Once upon a time, a Bear and his wife played video games together.
Their favorite series of video games were Spyro the Dragon on the Playstation and PS2.
This, of course, was before the developing companies took the license, abandoned the core gameplay and threw in all sorts of half baked mini-games that ruined the experience.
In this long ago time, both Bear and Cassie loved playing Spyro, but there was a slight problem.
There were these missions, see.
Crystal Popcorn missions. Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage introduced them, and oh boy.
If you wanted 100% completion of the game and the awesome rewards that came with it, you had to do all the missions at max.
You’d be given a mission to race Hunter the Jaguar to be the first to collect Crystal Popcorn. There would be a cave with holes in the ground, and from these holes would pop, briefly, a crystal popcorn. While you’re racing around trying to arrive at a hole at the precise moment a popcorn was coming up and grab it, Hunter would be running around too.
This quest was tight. You had to learn the popcorn spawn points, the sequence they would appear, and master the timing so you got there and stood ON the damn spot before it arrived because Hunter would steal that damn popcorn if you gave him half a chance to stick his dirty filthy paws on it.
I wish there was a way to trigger PvP mode in that game and supercharge Hunter, damn him.
Sorry, I still have issues.
Anyway, this was a really fun mission and, being a platforming superstar on the analog controller I quickly became a master of these missions.
Cassie, on the other hand, found them incredibly frustrating, and her cool was often harshed by me leaning over and sarcastically offering to help her do the missions.
You know, carry her through the completion.
It was totally for her benefit, of course.
This is a game from 1999. This was a long damn time ago, but there you have it. I trolled my wife over Crystal Popcorn.
Now, for those of you who haven’t been in a long term relationship yet, let me clue you in on what to expect.
Fast forward to today, 16 bloody be damned years later.
I’m a much older Bear and we have a Cub that is rapidly leveling up through the teen years. He’s going to be living his own Breakfast Club scenarios in High School next year and he wasn’t even alive when The Breakfast Club came out.
We have two XBox Ones in the house so the Cub and I can play multiplayer together, one in my office and one in the family room downstairs. It was expensive but damn it was worth it, it’s what we do more of than anything else.
What we play together more often than anything else is Destiny, a stunningly beautiful sci-fi shooter.
Well, it’s Christmas season and Destiny has an in-game event called The Dawning, and along with new multiplayer Strike (PvE) content and quests came the return of an event called Sparrow Racing League.
In the game are these rocket bikes called Sparrows, basically Star Wars speeder bikes from Endor, nothing more than a rocket and a stick to steer with.
SRL consists of 6 person races through different incredibly awesome maps while mobs shoot at you, and yes you can run them over. There are quests, bounty missions, and TONS of rewards including transmogrification tokens to change your armor color schemes (instead of transmogging individual items, Destiny has ‘shader’ schemes that redoes the entire equipped armor in a consistent theme. I love it), new cool looking Sparrow racing bikes, top level gear, special gear that has bonuses to racing like more fuel for tight turns, etc.
Basically, the racing itself is insanely fun but there is also top end loot raining from the sky in almost every race.
They did this last year as well, and it goes away on January 3rd. This year, with the addition to Destiny of private PvP matches, when January 3rd rolls around the league itself, it’s quests and rewards will go away but you will still be able to participate in races with your friends forever, so hell yes.
Technically, this is PvP. It’s a race, and while you can queue up with everyone in your group, it’s still filled out with strangers.
One of the quest chains that drops tons of great loot is to complete matches with ever-increasing ratings to earn a higher class of racing license. Just an excuse for more gear rewards, really.
The final challenge is to complete 3 races without blowing up, and also complete 3 races in first.
I’m not bad, I love it, I quickly got all the dedicated Racing gear and leveled it,and it didn’t take long to learn the various maps.
The problem comes in that I am OLD now, it’s winter break for most school kids, and online shooters are mostly played by… how shall I put this.
I know, to use an appropriate quote from the original Point Break, “Angelo, this stuff is for rubber people that don’t shave yet.”
I’m playing a racing game in an online shooter against rubber people that don’t shave yet. Two seconds into the race and you find out there’s a bunch of savages in this town. I mean tower. I mean track. On the track. Speed boost gate? Yeah, good luck getting that gate as five other people simultaneously bike check you off the track.
Damn I love that game. Seriously, it rocks.
I mean, it sounds bad, but the loot has nothing to do with your score! It don’t matter, first, last, 5 minutes late, you get the same random chance at awesome rewards as the dudebro next door.
But the quests… ah, the quests require you to do some stuff.
First place? Against those savages? THREE TIMES!?!
I got two down, one because the Cub let me pass him when we were in first and second respectively, and the second time because, and I swear to God I’m not making this up, I was in second place but the lords of lag tossed me a pity win over the guy in number one. He literally crossed the line before me but the actual score showed I beat him by 6 seconds. Which I totally did NOT. He must have been frothing at the mouth like a mad dog.
But win number three, I was chasing the dragon for two days.
I was bitching about hanging up on the wall, getting bumped away from gates, having a slower speeder than everyone else, that perennial favorite lag, you name it.
So my son, the Cub, bless his heart, he asks me if I want him to play my character so he can get me my last win.
I went to make lunch for us, and he comes up five minutes later.
“I only beat the guy in second place by 11 seconds. I got you the quest completion, a new shader, a new banner, and a 380 light rocket launcher.”
…. “But it was only five minutes.”
That’s okay, want me to play your character some more?
It was at this point that Cassie erupts in howls of laughter and yells “Yes! After all these years and you pulling that on me in Spyro you finally know exactly what it’s like! JUSTICE IS MINE! How do you like getting OLD?!?!?!”
I’m telling you. Sixteen years. Sixteen long years, and she didn’t forget. Not one little bit.
It’s a fair cop.
The spirit is willing, but the data pipes that run signals from my brains to my hands, they’re slowing down.
I’m a 28.8k baud body in a High Speed DSL world. I need an upgrade.
Screw lasik eye surgery, I want the promised cyberpunk nerve upgrades.