Thunder Spirits

I feel for interstellar spaceship pilots. I really do.

I mean, it’s got to be at least four years of flight/military training. Then you probably have to travel to a distant galaxy to actually see any action. Who knows how long that would take in this speculative future. Years? Days? Months? Millennia? Then, when you finally come into contact with whatever alien beings you’re dealing with, they kick you out the airlock with a tube of toothpaste and some jammies and you’re face to face with a laser-breathing space-worm.

As you frantically search your flight manual for “Laser-Breathing Space-Worm,” you realize your mother was right. Tears begin to form in your sleep-deprived eyes as you reach for the flight-stick, panic guiding your shaky hands. But it’s too late. The space-worm is upon you. His thick, spiny skin touches the outside of your cockpit and PAF — you’re gone. A waste? Maybe. But I’ve got two more.

Unlike most side-scrolly, shooty type games, Thunder Spirits endeavors to make you painfully aware of the sacrifices of the pilots you command. It seems to be less a game and more a chance for you to connect with each of these extraordinary human beings in the short time they have on this plane of existence. And, as you begin to love and cherish them, something magical happens. You feel real sorrow — I mean real sorrow — when they are, seconds later, wiped out of existence by some ludicrous rocket. I see a new pilot blink into existence, and immediately I worry for his safety. He is young, inexperienced, and he’s up against, like, an infinite wave of aliens, all designed with the specific intent of giving his guts a good munching. And, when he dies, so too the innocence inside me. Inside all of us! This is more than just a game; this is a recognition of our own mortality. We are so fragile! Like these sacrificial lambs, we are sent on our way along life’s fearful space-path, and one misstep later, we’re food for some monstrous dragon’s sweltering ego.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We can act to make a safer future for ourselves. Maybe we can reduce the number of lasers that shoot us from below and above at the same time so that we have to fly forward really fast or die. Or maybe we can stop those fleets of wombly alien bastards from coming so fast that we can’t, in all seriousness, possibly kill them before they fuck us in the asshole. And maybe, just maybe, we can turn that fire-breathing space-dragon at the end of the first level into a giant hug-monster, who just loves hugs. Or maybe even smooches?

On some level, though, this game appeals to the part of me that says, “Do it better. You’re not doing it right. Do it again.” But I hate that part of me. And so I raise my hands in anguish only to bring them crashing down again in frustration.

Like this: hskdjaj.

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