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Back in the late 80's, when my sister and I got our first Nintendo, we were enraptured. I am sure many of my audience can remember the tunnel-like experience of the Nintendo, when the bright and vivid outside world seemed to fade away next to the pixelated majesty of the games we immersed ourselves in. When we finally reached Level 1-4 of Super Mario Brothers, my sister, already well into middle school, had to leave the room because of the dread of the music. It might not be easy for us to remember how immersive we were as video game virgins.

That being said, my reading of the fifth book in the much maligned Worlds of Power series suffers from the fact that I am not familiar with the source material. Without the sense of "being there" that even an eight-bit game could communicate if it was well crafted, the setting and the actions seem slightly ridiculous and repetitive. However, they are quite not ridiculous or repetitive enough to warrant the type of fun made of the previous volume.

The story, like the Castlevania book (and unlike Bionic Commando, that has no such interloper), follows the plotline of "typical American middle schoolkid falls into alternative dimension and takes in adventure", smoothing over any disbelief we may have about the entire incongruity of it all. A few jokes are made about the linguistic differences between our protagonist, Matthew, and the games protagonist, Kuros. In one rad scene, Matthew manages to help Kuros out with his outrageous skateboarding skills. Matthew also learns an important moral lesson about halfway through, that as far as I can tell, has nothing whatsoever to do with the plot. And, in what I imagine is an anti-drug message, Matthew doesn't drink any of the potions that Kuros is constantly quaffing down. Which, of course, seems to be a somewhat inconsistent message, but...really, how much sense were you expecting this book to make?

Overall, this book does do what it sets out to do: capture the spirit of playing Nintendo. It has 117 pages divided into 20 chapters (interspersed with helpful, upside down game hints), which are easily read, and leave the reader feeling exactly the same as when he started the book, although with perhaps a touch of nostalgia and contempt for both the 1980s and themselves. However, the book still works much the same way as a mediocre video game: it is a good way to pass the time.

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