On a rare train journey up to London a couple of weeks ago I decided to spend my time travelling playing a couple of Mario games on my 3DS. Here’s a bit of a gamer confession: I suck at Mario games. Yeah, Mario is one of my least played franchises despite numerous attempts to get into it. Actually, let me be a bit clearer there: traditional Mario games (aka platformers) are the least played games I own but I love Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart, and I really want to play Super Mario Odyssey. Why do I suck at Mario games? Well, to tell you the truth I don’t know, I just do, I’m simply terrible at platformer games. TERRIBLE.
You know when you get someone that has never touched a video game before in their life to play something and you start out thinking “this will be awesome, it’s not that hard, they’ll get to grips with it and we can play stuff together”. Then you see them wandering in the wrong direction even though there’s a huge arrow pointing the other way, dying over and over at the easiest points, having to peer at the buttons whenever they want to do something even though they’ve been playing now for an hour… Your smile begins to fade and you experience a horrible sense of dread as it slowly dawns on you that they’re not going to get better and you are now stuck here until they get bored – which might not be for a long time – because you’re too polite to tell them that watching them play is like watching someone punch themselves in the face over and over again and then ask you why their nose is hurting. This monster has now destroyed a game you love with their inexplicably clumsy, inexperienced noob hands and you regret everything… That is how I feel about myself when I play platformers, especially Mario ones because everyone loves them so bloody much. I have an out of body experience where I feel like I am the non-gamer being taught how to play something by a friend and constantly messing up, then I get embarrassed by myself, even though no one is watching me, so I rage quit and sulk.
Do you know how far I got playing Super Mario Bros on my DS before I ran out of lives and had to start everything over? I got to the third level of the first world. Oh, and I actually died in the first level trying to get more lives, the first level where you can just become huge and just plough through everything. I didn’t know it was possible to die on that level. Do you even know how hard it is for me to admit that? I had to sit in silence for a little while, with my head in my hands wondering why the gaming gods had forsaken me. I was sat on the train at the time and that is not the best place for me to rage over a game as I usually just spew swear words at the screen like there’s no tomorrow, so instead I had to settle for taking some deep breaths and very loud, angry exhales which prompted a few worried looks from fellow passengers.
To add insult to injury my other half got his old PS1 out (which I have never played on before) and tried to get me into some games on that. He then watched in dismay and horror, his face morphing into a twisted representation of repulsion and fascination, as his so-called “gamer-girlfriend” just walked into enemies and fell down the smallest jumps. I tried out Resident Evil 2 (which I know isn’t a platformer but it has that very linear running around thing) and died almost instantly by just walking into several zombies. I put this down to the camera angles constantly changing throwing me off and thought I’d gotten away with it but then I tried a Mickey Mouse game (this one was a platformer) and it was almost like I was trying to play badly. An enemy would appear and I’d just run straight at them, propelled forward by misjudgement and stupidity, and die.
I don’t know why I have been cursed with this affliction. Could it be my modest childhood where I was owner to just a Gameboy Color, Gamecube and PC, limiting my exposure to Playstation and Xbox? Woe is me. Maybe I suffer from Platformeritis, a well-known disease that affects 1 in 10 gamers. It causes bad 2D coordination and makes you constantly underestimate how far away things are making sufferers particularly terrible at platformers. Perhaps our Gaming Lord Mario is displeased with the lack of time I spend playing his games and has decided to curse me, I should sacrifice a Sonic game to him just to make sure.
I guess it doesn’t matter at the end of the day, we all know Princess Peach and Bowser truly belong together, she’s just too nice to break up with Mario. I’m doing Mario a favour really.
Are there any game genres you struggle with? Let me know in the comments and we’ll commiserate together.