You know what it is.
You’ve played that Level. You’ve played that Game.
That Game can be a mess of crude 3D polygon confusion. Other times it is a beautifully rendered realistic environment populated by generic places and shallow souls. Sometimes it is a two-dimensional caricature where you can jump up and down and turn all around on pre-set paths and pre-determined destinies.
Maybe it is turn-based when it is an organized, reasonable world, or a great bird’s eye map somewhat hidden from you as you get to plan out your strategies but–more often than not–it is a side-scrolling affair of linear time. You have to keep moving forward and you can never go back.
Except in your mind.
So you jump through hoops. You try to avoid the spikes and the pitfalls. You repeatedly hit your head against a golden block: always looking for a different result. That edge near the lava, and those platforms over the abyss become far too captivating and even far more terrifying for their 8-bit sense of vertigo.
But you dodge the fire and the ice, the darkness and the light, the electrified mines and the bullets, the cute little walking bombs and the fake-out illusions. You spend time solving the clever and tedious puzzles below the mountains or up in the sky: so much so that you sometimes fear you will be stuck in those places forever. Your musical theme begins to change or it cycles into a cheery purgatorial loop inside of your mind.
And you haven’t even gotten to the Boss yet. The Boss waits for you at the end of the teleological road though, in retrospect, it was always there for you. It almost always seems to be larger than you. Often, it has more power than you do. You know there is an angle in which to approach it, some kind of slant, but it does its very best to allude you.
And even if you figure it out, your eyes are so gritty, your palms are so sweaty on those controls, and your heart is beating so fast that it is a challenge in itself merely to concentrate: because then you realize that this is less about the Game and more about you and this Boss.
That is when you realize the truth.
Sometimes Life is like a Boss with 99 lives while you are a character with only one. But then another thought occurs to you: that as long as you can knock at least two of those lives off before you go down, or in some way engage it as a multi-player effort before leaving it as such, then it was all worth it.