Saturday, October 29, 2005

Nice to know that University was well spent...

Saturday morning saw a very lukewarm bowling session, with a high score of 168. On the way home, feeling rather down, I passed by the retro games shop. Outside they have an N64 where kids can stop and play games from yesteryear. Usually, it's things like Super Smash Bros or some kind of racing game. But on saturday, it was a different game. It was the game.


The game that accompanied my friends and I through three years of glorious University. The game that rekindled my coffee habit. The game that was responsible for more allnighters and at-the-time-serious bust ups than I care to remember. Playing Goldeneye was as natural a thing as brushing your teeth or blinking. Doing a very quick calculation, I estimate that during my University years, my friends and I had roughly 3500 hours of multiplayer time (it would undoubtedly have been more, but for the long holidays).

Beijing Li dropping to his knees and popping all comers in the chest with his machine gun when cornered... Llandudno Mike hiding in a shadowed corner and picking off unsuspecting body armour scavengers... French Guiyana Michel building an impregnable proximity mine dungeon... Blofeld Richard taking off two heads with one magnum bullet from distance... Eye Diamond taking out three players with his last 3 pp7 bullets whilst covered from an elevated position... the same Eye Diamond putting a full clip of RCP90 bullets in the direction of Cheam Graham's head, only for them all to magically miss, and allow the latter to slowly pull a magnum and kill... these memories all surfaced as I parked my bike and approached the Pokemon model N64, where two elementary school boys were playing. I watched them for a minute or two. They were ok players, in the way that young kids tend to be with such things, and I half considered leaving them to their game, getting on my bike and heading home for a sandwich and a few episodes of La Femme Nikita. Then I started thinking about the humiliations I suffered at the hands of gaming tots - my annihilation at the hands of a 7 year old PuyoPuyo master, my drubbing at a generic robot figher game by his even younger sister. I was in the mood for Goldeneye, but if that meant getting a bit of payback for past hurts, all the better.

I asked them if I could join in, and they said yes. The game started. Library... Golden Gun... I grabbed a pistol and ran to the main room. I saw one of the kids running around the second floor, so I aimed my gun at him...

... but, it was all wrong! The buttons were reversed (or not in this case)... on these controllers, pressing up moved the sight up, and down down. Before, throughout and beyond University we had always played with inverted aim, as is standard with the game. I was just trying to adjust to the settings when I died, with a golden gun bullet lodged in my head. One up to the older kid, who I suppose must have been 8. When I spawned again, I ran to the main room again and saw that the kids were still where they were. I quickly appraised the situation:

-they know where the main weapon is.
-they can kill at close range.
-they are not very accurate over distance.
-they know how to strafe.
-they can comfortably use the aim button.
-they don't know the levels beyond the basics.

Whilst I was considering the above points, I came across the younger kid, perhaps 6, who was dancing around the golden gun spawn point. I put a clip from the KF7 into him, but we were using the default health settings, and he was still alive. He got off a lucky shot and once again I was a victim to the golden gun.

To cut a very long story short, I slowly adjusted to the strange settings (and the very sluggish control pads) but not before I was killed another 3 times. After that, my training kicked in and the kids were nowhere. Once I slipped past them and grabbed the golden gun, there was nothing they could do. The eldest kid headed out of the main room to see if there were any other weapons to be had, but a headshot from afar stopped him. Then the younger kid managed to get the jump on me and would have killed me had his aim been better, but it was straightforward to circle around behind him and put him down.

At this point, the elder kid turned around. This was our Japanese conversation:

Kid: Who are you? Are you American?
Me: No, I'm from England. And the name's Bond, James Bond.
Kid: Who is that? I don't understand.
Me: Yes, and you never will.

Not knowing the levels is understandable...not being accurate is understandable... not knowing who James Bond is is unacceptable.

We resumed our game, and the kids' fortunes didn't change. After a double kill, the younger one huffed and puffed and stomped off inside the game shop. He returned a few minutes later but by then his companion was weary of continuing. "Ehhh Englander... this is too difficult for me," he complained in Japanese. I wanted to tell him that in order to be worthy of the moniker 007 you should train unquestioningly and fiercely, and that it is in the forges of defeat that you find the irons of victory, but with my very limited Japanese the best I could muster was "Do your best... this is good practice, right?"

So that was that. The kids' hash was settled, their clocks were cleaned and they had their chips. They got on their bikes and pedalled away, the game of Goldeneye already forgotten in their young minds. "See you, Englander!" they called in Japanese ("until our next meeting when the tides will be turned!" I heard in my head).

I cycled home and had that sandwich, and enjoyed not a few episodes of La Femme Nikita. And now as I settle down for the evening I have the following message to give:

To The Goonies, The Famous Five, Kevin from Home Alone, Shirley Temple, Little Jimmy Osmond and the kid from The Sixth Sense... your boys took a hell of a beating.


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