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I guess I just like liking things


When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone I’m not so self-assured

-The Beatles, “Help”


I knew it would come to this. I’m not dumb, I know what happens. You get old, so your eyesight gets worse, you don’t have as much energy, and everything hurts. That’s how it worked for Methuselah (I’m guessing) and that’s how it works for me.

What I didn’t expect is how much harder videogames would be.

Okay, okay, 42 isn’t that old. That’s what people tell me. That doesn’t help. In fact, it kind of makes it worse, because if it’s already this bad, what will it be like when I’m 60? 80??


Sadly, only one of the games lets you wear a luchador mask.

This month I downloaded two games via Microsoft’s Games with Gold program: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. They are both good games and pretty to look at in completely different ways.  I particularly like the name “Guacamelee.” It’s fun to say!

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is about a boy (Max) who kinda-sorta-accidentally-on-purpose banished his brother to another dimension (I think?) and has to go get him back. He gets help in the form of a magical woman who lives in a marker that allows him to draw vines, columns, water flows, and fireballs. It’s a platformer/puzzle sort of game.

Guacamelee is “a Metroid-vania style action-platformer inspired by traditional Mexican culture and folklore.” There’s world-flipping (between the land of the living and the land of the dead), fun references (I’m pretty sure I saw a Strong Bad poster in one of the towns), and colorful characters galore.

Both games are fun, but I’ve had to switch back and forth between them because I keep getting stuck on one or the other, and it’s always on the same sort of thing: a puzzle that requires fast reflexes. In Max it might be that you have to draw a vine (hold right trigger, move pen to origin spot, draw vine to correct angle and placement) while falling and draw it fast enough that Max can grab hold of it. In Guacamelee, it’s most likely because you have to flip worlds in the middle of jumping (hit A to jump, again to double-jump while holding a direction to jump, and hit a trigger button to flip worlds before landing the jump – sometimes a couple of times before the sequence is through). It might not sound like much to you, but it’s getting more and more difficult for me as time goes on, and self-inflicted frustration is not something I enjoy.

When I was in high school I played Shinobi at the local Shopko enough that I learned how to get through the whole thing with one life. Memory and reflexes finally came together in one glorious shining repeatable moment. Now, on the Xbox Live Arcade version of Shinobi, I can’t get past the level 3 spinning statue boss.

Back in the day, you could maybe use a cheat to help you – infinite health, stronger ammo, something. I’m always interested in seeing the whole game and getting the whole story, so it was never a “I totally beat that game, man” kind of thing for me. I just wanted to see how it ended up! Nowadays with achievements, cheats like that are all but nonexistent.

The worst part is that I’m invested already. I’ve got 6+ hours into Guacamelee and I’m really enjoying the story. I want to play through to the end, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to, because as hard as it’s gotten, it’s bound to get harder because that’s what games do. I watched a German guy on Twitch play through some of the later bits of Max, and I just shook my head at some of the quick timing needed. The German fellow cursed a bunch but all I can manage is a sigh.

I guess this is why old guys are pictured playing chess in the park and not multiplayer Halo.

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