The trailer for Batman: Arkham Origins just came out and it reminded me of two things:
1) How awesome this game is going to be.
2) How much I’m going to suck at it.
I’ll probably have to revoke my Mid-Twenties Male With Nerdy Interests card, but I am, generally, absolutely terrible at video games. And not just bad in the sense that it takes me a while to warm up and get good at something. I’m grandparent bad, that one ex-girlfriend bad, child’s first video game bad. I haven’t gotten better at video games since I was eight-years-old and had just beaten Super Godzilla, a game designed to experiment with depression levels among elementary age kids. And that game simply required you to slowly move a blue dot against a red dot, after which you pressed “A” and simply hoped that you were lucky that day. It required nothing in the way of skill or talent, and it frustrated the shit out of me because, as we’ve seen, it’s the way I stop from turning into the Hulk: I’m always unlucky.
If I couldn’t master that game, it was hopeless to continue. Nevertheless, video games are an important part of every modern kid’s development and so they were thrust towards me as a constant reminder of my own inadequacy. Sure, after hours and hours of playing a certain one, I managed to get decent at them, the original Super Smash Bros being the best and possibly only real example of this. I just wanted to be great at them so badly, and when Batman: Arkham Asylum was released, a game that would combine my love of Batman with my abusive relationship with something that didn’t come easily to me, I couldn’t help but want to play it. This might be my chance to be good at games. Surely my aptitude for everything else Dark Knight-related would carry me through to victory.
It did. Eventually.
Me playing Batman: Arkham Asylum was both an inspirational poster for “Persistence” and “Not Smart. Just Dumb.” I didn’t own the game, but one of my good friends who lived in an apartment close by did. Thus it became something I did every few days; driving over to his place to work on another three hour chunk of Batman Dies Repeatedly. I never took the time to apologize for squandering the TV in my drive to make Batman fall into every arena full of poisonous gas available to him, so guys, I’ll say it now. I’m so, so very sorry.
There are a few enemies in Batman: Arkham Asylum, including Bane, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and The Joker. However, the most dangerous of Batman’s enemies was me, this invisible God hand that never failed to dive Batman in front of sniper fire or backflip him face first into a group of mutated taser thugs. When you died, the particular “boss” of the level would appear out of the darkness to tell you, in their own way, how terrible you were at staying alive. It would have been fitting to motion capture myself into the game, appearing from the black to say “Sorry, Batman. Really. I meant to press Y.”
It took me months to beat Batman: Fall Into Some Traps For The Fourth Time. And that’s not an exaggerated time frame, since making mistakes never really clicked for me while playing it. If I snuck into a room full of gun-wielding mercenaries and received a chest full of bullets, my immediate next tactic would be to do the exact same plan again, but this time not using cover. At least four of my attempts in every mission would be to run Batman straight into the action and punch the first guy while his buddies shredded me with concussive blasts. The next three attempts would be me using the rafters to jump around before getting bored and just having Batman run into a crowd to be pummeled. There was no learning curve with Batman: Aw, Fuck, I Accidently Let Go Of The Grappling Hook. I started out terrible and simply got more impatient.
Eventually I did beat Batman: Arkham Asylum, but I think that’s only because the game has some sort of failsafe that realizes when there is no possible way that the person playing is going to be victorious, so they just shut the AI off and let the player mash “X” until the credits show up. When I beat it, there was no fanfare and no congratulations in store. Just my friend Derek saying “Thank God.”
I played the sequel Arkham City, this time in solitude, and beat it in what took around the same time. However, I wasn’t travelling to an entirely separate location when I Bat-failed through that game, so now I had six hour spans of time when the only sound I made was the hoarse cry of “BATMAN, FOR FUCK’S SAKE, JUMP.”