I’d like to pull back the curtain a bit this week. I am currently enjoying my summer break from teaching some amazing 3rd graders in D.C. And summer break is just as magical as you remember it. I get extra family time, catch up on exercise, and am able to get some much needed rest. All this free time got me thinking about my favorite moments of sleep and resting in video games.
Localization is Hard
In 1988, Metal Gear came to the NES. While most games at the time tasked the player with defeating everything on the screen, Metal Gear had stealth gameplay elements. The player could sneak around enemies to avoid confrontations. The game starts with the hero, Solid Snake, parachuting into the jungle to infiltrate the enemy stronghold and destroy their ultimate weapon called Metal Gear. For such a difficult task, Snake is lightly outfitted. He’s armed with only his fists and a pack of cigarettes at the beginning of the game. So until you find a weapon, stealth is your best option.
Parachuting in with 3 other guys you’ll never see again
The first enemy that Snake encounters is hanging out beside a jeep and he loudly proclaims to the world, “I’M GETTING SLEEPY!!” followed by the classic line, “I FEEL ASLEEP!!” This is to indicate to the player that it’s safe to pass the guard. As a boy, I was utterly confused. Am I reading the text wrong? Is this grammatically correct? Is something wrong with the game? Well, at 8 years old I was not aware of how expensive and difficult it was to localize a Japanese made game for an American audience. In fact, there are many examples of translation errors in Metal Gear, but “I FEEL ASLEEP!!” holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts.
Only in Dreams
Super Mario Bros. 2 is a game that takes place entirely in a dream world. Mario is getting some much deserved rest when the evil frog-king, Wart, takes over SubCon. It’s up to Mario, Luigi, Princess, and Toad to end his evil reign. Mario games never concerned themselves much with plausibility, but Super Mario Bros 2’s dream world really allowed for some absurdity. Here are some highlights:
- Evil frog-king that can only be killed by feeding him vegetables
- Magic potions that take you to a sub-space within the dream world (was Christopher Nolan a Mario 2 fan?)
- Most absurd of all, a Mario game where jumping on an enemy doesn’t kill it
Take three and a half minutes to check out the dreamy ending of Super Mario Bros 2. It’s a real treat.
An adorable cast of characters
Finally comes my most hated example of rest in video games. One of my favorite games of all time is Super Smash Bros Melee. This game was released in 2001 on the Nintendo GameCube and was a staple of the big screen TV in my dorm’s common room. Smash Bros. is a 4-player fighting game featuring characters from across the Nintendo universe. Donkey Kong could battle Samus. Yoshi could take on Gannondorf. Even Mario and Luigi could go at it. But my most feared foe was Jigglypuff.
Jigglypuff is a spherical pink puff of a Pokémon. It has the ability to put its enemies to sleep using a soothing lullaby. While this may sound utterly adorable, I promise you that Jigglypuff was my bane on the battlefield. Its most infuriating attack was simply called “Rest”. Jigglypuff puts itself to sleep but as its eyes close, any player touching Jigglypuff takes an incredible amount of damage. It’s a hard move to pull off, but can yield devastating results. Nothing in Smash Bros. bothers me more that being launched off the stage by a sleeping pink orb.
The devastating Rest in action
I hope you are able to get some rest this summer because this fall is looking like a great time to be a video gamer. Speaking of great gaming, next time we will look at how some of the most talented and dedicated gamers in the world are using their skills to raise money for Doctors Without Borders.