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The Watermelon of Destiny

Leveling Up

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I'm wondering if anybody else has had this sensation.

I first played Jak and Daxter for the PS2 when I was 12. The game was a challenge, I searched high and low for the power cells and enough orbs to buy the just one more I needed to advance, and struggled through canyons and boss fights, redoing them over and over, seemingly a hundred times. It took me months to fight my way to the last level, and the citadel was so hard it almost made me give up. I can remember the frustration of falling off the spinning pie piece platforms like it was yesterday. It took me over 100 hours of play time to finally beat the last boss.

On Friday, I was feeling nostalgic, so I pulled Jak and Daxter back out, popped it in, and started a new file. I waltzed through the game in less than 10 hours. I never died in the citadel that had caused me so much pain in the past. (I died elsewhere, but the game is hard enough that death is inevitable)

Point is, being 10 years older than when I first played, the game suddenly seems bizarrely easy to me. To some extent it makes sense that my reflexes, video game skills, and general intelligence for how to approach puzzles has improved dramatically since I was 12. It's just really odd seeing such a titan of my young gaming experience fall so easily before my much more refined skill set.

I think it reminds me of games where you level up and by the end the toughest monsters of the early game are cakewalks. Perhaps that's not so far from reality as I once thought. I've clearly leveled up in gaming (and certainly other areas of life) since being 12, but it never really hit me just how much until something like this happened. It's weird what games can make you realize.

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I've definitely had similar experiences playing. The first that comes to my mind is the early Sonic the Hedgehog series (Sonic 1, 2, and 3). As a kid, I found the games of the entire series to be brutally difficult; I don't think I ever got far beyond the first few levels in any of them before giving up out of frustration. I mean, the general rule of thumb is that old games are harder, but I don't think the old Sonic games are considered particularly difficult when compared to it's Genesis peers (Strider, I'm looking at you). Still fun games though.

Anyways, in more recent years I got in my head to play through the entire series of the classic StH, starting with the first game. They're still fairly hard, for sure, but hardly brutal. But I found I was able to progress from stage to stage with only a few false steps. Probably the hardest point in the whole series was the fight with Silver Sonic followed up by the final boss in Sonic 2; Little room for error there. I eventually beat the entire series and was pretty proud of myself.

About the whole idea of "Leveling up" in real life, I think its a fairly apt analogy. You always get better at what you do, even playing games. I even think that skills from one genre of game carry over to others. Learning reflexes in a FPS can make you better at timing jumps in platforming and such. Everybody has got a general "gamer level" so speak that continues to grow as you play games. I'd also argue that playing a variety a game genres make you a generally better game as it causes you mind to develop in alternate ways, giving you better methods to solve problems while playing.

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you know, that kind of reminds me of legend of zelda ocarina of time. i still have the old N64 down in my basement with the gold edition of ocarina of time, you know, the version that still has the muslim symbols on everything, well anyway, my little brother recently got ocarina of time 3d. i started my own file on it, and, once i figured out the controls, i zoomed through it in about 7 hours when it took me that long to complete the water temple the first time. it seems really weird. i just think that mabye i know all the puzzles now, but it just seems kind of funny how something that gave me so much trouble about 8 years ago is so easy for me now... LEVEL UP! +1 Realization! +2 Self-Respect!

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