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Saturday, March 08, 2014

Perfection - Oh, How I Hated You, But Loved You...

Today's blog entry is going to be short and sweet.  It's going to feature a type of game that I used to play when I was a little kid, and it was one of those games that inspired a love-hate relationship.

I guess you could consider this game to be a marriage of convenience between two kinds of people.  On one side of the cake topper, you have the man (or woman) who is always pleasant to be around, who always makes people smile, and who everybody wants to get to know.  On the other side, you have the woman (or man) who is loud, obnoxious, angry, and who you would probably want to go out of your way to avoid.  You'd think that this couple has nothing in common and that it would be a marriage that is doomed to fail, and yet somehow, this couple still makes it work.

Well, in the case of this game, the marriage of convenience combines one thing I absolutely love, and one thing I absolutely hate, and turns it into a board game that simultaneously challenged and frightened children all over the world.

Okay, so let's start by talking about the thing about this game (which I promise I'll reveal in time) that I love.  As far back as I can remember, I have always loved putting together puzzles.  Even though there was that one traumatic incident in kindergarten where I was being a brat and purposely dumped every single jigsaw puzzle inside of one of the toy boxes inside the classroom and was forced to stay inside during recess to put them all back together, I still didn't mind it.  There was just something about putting puzzles together that made me feel calmer.  I think that's why I loved playing with Rubik's Cubes as a kid (even though I still can't figure out how in the world to solve the puzzle).  I think that's why I loved playing video games like Tetris and Final Fantasy.  I think that's why I like doing the occasional crossword puzzle, Sudoku puzzle, or even those juvenile Jumble comic strips in the newspaper.  Puzzles make me very happy, and I can't imagine a world where puzzles are taken away.

Now, let's talk about one thing that I hate more than anything in the world.  Being put under pressure to succeed.  I am one of those people who gets incredibly anxious when it comes to making deadlines.  If I don't get something turned in by the time it was due in class, it made for some interesting thoughts prior to turning in homework assignments.  It was as if I didn't turn in my eight-page essay on the War of 1812, something terrible would happen to me, and I would not be able to escape.

Which, granted, in reality, I would have likely gotten an F for the assignment, flunked the class, and had to repeat tenth grade history...which I suppose would sort of be like being unable to escape...oh, you know what, forget I said anything.

The point is that I get too incredibly anxious when it comes to performing any sort of task under pressure.  Even when I'm watching television and I have to see a character try to disarm a bomb, or when I am playing a video game and I only have a specific time limit to complete the task.  Those are moments in which I really struggle, and I would just rather not have the added pressure of having a limited amount of time to do something.

(Of course, if I'm serious about pursuing a writing career, I suppose having deadlines is something that I will have to get used to.)

So, here's what we have.  I have a love of puzzles, but a hatred of time limits.  So, I bet that a board game that makes you try to put a puzzle together in a limited amount of time would be one of the most frustrating things that I could ever play.

And, you would be correct.

I introduce you to the board game "Perfection".  A game that has made many people lose their minds, curse their timing, and saw kids go completely crazy since 1975.

And, wouldn't you know it?  I used to own this game.  I owned this game, but couldn't bring myself to play it the way it was supposed to be played because the sound the board would make when the time ran out scared me so much!  I would literally run screaming out of the room because it was so shocking!

Okay, so here's how the game of Perfection worked.  And, I realize that for most of you, this is a redundant exercise as you all know how to play it.  But in case you don't, here's the description.

You have a game board that features a platform which falls and rises.  Inside this platform are twenty-five different holes cut out in various shapes.  And, naturally, you have twenty-five puzzle pieces that fit into the various holes.  The object of the game is to take each of the puzzle pieces and put them into the platform so that all the holes are filled.  Sounds ridiculously simple, doesn't it?

But you see that little device on the top of the board game?  The one on the top left corner that resembles a microwave timer from the 1980s?  Well, you're supposed to push the platform down and set the timer for one minute.  You're supposed to then start the game when the timer starts, and you only have sixty seconds to get every single puzzle piece into their respective holes.  If you succeed before the time runs out, the clock stops, and your time is record.  It's only when you fail that the really bad stuff happens.

For the minute the time runs out, the platform pops up suddenly and sends puzzle pieces flying with a loud bang! 

That loud bang was what freaked me out every single time I played Perfection!  It got to the point where I would purposely cheat by stopping the clock at fifty-nine seconds just so I didn't have to hear that sound!  Terrifying!

But in all seriousness, this game was what people played before timed runs on video games and racing tracks.  When you had a group of people playing the game, it was cool to try and compete against each other to see who could get the fastest time.  And, admittedly when I was in my college years, there very well may have been a couple of instances in which people tried to play the game while intoxicated.  I never took part, but it certainly made for some interesting people-watching, let me tell you.

Oh, and for people who liked more of a challenge, there was a game called "Superfection", which played almost the same way as the regular game...only much harder.  Instead of twenty-five pieces of the same colour, you had thirty-two pieces of red, blue, green, and yellow that you had to piece together into sixteen multi-coloured cubes.  And, the timer was double to a two-minute limit.  But still...putting together thirty-two puzzle pieces into sixteen cubes in two minutes?  Could anyone do it?

(I did it in a minute fifty-eight.  Talk about cutting it close!)

EDITED TO ADD:  Don't forget to set your clocks ahead one hour at 2:00 in the morning on Sunday, March 9.  Unless you live in Arizona, where daylight savings time does not exist.  

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