My Expertise: Is being below average

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Actually, I’m incredibly below average.

That’s not to say I’m not an awesome gamer, though. I recite game facts like there’s no tomorrow, and I’ve helped make major decisions for people on what they should drop their money on. I’ve helped many a man go through many a game, I’ve helped people remember old games they didn’t even know they have played, and I’m a strong advocate of telling people what’s coming out, when, and why they should at least care about it.

Actually playing the goddamn videogames, though? Jesus, is that a story. 

I’ve been gaming for awhile now, and I’ve played a bunch of stuff. Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario Sunshine, Rez, Spyro the Dragon, Halo, Shadow of the Colossus, Space Invaders, Modern Warfare and GoldenEye. I’ve dipped my blistered fingers into a lot of things, and as you may already know, a lot of those games I have never actually finished, but that can be a common thing for a lot of people (I hope). Car enthusiasts don’t drive all of the cars they buy extensively, so I’m not worried about the whole finishing thing. I do finish stuff — I beat The Legend of Zelda; Wind Waker, and that was my crowning achievement in my personal gaming history.

The problem is that it took me 200+ hours to do it.

I can play games well enough to just get by. A lot of people would say that’s all that matters, but their definition of “just getting by” and mine are, unfortunately, different. Most people might spend maybe two or three tries on the first boss in Wind Waker. It took me two weeks. I literally remember beating the damn lava scorpion/crab thing, saving, and then turning off the game. As I put the mini gold disk back in its gold case, I looked at the receipt, which I always kept in the game case. I checked the date, and realized it had taken me two weeks to beat what was effectively level one.

I think I beat my head against a wall for about three hours, and the head trauma probably brought about the persona you see today, named Daxelman.

This is something I’ve had trouble with since I was young, ever since I first laid eyes on Pokémon R/B/Y. Friends of mine had level 100 everythings, been on third and fourth playthroughs, even had Missingnos up the wazzo. A few of my buddies even succeeded in catching all 151 pocket monsters.


I was still stuck on that psycho bitch Sabrina, six months after the start. After that, I never played another Pokémon game without using a guide book or an online FAQ. I finished Diamond in about a month, which was the fastest I had even finished a Pokémon game, and I had to sit and play that shit for 10 hours a day. That’s coming from my mother, who timed me during that month.

But I digress, you might not understand my turmoil from these single-player examples. You might just say that I’m enjoying the game much more thoroughly than others, or in Pokémon’s case, grinding the hell out of the game. Let’s talk other games then, the recent stuff.

Kingdom Hearts 2 is the game I took the least amount of time on — 31 hours and 42 minutes. I watched all the cut scenes, and did the bare minimum of everything. I think I was about level 48 when I beat that game. That’s not bad, considering cut scenes and how retarded the battles with Demyx are. But that was on easy, and I wanted that goddamned Birth by Sleep teaser on my HDTV and not some shitty YouTube stream. So I decided I would go through the game two more times, once on Standard, and finally on Proud mode.

Standard was a nightmare. I spent a week on the Demyx battles; that shit was crazy. The Lion King section had me going for about another week, and then came the finality that was the World That Never Was. God, I spent so much time dying, leveling up, dying, leveling up, discovering Final Form, dying, and leveling up. By the time I beat the game on Standard, I had spent about 120 hours on that file, and had doubled my level count.

Started Proud mode. Couldn’t get past the first skirmish at Hallow Bastion. Let me add that the longest I lasted against Sephiroth was 15 seconds, although he’s hard to everyone, so he kind of doesn’t count. But still, 15 seconds. I’m a freaking pansy.

A lot of the time, it’s lack of sufficient skill. I can kill your run of the mill bad guy group of five or six, no problem. I drop headshots against the A.I. in Killzone 2 like I’m fucking Wanted , I make Nazi motherfuckers look sorry in Call of Duty: Big Red One. The gravity gun is a weapon of mass physics puzzle completion in Half Life 2. But you start asking more of me, and I start to break down. Escort missions? Sorry girl, you’re going to have to die… for the 15th time. You want me blow something up that’s guarded? Better hope the guards are stupider than I am, though I wouldn’t bet on it. Cover you while you go in and kill all the terrorists? Nope, motherfucker, you better cover me, and heads up — I ain’t killin’ any terrorists.

Don’t even talk to me about online gaming. Talk to Yojimbo about that.

Other times, it’s fear that grips me. Do I have enough ammo to go through this abandoned subway station full of Super Mutants, zombies, and fucking rats? Am I a high enough level to take on that bastard Great Hollow? If I can get my Infernape to level 64, I can beat the Elite 4…no wait, it’s gotta be 65…oh shit, I need an Ice Type, gotta teach Dialga Ice Claw, then raise it to level 70…

That previous paragraph also applies to online gaming. I’m pretty much afraid to go commando in SOCOM Confrontation unless Jimbo, Pikeman, and other Dtoiders/friends got my back.

This is not to say I don’t enjoy the titles I play. I rank Kingdom Hearts 2 up there with God of War and Burnout Revenge. I absolutely love the Pokemon series, Killzone 2 was a great game despite my previous doubts of it, and I fucking love me some Half-Life. And yeah, I guess because of my heightened ability to fail, I do get to spend more time with the games I play. I would have never even known something as awesome as Final Form existed had I not spent the week grinding on Nobodies (you can’t beat Supa Sane Dual Wield Keyblades while FLYING), I caught sightings of the G-Man more times fucking up than I did succeeding, and during the 2 months or so I spent sucking on Big Red One, my history grade jumped up about 10 points. I also now have an unhealthy curiosity with WWII, and I’m willing to try any WWII FPS anyone’s willing to churn out.

I just wish that once, I could find some game that didn’t hand my ass back to me on a silver platter. Maybe I should try expanding my horizon, try out some other genres more extensively. Maybe then, I’ll find a game I can say “Yeah, that shit WAS easy!”

Disgaea DS, anyone?

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