Pikodoodle

A DS love affair (Part 2 of 2)

This continues the story from Part 1. By Pikodoodle 

Clearing the weeds

After leaving the U.S., I didn’t talk to the Guy for two years, except once. Partly because he was still in college and partly because I was only twenty-two and preferred a cold war.

That one time we talked was when he brought an American roommate home for a summer visit. Over lunch, he gushed about his first trip to Japan and all his adventures. On my end, I only wanted to say, “Get your stuff out of my house.”

A bunch of his nerdy stuff had ended up in my parents’ house somehow. It must have trickled there over the summers. Star Trek movies, transformable robots, and a stack of DS cartridges.

Since leaving college, I had hardly thought of him. But I had picked up the DS again.

In fact, I had invested a veritable sum to order the Japanese box set of Ni no Kuni, a beautifully drawn RPG for the DS. It was an incentive to work at learning Japanese; I had been taking night classes twice a week after work.

But the game was too difficult. I put it aside in favor of Rune Factory, a farming simulator that I hoped would scratch my Harvest Moon itch. Thinking fondly of my emulator days, I also invested in an old Game Boy Advance title, Final Fantasy VI. I liked that the DS Lite had an additional slot just for GBA cartridges.

Console Guy had once shown me that slot. It was several times larger than the DS slot itself.

He slipped Wario Ware, Inc. into the GBA slot of my DS and introduced a comical game that involved quick time-sensitive tasks, like cracking an egg, avoiding a giant stamping foot, and inhaling nose boogers. It was delightfully moronic. We spent an hour giggling over Wario Ware.

I wonder whether we had laughed more or quarrelled more in those days. Despite the quibbles, we did have many good times and a lot in common. In fact, I hadn’t noticed how much we had in common. . . I’d been too busy nitpicking over our differences.

The next Pokemon

Funny thing: Console Guy and I got back together eventually. That’s another story, though.

It kicked off with a long-distance relationship. When we got fed up with the blandness of dating over Skype, I returned to Texas, where he still was. Almost like old times, except we were both in graduate school now. Soon after, he proposed with a bagful of carrots and potatoes and a ring.

Graduate school meant a lot less time for games, but I brought my DS along anyway.

For my birthday or Christmas, he’d buy me a surprise game. Chrono Trigger was the first. I’d played it on emulator and was thrilled to have it on the DS. Then came Zelda: Spirit Tracks, to continue my Zelda adventure.

Far from being time-wasters, the games were perfect for grad school life.

I had trouble falling asleep at night from school-related anxiety and from papers that would keep writing themselves in my brain. But the DS took my mind off everything and eased me into sleep before midnight.

I bought the Guy games too, except I would ask in advance what he wanted.

The answer was always “the next Pokemon and that began to irritate me. How could he keep playing Pokemon after Pokemon?

“Isn’t it basically the same game?” I argued.

“It is,” he’d say.

“Didn’t you get annoyed with the last one and say you’ll never play Pokemon again?”

“I did. But I still wanna play the next one.”

Flabbergasting. But I learned to accept him as he was.

I’ve learned again and again since. It takes practice.

Marriage came with more games, more consoles, and more debates over how to spend our shared finances. I was skeptical about every new console on the market. He coveted each one.

The 3DS? We had one, and I liked Fire Emblem, but preferred the old DS’s longer battery life and how comfortable it felt in my hands.

The PS Vita? “What’s there to play on it?” I asked, and only conceded to buy it because I had always wanted to play Final Fantasy X.

The PS4? Hold on a sec. I don’t buy state-of-the-art consoles. That’s just not how a responsible adult spends money. No matter how much you make puppy eyes at me. . . At least, until I realized that was the kind of thing my parents believed and I didn’t have to be a clone of my parents.

The Guy and I were our own family unit now. We had to decide what was good for us, as a couple.

Link to the past

We bought the PS4 and lugged it with us to Japan, where the Guy had accepted an English-teaching opportunity. His 3DS and my faithful DS tagged along. They saw us through a rough season of adjustment.

When the Guy was depressed or homesick, he’d asked, “Is it okay if I spend some time alone, zombie-ing on Pokemon?” or “Wanna play some PS4 together?”

I’d always say, “Yeah! Sure.”

These days, he’s feeling pretty adjusted and is eyeing the Nintendo Switch. (But for once, I’ve put my foot down.)

