Memoirs Of A Gamer 1: The Impossible Game

For a recreational pursuit, gaming can get rather boring. I traded my social life for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion when it was released, choosing to spend every minute of my free time in the land of Tamriel, a place where my sword was the law and the law was enforced by a politically confused simpleton.

The combined hours I have spent playing games must accumulate to months, perhaps years. I love it, but, like any pleasurable activity, too much can temporarily jade you. You grow tolerant. At these times I have to make a decision: do I continue playing regardless, stop playing entirely, or attempt to rekindle my passion for the hobby?

This time, I took the last option. And what’s the best way to handle tolerance? Raise the dose, of course. So I looked for a game that would be exhilarating. A game that would not let itself be beaten easily. A game that was… impossible.

On searching through the Xbox Live Marketplace I found myself inexplicably drawn to The Impossible Game. I vaguely recalled reading favourable reviews of this indie side-scroller when FlukeDude released it in November 2009. So I tested the water.

And I was surprised, primarily because of its sheer impossibleness. I’ve always thought of games as worlds, and for me, The Impossible Game comprised a simple world of triangles and cubes. A simple world of triangles that hate cubes and want to see them destroyed. A simple world where black cubes mostly want to help orange cubes but sometimes want to help orange cubes become annihilated by triangles at breakneck speed.

The second thing that surprised me was the outrageous addiction that transpired. It was an annoyingly inconvenient addiction, too. I couldn’t bring myself to put the controller down, despite the hand cramp and the backache, which made my normal daily activities frustratingly awkward. Hauling my 360 to and from the office became a part of my daily routine. I even managed to obscure my play sessions by strategically builing a desktop fort composed of laptop screens, ringbinders and Starbucks coffee cups.

Naturally I’d experienced all these symptoms of game addiction before. The salient difference here was its source; an almost uninterrupted conveyorbelting of my cube avatar into triangles and cubes that forced me to restart the level from scratch — an experience interrupted only by sleep, itself filled with dreams of an almost uninterrupted conveyorbelting of my cube avatar into triangles and cubes that forced me to restart the level from scratch.

My first night of playing saw me reach the 700-attempt mark. From the third night, my Impossible Game dreams became progressively more disturbing.

Dream third night – ?
Dream fourth night – ??
Dream fifth night – ???!

On the third day I was undeniably yet begrudgingly dedicated, granting myself cessation only to eat and update friends on my progress. One such friend, who goes by the gamertag of The Rook, did not seem all too impressed by the game’s challenge, despite its breakneck side-scrolling speed. His lack of appreciation only served to rekindle my affection for the game in protest.

I began to consider why it was I felt so compelled to keep playing. This was the conclusion I reached: the game is simple where it needs to be simple and hard where it needs to be hard. It’s simple to play because it’s a game of timing rather than complex button combos and it only has a single, relatively short level featuring a mere three obstacles (triangles, cubes and pits). However, succeeding is hard because the game’s speed combined with its need for jump-accuracy generates a substantial challenge. It heavily relies on muscle memory, which results in frequent, or in my case constant failures.

So I started calculating how long it would take a dedicated player to beat the game — whether it would be weeks or perhaps even months — when suddenly and without warning, my calculating was rudely interrupted by the unwelcome answer:

The Rook: Mission Apparently Possible

The Rook, evidently running on smug, had beaten the game within days. Congratulating him, I tried to conceal my frustration and envy at the indifference with which he had undertaken the game and the ease with which he had nonetheless beaten it. I’d been striving on and off for a couple of weeks, resolutely nursing my adrenaline back to full health after every car crash, and I was still only halfway through the ruddy level.

Over the next couple of days my dedication started to waver. I still enjoyed playing The Impossible Game, but the unwelcome side-effects that had waved their squatter’s rights in the face of my life were starting to overshadow this enjoyment. The stress dreams were incessant and my colleagues now suspected that I wasn’t shooting-up during lengthy trips away from my desk after all.

In my final attempt to emerge victorious, I decided an audience might improve my performance. But, taking one look at the screen, my mum — a less-than-enthusiastic spectator anyway — simply condemned the creator to play his own game uninterrupted for the rest of his life and walked away with contempt.

I’ve not yet beaten the game, but I suspect my heart’s not in it anymore, at least not in actually beating it. But I’m still a determined gamer. I won’t allow my adeptness at sucking to reduce my enjoyment of playing anything ever again. I will simply be resolutely rubbish.






7 responses to “Memoirs Of A Gamer 1: The Impossible Game”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    You had made a comment that you thought ‘I overestimated my ability to complete the game’ only made me more determined. 😀 I have only tried it once since completing it and jumped into the first set of triangles grouped in three.

    Maybe you just need the right audience to encourage you if you go back to it, although I’m sure you can do it without one. Go Cel. 🙂

  2. Celeste avatar

    Did I say that? Man what a pretentious cow! No wonder you beat it! Although I’m still mad. >:(


  3. Dean avatar

    That’s brilliant. Hats off to the dedication. But i think the endless caverns and Oblivian plains of Tamriel seem a little more appealing… Love the pic of pyramid head though – excellent photoshopping!

  4. Andy T avatar
    Andy T

    With The Rook’s apparent ability to complete games which other people (and in this instance the game’s title) deem impossible I’m wondering if this could be the beginning of an “It’s Impossible!” thread on the forum to goad people into taking on the “Impossible”

    First challenge for you Rook = Schizoid (Uberschizoid mode) …It’s impossible.

  5. Celeste avatar

    Thanks Dean. 🙂

    And Andy, I’m there man. I love that idea!

  6. Michael avatar

    LMAO at the Pyramid Head image.

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