“What game should I play tonight?”
“Oh!” my nerd friend says excitedly, “you should play Mario Paint!”
Suddenly she’s rifling through boxes and pulling out some archaic grey and purple console that I faintly recognize from my childhood.
She gleefully “cleans out” the game in the usual manner. Although I kind of doubt how much cleaner it is when the game is now filled with her spittle.
Suddenly she takes a mouse from the dark age of computer technology and puts it beside me.
“What is happening?” I ask.
“This is like Photoshop for this video game console,” my friend says with a giant nostalgic smile on her face. I scoff uncertainly and she assures me this game is more than just drawing.
Well, I should hope so.
Because as much as I loved the time-wasting days of my youth when I’d hijack my sister’s giant computer drawing circles and colouring them in with taps of the wired mouse and then print them off on the unnecessarily loud printer that required stacks of perforated paper with holes down either side, I feel like I’ve grown up a little since then.
Now my time-wasting days are mostly filled with Pinterest and Tumblr.
Okay. I guess it’s time to give this thing a try.
Why are people doing sit-ups? Why are larger than life stick men doing sit-ups?!
“What is happening?!” I scream out.
“You’re going to be asking that a lot with this game,” she says with a laugh.
I feel like she has evil motives.
It’s like when the villain knows the entire plan and the hero is still trying to figure it out but is really about twenty steps behind and still has to crumble under the weight of their own hubris. This is not going to end well.
“Okay, what do I do?”
“Umm… explore?” she says, still laughing.
As I drag the virtual crayon across the virtual piece of paper, I hear an uncomfortable scratching. Apparently they thought sound effects were necessary. For colouring.
“What’s this one?” I ask as I drag a square-like marker across the screen.
“Click on the blue dude in the top right corner, you can scroll through and choose different patterns.”
I find one that reminds me of a pair of leggings I had in the ‘90s. I’d wear them with neon over-sized T-shirts and a fanny pack. I was the coolest five-foot-tall first grader ever.
Oh! This stamp reminds me of the Saved by the Bell opening credits! Score!
…Shoot. Why am I enjoying this? Please, reader, don’t tell anyone how much I miss the ‘90s.
As I’m “exploring” I come across a bunch of letters I don’t understand.
“You do know that ‘nintendo’ is a Japanese word, right?” my friend asks as if I should know this information.
“No. No I did not.”
How would I have known that??
After I make my own stamp that was meant to be a tree but that my friend thought was a balloon (I just went with it, of course it’s a balloon), I realized that this game may cause one particular injury – the claw. Just like Chandler when he’s left with Pacman all day.
“What’s this one? It looks like a hair pick. Oh, it’s not a hair pick. Oh! You can create music. Well, shoot.”
As I start to put notes beside the treble sign (if I remember my four months of piano lessons correctly) my friend tells me not to just pick Mario notes. That’s when I realize you can have all sorts of notes. Yoshi notes. Game Boy notes. A cat note that sounds an awful lot like a deranged adult saying “meow”. An airplane note that makes no sense at all. It’s like an untalented bassist plucking randomly at strings in a pathetic college band. And the note of love. I mean, I assume it’s love. It’s a heart and sounds kind of like an acoustic guitar which, as all girls know, is the sound of love.
Would you like to hear my song dear readers?
I’d love to share it with you, but I feel like the actual experience will ruin the brilliance of the song. Let’s just say it’s Mario, mushroom/star, Yoshi/star, star, cat, Game Boy, pig, pig, pig, heart, heart, heart.
“Click on one of those things at the bottom,” my friend tells me. And a song is played. An actual song. “This is what can actually be done on Mario Paint.”
As she tells me to play with the tempo I realize that people who are high probably love this game.
“Okay, this is it!” my friend says after I click on a cup of coffee. “The piece de resistance – I don’t know what I just said. Swat the flies.”
And so begins level one. Where you have to swat flies and kill hornets and bombs before they sting you and/or blow you up. I’m yelling at the game wondering, again, WHAT IS HAPPENING? And suddenly I get a game over. With only six measly things left to kill.
“NOOO!” I scream like Falco when Fox died. “I WAS ONLY SIX AWAY! … WHY DO I CARE SO MUCH?!”
After I kill all 100 stupid little buggers (they were a range of bug-like creatures), a large bug suddenly comes out on screen. In my ignorance I thought it was a “hey, you’re done the level, bravo!” bug. But no. It’s a boss.
Have I learned nothing from Legend of Zelda?
Oh hey! I did it. In a mad panic of button-clicking and mouse-moving – not dissimilar to when I’m faced with real flies, hornets and bees, and am armed with a rolled-up magazine.
Except in real life I don’t usually have to smack a large insect and run away hoping to slowly murder him with light tabs from a swatter the size of its stinger.
CONGRATULATIONS the screen tells me, along with three sets of clapping Mario hands.
“One thousand words!” I yell out to my friend so she’s aware of my word count on this entry.
“Yay!” she yells back. “One thousand words… on a game with no plot.”