Have you really tried to use your imagination lately? I mean really use it. Try to picture something completely new. If I say the word dragon, or mystical land, I'm almost certain you see something from a movie in your head. I don't know what happened, but somewhere along the way, my imagination pool dried up a bit. Oh sure, I still occasionally fight ninjas when I'm walking down the street, or I'll make up new drinking games. But this article is about a time when my imagination wasn't on cruise control. I could blaze down incredible images at blinding speed making all of reality bend and form to my will. This article is about the best video game I ever imagined.
It was a sleep over, I was at my buddy Andy's house that Friday. We had just finished eating and we were playing real video games. He was showing me on that huge honking Nintendo controller that he could beat the boxing level of The Three Stooges game with his feet. Since I was only 10, that was mighty impressive. After an hour or two of playing his mom shut off the game and told us to play with something else. At the same time my eyes dulled with dismay, his lit up with excitement. His dad was bringing out- the bin.
I don't know what genius came up with this thing, but I'm sure parents every where would like to shake this person's hand. Lighter and more maneuverable than a toy box, the giant bin was a treasure chest of toys that could be dumped anywhere. And dump it we did. G.I. Joes were with He-Man characters, Ninja Turtles laid everywhere. Ghost Busters mingled with dinosaurs, and there were many toys I had never seen before. I'm not sure who came up with the idea, but since this is MY article, I did. I being the more handsome, smarter, funnier, charming, nicer smelling and modest of the two. I decided we should make a video game with the toys.
It was brilliant. We really took our time setting this up. First you had to pick what guy you wanted as a character. Being a huge turtle fan at the time, I picked Leonardo. Can't remember what my buddy picked though, so pick your own and play along. It was just like a regular side-scrolling video game. He had lots of foot soldiers, and cobra bad guys for the easy targets. The little wimpy guys that would come at you and you would have a blast beating the crap out of.
As I was smashing Egon in the face with Leonardo's foot, there came a FFFPHT, PREEW, SPHUUSH, FWIT, CHWAA coming out of my mouth. Spelling noises is much harder than I thought it would be, but you get the idea. Both of us really got into the sound effects. We did the beeps and boops when walking, fighting sounds, and much more. My mind was really seeing this as a video game and I had to make the sounds to match.
Like any good video game, you have a cache of weapons to destroy your enemies with. Battle axes, broad swords, nun chucks, blasters, throwing stars, you name it, we killed some one with it. We had all these weapons laid out in certain areas to be picked up, just like it would be in a real video game. My favorite was actually just a piece of yarn that I used as a whip. I would wrap it around necks, twirl the figure around and then smash it into the carpet. Nobody could withstand more than one hit from Leonardo's death whip. Weapons were one of the first things we used, but our levels kept getting more complex.
Andy had action figures, but he also had a lot of vehicles too. The bad ass Thunder Cats battle tank, a bunch of star wars space ships, I think we even used micro machines. A lot of video games have the "vehicle" board, and so did we. By now I may have switched to Slash, but I had him on motorcycle clothes lining people at a 100mph. We did an outer space board where everything was fought in the air. Using tanks and speed boats really helped my imagination see different settings for our video game. We would also go to different areas of the house for different levels. You have to fight much different on the living room carpet then you do in the linoleum kitchen. That was kind of like our ice world, where everything was slippery and we did a lot more throwing moves. We didn't do a water world though. Being 10 now, even just playing next to each other outside of the bath tub was a little too much. So we were content with just the two rooms.
But it wasn't all sound effects and different levels, oh no. We were boys, so that means even with an imaginary game, with no rules, we found something to argue about. I wanted it to be as real as possible. So my character would "die" more than his. Basically my guy just had to lie down for a few seconds. But it was important to my fantasy that he did the same. He didn't want to. It was his game too, and he didn't want his guy to die. His dad actually came up with a pretty neat idea to make us stop fighting about it though. He put a bunch of quarters next to a coffee cup. "Now, every time you die, you have to put a quarter into the cup, that's how you get a new guy." Making it even more realistic by adding money made both of us want to die after every hit. I think back now and how stupid it was to fight about something so silly. Thank God I have grown up and some little thing like that would never cause a fight in a relationship. Wait.
Moving along. Now that we were on the same team, we added that element to the game. You know in the second turtles game for NES that occasionally foot soldiers can get you in that head lock. We had something like this too. A bad guy would sneak behind our character and get him in a hold. "Help me buddy!" Was all it took to get that guy off of you. And we would need that teamwork for the last part of our game.
The final boss.
Metal Godzilla had never looked so ferocious, so menacing, and so unbeatable. It took us over an hour to finally defeat him. Our spin kicks, rocket launchers, yes, even the death whip were ineffective on this mighty adversary. Since Metal Godzilla was a robot, he had endless powers. He could breath fire, shoot lasers, fly, and kill you with one swipe of his tail. I can't remember how long we played our video game. But eyes getting droopy and throats becoming sore told us it was time to finish Metal Godzilla once and for all.
Sure I used my imagination lots after that and made new video games. But come on, the first for a lot of things is the best. And that was the best video game I had ever imagined I played.