“What game is this?” I ask yet again. This little back-and-forth seems to be the same each time, but there’s really no other way to begin. She has a plan for introducing me to the gaming world and I’m not one to question such a genius as hers, or so she has me believe.
“Secret of Mana,” she says. “Not double-N 'Manna.' Mana, which was thought to be the building blocks of life.”
“Of lice??” I recoil in horror at the thought of building blocks of lice.
“Of life!” she impatiently corrects me.
Oh… That is much better. Images of lice being built up harkens back to elementary days of humiliating when students would sit at their desks while the teacher would inspect our scalps like a sober monkey. Even at the time, though, I questioned the hygiene of such a system, especially because she used the same pencil on each scalp. You’d think cleanliness would dictate a new pencil for each inspection, but I digress.
And so we begin.
“The official English names are Girl, Boy and Sprite, as in the beverage,” my friend patronizingly explains to me, mostly because she doesn’t think I know what a sprite is. Normally she’d be right. But I had to read some crappy first drafts of fantasy novels in a novel writing course I took, so I was at least given a crash course in fantasy characters and lingos. Most of them I forget, but I’ll never forget sprite. Mostly because it is like the beverage.
“That’s the sexy video game hair,” she says matter-of-factly.
“There’s sexy video game hair?”
“Yeah! This guy has it, Crono from Chronotrigger, Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Link, but he has a cap on.”
I had no idea this was a thing. I’ll be looking out for it on my future endeavours. I don’t think any of the Jeopardy contestants had sexy hair. Sexy glasses, sure, but I think their hair was forgettable at best.
I have low self-esteem today so I decided my character will be called Pretty. For no other reason than I would like to be addressed as “Pretty” for the next umpteen minutes/hours.
“Pretty Randi!” my friend’s cousin shouts out.
“He’s a pretty boy!” I add, quickly clarifying the meaning of the word randi and feeling like I’m part of the in-crowd of nerds who understand what randi means.
“Randi with an ‘i’, too,” my friend points out.
“He’s wearing cotton candy colours. Something sweet about him, probably.” Indeed there is something sweet about him. The something sweet is that I’m playing him. Not like I’m taking advantage or tricking him, I’m just pretending to be him, but not in a cross-dressing fashion, not that there’s anything wrong with… Oh, forget it.
What follows is some running commentary by yours truly; running commentary that I hardly understand.
“Their names are Timothy & Elliott? How cute!”
Timothy: “There’s a ghost around!”
“Am I about to pounce on them??” I ask nervously.
“No,” my friend assures me.
“AM I WEARING PANTS?! ...OH! That’s an arm! I definitely thought that was a bare butt.”
“What are you…oh, you’re falling. I thought you were doing some kind of Bollywood dance.”
This game is awesome.
Randi found candy in a box. This is the start of a very strange story…
“Who’s that knight?” the screen asks me.
I respond with a shrug and a non-committal “I dunno.” And suddenly the room is laughing at me.
“Usually when someone points out someone else, you should go talk to them,” they patronizingly explain. I’d be upset, but I really need these explanations.
“Go into the shop. Not the inn. The shop.” I have a feeling that my friend may be a much more patient person than I originally thought. Her teaching me to play video games is akin to trying to get a child to pretty much understand anything. I have reverted back to a childlike state of, not innocence, stupidity.
“Is this the same guy from the pub?”
“Yes, it’s the same shopkeeper in a turban doing a dance. It’s not racist at all,” she says.
So I was going to buy myself a kick-ass bandana, but it turns out I was short on some money, so I had to go kill some rabites and then steal some more forest candy by shaking treasure boxes and I got enough to get myself a brand new bandana! A flashing one! A flashing blue one! I’m the coolest Boy/Randi ever!
After I got my super sweet bandana, some villagers started getting all up in my business. (This is me slowly turning into a thug.) And they were all like, “Hey bro! You’re a stupid face who took the sword out of its stone (...wait...is this a Disney copyright issue?) and you brought monsters into the village, ya jerk!” (I may not be a good thug.)
And the short story is that fat kid Elliott chased me around the lawn before eventually standing in a soft spot in the ground and dropped through into a dungeon. My friend was worried I’d die because I kept getting hit by gem missiles and acid breath. (Apparently, it’s called “LEVEL ZERO! LEVEL ZERO!” I realized this after she kept yelling “LEVEL ZERO” at me.)
And after I saved the moron Elliott who dropped through the ground in the first place and defeated the boss in my first try, the villagers got up in my business again and ran me out of the village. Before I left, though, they had a moment of remorse and told me to help myself to the treasure in the basement.
I worry about who actually came up with this candy-as-currency system. Was it a child who made this game or an adult who has a fascination with treasure chests full of candy in the forest and in basements? I’m hoping for a Big situation on this one, because the alternative is slightly disconcerting.
Oh yeah, and there’s just a random, spastic lady walking around their basement. I’d like to teach her how to use the stairs, but I’m not sure the game is advanced enough for that kind of lesson. If only I was Abed who could hack the game and use it to my advantage.
After some wandering around the Water Palace with Jema and opening up random staircases in what I consider to be Harry Potter fashion (calm yourselves, Potheads) I end up running into Luka and then asked where Luka was.
It’s like when you call your friend and ask for your friend but it’s your friend on the phone! But it’s worse. Jema got pissed off at me for making that mistake but I was all like, “Calm down, man.”
(That’s a lie. I’m not one to say “Calm down, man!” And I doubt I’ll ever transform into that person.)
And then Luka laughed like Santa Claus.
(That is not a lie.)
Luka: “The ebb and flow of water brings me news from around the world.”
What a hippy.
So now I’m supposed to head to Gaia’s Navel?
“Gaia’s Navel, eh?”
“Yeah, as in the Earth’s bellybutton.”
“Suuuuure. Sure,” I say, slowly nodding.
“For a moment the seed and the Mana sword became one,” the game says.
“Now the Mana power from the seed will be sent only to you and your sword.”
How about we just stop here?