Atlas And P-Body Are Friends

Back in Februrary, I mentioned that Dante was playing Portal 2. Well, a few weeks ago, he finished it. Once again, he did so without help from me, which was so cool to watch. I continue to be surprised at how difficult I find it to allow him to be stuck and frustrated, but instead of helping him solve the puzzle, I work on helping him manage the emotional component of stuckness, so that he can recognize when he needs a break.

As a result, he sometimes powered through parts of the game, and sometimes went at it in fits and starts. Also, there are places where the jeopardy factor gets pretty cranked up, including a chapter titled “The Part Where He Kills You.” He knew about this chapter from a Steam achievement of the same name. Spoiler alert: the chapter is somewhat misleadingly titled. So as he approached that part, he would play for a few minutes and then quit out of nervousness. Eventually, though, he got through it, and beat the game.

Now, I’d finished both Portal and its sequel a couple of years ago. I loved them, and it was fun to re-experience them through Dante’s eyes. However, there was a part I’d never gotten to play. See, Portal 2 has a cooperative mode, with puzzles requiring participation from two players. You play two different cute little robots, one named Atlas and the other named P-Body, and solve a bunch of portal-themed puzzles with them.

Atlas and P-Body

I’m a solo videogamer for the most part, and I have no interest in partnering up with some random from the Internet. I know one other person who plays the game, but my schedule is restricted and it’s hard for me to commit solidly to game time, so I didn’t feel right trying to arrange shaky late-night gaming sessions. Plus, it seemed like we’d need some kind of voice chat to make the cooperation work well, and I’m not equipped for that.

However, once Dante finished Portal 2, not only did I know another player, I actually live with that player! There was an obstacle for a while, in that the mode was originally set up to be played online, by multiple owners of the game. I only own one copy, and it seemed silly to buy another one just to play the co-op levels. However, a little research revealed that the game had been patched to support splitscreen co-op play on the same computer, as long as a game controller is plugged in. I’d gotten game controllers so Dante and I could play Lego games cooperatively, and obtained a monitor big enough for splitscreen last year. We were in business!

Now we’re playing levels that are new to both of us, and having a blast. Dante is a great partner. I’m no longer holding back — I’m working just as hard at solving the puzzles as he is, and both of us are contributing. I absolutely love it when we’re stuck and he gets us unstuck. (Of course, I’m pretty satisfied being the unsticker as well.) Whoever has the current idea will direct the other, and we’re making it through together.

I think I’ve figured out why people have kids. 🙂


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