Let’s be frank: bad games abound in this industry. It wouldn’t be imprudent to say that most titles that come out are poor creations meant solely to win a buck and not advance games as an art form or a mode of entertainment. The mountains of mini-game collections for the Wii, the endless hack-n-slash ripoffs that come out for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, and even the computer titles that–even though some are decent–are shipped broken, requiring patches to fix. There’s a lot of bad stuff out there, and for the casual gamer, it can be quite daunting.
This shouldn’t get anyone down down. Having an art form buried underneath a pile of schlock is the hallmark of Hollywood, the music industry, and television. It means that the mainstream has finally discovered video games as a means of telling a story, for better or worse. Which means, indirectly, bigger budgets, bigger stakes, and more advanced titles, which translates into more scrutiny and better storytelling.
A serpent falls from the sky, and where he lands, the story begins. So it is with Metal Gear, the first in a long line of tactical espionage action games by famed Japanese designer Hideo Kojima. Much has been made of the Metal Gear franchise, from its innovative gameplay, to its verbosity, to its affection for 1980s action movies, but there has never been a true literary analysis of the games and their ties to the greatest epic poems in any language.
I moved to New York City from Tulsa in the summer of 2003. I feel like I say this a lot, but that was a strange time in my life. I had upended everything I had known, while in the process making some personal decisions that hurt those close to me, not least of all the girl with whom I moved to New York. At the time we found our apartment, we were engaged; by Christmas following the move, we were no longer dating. It should tell you something about the exigencies of living in New York that we continued to live together for another year and a half after that.
In that first year, I saw Peelander-Z at Pianos on my 21st birthday, left college due to inability to pay, worked as a barista for the first (but certainly not the last) time, and met several people who would become my best friends in New York, including some fucking guy. In addition to all that, I went back to Oklahoma to reconnect with my friends and family every few months. Given my frequently-shifting personal circumstances and relationships, each visit proved to be a little different and occasionally surreal. With all that change, I needed a constant. That constant was Super Mario 64.