If my life were an arcade game, it would be a Super Mario style horizontal scroller. It wouldn't be one of those overpriced gizmos where you burn a dollar on a 1998-style attempt at killer graphics for about five minutes of play; no, my machine is old school. 25 cents per play - everybody calls me cheap anyway. It will be a side-scrolling RPG with a great plot, but it will be so badly translated that the player can grasp the basic movements but is left with the itching sensation she is only seeing the edges of something far greater.

The main character would be a tall, heavily muscled assortment of pixels; not because that is how I look in real life, but because if someone is going to pay 25 cents for 16 colors, they deserve to look good. He would be a daring rogue, snapping off witty repartee to his enemies before dispatching them with ease - unfortunately, thanks to the afformenentioned terrible translator, only he and the other characters in the game understand the import of his words. Advancing through the game allows the player to gain not experience, but an ever-increasing collection of fortune-cookie wisdom which the main character can throw at his enemies to baffle them at critical moments. The protagonist has no quantified skills, only inordinate amounts of luck and a lot of help.

The strangest thing about the game is that no matter how many quarters, no matter how many hours of enthralling gameplay the would-be champion puts in to my quest, she will never win. The prize will come ever closer and just within reach, before it becomes clear that the character's path is asymptotic with her most desired goal. Rebounding from this realization, the player finds herself writing her name into the high-score list and thinking about the many sub-quests and side adventures she has beaten.

Hopefully, eventually, they will realize that they have achieved something valuable from playing this game.

But I won't tell you what. That would spoil the surprise.

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