Saturday, January 12, 2008

This week's column

Brothers and sisters, join hands

We grew up in the age of video games. Atari, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega: The systems developed in complexity so fast it's a wonder they didn't sprout legs.

And we, brothers and sisters, were quick to club each other like Stanley Kubrick's apes for the privilege of playing.

The days of jostling each other for space around the television set in the laundry room are gone. But the evolution continues. Now the games that divided us as children are bringing us closer together as adults.

Sort of.

My brother Jacob, who lives in Pensacola, and I are fans (OK, addicts) of "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" for the PlayStation 3. My brother was the one who suggested it to me.

"Once you start playing, kiss your life goodbye," he told me.

He was right. My fiancé, Katrina, has her own guilty pleasure. "World of Warcraft" is her favorite hobby.

But she isn't the only member of her family to get the "WoW" bug. Her brother, Kyle, who lives in Montgomery, plays, too. They team up to complete quests and swap money and items.

When I'm walking into a "Call of Duty" war zone, I know my brother has my back. Playing with your sibling and working together at the same time… if you'd told our parents we'd be doing this 20 years ago they'd say: "Our kids are still playing video games?"

Some things you never outgrow. But the old arguments have fallen by the wayside for the most part.

"This is the sweet life, brother," Jacob said as he capped someone on the other team with a perfect head shot.


I can't say video games have brought us closer together. Time and necessity takes care of that. But now our brothers and sisters feel closer. They aren't hours, sometimes states, away from us.

They're right there, ready to log on. All you need is high-speed Internet and some free time.

Oh and a job, too. That helps.

Victory is mine

I finally got enough stars to beat Bowser and unlock the utterly confusing ending to "Super Mario Galaxy."

Fellow columnist John Dietrich and I are now trying to snag 120 stars, which unlocks Luigi. If you beat the game again with Luigi, it unlocks even more cool stuff.

My favorite world in "Super Mario" is the "Toy Time Galaxy." The hardest one is "Bowser's Dark Matter Plant."

I've posted a video of that one up on my blog — (Thanks for reading it!) Whoever designed it must have a master's degree in psychological torture. It's also one of the harder boss fights you'll face.

Here's a tip: you have to get Bowser to land on the glass parts of the planet to set his tail on fire. Once you get him to land on them, he'll start running away from you. Run toward him going the opposite direction. When he turns away, get close to his tail and swing your Wii-mote to hit it. This will put Bowser on his back and he'll circle the planet again, spinning on his shell.

Chase him down and pop him again. Do it enough times and you'll beat him, picking up a grand star.

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