Meanwhile, my Japanese has improved and I’ve picked up Ni no Kuni again. Seven years after its release, the Ni no Kuni’s graphics may look a little outdated, but it’s still pretty — even breathtaking at times — and Joe Hisashi’s orchestral track will always be a masterpiece. When I don’t feel like reading too much, I switch over to the Japanese version of Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town and micromanage my farm.

In the 10 years since I met Console Guy, several new consoles have emerged on the market, but I find myself returning to the DS often. It’s not just the excellent quality of games crafted for the platform. Or its sleek, elegant design. Or just because I’m a huge fan of 2D.

It’s the feel of the past.

It’s memories, history. Adventures I’ve been on. And whom I’ve had them with.

4 comments

  1. Hi Piko,
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    Ending up married to Consol Guy and living in Japan.. wow.
    Ni No Kuni is great! It’s such a shame the DS version isn’t in English.
    Do your parents really think buying a PS4 is not ‘how a responsible adult spends money’?
    Good thing you to are finding your own way.
    I hope that your foot goes up one day and let the Switch through!
    It’s a great console/ handheld, and why not?
    Nothing will replace the Ds for you, but you may make some new amazing memories!
    Looking back 10 years from now and remembering the amazing experiance you had with Xenoblade..? (I will!)
    Groetjes, helke

    1. Hi Ronja! (or Helke?)

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Yeah, I wished there was the DS version of Ni no Kuni in English. But it’s nice they at least made a PS3 one. I’ve only played a bit of the PS3 version and I can see some differences between the versions.

      Haha, I suspect that’s what my parents might think. They grew up in a world/generation without video games. Later on, they knew many people whose kids had gotten (seriously) addicted to games and had little interest in other things. Maybe that’s how my parents formed a negative image of video games.

      They’ve mellowed over the years, though. From time to time, I show them funny bits from games (e.g. Ace Attorney). I got my mom to try Crossy Road on her phone. And they don’t mind playing iPad games with their grandkids.

      As for the Switch, I’d like to wait a bit since we just got the PS4 (last year). I’ve told my husband he can buy a Switch if he saves up his pocket money 😀

      1. Hi Piko,
        My real name is Helke, but I (usually) only use Ronja online and in games.
        After one of my childhood’s favorite book characters ‘Ronja de Roversdochter’ or ‘Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter’ in English from Astrid Lindgren.

        I can see how your parents formed a negative idea of gaming.
        You’re right, it is different not to have been growing up with video games.
        And seeing other kids in trouble probably didn’t help either.
        I’m glad my parent’s didn’t feel the same way (had the same experience).

        My father had a pc with games on it (Duke Nukem, Commander Keen, Prince of Persia) and he was just as hooked on ‘The 7th Guest’ as me and my sisters.
        And my mother gave me my first Gameboy and Mario game (Super Mario Land 2, 6 Golden Coins).
        When I was 10 my mother asked me if I would mind not going on vacation and instead get a Gameboy.
        Of course I didn’t mind and I was over the moon with joy!!
        We didn’t have much money and an expensive thing like a Gameboy was not something we just got, not even on birthdays or at Sinterklaas (Dutch Holliday).
        I couldn’t fathom that a wonderful new device like the Gameboy was cheaper than a vacation.
        Naturally it was a great summer!
        Now I’m still more into gaming than going on vacation.

        And it’s very nice Ni No Kuni made it to the PS3!
        I preordered the ‘King’s Edition’ for part 2 on the PS4, and I’m planning to save it till after we’re moved (end of February).
        Moving is going to be very very difficult for me so I can use something nice to look forward to and work as a distraction and grounding. (I already know I’m gonna love it)
        Now I have Xenoblade to distract me and (at least till now) it’s working!
        I hate (am afraid of) moving, always have a hard time around the holidays and I’ve been ill, but I still managed not to fall in to old addiction habits (eating).
        I’m so grateful for games right now!
        Maybe I’m trading one addiction for the other, but trust me.. gaming is much healthier for me than eating away the stress.
        And I take care I do everything I have to do before picking up the Switch again.

        And talking about the Switch.. Haha, I think Console Guy (hope you don’t call him that at home) keeps true to his (nick) name and is saving every penny!
        Groetjes, Ronja

        1. Dear Ronja,

          I was looking back at this article, planning to write a sort of sequel–about my 3DS experience. Scrolled down and re-read your lovely comments… I hope you had a great time with Xenoblade. It’s quite an impressive RPG from what I hear, and my husband (Console Guy) has played it.

          So guess what? We did get a Switch, and I ended up playing it more than him. 🙂 To the point that he decided to get a Switch Lite 😀

          Let us know what you’re playing these days!

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