Old Grandma Hardcore

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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We did something horrible and wonderful today.

I want you to picture yourself at a department store.

You're slightly depressed. You figure a little shopping therapy will do you some good; blow a little money on yourself as a distraction from whatever is pissing you off. You picked out a shirt you kind of like and you're standing in line at the register.

The person in front of you is chatting with the sales clerk. "Do you think this top is too thin for spring?"
-"Oh, no- you can layer that easy. It'll look good!"

Feeling a little more confident with all the assured agreement bouncing around, you attempt small talk with the folks behind you.

"At least it isn't snowing anymore out there, amirite?" you say with a smile.

But they aren't looking at you. They're looking at the shirt you picked out.

"Jesus fuck."
-"You're not going to actually BUY that are you?"
"Oh my god."
-"Worst goddamn shirt I've ever seen."
"We've seen a lot of shirts."
-"That's the worst."
"Absolute worst."
-"It should be burned."

How would you feel if that happened? These people are assholes, right? That's the correct answer, don't feel bad. People like that are oblivious to the feelings of others, devoid of empathy. The only thing they care about is their own goddamn opinions. They jump at the chance to tell people what they think, like anyone gives a shit.


Now imagine it isn't a shirt.

Imagine it's Rapala Tournament Fishing for the Wii.

Grandma and I stopped at Kohl's today to get a cheap pair of pants. All of my pants look as unemployed as I do. It's hard to find anything in a 28 waist / 30 length in most stores nowadays, but Kohl's is cheap and sometimes I get lucky in the 70% off section.

While Kohl's is mostly just clothes, they also sell luggage, kitchen gear, linens, kitsch decorations and the like. Remarkably, they also have a video game section.


It's mostly just mediocre titles that are already a bit old. The prices aren't very good either. But it's not like you can complain, nobody really shops for games there. It's just a little impulse buy for the kids you dragged along. Maybe a gift. Something that makes that extra thirty second drive to the WalMart parking lot where the same $30 game can be had for $15 that much more painful.

I just got the pants.

As we stood in line, the girl in front of us solicited all sorts of fashion advice from the sales clerk to satisfy her choices.

Behind us in line stood Roger.

I don't know if his name was Roger, but he looked like a Roger. So we'll call him Roger.

Roger looked like the kindly sort of guy who would listen to your stories at work and reply, sincerely, with "that's interesting!" He was in his 40's or 50's, dressed for the weather, and had a bit of a scruffy beard. He motioned with a catalog he was holding.

"This is the last day to use the coupon, I think!" he told us.
-"That's right!" Grandma replied. "I think I threw mine away, though. I didn't know we were coming up here."
"Oh, they'll give you one at the register to scratch off if you ask, usually."
-"They're pretty good here about that."

And then I saw what Roger was holding.

Rapala Tournament Fishing for the Wii.

I thought I was just being helpful.

I thought he needed to know.

I thought I could do some good.

I wasn't thinking at all, now that I think about it.

I reached out my hand and said quietly: "Don't do it."
-"Don't do it?"
"That game."
-"Oh, this?"
"I got it for her for Christmas at Target for $20, I think. It was really, really bad. Just terrible."
-"Oh. Good to know, I suppose."
"Look, you won't hurt my feelings if you get it anyway, I'm just saying.."
-"That bad, huh?"

Grandma confirmed my testimony.

"It really is horrible. The graphics on the Sega Genesis were better than whatever they did to that game."

Then Roger looked down at his shrinkwrapped, ready for purchase copy of Rapala Tournament Fishing for the Wii, and looked absolutely crushed.

I felt about two inches tall.

I wanted to look away, hurry up with my pants and not witness this man's disappointment, but I couldn't help but notice he slowly put the game on a shelf selling some Dr. Seuss books.

Then it got worse.

He looked at a watch he was going to buy with the coupon he made sure to bring.

"Now I don't know if I want this, either," he said, completely serious.

This wasn't sarcasm. With one critical hit, we had destroyed his impulse buying joy. We had not only inserted hesitation into his Wii game purchase, but now EVERYTHING seemed to suck.

I tried to intervene.

"Yes, but.. your coupon! There's probably a really good game back there you could get, maybe.."
-"Nah, I looked. This was the best game back there."
"Damn.. There's gotta be something, though.."
-"You know what, it's easy. That's how people screw up- when there's nothing good, you don't have to get anything. Just walk on out."
"But your coupon!" I repeated, as though it made perfect sense to me.
-"...Do you want it?"
"No, no, that's okay- are you sure?" I am such a goddamn asshole sometimes. Jesus Christ.
-"Sure! Here, it's 30% off! Have a good one!"

