This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Grandma's Wii Sports Bowling War I
Of all the Wii Sports games she likes bowling the best and boxing the least. Grandma began playing video games when arcades were first introduced to bowling alleys back in the 70's when she was on a league. She can't bowl anymore because of her knees and back, but she's can still play, goddammit!
Let's meet her first set of enemies, The Twins...
This is Bob. Bob can hook the ball like a motherfucker but his weakness lies in the desire to make strange and peculiar "dude, I totally rock!" faces while bowling, distracting him just enough to screw up an otherwise good serve to the pins.
This is Barbie, Bob's twin sister and all around tormentor. She lost miserably to Grandma at her first Brain Age War and is back for revenge. She rolls fairly straight, but she almost never splits for some reason. Her weakness is 'the slump'; being unable to recover from the failure of picking up a spare.
This is Grandma. Grandma has years of bowling experience but while some may see that as a strength, she sees it as a weakness; she's physically conditioned to her habits of holding a ball with a specific weight, stepping forward in a practiced way, releasing the ball with a rehearsed curve, etc.,. and the Wii provides only a simulated experience. Grandma has retained her team camaraderie from the 70's and often congratulates her challengers on good rolls.
The Wii Bowling War consisted of the three players, each playing for themselves; one practice round followed by three rounds. Winner is best of three; additional rounds to be played if necessary.
The players moved Grandma's gaming chair from in front of the television to remove any chance of obstruction, sync'd the controllers, selected their Mii's, and began the practice round.
Grandma went into the game with a Skill Point level hovering around 1100; just beyond the pro-line. The Twins were significantly lower due to recent poor interim reports preventing them from accessing the Wii, yet both had experience playing the game on their older brother Josh's Wii.
Highlights from the practice round:
Grandma - "Come on.........HOOK!! See?"
Bob - "I hit my hand on the wall!" Grandma - "Well don't do that."
Barbie - "I suck." Grandma - "You have to move over more before you throw the ball." Barbie - "Okay, tell me when to stop..." Grandma - "Right about there should be good." Barbie - [rolls gutter] "I still missed! YOU said to roll there!" Grandma - "Yeah, but you have to roll harder than that."
At the end of the practice round the scores were overall about what I'd expected.
Grandma - 166 Bob - 129 Barbie - 134
No one was surprised that Grandma won, but she was disappointed in herself for getting less than 200. Barbie was excited to beat Bob after he had slumped in the last four frames.
And now the war could begin...
Grandma began the very first frame with a strike. The Twins had both left open frames on the board, but it didn't stay weighted for long. Barbie slumped after following a strike in the fifth frame with an unexpected (6), but Bob caught right up to Grandma after she failed to achieve a spare on the seventh frame. It was extremely close, but Grandma was able to pick up the extra frame after a nine-one spare in the tenth.
Final Score for Round 1: Grandma - 169 Bob - 165 Barbie - 141
At the beginning of the second round, Barbie took over the board at first, making strange celebratory faces after her first ever Turkey that I honestly don't think she was aware were possible to capture with a high-speed flash sync; something between happiness and pained looks of terror.
Highlights from round two:
Grandma: "Shit! I lost my mark!"
Bob: "I POWN." Barbie: "Did you just say 'pw3n' in actual ...life?" Bob: "Yeah. So?" Barbie: "Dude."
Barbie: "Loo!Loo!Loo!Loo!Loo!Loo!BLAARGHH!!!!" Grandma: "See? You moved your hand right that time." Barbie: "I got a strike! Yay!" Me: "What the fuck."
In the end, however, it would be BOB to dominate all, pulling a personal record of 196 out of nowhere to even the score at 1-1. Grandma had missed her mark too many times to regain a lead, and surprised everyone by finishing last.
Final score for the Round 2: Grandma - 160 Bob - 196 Barbie - 166
The third game was tense. If either Bob or Grandma won, the tournament would be over unless Barbie could stop making strange bird noises and actually win the last round; sending things into a tie-breaker.
Grandma flubbed a Turkey in the fifth frame by missing a 7-10 split outright and up the middle, which suddenly made things much closer. Although Barbie had calmed down, her game didn't get any better. Bob, however, saw his opportunity.
He watched Grandma's gentle hook leave the 7 and 8 pins standing, so he tried himself from the far right with a stronger hook for a turkey in the last four frames. By the ninth frame, Grandma knew she was beat, already having scored it in her head.
Bob threw heavy in the tenth frame with the comfort that he had already won, and even that put him well over the top. Barbie had since given up; lobbing strange throws down the lane and Grandma was angry at herself for splitting in the fifth, but not so angry as to not congratulate Bob and challenge him to another game later.
That is, until she realized that her skill level had gone down.
Final Score for Round 3: Grandma - 180 Bob - 202 Barbie - 125
Video 18 - Grandma plays "Resistance: Fall of Man"
***Update*** March 17th -- Holy shit, guys! The Last Boss and Kotaku (again, Brian, dude... we love ya) posted Video 18, which made its way to the front page of Digg for quite awhile today, which ended up on the NeoGAF forums... Jesus. It's been quite a ride for this one. Thanks everybody!-- The thing about Resistance that I didn't realize; the thing for which I will now be chided forever thanks to the magic of video; is that flanking your enemies when playing against the CPU in single player mode is not only impossible, it's just silly to suggest.
