The Weed Issue
BREAKING: Video games and weed go together really, really well. Who knew? Like chocolate and peanut butter, it may not be the healthiest combo humankind has ever devised, but you’ll really be missing out if you resist.
Not all pot-friendly video games are created equal, though. While some provide a light, bubbly good time, others can be harrowing experiences, with your high intensifying your already heightened senses. So proceed with caution and learn from our seasoned crew.
My high school friends and I used to get really high and listen to Yes’ Close to the Edge in the dark... and play 50-turn rounds of the original Mario Party for the Nintendo 64, gaming’s premiere board-game simulator. By then, there had already been eight main installments in the Mario Party franchise, but the original game was still our main jam. (That is, until we went down the Super Mario 64 “cartridge tilting” rabbit hole—YouTube has more on that). The original Mario Party is still the best/most frustrating/most unpredictable party game because it’s fucking broken—you can spend hours annihilating everyone in mini-games, racking up coins and stars, and then lose your hard-earned haul in a matter of seconds to the slob in last place BECAUSE SOMEONE LANDED ON A STUPID “CHANCE TIME” SPACE. This is also the only Mario Party game featuring mini-games that are physically dangerous—one particularly difficult tug-of-war game requires you to rapidly rotate the Nintendo 64’s ridged analog stick. It seems most intuitive to do this with the center of your palm, until you develop a massive blister and realize that you are an idiot. (Nintendo used to compensate Mario Party players who split their palms open with a free glove—the original firmware update!) MORGAN TROPER
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
As someone who struggles with the unsettling environments and jump scares that run rampant in the survival-horror genre, I’m probably the last person who should have attempted to play the latest installment in Capcom’s Resident Evil series in VR while high. With a racing heart and a strong desire to fling the headset from my face at every turn, I somehow managed to navigate the swamplands of Dulvey, Louisiana, onto the Baker family estate, eventually making my way into the garage for an early encounter with the game’s primary antagonist, Jack “Daddy” Baker. Hoping to gain the upper ground in my battle with the shovel-wielding lunatic, I jumped into the driver’s seat of a rusty old car, only to be instantly flung clean through the window. I recovered just in time to witness the monster tear the roof from the car, get in, and then proceed to churn out perfectly executed donuts within the claustrophobic space. If nothing else, the astonishment of realizing that “Daddy” could drift provided an absurd highlight to this otherwise terrifying experience. CHIPP TERWILLIGER
Far Cry 4
I remember very few things about the day I ate too much of a Cheeba Chew: I cowered and whimpered through all 14 hours of Inherent Vice at Cinema 21. I spent a long time asking an unlucky McMenamins server about the concept of a “grilled cheese.” I got lost in the rain, and then I got lost on the bus. And then I looked up and somehow I was in front of my TV, at home, 12 hours later, and I’d unlocked half the goddamn map of Far Cry 4, a game in which you take over an entire Himalayan country. This meant I had done a lot of missions, and gotten into a lot of fights, and befriended a lot of elephants. I shot, paraglided, and elephant-rode my way through an entire war-torn nation in a single, red-eyed gaming session—a task about which I remember absolutely nothing, and one that, if attempted sober, I would fail at spectacularly. Yet, clearly, I am the greatest Far Cry 4 player who has ever lived. So if you want to beat Far Cry 4, this is my advice to you: Eat too much of a Cheeba Chew. ERIK HENRIKSEN
EarthBound (AKA Mother 2)
The Mother trilogy of role-playing games, conceived by Japanese copywriter and Haruki Murakami collaborator Shigesato Itoi, remains popular in Japan, although only the second game in the series, EarthBound, has ever seen a proper stateside release (for Super Nintendo). With main characters that look like Peanuts castoffs and a setting that skewers plastic, suburban Americana, EarthBound couldn’t have been more out of step with mid-’90s American gaming trends. But here’s the main reason the game didn’t catch on with America’s youth: It is fucking druggy, and not in the chill, weed-leaf-shower-curtain-and-Bob Marley-tapestry sense. Bloodthirsty moles, sentient piles of vomit, and malevolent hippies (like, the Charles Manson kind) inexplicably want you dead; the game’s battle music is a mix of ’50s rock ’n’ roll and nightmarish, discordant