Insert Coin to Continue by John David Anderson

The concept of a boy whose life somehow turns into a video game that he must then figure out and master was a good one. The execution was . . . meh.

I just never did understand the rules of the game or where it came from. The story/day kept morphing from one game into another: Tetris, Donkey Kong, other games that I didn’t get the references to. Maybe that lack of understanding is due to the fact that I’m not a gamer. Bryan Biggins just wakes up to find himself inside a video game nightmare. He’s in the game without having chosen to play. And he doesn’t understand the rules. And nobody else at home or at his school or in his real life seems to notice the weirdness that is the game going on around them. Except when they do notice.

That’s the first problem. Some of Bryan’s teachers and friends are part of the game. There’s a hall monitor who is normally a nice person, but who begins to act like a video game villain on this particular day. Others see the game going on, but act as if it’s normal. Others don’t think it’s normal at all, or at least the way Bryan is acting is not normal. A few of the teachers are particularly mean, even sadistic, as they send Bryan on “missions” and manipulate his score in the game. Or maybe they don’t really control the scoring at all.

And Bryan himself does weird stuff. He decides that running on foot across a street with heavy traffic with his girl-he-wishes-were-his-girlfriend would be a good way to score points in the game. So he pulls her across, endangering her life. Really? These are real cars, real traffic, but Bryan treats it as a game. (I’m told this is an element in the 80’s(?) video game, Frogger?)

Anyway, Insert Coin to Continue is a classic video gamer’s dream. Since I’m not a classic video gamer, I didn’t quite get it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *