Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Pit of Despair: Gaming Regrets

We've all been here before...
For my triumphant return from the Dark Ages, I've decided to start a new feature about regrets. I'm sure we all have them, but I don't care about sexual indiscretions or binge drinking- we're talking games, dammit! Read on for a (long) tale of adventure, hope, and ultimately, agony.  Let me take you on a journey, dear friends. We're starting out on the KGB Nostalgia Dirigible, but somewhere along the way things go very, very wrong.

     The time was 1997. I was eleven years old, living in beautiful Camarillo, California. My mother liked taking me to the library on weekends, so I could do reading. While perusing the shelves of the small and dimly-lit library I stumbled upon a hidden gem, like a diamond in a coal mine, or a stranger's keys in a grocery store parking lot. I had found an audiobook written by the great William Shatner. The book: TekWar. "This is awesome!" I thought gleefully. At the time, I had no love for Star Trek, or William Shatner, for that matter. He was simply a name I knew and associated with sci-fi, which I dearly loved.
This is the stuff that- holy shit is that Destro?!?!?
     Looking back, the story of TekWar was quite awful. The story of disgraced detective Jake Cardigan and his fembot companion Beth Kittridge as I don't remember all the particulars, but I'm pretty sure there was a naked robot on the cover and I was enthralled. Listening to the smooth sound of Shatner's voice as he read all of the parts, including the girls, was pure joy for me. I went back to the library and what did I find? Glory Be! There were two more audiobooks in the series! I listened to them, repeatedly.
     At this point, you might be wondering what this has to do with games, and i'll respond by saying shut up and stop trampling on my narrative.
     Fast forward a year or two. I was twelve-ish, living in beautiful Oxnard, California. It was summer and our family was going on a road trip, all the way to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. So we piled into our van and headed North. Victoria turned out to be incredible, and I honestly do recommend everyone check it out.
Oh the humanity...
    While visiting that fair city, I discovered a used book store. I knew that I had to explore it. The place was dark, with a well-worn hardwood floor and ancient shelves stuffed thick with loads of old, used books. I don't remember looking at any of them, for I had discovered the single corner of the store where the owner kept the computer games. It was there, friends, that i made the discovery of a lifetime: TekWar: The Game. I swear I heard angels sing in that moment. I was torn between this and another, surely lesser game that my stupid friends played. Without hesitation, i made my wise purchase.
      All I had to do now was wait in excruciating agony as we drove what seemed like a million miles home to Oxnard, where my mom's computer waited for me. That's ok, I thought, I can entertain myself by reading the box and manual. I did this for the entire ride home, devouring every last detail about the game. Every time we had to stop and eat, every time someone had to go to the bathroom, I became more and more frustrated. I was a boy consumed by only one desire: to play TekWar.
      Finally, we pulled up in front of our house. I immediately leapt from the van, ran to my mom's room, and booted up the computer. After being scolded by my mom, I reluctantly helped the family unpack the van, knowing that TekWar was waiting for me. Well the unpacking took longer than I expected, and when all was said and done, I only had about an hour to use the computer before my mom went to bed. I lovingly inserted the CD-ROM into the disk drive, went through the installation procedure and, palms sweating in anticipation, I double-clicked the shortcut, ready to be plunged to a futuristic world of guns and hot naked robots and.......nothing. My monitor flickered a couple of times, went black, and left me staring quizzically at the screen. What had happened? I tried again, same thing. With mounting horror, i realized what had happened: TekWar had said "No".
      I had no idea what had gone wrong. This was back in the old days, before games told you exactly why they weren't working. This was Windows 95, man! I didn't even have the Internet, so there was no way I could try to find a solution. My sci fi romp had ended before it had even begun! I tried everything: checking that the mouse and keyboard were plugged in, turning the computer off for fifteen seconds. TekWar said "No". Dejected, on the verge of tears, I went to bed.
     When I went back to school, I related my tragic tale to my friend, Angel. He offered to test the game out on his computer to see if it worked. I gave the game to him, now starting to feel slight twinges of hope. You see, Angel had a  nice, new HP, you know, the one with with purple swirly thing on the front? Thing was a beast. Angel tells me the next day that the game works! I'm staying at Angel's on Friday! I anxiously wait out the rest of the week, knowing that soon, I'll be playing what must be the greatest game of all time, forget about Half-Life, TekWar is the new shit!
      Friday night, Angel's house. I bullshit with his parents for a bit, but Angel knows why I'm there. He sits me down, and I'm so ready for bliss. I had the equivalent of a raging hard-on for a blind date who I've been told is a real looker. Instead, I get this:

 What the hell is this bullshit! I don't even think I played the length of this video. I was furious, disappointed. I had waited so long, for this? I told Angel to keep the stupid game. He might still have it for all I know.
So there it is, my tale of gaming regret. I hope you enjoyed it, as I'll be doing more of these as I can. Maybe some of our other writers (there are so many!) will step forward with a tale of their own....

 Rock is beginning to think that he should've bought that other game, the one he passed up for this shitshow. What was it? Oh just a little indie title by the name of Starcraft. Nobody ever played that, right? RIGHT?!
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  1. this looks like it's a total conversion mod for duke nukem 3d

  2. you could be right about that. it also feels like a total conversion from sweet, delicious apple pie into .....poop....salad?