Unmemorable games are strangers in your mind bed

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You know the scene in movies:

A person wakes up after a night of drinking (or not). He's groggy and confused, and he realizes that he's not alone. He looks over to the other side of the bed.

If it's a comedy, he's lying next to his worst enemy/someone he doesn't know/someone he finds physically unattractive. If it's not, he's lying next to a corpse/part of a corpse/a monster.

The other day, I woke up next to Excalibur.

Not literally, of course, or you wouldn't be reading this. I'd be off having bloody, magical adventures. Or I would be in jail because I'm pretty sure that's the standard destination for people who walk around with mystical swords in these modern times.

Anyway, I woke up thinking about Excalibur, but I didn't know why.

I spent hours trying to trace the thought back to its source. Had I watched The Sword in the Stone lately? No, but that reminded me that I should do so, and soon.

That's when it hit me: I'd finished Tomb Raider: Legend a few nights before, but I had immediately forgotten about it.

I had a gaming hangover.


Tomb Raider: Legend

Have you ever played something that was so middle-of-the-road, so safe, so wholly adequate, that it made no impression on you, good or bad? I'm talking about an experience in which you spend maybe 10 hours neither engaged nor bored. You jump on the platforms, you solve the puzzles, you shoot the guys, but none of it really sticks. You keep playing because it doesn't suck, but you're not enraptured, either.

Let me step back: I'd never played a Tomb Raider game before Legend. I hear that the two or three installments in the series preceding it were disappointing, but I obviously wouldn't know firsthand.

If I'd played the shitty ones first, would I have liked Legend more? Probably. But I don't have that frame of reference, so I'm just left knowing that I played it, but not sure how to feel about it.

It was fine, I guess. I didn't hate it. I'm just having trouble remembering a few things, namely:

  • The plot
  • What led Lara from Point A to B to C (other than Excalibur)
  • Who most of those characters were
  • Any of the puzzles, levels, or bosses

Games like this make me question reality. If I spend hours playing something and I don't remember it afterwards, does that time still exist? Is it part of my experience? Would I have formed more lasting memories if I'd read a book or replayed Arkham Asylum? How many more hours of my life have I condemned to the Phantom Zone?

Out of curiosity, I checked my Xbox 360 Achievements list, and it was like that other scene in movies where the guy finds out that it was all a dream/he has fallen victim to an overly elaborate plan/that person he was following the whole time was not actually his dead child, but was, in fact, a murderous dwarf.

Did you know that I played Undertow, that game that Microsoft gave out because Xbox Live went down over the holidays a few years ago? Yeah, neither did I.

MementoMy PlayStation 3 Trophies offered still more mysteries. I played 3D Dot Game Heroes? And finished it? All I remember now is that it was almost exactly a Zelda game except that I had a sword that took up the entire screen. And when the hell did I play Wipeout HD?

It's possible that all this means is that I have a lousy memory, so if you have games like these in your past, please let me know in the comments. I'll just be over here prison-tatting mementos into my arm.

Top image courtesy Shiny Happy Art.

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