Posted on October 1, 2010, Phil Hornshaw 10 Greatest Game Power-Ups to Have in Real Life (LIST)
Life would be cooler if it was a video game. Hell, that’s why we play video games in the first place. And what makes games cooler than life? Power, and more specifically, power-ups. Eat this mushroom, become huge. Touch that crystal, turn invisible. It’s all incredible, superhuman benefit, and the best part? It requires exactly zero effort on your part, aside from stepping on whatever item it is you need.
Reality, on the other hand, usually requires effort to garner a reward. Sure, you can become great at fixing things or at hand-to-hand combat, but it’s going to take massive dedication, to say nothing of the sheer will to get up off the couch. And that’s what got us here, playing video games, in the first place.
So here they are – 10 of the absolute greatest video game power-ups that belong in real life, but sadly, are lacking from our existence. And no, we’re not just going to say, “It’d be awesome if you were invincible!” Grow up. Invincibility doesn’t get your laundry done.
10. Stimpacks (StarCraft, StarCraft 2)
Okay, so technically, these are a part of general life in some variation, and have been the subject of many a propaganda production featuring the likes of Steve Urkel, Zach Morris, Michaelangelo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and Ethan Hawke in that one movie I never saw.
And no, we’re not condoning the use of drugs. The thing about stimpacks is, they don’t have any consequences. Okay, they do have consequences – they turn your standard, quivering space marine waiting for the jaws of some lucky zergling to clamp down on his jugular into a monstrous, hyper-speed killing machine. Yes, stimpacks hurt a little, but you could attribute that to the needle, and not necessarily to tears in your heart muscle.
But remember when I told you that invincibility can’t do laundry? Stimpacks help with laundry. All the laundry. Of the entire neighborhood. A stimpack is such an effective stimulant, it makes space marine rifles fire faster. Can you even understand that? Machines touching humans using stimpacks become more efficient. You could blast through your entire summer reading list while cooking, folding shirts and tuning up your car, and the car, the oven, the shirt and probably the book would also become the most efficient car, oven, shirt and book you’ve ever known.
9. Oil Slick (SpyHunter)
There’s this game on NES in which you drive a car and use it to escape from evil cars. Whatever it might have had to do with spies was not immediately apparent to five-year-old me. What would become apparent a little more than a decade later was how fully necessary some means of destroying other drivers is to my continued happiness on this planet.
Your awesome secret agent car, employing some James Bond Q-inspired gadgetry, sprays oil on the road behind you. And anyone who drives over oil, of course, immediately slides off the pavement and explodes. Because that guy who tailgated me all the way from Downtown to freakin’ Glendale can burn in Hell.
This is a gamechanger for your entire life. Suddenly, instead of being that impotent jackass, wailing on his steering wheel and making his girlfriend’s ears bleed with auditory rage, you become a go-getter. Someone who can do something about the situation. Granted, you have to be in front of the guy, but you haven’t been playing driving games for two decades because it makes you smell nice. Bust up on the shoulder, slide in front of your nemesis and send him to a slippery, fiery grave. Turn your whole life around, become more confident, increase your self-esteem, and vanquish your highway enemies.
8. Pay ‘n’ Spray (Grand Theft Auto)
Okay, granted – the Oil Slick thing got a little out of hand. We’re not saying “murder” – I mean, you have to be in control of your own vehicle no matter what the conditions are, right? That’s what the law says.
Anyway, lets just say the “increased authoritative attention” garnered from exacting much-deserved automobile vengeance is less than desired. But that’s where this amazing power comes in handy. For a modest fee and about five seconds of your life, you can get a totally new paint job on your car, causing any police officer who may be looking for you to suddenly decide he was actually looking for a different pair of droids and head back to the cantina.
It’d be great to be able to commit (some) automobile crimes with impunity, but there are better applications for Pay ‘n’ Spray. Like, say, when someone breaks up with you, but you miss the part of the relationship in which you drive slowly past her house to see if there are any strange cars in the driveway.
7. Zombrex (Dead Rising 2)
This isn’t really a power-up, you say? It is if you’re hoping to resist becoming a legion of the undead! Sure, in the video game, you just administer this zombie drug to other infected, not-yet-turned survivors. But in reality, the drug has other uses.
For one, in the inevitable and approaching zombie apocalypse, an anti-zombification drug goes on your list of provisions. In fact, go ahead and add above food, water, toilet paper, and porn. It’s that important. Suddenly you no longer have to blow your own head off if a zombie sneezes on your lunch. In fact, as long as you have this stuff around, the only way you’re going to buy it at the end of the world is if a whole fleet of zombies mauls you, or if you stub your toe and it gets infected.
Also, Zombrex has the added benefit of being extremely valuable to everyone, everywhere. So while it’s not exactly a power-up per se, it does power up your ability to not be a zombie, and it’ll power up your bank account (or comparable zombie-apocalypse currency-bartering-horde) as you gouge the ill-prepared and stupid infected who were formerly your friends and family.
6. A Duplicate, Mirror Image of Yourself (Galaga)
When attacked by a specific capturing alien in the spaceship shooter Galaga, your extra life would get taken from you – but if you shot the alien and rescued the ship, you got it back as a teammate. The ship would mimic your actions, basically allowing you to be in two places at once.
