To say my little brother and I have a rocky relationship would be a gross understatement. To him, I am a bossy dictator. To me (The right opinion of course) he is a nettlesome little pest. As he tramps around our house he announces his presence by making a loud, blaring sound, usually in song form. If a brief moment of peace should occur, he feels obliged to shatter it like a glass window. Follow the lengthy trail of toys and you’ll have a map of which rooms he has visited. The most frustrating part is after my mom, dad, and I slog for hours trying to clean up our house, and the messy gremlin swoops in and dirties it up in a matter of minutes. To see hours of toil made irrelevant by just one little child is almost too much to bear.
Nevertheless, I still love my brother. Love, however, is neither respect nor friendship. It was nearly impossible for me to relate to him. We are polar opposites in every way imaginable. He enjoys the sweat, speed, and dirtiness of sports while I prefer the finesse(i.e stats). He hates anything related to mathematics and science, the complete opposite of myself. While his go to TV show is some cartoony Disney Channel show, I prefer serious dramas and intelligent comedy. He likes vanilla more than chocolate, pizza more than pasta, and even cats more than dogs! He couldn’t have been more different than me, not to mentioned our 5-year age gap. Our differences made it nearly impossible to connect with each other on a brotherly level.
In late July, about 4 years back, my 10-year-old self was sitting on the couch in my living room, a Wii remote in one hand, and a chocolate bar in the other. My living room is cluttered but cozy. It is a large, tall room with nine giant windows. The floors are covered with a stringy, golden carpet that can get stuck on your nails. The carpet smells of various food items as while my brother insists on eating on the carpet, he refuses to clean up his mess. The TV is situated in a large cupboard designed for it, adjacent to the window. We have two large couches parallel to the window and two fuzzy reclining chairs placed side by side facing the TV. A square, wooden table is in the middle, usually covered with papers. Blankets are usually on the sofa, along with an assortment of toys, books, and electronic devices. I had taken all the junk off of the sofa to make space for myself. As I was calmly (save for a few angry words) playing NBA 2K11, my father walked in with my standardized test scores. Most children would be nervous, but not me. I had a track record of over-achieving on standardized tests. My father stopped and began to speak: “Arush, you did very well on your standardized tests. A 98 on math and a 96 on reading; your mom and I have got you a gift.” At the mention of the word “gift” my ears perked, my head instantly swiveled, and my eyes were fixated on my dad in less than a second.
“Knowing how much you like Star Wars,” he dramatically stated, “We bought you LEGO Star Wars The Videogame.” I sprang up from the couch and jumped with joy. I was a huge fan of Star Wars (I still am), a huge fan of LEGOS, and a huge fan of video games. LEGO Star Wars the Video Game was like having three birthdays a year. “There is one condition, however,” my dad continued, “You have to play this game with your brother.” Right on cue, my then 5-year-old brother waltzed in with a mischievous smile on his face. Speak of the devil.
I loved my brother but hated to do anything with him. He didn’t listen and didn’t play things the right way, i.e, my way. He always screwed things up. I had read that Lego Star Wars was a game that required skill and finesse, something my brother didn’t have. “NOOOO!” I howled like Darth Vader after learning he killed Padme. My three birthdays a year had turned to year round school. “Arush,” my dad warned, “You have to play with your brother.” He then proceeded to give me a lecture on the importance of a brother. I nodded appropriately and made the occasional murmur of understanding. My dad seemed satisfied with my exceptional performance and helped my brother and I set up the game. Our Star Wars adventure had begun.
Our grand adventure began with arguing and confusion. I skimmed the manual, only really paying attention to the controls. I tested out all the controls in the Cantina. The Cantina represents the Mos Eisley Cantina featured in “A New Hope.” The Cantina is filled with shady, gun-toting patrons that will attack if provoked, hidden surprises, and a shop run by a cranky bartender in an ugly orange suit. As you walk around, you can hear the grumbling of the bartender and the deep voices of the patrons. It is also a gateway to all the levels. The levels are divided based on what story they correspond to. This game came out before the 7th movie was released so only 6 stories could be played. Once I had got the hang of Star Wars, I handed the controls to my brother, who was at that point very anxious to play. The starting characters were the unorthodox Jedi Qui Gon Jinn and his more disciplined padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. My brother had trouble understanding force powers and moving around but was captivated by the shining lightsabers they wielded. He then proceeded to destroy the various patrons of the Cantina for the next half an hour and would have kept going had I not, with great difficulty, stopped him. “I wanted to keep going,” he huffed. “No-one cares,” I grumbled and proceeded to set up the levels. The first level was the negotiations scene of “The Phantom Menace.”It did not go well.
