I am a child of the 80s. I grew up with the video game industry. I have tossed barrels at Donkey Kong, saved the princess, shot at that damn dog when it laughed at me for missing those 150 mph ducks. I’ve collected rings while rolling at unspeakable speeds and logged untold hours unraveling the Final Fantasy. I blew away the denizens of Hell while in God Mode in Doom. I memorized the guidebook for Super Mario 3 before the game even came out, found and beat all the levels on Super Mario World, and sat in awe at the 3D splendor of Super Mario 64. I’ve even contemplated taking some motion-sickness medication before working on the latest level of Mario Galaxy.
What does all this have to do with Cake Mania? Not a whole hell of a lot. It’s just that obsessively playing the game on my Nintendo DS made me think about my gaming roots. I was there almost from the beginning. It was perfect timing. I was a kid with a dad fascinated by video games and gadgets and able to provide said technology for his family. (Still is, actually, Dad’s retired now, and spends his free time kicking some serious ass on Halo 3, and rockin’ out on Guitar Hero III and Rock Band. He was even one of the beta testers for Halo 3.) I had my own old school NES controller that I decorated with stickers declaring its owner the Nintendo Master. I shared a subscription to Nintendo Power with my siblings (and Dad). I remember exactly how to cheat on the Nintendo Power Pad Track and Field game. I can still recite the Konami code. Ah, the halcyon days of spending uncounted hours – days even – playing sweet, sweet video games. And then it all came to a crashing halt.
So, what happened? A couple of things.
First, I hit college. This doesn’t dent some people’s gaming time, but it did for me. Right about the same time, Nintendo started losing the console war (GameCube, anybody?). The games weren’t as good, their mobile gaming line (Gameboy) was stale, and their latest home console just didn’t take off. I honestly thought that my beloved Nintendo was history. The other thing that happened right about the same time was the explosion of the first-person shooter. They’d always been around, but man, did they take off right about then. It seemed like the best games were first-person shooters. I. Hate. First-Person. Shooters. If you want me to shoot something, give me a gun. This “shoot it with the joystick thing” worked for Doom, Duke Nuke’Em, and Wolfenstein, but just didn’t work (for me) with a controller. It sucked. I hated it. End of story. So, between the lack of time, the decline of Nintendo, and the rise of the first-person shooter, I gradually fell out of the gaming world.
Then, Nintendo got its act together. The Nintendo DS and the Wii revitalized gaming (for me). I’ve been edging back into gaming for a months now and it feels good. Damn good. The trick now is going to be figuring out how to jam more gaming time into a schedule already packed with work, domestic maintenance (read, cooking/cleaning), half-marathon training, hopefully a career change in the near future, and maintaining a healthy level of social activity (yes, that requires some thought and effort on my part).
Back to Cake Mania. The game is straight from PopCap, one of the kings of casual gaming. The idea of the game is basically this: you own a bakery that just does cakes. To win, you must make cakes for your customers and meet profit goals. (Making cakes for customers is simplified by nifty and totally unrealistic machines and meeting profit goals is simplified by the fact that you apparently have no costs, no employees, and pay no taxes, so every penny you make is gravy. Nice.) It’s a simple game that I thoroughly enjoyed. The only problem is that the replay value is essentially zero.
The next DS game I’m playing is Cooking Mama, which I will review in a later post. For now, enjoy the generally amusing mental image of me cramming in a few minutes of Cooking Mama while cooking dinner. Because I do that. Yeah. 🙂