As a courtesy to you, sometimes we like to provide valid reasons to play video games, in case you need to convince somebody that it's good for you, and not just rotting your mind. These days there are no shortages of quality excuses; from improved driving skills to faster reflexes under pressure, video game players are suddenly getting some respect (if only by scientists). So imagine my surprise when this week's much ballyhooed 100th episode featured a reason to play video games I had never even considered.
Without digging ourselves too deep into the background story; Spike, the one-time villain of Sunnydale and now newly
"Bugger this, how many bleeding Mega Man games does one guy need?"
crowned hero of the people, ended up having a pretty unfortunate run-in with a mentally ill slayer. After being tied up and tortured, the vampire with a soul found himself minus both of his hands ... a disturbing development no matter who you are.
Thankfully the doctors back at the home base (Wolfram & Hart) were able to reattach Spike's missing hands. Cheesy or not, it does beg the question: what do you do after you're hands have been reconnected? In Spike's case, it's lots and lots of video games on his brand new Xbox.
At first I thought of this as a funny story about why playing video games was good for your health, but then I realized that Spike was playing the arcade classic Donkey Kong on his Xbox. The same Donkey Kong that was made by Nintendo and launched the career of Mario, one of the most beloved video game characters of all time.
Anybody else want to know what Donkey Kong is going to do with that woman?
It would be easy to complain about the audio crew responsible for putting sound effects into Angel, and how they opted for a 23 year old game's sound effects instead of, say, something released since the invent of New Coke! But then, Angel is hardly the first TV show to pull this stunt; and these sounds offer an instantly familiar effect that everybody will assign to video games, so there's certainly a logical reason to constantly use classic themes.
Perhaps what was troubling me about this video game reference was the use of the game itself. Donkey Kong is a great game, one of the best games of the 1980s, and still an instantly addictive game that everybody can enjoy. But it's something that is known as a "Nintendo" game. Much like Bugs Bunny and Elmore Fudd are forever linked to Warner Brothers, or Mickey Mouse and Goofy are part of the Disney troupe, Donkey Kong, Mario, and Zelda are all part of the long, and prosperous, history of Nintendo. For this game, one that offered both Donkey Kong AND Mario, it just seems wrong for it to be played on the Xbox.
Now, if you're one of those people that are
Please Rare, whatever you do, just stay away from your horrid Killer Instinct franchise!
completely ignorant of classic video games or Donkey Kong (and you're still reading this site) you should probably listen to this sample of the first level music. In Angel, Spike sits with his second generation Xbox control complaining about his foe, the "nameless" gorilla. In this audio clip you will hear Spike's complaints, along with the same music you heard above. (Note now poorly his "button pushing" syncs up with the action on screen, proving beyond a doubt that this section was given no attention what so ever.)
Xbox fans could argue that Rare has been key in developing a number of recent Donkey Kong titles, including the Donkey Kong Country series, Donkey Kong 64, and Diddy Kong's Racing. Now that Rare is loyal Xbox developer, one could probably surmise that some of their franchises may make the transition. One doesn't have to look much further than the upcoming Conker's Bad Fur Day remake to see how somebody could get confused. But Donkey Kong had to be left behind, and for all the reasons I mentioned above (and more).
Whether it was a lazy sound engineer or a gamer too clever for his own britches, this 100th episode of Angel should be remembered for one thing: if you're hands have recently been reattached, make sure and play as many games as possible to improve your coordination. After that, if you're mom still nags you about your gaming, just casually mention that you LOST YOUR HANDS!!