droning, and “Mushroomization” is a genuine status ailment that makes afflicted characters disobey commands. EarthBound’s passion for player discomfort culminates in the game’s final battle with an amorphous extraterrestrial named Giygas—an intense climax that Itoi claims was inspired by a violent adult film he mistakenly saw as a child. But at the core of EarthBound’s freaky atmospherics is an even freakier, HAL 9000-like understanding of human emotion. Ness—the game’s main protagonist and your nameable avatar—will become homesick at certain points throughout the game, causing him to miss turns in battles. (“Ness misses home,” the text box will pithily read.) This is the only time a video game has made me cry, and it makes actual, off-screen me homesick every time it happens. Over the course of 30 minutes, EarthBound can break your heart, prod your funny bone, and scare you shitless. From start to finish, it’s a trip—with all the good and bad that entails. MT
Imagine the metallic beetle from the cover art of Journey’s album Escape plopped down onto an entwining track that exists somewhere between the biomechanical art of H. R. Giger and a kaleidoscopic dreamscape. That’s the setting for Thumper, the self-described “rhythm violence” game from Drool, the two-person studio comprised of artist and musician Brian Gibson (of noise-rock pioneers Lightning Bolt) and programmer Marc Flury. As your beetle progresses through each segment of track, you are tasked with executing a string of rapid-fire commands that keep pace with the game’s unrelenting aural onslaught and incredible rate of speed. Add a VR headset, some headphones, and a little weed to the mix, and Thumper’s immersive primal noise assault becomes every bit as mesmerizing as being stoned to the bone at a Lightning Bolt show, minus the sea of sweaty bodies and awkward interactions. CT
Mass Effect: Andromeda
On the surface, the Mass Effect games look like alien genocide simulators. You murder a lot of aliens. But at their core, the games are about talking: chatting with your spaceship crew. Negotiating with space politicians. Discussing philosophy with space aliens (nice space aliens, not the space aliens you murder). In fact, so much time is spent talking in Mass Effect—trying to win people over, trying to learn backstories, trying to seduce—that the games are less about space exploration and more about using your words to trick people into liking you... which is basically all that real life is. But you know how in real life it’s stressful to use your words to trick people into liking you? Especially when you’re high? Well, imagine doing so when there are no negative consequences because it’s a video game. It’s wonderful. Playing Mass Effect: Andromeda high—chatting with weird creatures, wandering aimlessly around bizarre planets—is like not even needing anti-anxiety meds. With the added bonus that your friends are aliens, and instead of an apartment, you have a spaceship. EH
No disrespect to Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer and EA Sport’s FIFA, but when it comes to capturing the moment-to-moment feeling of actually playing the beautiful game of soccer, Psyonix’s delightfully ridiculous car-soccer phenomenon Rocket League has the competition beat. Using rocket-powered cars that can jump, soar, and flip around in mid-air to score goals and make spectacular saves is every bit as goofy as it sounds; it also perfectly replicates the sensation of hurling one’s body into a diving header or contorting backward for a bicycle kick, minus the irreparable body damage and humiliation that would accompany any real-world attempt. Playing Rocket League stoned, it’s rare for any of these high-flying acrobatic feats to play out as gracefully as intended, making the “sorry 2 baked” excuse a popular phrase for 4/20-friendly players to have button-mapped to their custom quick-chat interface. CT
If video games are meant to combat boredom, then Seaman is the perfect anti-game—playing it feels like you’re in sensory timeout. It’s really, really boring, and all the weed in the world doesn’t change that. Released for the Sega Dreamcast in 2000, the “game” is a glorified screensaver/virtual pet for grownups/fever dream narrated by Leonard Fucking Nimoy and starring a fish with a human face who acts like Dr. Frasier Crane. Seaman utilizes technology that was considered highly innovative at the time—you can talk to Seaman using the Dreamcast’s microphone accessory, although most of the time he simply talks at you—but “cutting edge” doesn’t always mean “fun” (in fact, it usually doesn’t). Playing Seaman is as tedious as caring for a real animal, without any of the rewarding aspects. At least Tamagotchis are cute; Seaman is an ungrateful, pedantic prick. MT