30 October 2008

A Guide to Playing Games Stoned

Durch Zufall stieß ich vor ein paar Tagen auf einen sehr amüsanten Text, den ich Euch zu großen Teilen direkt hier vorstellen möchte - sprachlich allerdings unverändert auf "Australisch". Wen der gesamte Text interessiert, klickt einfach auf den nachfolgenden Link.

Have you ever left your game on pause for two hours because you went to get some pizza and never made it back? Have you even scratched your head and wondered why people complained about Halo being too short when it took you 20 hours to complete? Have you ever spent 10 minutes looking perplexed at the in-game map wondering what the hell it all means before your attention is finally captured by the flashing neon marker which marks your position? Congratulations, you are one of the many gamers out there who’ve gone against doctor and parental advice to play a game ripped, stoned, bent, whacked, baked, toasted, or in deep conversation with either Wesley Pipes, Mary Jane or Billy Bong Thornton. [...]

Could it be possible that the entire billion dollar games industry exists simply to give stoned people something to do? Is Peter Molyneux’s decision to map everything to one button in Fable 2 further proof that catering to the needs of the humble wasteoid is key to commercial success. Shit… deep. Anyway…

First up, the ground rules
There are three categories of stoned gamer. There is stoned gamer going solo. Stoned gamer going online. Or stoned gamer and their equally stoned mate making the most of the couch while their significant other is out for the night. Regardless of which category you fall into, there are some golden rules of thumb we used when fashioning the roster of titles highlighted below.

Key to everything is the controls. [...] Games that require quick reflexes are also not such a great idea: if you find yourself in an online warzone with bullets, explosions and yelling team-mates belting all of your senses at once your head may just explode. Trust us it can happen: we heard proof from this guy who had a brother it happened to… his name was Davo.

Generally opt for arcade over simulation if the choice is available. Your mind is probably going to make you think you’re kickass at whatever it is you’re playing anyway so there is no need to make it a mission. The forgiving physics and controls in arcade games will keep you pointing in the right direction where you’d otherwise be in no-mans around bouncing up and down like a spastic frog. In fact you may just want to take decision making away altogether: the last thing you want is the fate of the world to rest on your answer to a long conversation tree and you can’t work out what the fuck they’re talking about or remember where the hell that alien she-bitch even came from.

No character customization!
You’ll be coming down before you even begin the game if you get buried too deep in that shit. Press random, and move on. In fact just keep moving: if a game doesn’t have a constant sense of progression you lose what remaining focus you have and start thinking that better entertainment may be found at youporn. Even simple decisions like left or right can break your head if the game isn’t built with the right level of quality. [...]

Grand Theft Auto IV

We might as well start with The Don. Not sure why people love this series? Puff ‘n’ play and you’ll know why damn quick! You won’t get anything done mind you. You will simply fall from one police chase to the next, no matter how hard you try to do an actual mission. Cockpit view is the way to go, with the soundtrack pumping and the enormous city looming up around you there is much fun to be had simply from the knowledge that at any second you can swerve onto the footpath and paint the road with ‘homeless dude’. Or just casually lob a grenade out the window at a major intersection to see what happens. What joy, what fun. And Rockstar know you’re playing its game stoned, that’s why they got great music, and why weapon unlock cheats were available day one.

And why is it The Don? It works on all three levels. It rules solo, it rules online and it rules even if you’re not playing, but just sitting on the couch taking turns with the person next to you, trying to see who can get the most stars. It is even one of the few games out there where the characters are likely to inhale more drugs than you. Props to Little Jacob – stand up for your rights champ. [...]

The Burnout series
Crash, and the world laughs with you. Nothing gets your buzz cracking more than a hysterical laughing fit and few things in gaming remain as endlessly hilarious as the Burnout series. In one of the few instances where being bad at driving is actually good, the ability to dynamically shift between blistering pace and slow-motion fireworks sets your brain on edge from start to finish. [...]

Gears of War and Halo
You may be wondering why we grouped these two brilliant game series into the one bracket. But they are both shining examples of the category three stoner… that’d be the stoner and his mate on the couch in co-op. Both Bungie and Epic Games must’ve been keeping potheads in mind during the game’s development as there are just too many concessions in the gameplay to allow for those that may be mentally muted but still want to proceed through the experience to have plenty of fun.

In particular is the wave effect: an intense moment of combat followed by a minute of peace and safety while you gaze at the graphics, and then another bite-sized slab of combat. Neat little packages of entertainment that don’t twist your brain in half and there’s always a mate at your back with magical revival abilities that can ensure death is only ever a minor hiccup. Secondly, acts and levels are spaced just enough gameplay apart that you’re due for another reefer and a beer at the end of each, allowing you to then mull over the previous hour experience on the balcony out back. This is key to the stoned gaming experience.

Admittedly Halo did suffer terribly from ‘I thought I was heading the right way but now I am back at the fucking start of the level’ syndrome – a nasty, debilitating syndrome… comparable to irritable bowl syndrome – but in the end only one of you has to make it to the next checkpoint. Yep, Halo and Gears are both shoot first and ask questions only when someone needs to do a chop hours later arcade gaming, which is just perfect. Note: questions may vary from direct ‘isn’t it your turn to do the chop?’ to indirect ‘didn’t I do the last chop?’

