It disgusts me to admit it, but I have become a casual gamer. Once a twelve-year-old who possessed a near perfect Tecmo Bowl record, crushed Dr. Wily and all his nefarious creations and always (yes, always) scored 5000 points on the pre-castle flagpole jump, I have grown into a man with a video game learning curve larger than the turning radius on a semi truck.
The sad state that my gaming has fallen into was made evident today as I made an attempt to get back on a horse that desperately tried to throw me.
I relinquished ultimate control of the Wii console to my sons back when their friends started coming over daily to play. This decision was made easier by my brother's purchase of an Xbox console for me and my wife (yeah, right!) as a combined Christmas and birthday gift one year. For a while I was dedicated. I purchased relatively new games and even downloaded an occasional title, some that I love (like Mega Man 10 or Limbo) and some that I regret (the original arcade version of Tron). The point is, I made an effort. I was on year five of my Madden franchise, had beaten several titles form beginning to end and had struggled to become a step above complete embarrassment during online MW2 matches.
When my work schedule changed drastically at the start of 2011, sleep became a much higher priority than gaming on any console. It shouldn't be that way and it never had been before in my life, but my aging physiology deemed it so.
Thus, jealousy would rage inside me as I heard my sons gaming in the basement while I tended to other matters that had lapsed during my sleep. On more than one occasion I had to resist the urge to trip a child I had just let in the door and told, "They're downstairs playing Wii," out of spite.
Then, for Christmas, my wife bought me the new Legend of Zelda game Skyward Sword. I was determined to start fresh. If Zelda and her proclivity to fall into perilous danger (seconded only by Princess Peach) could not inspire me to grasp my sinking gaming career with both hands and hoist it from the shadowy void of adulthood, no fictional video game character could.
And so it came to pass that Transformer Generation Dad cleaned the basement of errant Lego bricks, swept up the remnants of popcorn from the floor, positioned his well worn recliner in the dead center of the room, popped in the first Legend of Zelda game he committed to playing since having children...
...and discovered that his Wii remote was not equipped with Motion Plus.
After some encouragement from my wife, I ventured off to quickly, soon expiring coupon in hand to pick up an adaptor. Several hours and a vivid reminder why I don't enjoy shopping at Best Buy (being given advice from a "specialist" who happens to be an eighteen year old kid with a blank expression on his face and who starts every answer with the phrase, "I'm not really sure, but..." does not make me a confident consumer) later, I returned home with two pizzas, no Wii remote adaptor and a ball of rage in my stomach that I am fairly certain may be the early signs of an ulcer.
The Nintendo gods did not want me back. My effort to scale to the top of their mountain and pay homage at their temple saw me cast down to the jagged rocks below. I thought back to my quest to defeat New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I simply could not defeat Bowser during the final battle and gave up, only to have my seven-year-old defeat it within a few tries while I was gone one day.
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as I lamented my falling into disfavor. It was interrupted only when my wife told me to stop whining and just go buy a whole new remote from a nearby GameStop.
Begrudgingly, I walked in to find no lines, helpful service and a used remote with the necessary adaptor that had technically never been opened. Within twenty minutes and sitting in my recliner watching the opening sequence of my newly adopted quest.
The Nintendo gods had smiled upon me once again. They had simply meant to test my resolve. If this prodigal son was to return, his commitment would need to be tested. Apparently, I passed.
But then I stopped to write this post, go to the bathroom and eat a few cookies. Now, I must get back to my game before I upset them again. Goodbye, sunlight. Hello, Link.