"To the right! The right! Hurry!"
"I'm trying! Stop pushing me, gosh!" Nagisa shouted as she punched the colorful icons moving across the screen with her thumbs like crazy.
Right now, she and Jun were sitting on the sofa playing King of Beats, the newest mobile rhythm game released by Platform X. Jun was stretched over her shoulder, yelling instructions in her ear and cheering every time she managed to score a combo.
"It's green! Swipe it!"
Two 50-point green slide icons had just appeared, but despite her best efforts, Nagisa ended up missing one.
Perhaps starting from the hard level on her first try wasn't a good idea after all. She could barely keep up with the regular 10-point beat squares, let alone the upper-level icons zipping down the display.
"I can't do this!"
"Don't give up! Look, only thirty seconds left!" Jun pointed at the timer in the corner. "Hang in there, Nagisa!"
"Ah- Darn! Missed it again!" she groaned, clicking her tongue angrily.
"What the heck are you guys yelling about?" A puzzled Yoko entered the living-room holding a tray of drinks and snacks.
"Not now, Yoko!"
"Sorry, but be quiet! You'll mess up her rhythm!"
"That's a fine thing to say to someone whose couch you're jumping on..."
The soundtrack was getting faster as it neared its end, and tapping all the right buttons was proving to be impossible. Both Nagisa and Jun were slipping into panic mode, much to Yoko's bemusement.
"7, 8, 9...180! Alright! We got an S-rank!"
"Yes!" Jun pumped his fist as Nagisa clapped her hands excitedly.
"Nice job," Yoko nodded, setting the tray down on the coffee table.
In all honesty, she couldn't understand why her younger friends were freaking out. It was only a music game, wasn't it?
"Wanna try playing a round?" Jun held out the phone towards Yoko. "I think you'd be great at this."
"Yep!" Nagisa agreed. "You have a good sense of rhythm."
Yoko gave them a strange look. As a novelist, she had little reason to play digital games, and it'd been years since she last touched a console. Why on earth did they think she'd want to play this game too, let alone be good at it?
"Just give it a shot. It'll be fun," Jun grinned.
After another minute of prodding from the other two, Yoko caved in and sat down between them with Nagisa's phone in her hands.
"So...what do I do?"
"First, you go to "Menu" and choose your level. Then you pick the song you want-"
Jun began carefully explaining the rules to her, while Nagisa pointed out all the different icons she needed to press, especially the ones that could win her the most points. By the time she reached the loading screen, Yoko was somewhat convinced she could handle the gameplay, or at least pass the easy level.
"Get ready! Here it comes!" Nagisa grabbed her shoulder encouragingly as the music started to flow.
"O-Okay," Yoko readied her fingers.
Four hours later-
"C'mon, you're still at Rank C!"
"Gimme a break, guys. I'm on the hard level..."
"Jun got an S-rank at the EXPERT level on his second try! You're on your fifth!"
"I'm already trying my best…"
"Try harder, then!" Jun and Nagisa both shouted, watching Yoko tap, flick, and swipe buttons like there was no tomorrow.
All three teens were determined to keep at it until Yoko achieved S-ranks for every single song on the playlist. None of them imagined they'd be playing until 10 PM, however, nor did they expect to get chased out of the living-room and into their beds by a furious Mr. and Mrs. Hatakeyama, who had come home late.
When Amane and Mamoru heard about this unfortunate incident the next morning, they grimly decided to put off getting new phones for the kids this year. For the sake of world peace.