I wanted to explore and go as slowly as possible while my brother wanted to beat the level as fast as possible. This led to inevitable conflict. “Hurry up,” he nagged “We have to beat the level!” “No way,” I argued, “We have to collect coins.” This went on and on. He also couldn’t make strategic jumps and couldn’t use the force to help me as some parts required. He couldn’t cut down enemies nor use protocol droid terminals. Obi-Wan, his character (The irony is painful) was shot by droids countless times. I implored him to give me the controller but he stubbornly refused. He kept making the same mistake over and over again. He was seemingly the weak link in the team. My little brother would refuse to listen to my advice when I tried to help him. He would also make rash decisions that didn’t work out. He was the arrogant Luke and I was taller Yoda with a much shorter temper. All in all, it took us 2 hours to beat the simplest level in the game. By the end, we were both very frustrated with each other. Our adventure was falling apart before it had really begun.
The next few levels went the same way. He wouldn’t listen and I would get frustrated at him. I loved the game, but hated to play with him. Still, I was forced to play by my parents. “Involve your brother,” my mom commanded, “Play with him,” my dad ordered. They told me to be more patient with him. I attempted to be patient but couldn’t. I couldn’t tolerate his rashness and levity. This was a serious matter, how could he laugh over it? I tried approaching it in almost every possible way, but nothing worked. I would still get frustrated and he would get confused. The worst levels were the Spaceship Levels. My brother couldn’t maneuver the spaceship at all. It became all the more frustrating for me. While Obi-Wan and Anakin soared, my peace of mind was floored.
One day as I set up the game and prepared for another hour of frustration, I noticed something. My brother was determined, determined to do well. We were on Kamino, I was Obi-Wan and he was an Astromech droid. He had to fly across chasms in order to help me. He failed the first time, and I thought, “here we go again.” I gave him routine basic instructions and he nodded assent. “I can do it,” he asserted. On his second try, he listened to my directions and made it across. He activated the terminal and helped me across. I was shocked, my brother actually listened to me. “I told you,” he smirked. We finished the level perfectly. Obi-Wan fought the bounty hunter Jango Fett and the astromech defended him from his misguided son Boba Fett. We triumphed together.
We began to perform much better as a team. My brother began to listen more and play the game with more skill. He was getting a hang of the game. As we began to work together, we began to have more fun together. Lego Star Wars became our special time. We would work together to achieve a noble goal. We were adventurers along with all the Star Wars characters. We fought general Grievous on Utapau, blew up the first death star, lassoed AT-AT walkers, and rescued Han Solo and Princess Leia from the slug like gangster, Jabba the Hutt. I even began to embrace his creative methods. We were not just a team, but the perfect team. I was usually the orderly one who would keep him on task, and he would help me if I was frustrated and wanted to quit. We also had fun exploring the Star Wars universe. We learned about all the characters and regularly talked about Star Wars. I genuinely had fun with my brother. For the first time ever, I began to look at him as more than just a pesky little brother.
The most important level (but not the last) was the final duel. The level pitted Darth Vader and Luke against Darth Sidious. I was Darth Vader and my brother was Luke. The final battle took place in a gloomy, sinister palace hall. Sidious cackled evilly as Luke and Vader fought, but scowled when they united to turn on him. This level was the ultimate test. We had to show our mastery of the game and our cooperation. Instead of going for the glory we had to push each other up. We were so close, but one part had us stumped. Palpatine was up on a ledge, too far for us to jump. I had looked around for anything to help but could find nothing. My rational thinking had failed me. Then, Luke/my bro started destroying random things and jumping around like a frog on steroids. It turns out that an obscure crate in the corner could be destroyed and rebuilt into a fan to push us up. He also discovered a pattern in the Emperor’s Sith Lightning attacks, making it easier for us to defeat him. When the emperor was finally defeated we rejoiced. We finally had completed our Star Wars adventure.
After that level, I began to think; I originally thought of him as a useless pest. After Lego Star Wars, my perception of him changed. For the first time, I began to respect my brother. I began to respect his creativity and enjoy his unpredictability. His constant optimism built me up. We had become best friends. At first glance, he seemed clueless, but as we went on our Star Wars adventure, I noticed his positive qualities. He may actually be even better than me (Notice I said may). Star Wars brought out the best in both of us, and I am grateful for that.
My brother and I are still close. While we may fight and disagree, we always come back to the brotherly love and cooperation that stemmed from Lego Star Wars. As the years have passed, I have lost interest in Lego Star Wars, even though there were other minor objectives to complete. As a result, we don’t play video games that much anymore. A month back my dad got us the new Lego Star Wars. Sure enough, we beat that game in a couple of weeks. Even though there isn’t anything left to do, my brother still insists we play it. He wants to go back to having special time with me, and I am sure to oblige.
.© Copyright Arush Iyer 2017