Grandma and I are used to playing Gears of War on co-op mode on the XBox 360, in which Grandma usually hides behind a rock of some kind, peaks around a corner and blows up emergence holes while I sneak around to the side and try to pick off anything she misses. You can't do that in Resistance. Whatever has the firepower is coming after YOU; it doesn't matter that there's a platoon of AI friendlies it should probably worry about more. It'll ignore them and come after your ass from across an empty field.
Ah well. No matter. Grandma figured it out, even though I couldn't.
Coming up later this week: Grandma's First Wii Sports Bowling War.
It happened Wednesday night; the realization that she finally had enough money. Sometime during her daily ritual of going over the bills and balancing the checkbook, something clicked. It didn't take much guessing to wonder what she meant when she said aloud, hunched over a calculator: "holy shit.... I could actually DO this.."
The next morning, she fucking did it. She chose the 60GB version PS3 along with Resistance: Fall of Man and Genji: Days of the Blade. The reviews seem to agree with her first choice but not her second. No matter, though- she had seen the demos and knew what she wanted. Later that day she bought the necessary component input cables and an optical audio cable for the surround sound as well as another surge protector so her Wii and PS3 wouldn't be connected to some cheap ungrounded extension cord (her other surge protector had filled up some time ago.) She made the decision early, "if I'm going to do this I'm going to do it right."
When we brought it home, it took me a little while to hook up everything so all the wires were guided elegantly behind the two matching console towers through plastic tubing. We turned it on and set up her account to a surprisingly identical profile as she uses on her XBox 360. So... predictably enough, if you want to add Grandma to your friends list, her Online ID is OGHC.
She browsed the Playstation Store a bit and ended up buying flOw because it "looked pretty." She also got some demos for Lemmings and Go! Sudoku. Just as she had done on the Wii when she first explored around the system, she popped open the internet browser and checked her e-mail; just for the "because I can" factor of it all. The only she HASN'T done yet is set up her PSP for the Remote Play feature.
It's so incredibly shiny :)
She was almost afraid to start playing Resistance: Fall of Man because, as she puts it: "look, God of War 2 is coming out NEXT WEEK. It's almost HERE!! I'm playing that goddamn game the second I get a hold of it. I can't just play two games at the same time and really enjoy them, you know? Rayman is almost done; I can still play Wii Sports whenever because it's not a story based game. I'm done with Lost Planet. So if I start playing Resistance or Genji, I know I'm going to stop playing them when GoW2 comes out, and then I don't know if I'd start them up again. I just don't work that way!"
And yet, when I got home from work on Saturday, I found her ass-deep into Resistance, swearing at Chimera and rattling off names of weapons she hated that I hadn't yet known about, again. As is usually the case, she's ahead of me. She's ahead of me on all the Wii games except Excite Truck, and my Wii Sports skill levels are embarrassingly low compared to hers. Evan sent her the codes for Alien Hominid HD and Worms for the XBox 360 and she had to get even the most minor achievement before I could. What can I do! I've been working, dammit :)
This morning she played Texas Hold 'em on her 360, added some more friend codes that came in from you folks on her Wii, and then played Resistance for a while. Her distribution of playing time on each system is sort of amusing actually; I've even accused her of doing it on purpose so as to not hurt the system's "feelings" but she insists she just plays whatever the hell she feels like playing at the moment.
And that brings me to my next point.
When typing this post and the Wii post last time, I almost felt as though I was acting as a Nintendo or Sony apologist; lighting skipping my words around everything being said about both companies at the moment to avoid triggering an outbreak of fanboyistic hate-mail. That's the state of things that has been created in this manufactured and illusionary "console war" that we all bought into over the past year. But then I came to my senses.
I will not apologize for Grandma wanting a Wii and a PS3 since E3 2006. I hate that I feel as though I need to. She just wants to play great games, guys; she couldn't give a sh*t about corporate politics and projected competition, with one notable exception.
So here it is, Grandma's message to Sony:
"Alright, Sony. I bought your system. It cost me $850 when all was said and done, with games, cables, taxes and all. Eight hundred and fifty FUCKING dollars. That's a lot of goddamn money for me, I hope you understand. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to go hungry or anything, but it was quite a long time before that kind of cash was available. I think, however, that it was worth the wait. Do you know why I bought it? Because of David Jaffe and Cory Barlog and Alex and Max and Jennifer and everyone I met in Santa Monica last year. Those people know what they're doing. They're damn good at what they do. I did not buy it because of Ken Kutaragi's opinion of the XBox 360. I don't fucking care. I love my XBox 360. I did not buy it because of Peter Moore of Microsoft's opinion of the Wii. I love my Wii. Are you noticing a pattern? I DON'T CARE WHAT ABOUT EXECUTIVES' OPINIONS OF RIVAL COMPANIES. All I care about is that they spend less time fucking bitching at each other and spend more time giving the developers what they need to make great games.
The money I paid was an investment into your ability to "wow" me. I think you can do it. I truly believe that! But goddammit, if you fuck this up for the developers, (and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say this) there's going to be hell to pay. Now on to the gaming! I got a PS3 motherfuckers!!"
***Update (03/11/2007)*** Thanks for all the emails and friend additions, everybody! Grandma has a couple pages left in her address book so if you haven't yet friended her you still can.
This is a quickie post because a much larger one is coming tomorrow. If you want to friend Grandma on your Wii, go ahead and add her code but MAKE SURE you post a comment or send us an e-mail with your friend code (and your name) otherwise we'll just end up with a freaky Mii parade and she won't be able to send you vulgar messages when you send her pictures of your cat.