Rambling debut about a West Coast slacker’s obsession with a video game.
Adam Pennyman went to college and become just literate enough to find Deep Meaning in his deepest desires—having to do with video games. Born in 1971, Adam came of age during the Golden Age of these games, and his life’s work becomes the compilation of a Catalogue of Obsolete Entertainments: a Leonard Maltin–ish sort of guide to every video game ever made. To finance the project, Adam takes work where he can find it. He gets a job with an American video producer in Warsaw and lives overseas just long enough to pick up a Polish girlfriend. Later, he moves to Los Angeles and becomes a copywriter for Portal Entertainment. It’s a lousy job, but he soon finds its one saving grace: Portal owns the rights to Lucky Wander Boy, an obscure 1983 Japanese video game that has become, since its disappearance, a kind of Holy Grail for videoheads the world over. Suddenly, Adam has new purpose in his life: He needs to stop the vulgarians at Portal from desecrating Lucky Wander Boy by turning it into a film concept (“Lucky Wander Boy epitomizes our struggles, our confusion, our persistence in the face of opponents we cannot even see, much less understand. It means something”), and he needs to find a way to get to the secret Third Level of the game. His quest brings him to the enigmatic and beautiful Araki Itachi, Lucky Wander Boy’s designer, who shows him how entering the Third Level is a spiritual quest that can’t be undertaken lightly. But Adam, not to be put off, is ready to suffer for his quest.
Perfect for Trekkies and Donkey Kong fanatics, but a postmodern yawn that will sedate most normal readers.