Nah just kidding, this story isn’t over yet. Because I want to tell you another story. A story of the modern world at its best.
By that I mean Genesis Crush, the greatest game of all-time, the most exhilarating cinematic, interactive, progression-based experience of all-time. As annoying internet forum posters would say, it is a luminary experience.
And I’m not just saying that because we’ve been playing it nearly nonstop since we started playing the other day after watching that terrible sci-fi musical thing. Well, Kobi has been busy reading all my old comic books and Karina had to help her dad with something Thursday and Friday, so I guess it’s more me who has been obsessively playing. Having to go back to work has only been a minor impediment on my existence.
Right now, though, it’s me and Karina sitting up staring at the cool glow of the television display. Because it’s three in the morning and no other humans should ever be awake at this time playing video games.
It’s just a damn good game, regardless of its addictive aspects. For the countless hours since I started the game, my character, who I have named Sheila and have customized as a post-apocalyptic punk warrior, has become the strongest Genesis Fighter in the region. But Karina is not far behind, having honed her samurai swordsman Kuro to become the deadliest assassin in the region. While I fight for justice and expand the city’s resources so that it can thrive and prosper when the other cities of the world inevitably make their moves to attack it, Karina plots to usurp control of it for herself and conquer the rest of the world map afterwards.
Despite our goals being so diametrically opposed, we are both propping up Genesis City’s current king while defending him from rebels and squabbling royal family disputes. He’s a corrupt and feckless ruler, but at least we know what we’re dealing with when we deal with him! This game has way too many real-world diplomatic situations for it not to have been created by actual international spies. I’m calling it now, this game is anti-Atlanta propaganda by MI6 and it got all of us hook, line, and sinker.
There will come a time soon where Karina and I will face off, but for now we are dealing with our own issues. Karina is recruiting soldiers for her covert army while I am dealing with raising my three sons, all of them little humans adopted from the ruins of Dragonville, the former sanctuary land that was destroyed by Genesis City’s rival Devilopolis.
“You know I’m glad this game lives up to everyone’s praises,” Karina says. “If this game sucked I don’t think I would have survived.”
“I barely survived getting it in the first place,” I say, lying grossly about how much danger I was really in.
“How many hours have we played by now?”
“Let me check…” I pause the game and flip to the options screen, where it shows our playtimes. Karina, thirty-nine hours. Me, fifty-five. “Damn.”
In short, Genesis Crush is great.
Along with these three sons of mine, I was, for the longest time, trying to court my character’s main love interest Lindsay, and get her to stay with me in life and love. She’s a beautiful pixel portrait that I have aimed my entire play session towards protecting, but now that eight in-game years have passed, she is getting restless in her life in Genesis City. She was moving to Great Britain for some weird plot reasons and I had to use all my experience points I could to upgrade my house and convince her to stay. In the end, she still went overseas, and all looked doomed. But… I was determined to fix things.
This was how I spent a good two real-life days, salvaging a romantic video game relationship by all means necessary. You have no idea how many baddies I killed grinding up experience points for this woman. She would have been the perfect second mother to their family but she just didn’t understand how much I– how much Sheila cared about her.
So I did the sensible thing, and went to Great Britain to chase her down. True love never lets someone go, that’s for sure.
Well.. until I found out she was getting married to some guy she had barely known. I stormed the wedding, which of course triggered a mission and I got in a beat’em up brawl with the other wedding guests, and then escaped with Lindsay who was really having a fun time escaping with me, or at least her pixel portrait indicated that.
We left the wedding and eloped to Echo City, but… well… it turns out Lindsay’s kind of a boring character. After we got married she basically just stands around the house all day saying nice things about me, and she stops really growing as a character.
If there’s a flaw to be had in the game, it’s that they didn’t design much a post-game contingency for marriage despite the game’s dating sim elements. Very odd.
So wife and wife became ex-wife and ex-wife, and now Sheila’s back on her own, protecting Genesis City with a cool mohawk and sunglasses. I’m a strong, independent woman who don’t need no other woman. But we still go get coffee every now and then.
“Can we go on a mission together?” I ask Karina.
“What, so you can kill me and take all my items?” she scoffs. “Fat chance.”
“No, I just need some more experience points for Lindsay.”
