Marvel Snap made me think I was great at games – then I made a terrifying discovery

I’m really bad at video games. Which is a shame because it looks like it’ll be a lot of fun to be good at. There’s only one big thing holding me back. I’m an idiot. A buffoon. A brainless git who is fundamentally unable and unwilling to intellectually engage with game mechanics at their deepest level.

I’ve never pressed a lock button in my entire life. I’ve never countered a move because I’m not a member of MENSA. I can hardly bring myself to factor in grenades in multiplayer shooters. so thank you Marvel snapfor making me feel like a genius.

Don’t tell me this is a game aimed at serious grown people.

Marvel’s new digital deck of cards has been expertly calibrated to appeal to the likes of me – nitwits with tiny attention spans who are easily distracted by pretty shapes and colors. Really really nice colors. Marvel Snap may be an essentially simple game, but it’s been realized with an absurd amount of slick animation and effects and satisfying sounds – all carefully designed to spark a gamer’s brain’s childlike pleasure receptors. It’s like playing with a bop it. The maps themselves really pop off the screen when played on mobile, high-resolution screens, which can deliver deep, rich colors that render those little rectangles of Marvel art so sharp it could cut your thumb.

A big catch aside from playing the game itself is striving to improve the look and feel of all these cards and see them organized as if they were in a large ring binder. The resources required to do this aren’t tied to victory, so getting started wasn’t as scary as these things usually are. Bumping your head and having nothing to show unless you win is always frustrating, but as this is a free mobile game it aims to make you feel special.

While I was initially only entertained by the thing’s aesthetic and reminded myself that Shiny Pokémon cards were the single most exciting item for me when I was nine, something strange started to happen. I realized that I hadn’t lost a match. In 50 games. I passed it off as beginner’s luck or a sign that I’ve been matched with AI or bots for an extended period of time. That 50 win streak turned into 100. When I finally lost a match it was because I was distracted by cuddling with my hot girlfriend that exists and I was given time off. I set out to find out exactly what was going on here.

Screenshot of the Marvel Snap card collection

So many beautiful colors!

The first – albeit least believable – possibility was that I was just good at Marvel Snap. That I somehow internalized information about the rules by playing a game over and over again. That I had developed some intuitive understanding of card synergies and galactic brain tactics. Maybe I had somehow assembled a mathematically unbeatable deck by picking cards based on their looks. As I played into the evening and started paying more attention to what I was doing, eventually I started losing. I couldn’t tell exactly what was happening, so I went to bed.

The next morning I started another undisputed streak of crucial wins and finally realized what was going on. Children. I have hit children. I just described the game as a “flashy toy” and was still surprised. This is a game for babies. I’m a freelance games journalist, which basically means I’m unemployed. I can watch TV during the day and play mobile games to my heart’s content. In the middle of the day I’d played against kids at school and peeked at a phone under their desk. I ran with this theory and made a note to try again after 6pm.

I’ve been wiped out Forensically dissected by adults with fully formed brains returning home from actual work. These are people watching University Challenge and talking about books with their friends. People who block in games and know what frame canceling means. I could picture them sitting with their feet up on a luxurious ottoman in their exquisite homes, chortling to themselves and sipping port while lightly beating me and my pathetic, nonsensical deck of cards.


Doesn’t look like an adult game now does it?

The dream of being really good at video games is over, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped playing. I can still pretend I know what I’m doing between 8am and 4pm when 90% of the playerbase is snotty-nosed 10-year-olds who just love tapping pictures of Iron Man (why are you doubling a room, where you only have 3 streams – do your homework).

I finally got a taste of what it must be like to be able to think properly, to feel the thrill of defeating an opponent. I never had to do that in Splatoon 3 – I bought it on release day and the ability cap was out of reach forever. Kids are worryingly good at aiming guns, but apparently they’re not very good at counting.

So Marvel Snap is the perfect game if you’re bad at games and want to feel what it’s like to be good at them. You can spend 10 minutes reading card descriptions and putting together a deck that mostly just makes all the numbers go up when you do something and get easy wins against people a third of your age during the bargain hunting hours of the week .

will you feel good about it? It’s really up to you. The way I see it, a break is long overdue after trying to get into Apex Legends and realizing I can’t even see what was killing me. Kids can easily overcome these things, but I’m a depressed adult going through a second puberty and I’m taking what I can get. Marvel Snap made me think I was great at games – then I made a terrifying discovery

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