We’ve all experienced gamer’s rage at some point. We all have some memory of some impossible boss fight that caused us to lose it or maybe even some incredibly difficult jump that we just couldn’t seem make. Sure, the lion’s share of these kinds of moments are relegated to older gaming systems as games are becoming increasingly “hand-holdy.” But regardless of the timing, we’ve all had video game related moments of pure infuriation. Many are prone to fits of rage in these moments and it’s not uncommon to hear of controllers being smashed or games and even consoles being heaved against the wall. Sometimes, however, there come moments when there is nothing to do but to sit and stare at the television screen in sheer bewilderment.
That is what happened to me.
It’s been a few years, so I think my heart is healed enough to talk about it now. This is my gamer rage moment. This is the most frustrating and bewildering thing I have ever experienced in many years of being a gamer.
This is my heartbreaking story….
It was November of 1993. Jurassic Park had just been released in theaters a few months prior, and as a young, dinosaur-loving child, I was still on a “Jurassic High”. My friend had taken me to see it for my birthday that summer but I lived way out in the middle of nobody’s nowhere in the middle of Oklahoma. My father never took us to the movies or anything like that, so I had to settle for my memories of the film. We didn’t have cable or even a reliable VCR. My entertainment came primarily from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that sat in our living room. I only owned two games for it: Super Mario World and Street Fighter 2, both great games in their own right. But after beating them both multiple times, I asked my dad to take me to the video store in town to check out their game selection.
Now, keep in mind I didn’t live close to a Blockbuster Video or anything like that. I lived in Wellston, Oklahoma and our only video rental option was Wellston Video which didn’t exactly have the best selection in the world. (There used to be a place across the street called Video Visions but that’s another story). Anyway, my dad took my two brothers and me there one day. As they went to the horror section to peruse the 1980’s slasher gems, I went to the video game section. Wellston Video didn’t update their selection too often. They still had Ten Yard Fight for the NES on the new release wall in 1993, but that didn’t bother me. I went to the SNES section, which consisted of a total of four titles, and stopped in my tracks.
There it was.
Like a glorious shining light of grace from God above, I saw sitting on the shelf Jurassic Park the video game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I’m not certain, but I think I soiled myself. Without looking or even thinking I grabbed the games off the shelf and took it home. I stuck it into the top of my SNES and, unbeknownst to me, began a journey of stifling frustration that would plague me for what may be the rest of my life.
Here’s the thing: I loved the game as a kid, but it was not a good game by any stretch of the imagination. It has nothing to do with the movie except that it is set in a place called Jurassic Park. It followed all the old gaming tropes such as limited ammo, no saving, limited lives, and vague if nonexistent direction. The only thing I knew that I was supposed to be doing was collecting raptor eggs. Eighteen to be exact. It was structured in a way that you would have to finish the whole game in one sitting, but because I had little idea of what I was supposed to be doing, I never even got close.
That didn’t stop me though.
It didn’t matter how bad the game was; it was Jurassic Park and I loved it. I rented that piece of garbage every week for over two years and I never even got close to beating it. It was becoming a torrid love/hate relationship and I was determined to one day conquer that game before I graduated high school.
It wasn’t meant to be.
I walked into Wellston Video in the winter of 1996 to rent my game and was shocked to see that the game was gone. Nintendo 64 was the new big deal, and all the SNES games had been sold. Sure, freaking Ten Yard Fight was still sitting there, but Jurassic Park… MY Jurassic Park game was gone.
Thieves! Those filthy little thieves! They stole it from us!
I walked out into the cold. I had been defeated. The two year battle against the game that I loved and hated was over. The dinosaurs had won. Well played, Jurassic Park. Well played.
Flash forward eleven years…
I’m now an adult. I have a wife, three children, a job, and I am happy. My love of video games continues and I have found myself in a store called Game X-Change in Norman Oklahoma. I have just purchased a device known as the FC Twin which is a remarkable machine that plays both NES and SNES games. I was perusing their impressive selection of Super Nintendo games and suddenly I was flashed back to my childhood. There, sitting on the shelf was Jurassic Park…MY Jurassic Park. Just like I had done years before, I snatched it up and plunked down my very reasonable $4.95 for it and I took it home.
You’re mine now, game. You are going down.
I wasn’t taking any chances this time. We live in the age of the internet, and so I printed off a very detailed walkthrough. I was not playing this game to enjoy it. This was something more serious. This was revenge. This was redemption for over a decade of mockery and nightmares.
I put the kids to bed, kissed my wife good night, and I fired that bad boy up. Walkthrough in hand I sat on my couch, guiding my pixelated Alan Grant through some of the worst platforming and FPS stages known to man. The game had not aged well, and I knew that had the Jurassic Park license not been attached that I would have NEVER played this game in the first place. I didn’t care though. I was scooping up eggs and blasting dinosaurs and as the dark hours of night crept into the wee hours of morning… victory was nigh!
Now, here’s the thing about this game: you have to collect all the eggs and escape the island before it explodes. I finally, with the help of the guide, navigated the poorly designed island and was elated as I saw the screen announce to me that it was time to get to the helipad so that I could escape the island! Suck on THAT, game! I got your stupid eggs! I am heading to the helipad and a decade of demasculating misery is finally going to end.
Or is it?
I’m guiding my character to the left of the screen and like a beacon in the night, I see the edges of the helipad and then I see the helicopter! There it is! I’m three steps away from stepping onto that thing and leaving the nightmare behind!
Then it happened.
It wasn’t a blackout. I would have preferred a blackout. That would have made more sense. What I experienced is often called a brownout. Even that is a little extreme though. What I experienced was more like a “flutter”. It lasted about a quarter of a second. A tiny surge in the electrical current of my home that at any other moment wouldn’t have lasted long enough for even the television to go dim, but as fate would have it, it was enough to reset my video game system.
There I sat. 1:30 in the morning and I was staring at the title screen of the game. Nothing about my game was saved. Not one single egg. I don’t know how long I sat there but I know it was a good ten minutes. I was mere seconds away from slaying the monsters of my youth when a near imperceptible hiccup in my electricity slapped me in the face and laughed at me.
I couldn’t believe it.
I had never been so angry and yet, I lacked the strength to act on it. I didn’t throw anything. I didn’t break anything. I just slowly got up off the couch, turned everything off and like a zombie, staggered in bewilderment to my bedroom. I woke up my wife to tell her because I thought that she would have a right to know why I would not be getting out of bed for the next few days. I lied there in the dark and as I tried to fall asleep I was sure I could hear small traces of laughter coming from that cursed game cartridge in the other room.
That was six years ago and although I have moved on, the wound is still raw. I still have the FC Twin and I still have the game but I’m not ready to put myself through that just yet again. Someday though. Someday I will do it, and when I do… ice cream for everyone!
That’s my story. What’s yours?