Monday, October 29, 2007

The Foolish Man Sees Happiness In The Distance; The Wise Grows It Under His Feet

We're still playing Avatar: the Burning Earth together.

In spite of the frustrations, which are severe at times, Eli 6.2 is thrilled by being in the world of his favorite cartoon, and I really enjoy playing together. There have also been a few terrific moments when co-op really means something and we have to do something together to get through a level, as in a scene where Ang and Katara had to waterbend together to turn a stream of water into a cutting instrument. Using the Wiimotes, rhythmically moving back and forth together to keep the water moving, was just great.

So we were playing last night, and we were trying to escape from The Library (taken straight from Episode 30). There was a timed section near the end where you were trying to both evade Wan Shi Tong (who appears in the form of a giant Owl) and get out before the Library sank into the sand. We had sixty seconds, and we got out with less than one second left.

Which was great. We were both totally excited, and we had to work as a team to be able to get out, so it was a blast to succeed together.

One problem, though--it was 7:30 and time for Eli's bath, and instead of being at a save point, we were still somewhere inside the library.

Unless we could play to a save point, we'd lose about three checkpoints of work, which was about half-an-hour of game time.

I had a few options. I could leave the Wii on all night, just paused, and hope that there would be no glitches when we tried to play again tomorrow. I could try to disconnect Eli's controller and hope that the game would be smart enough to go immediately go into single-player mode (with the CPU controlling the other character), but no way did I trust this game to be that well-designed.

Or I could try to play the two-player level by myself, controlling both players.

I know--that sounds ridiculous. But the timed level we'd just finished had been very hard for us to pass--it took about six tries--and I really wanted to find a save point and not have to go through all that again.

So I took a look at the new level. It looked like it was going to be all jumping, and all left-to-right. It was a series of jumps where the characters had to keep moving, because the floor was collapsing underneath them.

I had to find a way to get through.

Thus began the great foot experiment.

I put the analog stick on the nunchuk between my big toe and second toe on my left foot. I put the Wiimote under my right foot, with my big toe above the "A" button. The analog stick moves the character, and "A" jumps.

I had one advantage. There are no insta-deaths from jumping in this game. Instead, in almost all cases, your character gets a very minor health penalty and reappears beside its companion character.

My theory was that I could just press the analog stick right and jump off all the ledges--even if I failed the jump, it would at least start the sequence for my "foot character" (Katara) to reappear close to my "hand character" (Ang). So I could just keep Ang moving through, and get Katara to jump off every ledge, I might make it past the level.

Incredibly, it worked, and on the first try. Katara even made a few of the jumps successfully. Once they passed reached the exit of that area, though, the level CHANGED to a top-down section, which meant I now had to move Katara down instead of right. No jumping here, just running, and I had to move her all the way to the bottom of the screen.

Oh, and the owl was chasing us.

We ran down a hallway in the Great Library, bookcases on either side of us, and I realized that this was absolutely impossible. Except that my feet still had Katara running, and I saw a book in a bookcase sparkle, which meant there was a hidden exit. I had Ang smash into the bookcase, and a small opening was revealed. I ducked him through. Meanwhile, I turned Katara in that direction, and she managed to make it through, too.

The next thing I saw was a cut-scene with Toph on the outside, trying in vain to keep the Library from disappearing into the sand, as Ang and Katara were leaping out from the top window. To safety.

And a save point.

"I DID IT!" I shouted in the general direction of upstairs.

"Did WHAT, Dad?" Eli shouted from the bath.


"WHAT?" A few seconds later, Eli was running naked down the stairs. "Dad, HOW DID YOU DO THAT?"

"With my feet!" I said.

"I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!" Eli shouted, laughing, and there was much celebration.

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