Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Greatest High #1
Posted by Ariel :: 6:29 PM

I was thinking about doing a series of articles on some of the most fun moments I've ever had playing video games, and examining why they were so much fun. By doing this, not only will I get to share some great moments from my video gaming past, but I might be able to shed some light on what makes video games so much fun.

The first one I'd like to share is one of my favorites. It's the greatest comback I've ever had. I'm sure many of you have played X-Men vs Street Fighter. It's a great fighting game. Well, one day, me, Dan (who's been my best friend for years), and another friend of our were enjoying playing against each other in this arcade game. Well, Dan was currently having a bad game and ended up with a Wolverine that was one blocked punch away from dying and our other friend's team of Ken and Ryu with half a life bar each to go. Since I was faving our friend next, I asked Dan if he'd let me finish off his game for him. Dan, ever being the honest realists, knew that he was done, so he let me take the controls. And so it began.

I charged and backed off, jumped around, ducked under and attacked. I landed one hit, a combo, a juggle. Our friends attacks kept wiffing and I kept avoiding. Our friend started getting frustrated, so he charged with his Ken and I met him with a Berserker Barrage X. This knocked his Ken down to a dangerous level, so he switched out. I dodged back and then jumped forward, accurately predicting his Hadoken salvo. I strung attacks on the way down, dashed, hit a few more that ended with a launcher and then followed him into the air. He recovered and dashed back, sending some more fireballs my way. I superjump straight up to avoid them, but forgot about his super meter. He used Ryu's Shinkuu Hadoken and planned on having me land on it and lose.

There are several moments when playing video games or in sports, actually in all manner of active competition where you get "into the zone": that special mix of concentration, exhilaration, and adrenaline that causes the entire world to slow down and brings on a clearness of thought and an ehanced creativity that never seems possible otherwise. Well in this moment I knew that if I landed in the path of Ryu's super, I was going to lose. I help forward on the control stick but my momentum would not carry me past the beam of death. I could feel Dan's look of dissapointment. Our friend cried out in victory. Dan knew I was done. Our friend knew I was done. Even part of me knew I was done.

Suddenly, something clicked and I realized that I had found a way to save myself. I did something then that I had never done before. I dodge his attack by using Wolverine's Drill Claw while in the air and moved enough to the right that I landed behind Ryu. Immediately I used the last of my super meter to hit a final Weapon X and finish him off. Baiting my friend, I dodged at the last second, as Ken came in and our friend immediately went for the kill with a Shinryuken. I combo'd him on the ground once he landed and finished him off with a berserker barrage. I had won. Both me and Dan exploded in celebration as our friend cried out in anguish and disbelief. For years he's never been able to live that loss down.

Most of us will never be great athletes. We will never have the chance to dig deep and make that last swing, that last run, take that last shot, or make that last pass. But with video games, each of us can come face to face with a seemingly impossible task and overcome it. I'm not athletically gifted enough to make any team (except POSSIBLY a Karate tourney team) but I have used my intelligence, creativity, reflexes and instinct to achieve some dramatic and exhilirating moments. This was one of them. I'm not skilled enough as a writer to convey the sheer emotion that this victory brought about. Almost everyone fantasizes about experiencing a moment of glory. Video games give us the chance to live one.

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