Pro Evolution Soccer
You want to truly feel everything that a sporting game can offer? Smoke a bowl and hit Pro Evolution Soccer with a mate. Don’t pussy-foot around: whack that game duration up to the full match experience, select your favourite team and lock yourself down into a midfield battle so intense that the core temperature of your lounge-room rises to a level that is comparable to the flaming hot cone piece, simmering by the back door. C’mon what else is there to life outside of Evo? Walking the dog? Stuff that, he is lovin’ the Dub as much as the two of you.

PES plays at exactly the right pace for the whacked gamer. The controls and animations sync together as perfectly as a strip of business card and a piece of rollie paper, allowing your mind to drift freely from attacking play to defensive strategy with ease. The gameplay tip-toes through the simulation land-mine perfectly, never ruining the experience because you’re controlling a slightly weaker midfielder, for example. Sure you want to play a mate of equal skill or it can suck quickly, but if you can find that mate, then you’ll be the Cheech and Chong of your lounge-room, enjoying a fruitful relationship despite being constantly wrecked… until someone starts cheating by lobbing the keeper, then the party is over. [...]

Xbox Live Arcade- aka The Stoner’s Paradise
Too wasted to get off the couch? Microsoft hears you: those smart bastards designed the Live Arcade for people like you and then gave developers – the type that learnt how to code simply as a bi-product of needing to automate their hydroponic set-up - the keys to the bloody door. Two button presses and a small download later – and you know what you can do during that interlude don’t you Mr. Chop Chop – will see some of the best gaming experiences out there on tap, whenever you want it.

Seriously these games will be there for you day or night, rain or shine, bush or hydro, not to mention that they easily cater for each of the three stoner categories on offer. Want to laugh until you asphyxiate? Worms all the way. Feel like fucking with your head? Braid. Need dumb fun? Castle Crashers? Want to make your eyes glow even redder? Rez HD? Need to get your multiplayer on? Bomberman. Feel like trying to hunt through what’s left of your memory for that nostalgia thing? Duke Nukem 3D. Want to blow shit up? Geometry Wars. Tits? Soul Calibur. 1942? Cause its 1942.

Hell, you don’t even have to get up to put in a disc – this shit is bananas, g - e - n - i - n - u - s!

Bathurst in V8 Supercars
This one is for our homies. Yeah it might be old-gen, yeah you overseas brothers and sisters probably have no idea what we are talking about, and yeah, we too have passed out while driving down Conrad straight, but life doesn’t get any doper than man-handling a V8 over the top of Mount Panorama when the world is a distinct shade of green. Codemasters are Gods, that’s just a fact. How else can it be explained that V8 Supercars is one of the few titles where your performance actually improves with each bong… just like darts, for some reason.

Just thinking about that first corner, and then flooring it up the hill past where Skaifey got taken out that time. And then trying to nail the apex into skyline so you can power through on full throttle before it’s off the edge of the world into the dipper… right… left… right… left and onto the downhill straight, tipping the speedo ever upwards. C’mon 300… c’mon! Then bam onto the brakes for the chicane and that big reality check with is the Sahara fucking desert waiting at the end to gobble you up.

Thinking about all that shit, hell, it is enough to give you dry mouth and a hankering for fried chicken all on its own. Now you know why they announced recently that Bathurst will be releases as DLC for Race Driver: GRiD at exactly 4.20p.m – the international time of the toke.

Everything on SNES
Back before Nintendo become a toy company, they used to make great consoles and awesome games. The SNES was sex. Four buttons, 16-bits of awesomeness and 2D side-scrolling heaven. You’d roll a fat one, stick in the cartridge – the cutting edge of gaming you know – turn it on… and nothing would happen. So you’d pull out the cartridge, blow all the weed out of the bottom of it, push it back in with equal amounts of pressure on both corners and then turn it on for that sweet ‘ting’ and you’d be off and racing.

From Earthworm Jim to Donkey Kong Country, and Street Fighter II: Turbo to F-Zero - as well as pretty much anything that begun with the word ‘Super’ – the SNES delivered again, and again… and again… If you haven’t been able to see out of your smoke haze for the last 15 years and just woke up to the Wii you’re probably wondering what the hell went wrong. It was called GameCube, and for Nintendo it was a horror story on par with knocking over the bong water in your mum’s car: that smell ain’t never coming out. If the Wii has a saving grace, it is the virtual console and the ability to bring back the SNES.

When in doubt
So what do you do if you don’t have any of the options listed above and it’s time to get your game on, while you’ve got your green on? Well there is one fallback method which will get you through the night. The ‘when in doubt’ rule includes any game where your character can pull-off ridiculous shit without you needing to waste a single thought on the matter. Bash a button, be blown away. We’re talking God of War, Devil May Cry, Heavenly Sword… hell, even the new Spyro the Dragon will dazzle you with its spectacle with barely a sweat raised. Puff the Magic Spyro?

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