Friday, 10 May 2013

Unfinished Business: Conquering Your Demons.

We all have those memories we wish we didn't have. Embarrassing, humiliating or just downright shameful things we wish weren't part of our histories. All of this is made worse still in that we cannot undo or change the past meaning that our regrets will haunt us forever. Yet I did find that in the case of my very worst regret that I could change the past! I could unmake my regrets and wipe that particular slate clean! Beneath all those damnable atrocities I was responsible for, all the mishandled romances I could have made work and all those embarrassing screw ups in between laid my most bitter regret and that was not achieving a 100% rating in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back.

Bitter, bitter regret. With seals.

Now I'm not a die-hard completionist in all walks of my gaming life. I lack the time or inclination to earn each and every achievement/trophy available to me and I don't feel particularly bad about that either. I'm not, shall we say, all dat bovvered. But Crash 2 and I have a history. I played that game quite a lot when I was younger although I never owned it. I had a memory card with a save file on it and would load it up whenever I went over to a particular mate's place or that one family restaurant that had a PlayStation with it on. This was also in the days before literally everybody was on the Internet. It was a time where kids were way more likely to find game guides in magasines than they were on websites or those mysterious not yet invented "blogs" you hear about. Incidentally, I never quite found everything in Crash 2 because believe me my friends, there is some serious 'how the hell?' bullshit going on with the secrets in that game.

Hint: You can't reach that gem from below, or even from this level.

I could probably rant on about that for an entire article and disguise my frustration and lack of childhood success as an deconstruction of secret collectibles and levels in games, but the crucial fact of the matter is that I just did not accomplish what I set out to do in this game after putting considerable investment into it. That's the difference between all the achievements I haven't earned (and didn't care about) and my failure at gem collecting back in the 90s. But recently, thanks to the Playstation Network service, I finally managed to go back and take care of that game once and for all, with a great psychological payoff.

Although the actual in-game 'reward' is not so incredible...

Everyone has had that fantasy about being able to go back in time and transplant their mature mindset into their younger selves. Just imagine how much more confident and competent you would be with the advantage of advanced experience. Well that's exactly how it felt playing Crash 2 again. I had all the extra experience of gaming to deal with the trickier sections, any amount of guides to help me track down some of the more bullshit gems (that game pulls some serious shenanigans I tell you, I usually don't go in for guides) and of course it doesn't hurt that I had complete access to the game too! I was totally unstoppable!

Like this armoured chicken

Fellow 103% writer and friend Ben "Spoon" Winterton has written about gaming to-do lists before but his personal list consists of at least as many games that he hasn't touched at all and games he isn't particularly bothered about completing in of themselves (Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts is a case in point) as there are games that Ben feels a genuine sense of longing to finish. I would suggest that people reading this article think back to an example of a milestone not quite achieved or a challenge not yet overcome and go back and cross that one off the list. It's high time you did.