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October 12, 2011 / jwaxo

Hot Wheels Stunt Track Driver (Wish Fulfillment)

Every boy’s dream. True story.

When I was six I got a gigantic Micro Machines thing for Christmas. It was this huge orange and white van and it unfolded into a beautiful cityscape, covered in plastic buildings and rivers and mountains and, of course, streets. It also came with a number of Micro Machines (which were, by the way, the absolute coolest) and we played with it all the time. I took it in to kindergarten for show-and-tell, once, and everyone was super-jealous.

Of the cars that it came with, none were cooler than the white convertible. Why was that one the coolest? Well, besides the fact that it was a convertible, the doors were on tiny hinges, allowing me to open them up. When the doors were open it could fly. Don’t ask me why. This was the rule: white car could fly when its doors were open. This was probably because it kind of looked like wings and because the Micro Machine white and orange van-thing had a number of places that looked like they would be really sweet for a car to fly off of.

The problem with the car “flying” was that it was a dumb idea. It wasn’t a faster car than the others, at least not in the tests we gave it. It didn’t look a lot cooler than a few other toy cars that I had. It was cooler and capable of flight because I wanted it to be.

Not happening.

I know, we’ve already talked about expectations versus what’s real in this post, but this is a somewhat different thing, and maybe more concerning. After all, what are video games and reading and movies if not a base form of wish fulfillment?

Back on subject, for a time. My love of small toy cars that did improbable things wasn’t limited to Micro Machines. I, like all boys, also had a healthy obsession with Hot Wheels, those tiny plastic-and-metal constructs that one races across all surfaces, but especially along orange tracks which you never have enough of. The idea of getting an unlimited amount of track, making the coolest loops and curves and races throughout the entire house fueled many a daydream and quite a few diagrams of the best way to utilize every space.

Naturally when we discovered there was a game that promised that very thing we pounced on the first copy that we stumbled upon in a bargain bin.

Looking back (and playing a bit of it on a copy that I pried from the internet’s cruel maw), there wasn’t a lot to the actual game. In a series of pre-rendered tracks, the player guides one of a selection of Hot Wheels cars through the standard loops, curves, and obstacles of any good Hot Wheels run. You can turn either way, a necessary around (what else) turns, and you can make the car do flips in any direction when going over jumps. If you land tricks you go faster, if you crash you go slower, and you have to beat a specific time.

It… wasn’t that great, really. This was the entire game. There are six tracks, plus the ability to make your own tracks (on a 3D rendered garage floor, completely flat).

Not very fun in real life, either.

Despite these shortcomings, I played this game absolutely to death. I played through every single level so many times that, just now, having not played the game in over ten years, I remembered all of the turns, how many flips I could put into every jump, when I needed to bank a little bit to the right to miss oncoming traffic.

Why did I play this game so much?

Because I absolutely, stupidly wanted it to actually happen.

I wanted to unlock one extra-special, secret car, one that would make me win some hidden contest that would supply me with a lifetime’s worth of Hot Wheels track. I wanted to find a hidden track that would let me stop and wander around the level and change things. I wanted to find some way to at least give my custom tracks elevation. And so I scoured through every level, trying to find something hidden, some secret unlockable, anything that would let me fulfill my (admittedly small-thinking) wish of having unlimited Hot Wheels tracks. But this isn’t the only game I did this with. You want to know why I’ve beaten Ocarina of Time so many times? Why I 100%ed Mission: Impossible? Why I spent hours clearing every screen of all of the Fog of War in Warcraft II? It was all some desparate plea to the video gaming gods that I would at last experience what they were promising for real.

But, of course, nothing ever came of it. They’re just video games, a form of entertainment and escapism that flees the moment they’re completed.

And that’s a somewhat difficult lesson to learn, though it does come eventually.

Phew. Kind of heavy there, huh?


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