Sunday, March 12, 2006

Let's Learn Japanese: Natsukashii

Natsukashii. (adjective)
The closest analogous English word to
natsukashii is "nostalgia-inducing." The critical difference is that natsukashii is spoken daily by people throughout Japan, whereas "nostalgia-inducing" has never been spoken or even written until just this second. I am a linguistic pioneer.

This week the nanomachines in my bloodstream started acting up. Suddenly I had an irresistable urge to play Metal Gear Solid. I mean the old PlayStation 1 Metal Gear Solid. Accept no substitute. Regarded by many as the greatest PlayStation game of all time, MGS's comfortable mix of relative political erudition and tastefully colorful character design had already kept me entertained through two previous start-to-finish runs -- once in 1998 after the game's original release, and once more in 2001 when I suddenly felt a hankering to listen to Mei Ling's educational lectures on Chinese proverbs.

Thursday afternoon it suddenly occurred to me that I was long-overdue for a replay. I walked into Bic Camera, not even sure if they still sold PS1 games (let alone this one particular PS1 game). Lo and behold, they not only had Metal Gear Solid, but also Metal Gear Solid: Integral, which bundles the English version of the game along with the V.R. Missions (which, admittedly, never should have been a stand-alone title in the first place) for a modest 1680 yen.

MGS is a lot simpler than the series's current incarnation -- there's no switching camouflage or wondering, "Which should I eat, the squirrel or the reticulated python?" -- but that may have been the reason I wanted to play it again. There's something to be said for a game that's so fun, even with such horrendous enemy AI. Anyone who's judo-thrown a guard on his back and then seen him stand up and say, "Huh?" knows what I'm talking about.

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