We thanked him, and then he left.

Roger saved us 30% off a pair of pants that were already on sale. Roger seemed like an awesome guy.

I did not feel like an awesome guy.

I tried to convince Grandma of how much I was in the wrong during the drive home.

"I shouldn't have said a goddamn word."
-"Yes," she said. "But it was Rapala Tournament Fishing."

Game on.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

On February 1st, 1936, Grandma probably wasn't thinking about Final Fantasy XIII. She wasn't anticipating BioShock 2 or Mass Effect 2. She wasn't arguing the benefits of published strategy guides versus GameFAQs. Nor was she pondering Roosevelt's economic theory, now that I think about it.

Because she couldn't talk yet.

After Dead Space, Grandma was solid into Modern Warfare 2 for awhile. Her usual goal of beating the thing in Veteran mode seemed, to her, easier than CoD4. Achievement-wise, she did fairly well, less the special-ops missions. We played SpecOps together, on split screen. Regardless of how well she did in Veteran mode on the campaign mission, SpecOps humbled the holy hell out both of us. We still don't have them all. I have a feeling those are going to be our "I'm bored, what should we do?" standbys.

And in the meantime, Grandma was being Grandma- discussing the No Russian controversy with me on the way to the grocery store, or the legitimacy of certain YouTube videos she used to guide her through some of the more tricky parts. "I don't think they were really playing in Veteran," she'd say. "They'd be fucking DEAD."

But as great as a game as it is, it was quickly forgotten when she received Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time for Christmas. The dirty realism of Call of Duty was replaced by a hypersaturated, gorgeous platform epic. And yet again, the story of the Lombax was as touching as it was hilarious.

She played through it twice.

One aspect of the game, however, was the only thing she hated in the world for a couple weeks. Flying the goddamned ship.

You use one stick to fly the ship in Crack in Time, which would be fine if it was a StarFox kind of level, but it's not- the playing field is usually immense enough in boss fights where a second stick ala Crimson Skies would have seemed natural. Anytime she had to fly, I heard about it.

The Braid-like time puzzles were another point of frustration, but not because of their design, which was actually pretty cool, but rather because of the instruction Grandma used to bypass them- a printed out few pages of text from GameFAQs that she cursed and hurled around the room like so many unpaid bills.

I think she finally put the game away for good sometime last week.

It was then that we rediscovered all of Grandma's different time-killing golf games. We started with Hot Shots Golf on the PS3. We moved back to Tiger Woods 2008. Then we fired up the good ol' Xbox (which was rather dusty) and tried Outlaw Golf 2 again on Grandma's big screen.

And when we did, we were amazed at how spoiled we've become playing next-gen systems. It was hard to remember why we laughed at Dave Attell's commentary or battled for hours complaining about Ghost Balls. Grandma and I played for 18 holes and we couldn't make the fucking ball land right. The graphics seemed so poor that at times we couldn't make out where the hole was exactly. Not all older games can't hold up nowadays- in fact far from it- some are better. But my god, when one falls, it falls HARD.

I got Grandma Rapala's Tournament Fishing on the Wii for Christmas. As a joke.

Grandma noted the fishing in Twilight Princess was more realistic.

Bad games, good games, great games.. just another awesome month.

And now it's Grandma's birthday! We were able to surprise her this year. She was surprised.

She had been anguishing over this week. For the same reasons as you folks, I imagine. Mass Effect 2 or BioShock 2? Which one should she get first and when would she be able to afford it? How long would it take her to really play it and achieve everything to her liking and abilities because the game changer, Final Fantasy XIII is only about a month away now. As soon as that comes out, it won't matter what she's in the middle of, she'll want to start that. She has to schedule these things, you see.

So we got her both!

Kinda. Last night she received two gifts: a copy of Mass Effect 2 for her Xbox 360, and a piece of paper- a receipt from GameStop for a paid-in-full copy of BioShock 2 for her PS3 when it comes out on the 9th. She might even go to the midnight release, what the hell.

I don't need to tell you, she liked her gifts :)

Game on!

Also! Grandma's 360 bugged her to join Facebook and Twitter for no reason a few weeks ago. She was intrigued, so she did.

We just started them up, so if you want to follow me on Twitter, you can find me here, and if you want to friend Grandma on Facebook, you can find her here.

Her 360, PS3 and Wii friends lists are full, but she's noticed some names on there that haven't logged in for 20 months, so she's purging them. Go ahead and send her a friend request and she'll probably find a way.

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