Or, in its real life application, it would be the clone you could send over to the fridge to snag another Coke, or go to your little sister’s dance recital – or go work your day job while you do, you know, anything else.
Sure, the clone may not be exactly that functional. Galaga’s clone was like a mirror image and did what you did, but opposite. Your doppelganger could be that dumb, but even that could be cool. For example – try running in one direction where there’s 30 feet of space, but in the opposite direction (where your double is running) there’s only 20 feet. Trust me, that never gets old. Don’t worry, Galaga doppelgangers don’t have souls, so it doesn’t matter if they feel pain.
5. Yoshi (Super Mario World)
You’re probably saying, “This list is such B.S. Yoshi is a character, not a power-up. I’m on my way to leaving a rude comment right now.”
Yoshi is so a power-up! Just like grabbing a mushroom or a fire flower, Yoshi may look like he’s more, but basically he’s just a thing you ride that allows you to get hit by goombas without dying. Besides, who are you, the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Cartoon Dinosaurs? He’s a tool. Move on.
If you’re done crying over a cartoon, consider how awesome it would be to just find a Yoshi egg on the ground. Crack it open and suddenly you have a full-grown dinosaur, which you can ride (it’s born wearing a saddle, after all). That deserves it’s own paragraph.
A fully grown dinosaur you can ride.
Also, if you have a farm, Yoshi will eat various critters and varmints and keep your barn mouse-free. And you could probably eat or sell those eggs it lays. When you inevitably get bored riding a dinosaur and having it eat stray cats, dogs and children, just hit it. Yoshi will run off – probably until it finds another home, or until it unthinkingly throws itself off a cliff. Either way: not your problem.
4. Rush Marine (Mega Man III)
When you hear this you’ll realize what an overrated joke that stupid dinosaur is. In Mega Man III, Mega Man has 1.) a loyal and friendly dog, 2.) which is also a robot, that 3.) can transform into a submarine.
Once you get this power-up for Mega Man’s dog rush, life instantly becomes better. Like dogs? Here’s the best dog ever. It doesn’t get sick – you can repair it. It doesn’t need to sleep or eat and it’s super-smart and unfailingly loyal. It will help you fight the forces of evil if you feel like, but you don’t have to.
And say you’re bored one Saturday. You say to your amazing robot dog after it brings you a beer, a remote, and your check book it just balanced, “hey, let’s go on a Jacques Cousteau adventure!” And an hour later you’re exploring the oceans, or a nearby lake or river, or just your local municipal sewer system. Why not? You have a freaking submarine and when you’re done, you can play a little fetch with a Frisbee with your robo-sub-dog. Sounds like the best Saturday imaginable.
3. Boo (Super Mario Kart)
It’s very simple. Boo is a power-up weapon you can get in Super Mario Kart to use against your enemies. In real life, the principle is exactly the same – Boo is a ghost who steals treasure from your enemies and brings it back to you.
Think about the greatness of a supernatural entity that will steal valuable, hopefully sentimental items from people you hate, with no possibility of being traced back to you or even really detected by the people you’re ripping off. You don’t have to leave your house – you don’t have to leave the couch.
And why stop with stealing family heirlooms from people who made fun of you in high school? You don’t know the limits of Boo’s ability until you send him out for Thai or groceries. And is Boo limited to stealing? You don’t know. Try sending him to do your banking. Worst case scenario, he floats into the vault and brings you back a little surprise, right?
2. Skill Books (Elder Scrolls, any RPG ever)
Know what sucks about reading? The reading. In order to learn things, you have to plow through boring, superthick books on subjects you don’t really like written by people who don’t really like what they’re writing about. Where does that get fun? Newsflash – you got to do that for almost the first 20 years of your life.
Then there are books in video games. You don’t read them, you “read” them – which happens instantly and grants you an addition in your stats. Suck at repairing things around your apartment? Snag a few repair skill books, flip them open, then patch up the Wii remote hole in your flatscreen. It’s that easy.
I know these aren’t the most glamorous power-ups on this list, but their among the best. You think skill books are going to be limited to first aid and swordsmanship? C’mon. When the publishing industry taps into this, you’ll be able to buy 30 quick skill books on anything. Cooking. Telepathy. Sex. Seriously.
Could there be anything better? Yes, just one:
1. 1-up (Super Mario)
Obvious? Perhaps. There’s a reason vampire movies are so popular – immortality is sexy, guys. Or at least, one might think that, but it isn’t true. Vampires don’t have it much better just because they live forever. For some reason, they’re all either murdered or unreasonable attracted to irritating, angst-ridden high school girls.
No, 1-up’s aren’t for immortality, they’re for hilarious bouts of mortality. Allow me to explain.
There are certain things we’d all like to do, but are far too cowardly to actually handle. Where does this cowardice come from? Why, the crushing fear of ceasing to exist, of course. But you have a 1-up. Even better, you have three. What are you going to do with them?
If you said, “Horde them in case I have a heart attack or get hit by a bus,” you, sir, are lame. Because your real answer should be, “Do totally stupid things without worrying about the consequences.”
Parachute-less sky diving. Alligator wrestling. Bear boxing. Smoking. Going outside without sunscreen. Mixing Pop Rocks and Coke. The possibilities are as boundless and varied as your imagination.