My daughter has a Nintendo DS, but I'd never had much respect for it. Don't get me wrong; as a fascinating little gadget, it certainly is attractive. No, my nearly complete ability to not lust after it probably had more to do with the games she has, or more importantly, the ones she doesn't have. My view of the DS from my lofty, arrogant PC perch was of Pokemon, Brain Age, and Cooking Mama. Pokemon? Puh-leeze. I'd rather spend a day hand-washing Rosey O'Donnell's voluminous underwear. Brain Age? Well, let's face it: nothing but bad news there for me. Cooking Mama? You know, when you're a grownup and have to, you know, actually cook your own food, a game like Cooking Mama is just about as appealing as Vacuum Cleaning Mama, or even worse, Lawn Mowing Dada. Honestly, I think I can be forgiven for not sparing any of my attention for the DS.
Now obviously you wouldn't be reading this if I hadn't written it, and I wouldn't have sat down to convert keystrokes to pixels unless I had something to say, so the implication is starkly clear: something has happened that changed my opinion of the DS. Well, it happened thusly. It was New Years Eve, a night when burgeoning hermits like me prefer to huddle in our homes watching Andy Griffith re-runs and drinking Sams Club champagne. Bed by 10 pm, that's the way to do it. It wasn't to be this year, though. Facing a family mutiny, I agreed to go to a neighbors house and pretend to celebrate what to me is nothing more than the day that marks the date at which I can no longer put off the onerous task of buying new calendars. Kids everywhere, screaming, shouting, bickering and fighting: basically a living hell for a recluse-in-training.
There I was, camped out in the basement, hoping to avoid the slushy and distinctly uninteresting conversational gambits of inebriated partiers, when I happened to notice that one of the kids was playing some type of deathmatch game on his DS. A closer look showed that a similarly aged child, although slightly younger, was participating in the role of the older kid's pawned bee-yatch. I mean, this little kid was whaling on the younger one. The score finally ended up being 10 – 0 in the older kid's favor.
Now that just didn't seem all that sporting to me. That said, what could I do about it? It's not like I had any chance of avenging the whupping the little guy got, given my complete ineptitude at deathmatch games. The only thing I do worse is co-op. Not worse in the sense that I don't kill players, mind you, but worse in the sense that the only kills I rack up are fratricidal. Believe me, the best player, by far, on the opposing team is me. You simply do NOT want me watching your back, because I'm probably doing it through a scope or the iron sights and with a twitchy, epileptic finger on the trigger. Well, drat the awful luck: he offered to let me play. How could I refuse? Really, if you're going to self-emasculate yourself, you have to have some standards. In front of a Victoria's Secrets model? Sure, who hasn't? In front of a barely teen little boy? Not on your life. The gauntlet had been thrown, and my honor (such as it is) was at stake. I had to accept the challenge.
It wasn't a bloodbath. That's about all I can say. I think I lost 10 – 7. One of those doesn't count, really. We were face to face. He threw a grenade at me. I threw a grenade at him. He turned tail and ran. Being fully in touch with my canine self, I gave chase. What dog wouldn't, after all? It's what we do. And I was catching him, too. Right up until I ran over my own grenade, which chose that exact moment to pretty much do what you would expect a grenade to do. It blew up. I went with it. No, that one doesn't count. But here's the thing: win or lose, it was fun! I had fun playing on a DS!! Who woulda thunk it?
So, what was this game that brought me out of my self-imposed DS abstinence, thereby creating yet another resource conflict with my daughter? I'll give you a hint: it was a game that I've desperately wanted to play, but couldn't for lack of a suitable platform. I don't have an Xbox 360 or a strong enough PC, and neither is likely to be acquired in the near future. Here's another hint: it rhymes very closely with Call Of Duty 4. Rhymes exactly, in fact. I was shocked, of course, not having had any idea that a game of that level of sophistication was available on the lowly DS.
There was an even bigger shock in store for me, though. Get this: only one of the DS's had the game cartridge! The other unit had simply downloaded the client code so that two could play, while only one actually had to buy the game! Now, I'm not saying game publishers are greedy jerks in the manner of say, the RIAA, but I would never have guessed at a level of sanity and beneficence that would exhibit itself in letting two people play for the price of one! I have to confess, I actually felt a slight lessening of my age-related cynicism at that very moment. Shocked, I was. It was at this point that I knew, just KNEW, that I had to have this game.
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