Sunday, December 24

In Search Of The Weasel Mage

Kingfisher Gets His Video Butt Kicked


"What, Dad?"

"Is this video game hard?"

"Um, Magic Sword Army Wizards? Yeah, it's pretty hard, but I've beaten it twice."

I insert the little mirrored disc into the game box and switch it on. After the requisite save-file creation and the opening animation sequence, I become Jardel, Elf Warrior 3rd class. The screen shows a snow field, surrounded by a tumble-down wood fence. I toy with the buttons and toggles to no effect.

"What am I supposed to do?"

"This is just the training screen. You gotta break through the fence to get to the Monkey King."

"How do I do that?"

"See that bunch of dead grass? Cut it down with your sword and collect the gems."

I toggle forward and press the B button. Jardel's sword swishes through the frozen tufts. gling gling gling! Shiny rotating jewels bounce across the snowscape. With my mastery of the controls I have no difficulty in collecting them. When I do, the wealth meter goes up slightly. This is going to be easy.

Fifteen minutes later I am still stuck in the snow. The video fence sneers at me.

"Princefisher! How do I get out of here?"

"Do a lunge roll, and break the fence by the big rock."

"How do I do that?"

"You haven't figured that out yet? Okay. Go to the fence. No, the other way. Now target the crack in the fence. No, press the L button. No, you have to be facing the fence first. Now press the L button. Now press the A button. Press the Z button twice. Turn around and jump the fence. No, the jump button. No, that's the sword button. The jump button. No, the jump button. Too late, the fence closed up. Now you gotta start over."

Thirty minutes later I have learned the difference between the jump, hereinafter known as button A, and the sword, hereinafter referred to as button B. Unable to use them correctly, however, I rely on Princefisher to press them in the correct order to free me from the snow meadow. Now I can start the game.

Jardel leaves the snow behind and jogs through an endless mountain pass, occasionally swiping at evil crows. As they turn into ghostly mist, gems appear and the power meter increases slightly. Now I've got it!

Forty-five minutes later I haven't figured out the objective of this stage in the game.

"What do I do now?"

"Go through the Marsh of Mazes and find the Weasel Mage."

"Where's that?"

*sigh* "Do I have to tell you everything? You have to go by the Toadstool Tower."

"That tall castle thing? I tried to go inside, but it wouldn't let me."

"That's because you don't have the Ruby Key yet. You gotta get that from the Weasel Mage. Go through the hedges by the tower."

"I didn't know you could do that."

"You have to try different things. Not everything is what it looks like."

An hour later I have found the Marsh Maze. Jardel has died fifteen times by venomous mud worms, twelve times by fluorescent moon fog, eight times by vampire tree frogs, four times by invisible suction arrows, and twice by his own sword. And he is still hopelessly lost in the Marsh of Mazes. Princefisher takes the controls again, guiding my elf to the Weasel Mage. I memorize the route back out through the marsh.

"Now what?"

"Give the Weasel Mage your gems, and he gives you the Ruby Key."

I confront the Weasel Mage and press each button in turn. Eventually one of them induces the Weasel Mage to talk to Jardel. He wants 70 gems for the Ruby Key. Jardel has only 45.

"How do I get more gems?"

"You gotta kill more crows."

This isn't fun any more. But I will be damned if I get beaten at anything by a teenager.

Ninety minutes later I have found my way out of the maze, climbed back to the mountain pass, killed enough crows to release the gems I need, and mired Jardel in the Marsh of Mazes again.

"How come I can't find the Weasel Mage?"

"The maze changes every time. You have to figure it out."

Two hours later, Jardel finds the Weasel Mage, trades gems for the Ruby Key, backtracks through the maze, arrives at the Toadstool Tower, unlocks the drawbridge, enters the throne room, and greets the Monkey King. The Monkey King tells Jardel he may not pass without a gift.

"What's the gift he's talking about?"

"You need the purple coconut."

"Where do I get that?"

At the same instant Princefisher and I say "From the Weasel Mage." I put down the controller and turn off the infernal mocking box.

"Jeez, Dad. You didn't even make it halfway through the first level. You really suck."

"Oh, yeah? Well, I can still kick your butt at Super Ladybug Land 2!"

Princefisher smirks.

Kingfisher ages twenty years on the spot.


Shari said...

You game sounds much harder than Mario Kart, that I seem to totally suck at. Maya can drive her cart on Rainbow Road so fast my head spins!

Merry Christmas, Kingfisher. Just remember, with age comes wisdom - not hand-eye coordination.

rennratt said...

I still scream at the screen while playing Pac Man.

I also die regularly.

I think, if we all ganged up, we could TOTALLY beat Princefisher at D&D.

The board game version, of course.

Robyn said...

I would have given up at the fence. I just don't have the time to devote to video games to even learn the basics, so I just roll my eyes and pretend video games are for losers.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

KOM said...

My nephew received a brand new Wii game console for Christmas. What's the first thing he did? Download 'classic' Nintendo games, like the original Super Mario Brothers.

Too bad for him -- we kicked his ass at those "old games without story lines!"

tiff said...

Thing 1 got Zelda Twilight Princess for Christmas, and God help me I'm THIS CLOSE to switching on that box after he goes to bed and trying to defeat the evil baboon Orc my own daggone self.

Except, of course, I'd have to have him awake and next to me so he could show me how to use the controller...

Maybe I need to start with something "E" rated to get the hang of it.

Biff Spiffy said...

I hate being killed by vampire tree frogs. Bad for the ego.

You hung in there for about 3 hours longer than I ever have, way to go! I've tried James Bond or Halo on Boy's XBox, and he winds up gunning me down in cold blood before I find the first doorway.

I'm with Renn, let's fire up the 12-sided dice and kick their little butts!

Anonymous said...

This little episode is exactly the reason I refuse to play videogames with more than a button and a joystick.

It's not the outlandish price of these games and systems that scares me, as much as the complexity of said games. I'd probably die of an aneurysm attempting my first lunge roll.

Bebti said...

Gee, which know-it-all, video game addicted prince was this? Sometimes he drives me nuts with how stupid he tries to make you feel when you can't figure it out. You just need to remind him of how many tactics he tried out the first time he ever played that particular game. He probably spent untold hours before the infernal mocking box trying to figure it out for himself.

Teenagers, they know everything.