Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shock Therapy: Adventures in Jet Lag

I just got back from my honeymoon in France, and have been dealing with a nine-hour time change. I am not a functional being when it comes to jet lag. The world looks fuzzy around me, like in a sitcom when a character thinks back to a past event and the screen goes wavy and out of focus, accompanied by harp music. I need to stay awake. I need to decompress. So, what do I do to compensate and adjust to this great upset to my body and mind? I decide to play games.

The shelf of games is a blur, but I reach for Okami for the Wii. It was bargain-priced at my local Buy-n-Large Megastore and it seems like a nice game to chill and play in my current state. The game came out in 2006 for the PS2, but has since been Wii-ified(tm) to take advantage of motion controllers. This is pretty swell considering how a large part of game is painting with your controller, whether you’re making a brush stroke to attack a baddie or draw a bridge, or make it daylight by drawing in a sun. It sounds like a total trip and the perfect game to play for me, and wow, pretty colors.

My white wolf savior runs and makes the grass grow and I get ready to vanquish darkness—but the looming jet lag quickly tramples my enjoyment. For one thing, my motor skills are lacking more than usual and when I decide to slice a rock in half with my Wiimote, I fail to paint the necessary straight line. For the life of me, I can’t move the controller well enough to make a simple slash. As I fail repeatedly, I am reprimanded by an irritating pixie/elf thing that hovers around my character. Wow, what an irritating character. It’s a more irritating version of Navi, the guardian pixie thing in Ocarina of Time. I begin to wonder if Okami really is just a sub-par Zelda clone, masked in cel-shaded animation. I think it kinda is.

Frustrated, I eject the game. I don’t need a reprimanding pixie and I don’t need to be reminded that my real world dexterity is currently at –5. Back to the blurry shelf, I reach for my next game. I enjoyed the colors in Okami, but I don’t want stress. I want to chill. I reach for Kirby. How could Kirby’s Epic Yarn (one of my favorite games of 2010) possibly stress me out? I play for a while and the music comforts me.

Then it hits me. Kirby’s world is being taken over by the forces of evil. Kirby has been kidnapped and all of reality is being turned into fabric. This is serious business, so what does our hero do? Oh, he collects furniture and wallpaper in his new home. He attracts friendly yarn neighbors and plays games with them. He spends the jewels he has earned on even more furniture and he can relax and listen to music that he has unlocked. This doesn’t sound right at all considering the world-threatening circumstances. I can’t handle it. I know it is the lag that is causing this angst within me, but I can’t deny it. I can’t play Kirby now.

The game shelf is now blurrier than ever, but I need one more game to help me get through this. Okami was a huge fail and Kirby was a sad disappointment. (Although I shall defend it to the bitter end to the Kirby-haters out there. Kirby pride!) Then it hits me: I don’t need the candy offered to me by my trusty Nintendo, I need something that absolutely will not stress me out but just feels good to play.

Out comes the PS3, in goes inFamous and huzzah, there was much rejoicing. I am not here to absorb the plot or deal with my irritating sidekick. I don’t want to save the world. I just want to roam around and shoot electricity from my hands. I want to explode cars and make bad people fall from high places. I am not dealing with saving civilians, but I am not aiming for them either. I am on a Reaper hunt, and wow, it feels good. Maybe I’ll find a shard or two, and that’s fine, but really, I just want to ride along subway tracks at a fast speed and SHOOT ELECTRICITY FROM MY HANDS.

I will never enjoy jet lag. It sucks. The games that help you get over it will most likely be very different from mine, and honestly each time it will probably be a different game that helps me cope. inFamous was enough to help me settle into my regular surroundings and cope with the fact that the amazing honeymoon is over and I have to head back to work. Now I just need to figure a way to take another long vacation...
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