing practice and ability to strategies your moves and says, "Aww- you think you have free will!  That's ADORABLE!"  One such game that stands out is "Day at the Races" where you have nothing to do but pick a minion to win a race, and hope like all hell that you chose wisely.

When in doubt, vote thwamp!
But this particular day we weren't blessed with this games subtly middle finger.  Oh no, we got the great and powerful, "Bowsers Big Blast"!  For those of you unfamiliar with the game (and shame on you!) the object of the game is pretty simple, but fittingly twisted.  You and your three counterparts stand in a line in front of a group of five switches.  You each take turns going up to the switches, picking one, and waiting to see what happens. All the while a large, menacing Bowser head waits behind you, begging for blood.  Pick a good switch and you will get nothing more than a puff of smoke from Bowser's nostrils, but pick a the ONE bad switch and you will be met by a count down that leads to an inevitable explosion.  Rinse and repeat until only one man (or lady) is left standing.  There really is no strategy to the game beyond decide a switch and pray, but the numbers can be stacked against you.  If you are last in line you only have two of the five switches left to chose from, so it is more likely than not that you will be the first to blow up.  

On this particular day fate, seeing that I was an easy target, decided to have me go last.  Everyone was certain that I would be gone by the end of the first round.  My fellow players all picked their switch, successfully dodging the bullet.  It came time for me to go, my two switches waiting eagerly to have at me.  I picked my switch.  A puff of smoke.  

I had made it.

I had survived the second round.  

Surely this was only luck of the temporary kind?

Round two came and went.  No one died, so it came time for me to pick my 50/50 chance.  

I survived again.

This was beginning to get the attention of the other people not playing.  This sort of thing doesn't normally happen.  Two rounds, no deaths, and a successful pick two times out of 50/50 odds.  Of course we all were so certain this wouldn't last.  

Third round.  No deaths again.  My turn and.....

Still alive.

Everyone was beginning to go wild.  Their eyes glued to the screen in anticipation.  My hands were becoming clammy lumps, tightly clenched around my controller.  

Fourth round.  No one died, again!  The other players were showing signs of pride at avoiding death this much.  Their breaths all stills as I neared the top and took my place in front of my switch.  A light tap of the "A" button and....



The room was now in chaos!  We all become so invested in this game as if this luck meant we would now be playing this game for the rest of our lives.  

The fifth round came and went with no deaths.  I finally was getting a break in video games I so rarely get.

And then....





Just like that we were all snapped from the trance the five, deathless rounds had placed us within.  Suddenly we all were reminded that we were playing a game that was programed to destroy us and how little control we really had.  The first death marked the start of a quick spiral down.  But you know what?


True, I did not win the game (it's hard to create stories that truly epic in real life) but I did manage to survive through that five round gantlet that wanted nothing more than to have me dead.  I'd liked to think that the game was tipping it's hat at me as if saying "Fair enough, I'll come back for you later." and refocused targets.  

I know it might seem like a simple thing.  But trust me, if you are ever locked in a game of "Bowser's Big Blast" and manage to stick it out past 2 or 3 rounds, you will begin to feel the tension and pressure I felt that fateful day.  I'll certainly never forget it!

Tootles! <3 

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