Friday, April 03, 2009

Viva pinata vs. smash and pound the candy asap

I'm addicted to an xbox game, and while this alone is a somewhat embarrassing thing for a guy to say who is smack dab in the middle of a 5 year medical residency training program (think of all the medical facts I could have memorized!), it's exponentially more embarrassing that the game is a simulation of gardening.  Gardening while collecting cute little animals.  Animals made of paper and stuffed with candy.

I wish I were making this up.

I do take some comfort from reviews I've read in which a general phenomenon has been noticed where otherwise hard core gamers who love to snipe, assassinate, strategize, and otherwise exhibit... erm... manly attributes, seem to also be taken by this game and wrapped up in setting up their garden to attract yet one more species of pinata.  So, I'm not alone in this.

I initially got the game for Sam for Christmas, and he really likes it too (when a grown man and his 4 year old son fight for the controller, you know you've got some serious family bonding going on).  We can play together in this game, but the person running the secondary controller really doesn't get to make any decisions... that person just gets to go around the garden doing the chores like planting and watering things.  The theory among the developers, I assume, was that a 4 year old child would feel great about helping out and participating in a game that otherwise his father could make a lot more interesting.  Poor poor fools.

Sam's turn goes something like this: he'll create a new garden and get really excited when the first resident, a worm, is attracted into his garden.  The requirement to have a worm come from the wild and move into your garden is that there is some dirt there.  This is not only achievable, but nearly impossible to unachieve, so most gamers would want to move past this point. But not Sam.  Sam wants nothing more than to attract as many worms into his garden as is humanly possible, keep them happy, make their garden as palatial and posh as possible, and keep anything else out.  

I've pondered why he's not particularly interested in the other hundred or so [more] interesting species, and I've got a theory.  There is some similarity between the worm (called a whirlm in the game because of its spinning and rolling through the garden... and which I thought was whirim because we don't have HDTV... which Boss won't let me get... because she's cruel) and a creature from a Backyardigans episode called a worman that Sam became enamored with shortly before we got the game.

My turn, on the other hand, is spent trying to sort out all the cool things you can do to get high level stuff to come to your garden, tricky ways to use garden items to make a cool design, and change the color and look of things to just... well, be impressive looking.  It's the designer in me, I guess.  And I do like gardens, after all.  And animals.   It is harder to go for that subtle look I want with my son constantly insisting that things would look a whole lot better if I'd just position a worm house prominently in the center.  Or better yet, sell the lot and get several worm houses.  We've come to an arrangement in which he interrupts my turn every time a new whirlm wanders into my garden to demand that I crate it up and send it to him.  Which I do.

A Dad's xbox vice is distinguished from a 4 year old's because I think it's kind of fun to track down and talk to the game developers online, find cheats that make me feel clever, and make him go to bed early so I can play the game longer.  :-)  Sam is better at enjoying the simplicity of caring for a few good worms with a carefully selected cohort of toys, and his satisfaction at navigating the whirlm's romance maze or attracting yet another plain orange pinata to his collection of 24, is quite an example of simplified contentment.

And really, I just like that we like some of the same stuff.


Boss said...

I like that you like the same stuff too. And as boring as this game is to watch, I do like watching the two of you play together. (Even though when you're playing together neither of you is ever completely satisfied. Come to think of it, maybe that's why I like it. I am cruel like that. (Also, I should note that when I read your jibe about me not allowing you to get HDTV, I read it as "HGTV" and I'm all "What's he talking about? I'm totally down with HGTV." And then I figured it out and was all, "Oh yeah, High Def. Boo!"))

But back to the previous topic, it's also fun to see how much Sam has learned to do for himself in the gardens. Like that time when you changed the colors on a few of his worms, and he hated those colorful worms so much that he went to the store and bought crates and had them shipped away. Still cracks me up.

Amber said...

You guys crack me up. Now, the real question is...when you and Sam are playing together do you like to have the #1 controller or the #2 controller? And who is the most satisfied having the #2 controller?

Shane said...

NOBODY like the #2 controller, that's why we have to wrassle for whose turn it is. You know, something fair and impartial to resolve these things, like pitting the strength of an adult man against a 4 year old boy.

Mrs. Donut said...

Looks like a game that I could actually play. The last video game that I attempted was home run derby, and I really liked it. Everything else, no. Until this. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy.