I can kick your ass in Street Fighter II. I'm not kidding. You could be Ryu or Guile or even M. Bison if we were playing the Turbo version, and I could be lowly Zangief, and I would still bury you. I'd deliver a swirling, hairy, man-blizzard of Russian beatdown fresh to your goddamn doorstep. Because Street Fighter II was and is my favorite video game. I spent the greater part of sixth grade mastering it, and although many thought I was wasting my time, I still cling to the belief that someday there will be some dire situation in which several beautiful women's lives and vivacity hang in the balance, and someone will yell, "Quick, can anyone here absolutely dominate Street Fighter II on Super NES?" And then all eyes will turn to me, someone will hand me a controller, and the day will be mine for the taking.
I don't know why, but for some reason I feel like my best chance of achieving this dream will be during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
But Street Fighter II is about where my video-gaming peaked. Sure, I played after that — FIFA Soccer, EA Hockey, this awesome game on PlayStation where you get to be members of the Wu-Tang clan and beat the Shaolin out of each other (Meth had a sledgehammer) — but never did I approach another video game with the zeal I had for Street Fighter. And when I got to college, that's when I cut out the video games altogether. Because that was the era of James Bond. Here's how a typical experience of playing James Bond would go:
"Hey, Adam, you want to play James Bond?"
"Hey, Adam, I just smoked your lame ass thirteen times before you were even able to find a gun because I'm an over-medicated boarding-school fuck who does nothing but sit here and master this game. Thanks for playing, faggot."
And I always found the "faggot" to be unnecessary.
So I let those East Coasters sit in their dorm rooms and play video games while I went out on the campus and did drugs and didn't get laid. And while I wasn't getting laid, a new era of video games was being ushered in, an era defined by mind-blowing graphics and artistry and elaborate, winding plots that had so many wed to their consoles, devouring whatever awesome game was de rigueur that month, be it Grand Theft Auto or one of those World War II ones where you got to filet Germans by the thousands. Meanwhile, I didn't give a shit. Video games were done for me.
But now they've returned from the dead like hipster fashion.
At first, when many of my infantile friends began buzzing about this newfangled Nintendo Wii, I ignored them as if they were talking about their parents getting divorced. Too much information. Then at a party, I actually witnessed some people playing Wii, and I was intrigued by the fact that not only was the game's action determined by the motion of the players (as opposed to directional signals on the controller), but those players were actually playing sports! Video-game nerds, playing sports! Clearly I had to get in the game. But I hate my friends, so I contacted Dave Thomas, video-game journalist extraordinaire.
Last week Dave was gracious enough to invite me to his home, where he'd teach me to play Wii. He agreed not to call me retarded; in return, I promised not to write about how he's 42, recently divorced and living with his good buddy, Nate, who's in the exact same situation, and how on nights when neither he nor Nate have their kids, they get drunk off microbrewed beer and play Wii.
In order to play Wii, you have to set up a "me," a character that looks like you that is essentially your identity. While I carefully created my me exactly like me — oddly, the end product looked very much like a woman — Dave told me things about the Wii using strange, video-game nerd words like "velocitometer" and "Japan." Finally, he stopped blabbing, I was set up, and it was time to play.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
And play we did. First bowling, where the Wii picks up on the flick of the wrist and the ball spins according to how hard you snap your hand! Actual bowling skills are even transferable in this game, as evidenced by my 124. Next, tennis, as we dashed around the living room slapping backhands and forehands, working up a lazy man's sweat. I was positively geeked. Here was what had been lacking from video games: the camaraderie of friends hanging out and shooting the shit over a common distraction — what board games were invented for, I imagine, though I also have a feeling that those Parker Brothers were trying to finance an opium ring.
I could have played thirty games of tennis in a row, but Dave wisely made us stop and eat tacos.
But then there was more Wii! Golf (I shot a +5 on a par 4) and dodgeball, which absolutely kicked ass! Suddenly two hours had passed and it was time to go home, but I didn't want to go home. I wanted to keep playing! I felt like I was at that point in Street Fighter II when Vega kicks your ass again and again and again but you just want one more game, man, one more game. And that feeling made me realize that I had to put down the controller and exit the house. Immediately. I had been down this path before, and it always ends in heartbreak. I couldn't afford to become addicted again.
And Dave was starting to talk about Guitar Hero.