When she's hurtling around the oval at the Dane County Coliseum, dodging elbows and body-checking opponents to cut through the pack and score points, Mouse, one of the original tough-n'-colorful skaters with Madison's Mad Rollin' Dolls roller derby league, can't summon blue bubble shields, water balloons and a trio of skeletal fireball skaters to help her plant opponents on their butts.
Although there are plenty of times I'm sure she wishes she could.
Her digital avatar, on the other hand, has all of these and more. Mouse is one of five current and former Mad Rollin' Dolls whose digital likenesses appear in Jam City Rollergirls, a new downloadable game for the Nintendo Wii released on Monday as part of Nintendo's weekly Wiiware menu. The four-year brainchild of Green Bay game developers Frozen Codebase, Jam City is, amazingly, the first-ever videogame based on the Women's Flat Track Roller Derby Association.
"It's surreal to be part of this after having been part of roller derby," says 29-year-old Mouse. Jam City Rollergirls also features digital versions of four other skaters from the league's all-star Dairlyand Dolls squad: Chop Suzzy (now with the Vaudeville Vixens), Carrie A. Hacksaw (now with the Brewcity Bruisers), CJ (now with the Texas Rollergirls), and the recently retired Jewels of De Nile (formerly of the Unholy Rollers). Players who win enough jams in the game can earn cash to outfit their virtual skater with things like new skates, fishnets and jewelry. Mouse, for one, is happy to stick with her trademark bullet necklace and white skates.
Mouse admits she's not much of a videogamer, and she hasn't had time to play the game herself since its Monday release, although she did check out the full-fledged demo version at an event this fall. The verdict so far? "I thought it was a lot of fun."
She's also satisfied with the way the game captures the essence of the sport she's been playing since 2004. "Of course, compromises had to be made to make it playable, nuances to the rules and that sort of thing," she adds.
We're guessing she's probably referring to the game's various and sundry Mario Kart-esque touches: The aforementioned power-ups the skaters can pick up and use to knock each other silly, and the wacky-ass tracks laden with ridiculous ramps and some of the most bizarre rink settings ever. Try a sewer, a meat-packing factory with blood scrawled all over the walls, and a dairyland-themed rack that features metal milk bottles and roaming tractors and cows. Moo.
Jam City was clearly designed, and plays much better, as a multiplayer exercise, where crafty in-game strategies like Wiimote-waggling whiplash tosses among teammates can wreak havoc on the opposition. Skating solo often means you'll find yourself skating way out in front of everyone, hoping to circle back to the pack for some melee action before the two-minute jam timer hits zero.
Time (and the market) will tell if Frozen Codebase will be able to skate their $10 Wiiware download onto bigger platforms like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. In the meantime, the Mad Rollin' Dolls are planning a bash at the Inferno on Tuesday, February 8, to celebrate the release of Jam City Rollergirls. Jewels, Mouse and Chop Suzzy will be on hand to school newbies in the game, and we hear they'll also be raffling off a Wii. Skate on over and check it out.