Yarei: The Wife, The Mother, The Stealth Warrior.

There are many things  I appreciate about my wife: the way she pours love into our home and children,  the way she scours the internet for free Redbox codes, the way she gently smiles at my elderly grandmother when she says, ‘you’ve gained weight!”…  the list goes on and on.  But there is one recent act of love and sacrifice that tops them all: for one night she transformed from my forever girlfriend to my Splinter Cell video game  battle buddy.

Now, to  paint an  accurate picture of the gravity of this situation, Yarei considers  the best video game to be Battle Toads, a cheap 90’s knockoff of  Teenage Ninja Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Same concept, but with  toads… it’s no wonder they never made it past a Sega Genesis  one-hit-wonder appearance.  Fast forward 20 years and Yarei  is still in the  “left, right,  jump , run” world of 2D video games, and proud of it.  So when I asked her to join me in a mission of Splinter Cell: Black List, a third person stealth game  which incorporates real world movement and action, she was noticeably hesitant.

After explaining the Xbox 360 controls to her, I placed  the controller  in her  hands as she muttered… “I don’t know about this.  Can’t we just play Mario Brothers… or Battle Toads, Louie?” (apparently my Gamer name).

“You’ll do fine.  Just remember… this is a stealth game.  The goal is to sneak around and only strike when necessary… otherwise, the baddies will alert the others and all Hades breaks loose.  Got it?”

She was fumbling with the combination of triggers, buttons, and knobs like a  toddler with a remote control.

“Yarei! I need to know you have my back! If i’m being held hostage, you have to be able to find me without being killed!” I could only hope she understood the seriousness of the mission.

“Yes, yes” she finally said out of frustration.

The level we selected was a weapon smugglers compound in Pakistan.  Our mission was to neutralize all hostiles and destroy the weapons.  I instructed Yarei to use the electric shock gun to stun enemies because that required less aim. I also didn’t want to incite unnecessary killing in her tender heart.

“Ok… but what’s this other gun for?”

“That’s the shot gun… that one’s really loud and will  kill anything within a close radius of your position.”  I paused to make sure she understood this, only to notice her eyes widened a bit.  “Let’s not use that one.”

The mission began.  Yarei took  a couple practice shots with the stun gun and was ready for action.

“See that guard over there?  Crouch behind the rock and take him out! I’ll sneak toward the left.”

I was surprised at her agility and somewhat shocked at the precision of her first shot.  Down went the guard, leaving an open path for me.

“YEAH!!!”  she shouted, as if she had just wiped out an entire army.

“Shh… the kids!!” but it was too late.  Something had awoken inside  her that I could not contain.

In her excitement, she moved from behind the rock and started charging   toward a group of mercenaries huddled behind a car.  She was quickly terminated.

“OK… remember, the goal is stealth and stun. No unnecessary killing.”

“Yeah, yeah” she responded, eyes glued to the TV ; a slight twitch on her trigger finger.

The next round began and I instructed her to follow the same plan.  In one sweeping motion she crouched, aimed and downed the guard.  I started moving to the left when suddenly I heard a loud explosion coming from Yarei’s position.  She had switched to the shotgun and was charging toward the   group of mercenaries.


“Yarei!! You’re going to wake the children!!”

“BAHAHAHAHA!!”She let out a blood-curdling laugh as  she broke through enemy lines, taking heavy fire herself from soldiers   that had been alerted by her shot gun frenzy.    My sweet wife had snapped and transformed into a one-woman army with a Die-Hard death wish.   I moved to her position and quickly took out her assailants with multiple rapid fire shocks.     Once secure, I tried to regain control of the situation as we crouched behind the bullet riddled   vehicle.     The smell of gunpowder filled the virtual air.

Yarei breathed  heavily.  A wild-eyed look on her face.

“Me LIKE the shot gun!!” she exclaimed, eyes fixed on the TV in a trance-like state.  “I can’t believe you wanted me to use that hair-dryer gun.  This is war, not a hair salon.”

I took the control from her hands and switched her back to the shock gun.  “Yarei… this isn’t the type of game you just run-and-gun. It takes strategy and skill to plan and exe–”

*CLICK CLICK*– it was too late.  She had already switched back to the shot gun and charged brazenly  toward   two heavily armed guards posted by a weapons cache.  She release another battle cry as she plowed into the spray of bullets, letting off two rounds before  she succumbed to her wounds.

“WHERE THE HELL WAS MY BACKUP?!!” She yelled, shocking me with her un-mommylike language and jabbing her controller at the TV.  I gazed at her, dumbfounded.  Her eyes were wide as saucers and her hands had a death grip on the controller.  Heavy breathing echoed off the walls as her chest heaved up and down.

After her adrenaline had settled she sat back in the couch.  “Whoa…that was like drinking a cup of straight black coffee with a triple shot  of espresso” she said with a slight stutter.

“Maybe we should stop” I cautioned, putting a calming hand on her  jittery controller.

A maddened look crossed her face. “NO!  You saw what they did to me… those–”

“Shhhhh… it’s ok… just… let… go.”

I pried the controller out of her hands and slowly put it down.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.  I don’t think I can handle that, Louie.  I don’t know what came over me when I got the shot gun,” she said as she stared off into the distance.

I snapped my fingers to get her to make eye contact and cupped her face in my hands.

“Let’s find you a nice game of Battle Toads, k?”

yarei gamer meme



Battle Toads, Part 2

Yesterday Yarei and I went to GameStop for my annual pre-owned, deeply discounted video game purchase, compliments of the gift card exchange that my brochacho John (aka Juanita) and I do for our birthdays.
I walked in with a specific game in mind and was waiting in line with Yarei. I guess she got bored with the waiting so she ventured off to explore a world that is unknown (and somewhat uninteresting) to her. In her ever-so-optimistic and sociable way she approached a salesman and asked:
“What game would you recommend to the wife of someone who’s into games?”
“Hmm..” he pondered this unusual question from this atypical video game consumer.
Overhearing this conversation from the line, I knew something noteworthy would come from it. You see, Yarei is so comfortable around people that she can engage right into an awkward conversation and make it sound as if she’s affirming your bad haircut.
“What types of games do you like?” he pried, using his best salesman tactics.
“Well… growing up I used to love playing Battle Toads. You know, on the Sega Genesis. ” She said with extra emphasis on ‘Sega Genesis’ to show she knows gamer lingo.

“Are you serious?” he asked, taken aback.
“Absolutely! I love Battle Toads! On the Sega Genesis. ” she exclaimed with great pride.

“Any time someone does a prank call they always ask if we have Battle Toads.” he said suspiciously and apparently unimpressed by her gaming prowess.

Yarei moved her gaze downward, shifted her eyes left, then right… and scooted backward silently.
It was time for an intervention…. “Yarei… a word please.”

Battle Toads, Part 1

In a constant effort to get my lovely bride, Yarei, to join me in the world of video games, we tried a racing/shooting game yesterday. I was the driver of an “otherwordly” vehicle in a wasteland race and Yarei was manning a gun on a distant hill and she was supposed to protect me from enemy fire as I race around. Well… 10 deaths and 5 frustrations later, we decided this wasn’t going to work. I appreciated her effort, but I wasn’t about to give up:

“What type of game would you like to play?”


“I’ve told you… that game no longer exists. You can’t play it on xbox 360.”

“I don’t care. I want to play battle toads. You know… the special ninja version.”

“Let’s take a step back. What type of genre of games do you like? Action, puzzle, etc”

“umm…let’s see. The kind with fighting toads.”

“Pass me the rumikub.”