It was the summer of 2008, after much pestering our mum finally caved and bought us the new Simpsons game on PS2.
The Simpsons Game first came out in autumn of the previous year. After much hype and talk from our friends and cousins, my brother and I stopped at nothing until we got our hands on it. The game follows the Simpson family – Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie – who learn they are part of a video game and are each given powers to beat Matt Groening, God, and even killer dolphins, in order to save Springfield.
When we first started this game, we found it easy. The first mission as Homer was a piece of cake, literally. We thought we’d get through it with no bother – even with our lack of gaming skills at the time.
Oh, how we were wrong.
Sure, we defeated the two-headed dragon that resembled Aunt Selma and Patty, going up against evil dolphins, and even Futurama characters. It was the mission against God that had me and my brother on the brink of meltdowns.
In heaven, the Simpson family meets God. To pass this mission, players must use the arrow keys in a challenge that resembles one of those arcade dance machines. There are three rounds and after each round it gets faster, and if you mess up even once you have to start again. Sounds easy, right?
Well, for eight-year-old me and my brother, who was nine, it was difficult. We would repeatedly try to get the buttons right, tapping the controller aggressively hoping that this torture would end. It didn’t.
As with most of our time playing games together, there were tears and tantrums, and I’m sure one of us (probably both) threw the controller on the floor a few times – earning us a telling-off from our mum – out of frustration. Stuck on this single mission, it got to a point where my brother went to his friend’s house, taking our memory card with him and asking his friend to complete the challenge for us.
When I asked my brother how many tries it took for his friend to complete it, he looked at me straight-faced and said he completed it first try.
What was wrong with us? To say we were embarrassed would be an understatement.
With that shame hanging on our shoulders since 2008, we recently spoke about this game and how this last mission drove us both to the point of despair. We watched the mission on YouTube together trying to jog our memory of it. What we watched and what we remember playing were two completely different things.
Why were the arrows coming in so slow? Where were the many rounds? And why did it look so easy?
Not believing what we saw, we turned on our old PS2 and replayed the whole game again for that last mission. And we couldn’t believe ourselves. We finally did it. It took us both one try each, and not a single sigh, swear, or clenching of controller was in sight!
Here’s to eight- and nine-year-old us!