Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Banality of Adventure (Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, of Dino Ricky, and of Bayou Billy)

There are thirteen games for the Nintendo Entertainment Series that begin with Adventure. There are a further 11 or so that contain the word Adventure somewhere in the title . And there are two games - Metroid and Kid Icarus - that were branded as part of Nintendo's Adventure Series. So a total of 25-26 games that explicitly claim to offer some sort of adventure. And the alphabet being what it is, we have hit that main trove of 13. This will be a three post series, therefore. This one will cover three - Adventures in the Magic Kingdon, Of Billy Bayou, and Of Dino Riki. The next will cover the three Adventures of Lolo games, followed by one covering whatever the last three are - Rad Gravity, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Tom Sawyer, I believe. Adventure Island is filed 3/4 under Hudson's Adventure Island, so will surface with the Hs. There's also supposedly a Gilligan's Island game that I need to see where the ROM got off to, because it's not where I expected.

When defined, however, one wonders why there are so many. The OED defines adventure as "Chance of danger or loss; risk, jeopardy, peril," or as "any novel or unexpected event which one shares; an exciting or remarkable incident befalling any one."

The former definition is remarkable in a large part because it sounds utterly undesirable. Risk, jeopardy, and peril are not generally things we seek out.

Certainly at this point in my life I have little desire for jeopardy and peril. I want nothing more than to keep my head down and stabilize my life.

This entry has been sitting for a while. And by the time I hit post on it, it will probably be Monday. Tuesday will be November 3rd. Which, as I am not divorced yet, will be my second wedding anniversary. I somehow do not expect a cake.

The recessional in my wedding was a song by K's Choice entitled "Favorite Adventure." The irony is not lost on me, given the degree to which my entire marriage turned out to be based on a massive lie (the lie, in this case, being that old classic "I love you"). So, yes, I suppose that ended up being the OED definition. Except for the utter banality of it all.

Inasmuch as the adventure is something extraordinary, my marriage wholly did not count. Left abruptly and without a chance at reconciliation during the second year - an extremely common place for marriages to fall apart. A flat-out banality.

Here is something else that is banal: Disneyland. And yet we have Adventures in the Magic Kingdom. Which is a game that is in that strange position of being neither bad nor good. You have to wander the Magic Kingdom and find six missing keys. These keys require the playing of six minigames - two side-scrollers, one through the Haunted Mansion, the other through Pirates of the Caribbean (well before Johnny Depp ever set foot there). One "push the buttons when you're told" game, one car race, one exceedingly annoying "pick which route to go" down a mountain that gives you nothing resembling clues as to what will and won't kill you, and one Disney trivia game. Of these, about three and a half are fun - the trivia and car races are both solid, while the side-scrollers and button pushing are at least not embarrassments. The game captures neither the feel of adventure nor of going to Disneyland, but it is not clear to me that this is a problem as such. The game tries, and at times succeeds, and the fact of the matter is that it's rare, in any generation of video games, to see a game try something new.

Dino Riki and Bayou Billy fare rather worse in the course of their adventures. Bayou Billy is forced to trudge through a standard beat-em-up with the added nuance that the difficulty is completely out of whack and he just gets the tar pounded out of him. Dino Riki is, somewhat more inexplicably, in a shooter despite apparently wearing lead boots as he walks along while being attacked by hordes of enemies that he cannot possibly dodge or shoot fast enough. Both games are outrageously hard and utterly unrewarding in their difficulty. Warmed over cliches done badly, without entertainment, satisfaction, or any chance of accomplishment.

If those are adventures, perhaps the adventure is a better metaphor for my marriage than I had assumed.

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