I’m 25 today. If you thought, “Happy birthday,” cheers for the well wishes. If not, that’s alright too. Anyway, I’ve just logged into Genshin Impact to do my daily commissions and Mihoyo has sent me a lovely little cake. I can’t eat it, because it’s made of digital code, but I cracked it open in the menu and got some Fragile Resin, which is used to unlock all kinds of cool shit. So thanks Mihoyo. You’re a real one.
This isn’t unusual — loads of games have in-game birthday events. Wii Fit used to say, “Happy birthday!” and then demand you measure your BMI, and would shamelessly tell you that your Wii Fit age was older than your actual age if you’d treated yourself to an indulgent birthday brekkie. Kalos Nurse Joy damn near glitches the game to throw you a surprise party in Pokemon X & Y and Ocelot whacks a big dirty cigar in your hand in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.
But to this day, my favourite birthday surprise is still the one from that other Kojima game: Death Stranding.
I haven’t got Death Stranding installed on my PS4 at the moment. It’s a launch PS4, so it’s a bit knackered, plus it’s already stuffed with games like Persona 5 Royal, The Witcher 3, and Bloodborne — all of which I simply refuse to delete. But when I got my Genshin Impact message this morning, the cogs in my brain started whirring like Newton’s did when he got clocked by an apple and realized that objects fall, actually. “What other games can I squeeze a little bit of celebratory enthusiasm out of?” I thought. I don’t usually care about this kind of stuff and I’ve never really been a birthday guy — a few cans of beer in the evening and I’m happy as Larry. I do care about in-game rewards, though, and will be as miserly as Ebenezer Scrooge when it comes to hoarding them.
Then it struck me: “You may have forgotten, but I haven’t.” What an absolutely, positively, stupidly and brilliantly over-intense scene. It has all the trappings of a great big “A Hideo Kojima Game” stamped all over it. If you haven’t watched it yet, have a little look below.
It’s not very significant in terms of the game. As far as I can remember you don’t get anything practical or useful as a birthday present. Then again, I reckon a simple “happy birthday” from Sad Mads is especially worthwhile. Of all the birthday gimmicks I’ve seen in video games, this is by far the best and most stupid one. I can’t believe he actually winks at you. Amazing.
Anyway. As I said earlier, I don’t have Death Stranding installed anymore. But I do have my mass-produced anything-but-personal birthday video from last year to watch, and I reckon I’m probably going to make a nice little folder for it in my file manager called “Is it BB’s birthday? No.” so I can watch it again next year. I genuinely don’t believe it will ever be any less enjoyable because it is far too ridiculous. Too weird to live, too rare to die.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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