I see Commander Video, tapping its foot in beat with the rhythm. And then, it begins to run.
It reaches an obstacle and clears it, hits another and clears that too. It keeps going and going, jumping, diving and passing obstacles and then, it all becomes too much. It reaches something that it didn’t expect. It hits a wall and goes hurtling back to the beginning. The process begins anew and you remember that obstacle for next time. You beat that one and then another appears and you keep going and going and going until…you finish it.
I’m terrible when it comes to games that allow me to better a time, get a better rank or medal and in general, give me the thinking that I just need one more go. Some of my favourite games include this ideology such as Super Meat Boy, Max Payne 3 and the game I’m currently obsessed with, Bit.Trip Runner. But what drives me to give it one last shot, seeing if I can beat the current challenge I’m facing? Is it just so I don’t have to worry about it later? Or is it something else?
I feel that whatever I do, I can always do it better, that I shouldn’t stop until I reach the pinnacle of perfection and am 110% happy with my results. I’m always looking to better myself and never stop in that pursuit, so I think this is why I love the “just one more go” style of gaming.
Take Super Meat Boy, a tough as nails platformer, designed to test reflexes and get you frustrated. I remember the first time I played it and I died more than a few times. It pissed me off but even still I kept playing. I knew I could do better. My skills built and eventually I could conquer a level. I finished the main story and I looked back at my times and the levels. There were a few bandages collected here and there, some warp zones unlocked and a hell of a lot of levels without A+ times. I could have just left it but I knew that I could do better, and the perfectionist in me wanted to move forward, increase my skills and finish the game. But at the same time, I thought “Why bother? Just move on”, the perfectionist in me chimed in “But you know you can do better. Don’t you want that satisfaction and sense of achievement?”. I went with my perfectionism and to this day I’m still fighting through the game, because I know I can get better.
As most of you know I love Max Payne 3. There’s something about it that keeps bringing me back. The story, for me, is amazing. Gameplay is something that never misses a beat. Running into a battle, activating bullet time and going headlong, seeing bullets fly past your head is something I’ll never tire of. I’ve played it so much I have an almost encyclopedic memory of every level. I’ve finished the story 4 times now with plans for a 5th and 6th and I’m still knee deep in multiplayer. But the one thing that made me keeping uttering “just one more go” was New York Minute. New York Minute, for those who don’t know, is a mad dash to the end of a level with a constrained one minute time limit, gaining time from killing enemies. If you die…you get sent back to the beginning of a level, not the last checkpoint. It’s difficult, requires patience and commitment but is very rewarding. Now I started this thinking it would be quite simple, being able to smash through it in a week or so. I grossly misjudged the difficulty and was promptly smashed in the first level. I was crushed and defeated. “Just one more go” I said to myself. I picked up the controller and hit retry. I started the level again and moved further than I did before, I rounded a corner and was again shot to death. “Just one more go”. I hit retry and when I hit this spot again, slammed into bullet time. I pulled the trigger 4 times, pull off 4 headshots and dropped 4 enemies, gaining 24 seconds of time. I finished the level with just a gold medal and a satisfaction of knowing that with enough time, effort and determination I could do it. My perfectionist side kicked in every time, telling me I could do better and that I needed to keep going, with every level, every time I failed, because in the end I knew I could and would. I did finish the New York Minute, subsequently unlocking New York Minute Hardcore, but that may not happen for some time.
Bit.Trip Runner is the whole reason I’m writing this. This game is pretty much the personification of “just one more go”. With instantaneous restarts and super addictive gameplay, I cannot help but keep playing. I fail, get sent back and go again. This process can happen in a level countless times and I never get sick of it. You may start a level and spend 20 minutes in it and you’ll get frustrated and rage quit back to the main menu, but no matter how many times you fail, Commander Video will never stop running, never stop moving forward to reach it’s goal. As I said before, I’m one to never stop, one to always keep moving and always try to better myself and reach perfection. Bit.Trip Runner is the video game personification of my drive and determination. It may be weird to you but that’s how I see it. Because as soon as you stop, you never get better, you never move forward in your life and everything just halts.
So why stop running? Why not keep going? All you have to do is tell yourself “Just one more go”.
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