Last week, Mike and I started playing Super Mario Bros Wii together.
There was a time when I was pretty good at your standard video game. I was pretty decent on the Nintendo (still kill at Tetris) could definitely hold my own on the N64 and totally pwnd Gauntlet Dark Legacy for the PS2, but it's been a while since I've played a Mario game as an adult. I may suck at SMB Wii - but it sure is funny.
Mike and I have completely different playing styles. I'm of the smash-every-block-and-leave-no-coin-behind faction and he's of the beat-the-bad-guys-as-quickly-as-possible faction. And because he's player 1, we move at his pace when we play together. Meaning, I regularly get smooshed by the left side of the screen as I'm attempting to collect coins... prompting him to console me after my Luigi character dies for the 3rd time in 2 minutes with an aptly versed, "I think this should teach you some relevant lessons about greed."
Seriously. He literally said that. He kills me.
So, on our first day of playing we had just warped to the 3rd level when I took stock of the fact that my Luigi character had died at least 55 times already - it may have been more considering I had found a few 1UP mushrooms and promptly used them falling off a ledge or walking into a Goomba when I meant to stomp him. That's 3.4375 times per level, 27.5 per world. Mike was still playing off his original 5 lives and had accumulated a few 1UP lives - at this point, it was almost assumed that Luigi would die every few minutes and it was Mike's responsibility to keep the game going.
During particularly hard levels, I'd keep Luigi in his floating resurrection bubble until we were past the danger zone and then I'd shake him over to Mario to be popped. The levels would get harder and harder - and I was dying faster than the game would allow for regeneration. My shoddy skills were no longer keeping me afloat.
Now, Mike is no pro either. While he was definitely better than I, on more than one occasion his fat little Mario delicately pushed my unsuspecting Luigi off a warp pipe and into the bottomless ravine or bounced on my Luigi's head to reach an item and as a result trapped me in the direct line of a Bullet Bill. It's ok - I was more than willing to sacrifice my Luigi's lives for the greater good of the team. His Mario needed to stay alive to keep the game going.
In any case, Mike was out of town the last couple of days, so I decided to practice my skillz so that when he got back, I wouldn't be the let down drag out Luigi any more.
To my surprise - I kind of kick ass.
But not in the way most gamers would kick ass. I started my own game and I collected every coin, replayed each level until I collected all the necessary star coins, saved the stupid Toad every time he screamed for help (and often died in the process) and found every hidden 1UP mushroom I could find. I did die a lot in the process, but I hadn't even reached the World-1 fortress and I already had 28 lives. 28!!!!! Slow and steady wins the race.
Mike came back and we picked up where we left off, but he sensed that my mind wasn't in our game. It was, but I had little attachment since my Luigi character had already died and come back to life at this point about 75 times. Plus, we had left so many Star coins behind in the worlds we passed. I mean, is that even a complete level? Not in my book.
Despite my lack of attachment to our game, I was still eager to show off my newly honed skills so I really was trying to play better... but 2P is HARD. It's way harder than 1P. Suddenly I was having to watch not only my dude, but Mike's dude too... and he was moving erratically trying to collect stuff, so I'd run into him and bounce into a bad guy and die. Or if I wanted to super run through an area with dropping stuff, he preferred to sit and methodically time out his jumps, so I'd get stuck near the edge of the screen and die. 2P is a whole other ballgame.
So, after this experience, I don't think anyone can rightfully call themselves a SMB Wii master until they've defeated all the levels with 4P. Because with Mario, Luigi and two stupid Toads, I can only imagine it's gotta be a cluster-thwomp.