She turns to me with a flat expression. “Are you even playing the same game as me anymore? When is the last time you got in a battle?”
“Uh, it’s been a while,” I say. “I’m busy! I’ve got three kids and a caring ex-wife!”
“Oh fine, let me finish my own mission first,” Karina says.
I find it amazing how Genesis Crush does multiplayer. Despite us playing in the same game together progressing in time at the same rate, we are never forced to cooperate or compete at any given time. Multiplayer games have attempted things like this before, but only recently have games reached the processing power and coding prowess to be able to have fully-asymmetrical multiplayer on one TV screen, intersecting only when we want to (or when there’s random chance events we are both forced to deal with). The game allows for up to eight players at once, but with the size of this TV I bought at the thrift store it’s already a bit fuzzy at two. Also I have no other friends.
We enter a mission together, a skirmish on the outskirts of the city between street punks and elf ravagers over some resources. We can either pick a side, or fight them both, and…
Of course, we’re choosing both.
The beat’em up engine here is exquisite; every punch you throw has weight, and the sprite animation is top-notch with telegraphed attacks and unique moves so you know exactly what any given opponent is about to do just before they do it, even the dumb minor enemies. It’s sometimes just really fun to jump into a brawl and start beating characters up. I may get wrapped up a lot in the dating simulation aspects of Genesis Crush, but I can attest to the fact that the fighting is the best part of the game for sure.
We get through wave after wave of mooks, go to the hidden health-restore spot– this event is unique but we’ve been to this map plenty of times before, and return, going deeper into the outskirts and into a small forest.
Despite being far lower in level than me, Karina’s just better at video games in general, so her samurai can hold his own against the same enemies I’m fighting. We tag team it up and blow up a bunch of elves, making it all the way to their little treehouse that we promptly burn down. No more cookies for you.
Then on the next screen we reach the midboss. This time it’s…
It’s a fairly large mecha dragon built from the bones of a fallen Dragontown teenager and the scrap metal of a Devilopolis Steamroll Tank!
It seems that the ravagers had a secret weapon all along, and we’ll have to take it down. That thing is probably worth 300 experience points on its own, so I’ve definitely got to defeat it myself.
“Okay, Karina, let me destroy the dragon and then I’ll let you have all the loot. I just want the experience points for… Lindsay…” My true self is revealed. Lindsay… I just want you back…
Karina chuckles. “Oh, you fool. You foolish fool.”
Karina’s samurai character unsheathes his second sword, now dual-wielding katanas, and makes a terrifying leap towards my character, slicing at her with all his might.
I try to dodge, but the mecha dragon is in the way too. It’s not fair!
My character is a fighter for justice, but she can hold back no longer–
She must unleash her darkness magic!
I revert my character to nega-evil-mode, something rare and unusual and something she can only do once per mission, at a high cost to her reputation. But now Sheila is strong, in the real way.
She blows the mecha dragon up in just a few darkness-infused punches, and now it’s just her and Kuro. Our characters stand silently in their idling animations. A pixelated tumbleweed bounces by.
“Let’s do this,” I say.
“I’m ready,” Karina says.
Knock knock knock.
“Who could be at the door this late?” Karina asks.
“You didn’t… order pizza, did you?” The oddest sense of deja vu sets over me.
“Did you see me order pizza?”
Could it be…?
I get up, stretch because I’ve been sitting on the sofa for a good five hours without moving, and then walk cautiously over to the front door.
If this is another Bidbay robot, I’m going to–
“Hi, a pizza for one Karina Kodama?” a guy in a Packard’s Pizzas uniform asks.
“That’s me,” I say. “I mean, my house.” I shuffle through my pockets and pull out a five-dollar coin nestled deep inside. “Here’s a tip.”
“And here’s your pizza,” he says. “Have a nice night.”
I look back at Karina with a glare of pure scorn.
She holds a neutral expression for as long as she can, and then bursts out laughing.
“I hate you,” I say.
“Oh man… Morgan, the look on your face.”
“I really do hate you,” I say.
“Then, you wanna settle it over Genesis Crush?”
“I will destroy Kuro so badly he is retroactively erased from existence.”
I set the pizza box down on the coffee table and we resume our game. We have the greatest battle of all-time.
(For real this time)