The PickleBandit's Barrel

The PickleBandit's Barrel

Video Gaming on a Personal Level

Posts filed under Digital Gaming

SNES Classic: Super Metroid Revisited

SM just confirmed what I always felt inside and never wanted to admit; water levels suck. My family surprised me on Christmas with one of the hottest items of the 2017 holiday season, the SNES Classic Edition. After Super Punch Out reminded me that reflexes aren’t forever, I wanted to complete Super Metroid again. I’ve not played SM for… (read more)

Mirror’s Edge and the Greatest Lie Ever Told.

I finished Mirror’s Edge and I supposedly made a change for the better. I think. I decided that I’m on a crusade of sorts. I’ve about 85 games on Steam. I’ve completed 20 of them. I can make any promises, but I’m not going to make any new purchases until I’ve cleared as many as I… (read more)

Five Things About Doom I Keep Forgetting

“Ooh! It’s Doom! I haven’t played Doom in a while…” Those are famous last words. What that usually means is that I’m going to start playing Doom and I will not finish it. But wait a minute…I did complete the SNES version, AND without a save function! Doesn’t that count? Nope. Why? The amazingly good Super… (read more)

Post-Halloween Wrap-Up: Games that creeped me out.

Still shot from Slender: the eight pages

It’s been a hectic and/or stressful time around here and I didn’t get to post this before Halloween. However, I believe that to have a decent blog, one must post with some regularity. I was subbing for a Graphic Design class with a room full of computers. About a quarter of the class was entranced… (read more)

Getting into Gaming, Part Two: Gender…part 1 of 2.

  I predict the first thing many gamers will tell you if you are interested in gaming is, “You should play the classics first, like Super Mario Bros.”. There is merit in this recommendation, the classics have a simple interface and rule-set. However…have you played Super Mario Bros…lately? Let’s make a list, shall we? For… (read more)

Getting Into Gaming, Part One

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was interested in  Digital Gaming, but didn’t know where to begin. Many gave suggestions; I suggested that she pick my brain. This inspired me to answer that very question: What kind of advice would you give to someone who wants to get into gaming? Hmmmmm….. I’ve… (read more)

5 Games that Scared the S**t Out of Me

Handheld LCD Casper the Ghost game.

Casper: the dopest ghost.

I did write that part of this blog was going to be dedicated to my personal connection with gaming; let’s start with one of the most raw and visceral emotions of them all. Fear.

For some the fear in gaming is experienced by getting startled by a stray bullet in Call of Duty or a desperate escape from the planet Zebes in Super Metroid. There are some games that are scary due to their content and setting. A couple of prime examples are Silent Hill 2 and Fatal Frame. As I flesh out this and subsequent lists, I’m sure a few horror, or horror-hybrid games will place. However there are games that are not even close to the horror genre that have left such a lasting impression, it still remains fresh in my memory. There is at least one game on this list that literally ruined my affinity for it, haunted my dreams, and took decades to get over.

5.) Gauntlet II (arcade, 1986)

How could the kick-ass sequel to one of the original multiplayer Hack n’ Slash games (Seriously,there would be no Diablo and Baldur’s Gate if not for it.) frighten anyone? Easy.  Whoever set up the Gauntlet II cabinet at the Time-Out at the West Covina Fashion Plaza set the volume to obscene levels. When I heard the baritone voice of the narrator “WIZARD NEEDS FOOD…BADLY” (when doesn’t he?), it rattled my ten-year old brain meats. After one quarter’s worth, I had had enough and backed away from the devilish machine.

4.) Dragon’s Lair (arcade,1983)

I really enjoy the concept of rooms with monsters, tricks and traps. I like it so much I will probably write about my enjoyment of them in the near future. Dragon’s Lair really did a great job of showing the consequences of slow reflexes and bad decisions in an darkly humorous way.  When the player runs out of lives, the game shows the protagonist (Dirk, the Daring) wilting away into a collapsing skeleton. It doesn’t seem like much now, but to a seven-year old me? It was scary enough that I had to turn my head away at that part. Unfortunately, the game often drew a crowd of spectators (largely in part to a second display on top of the cabinet). I had to pretend I was tying my shoes in order to save face.

 3.) Space Ace (arcade, 1984)

Dear Don Bluth,

Are you trying to ruin my childhood?

First you frighten me with a rotting hero (see: Dragon’s Lair), and now you give me Space Ace. For starters, it’s even harder and more confounding than Dragon’s Lair. What’s scary? When you lose a life the game’s main villain looks right at you (face to face) in the eye and taunts you with his demonic voice. It’s a playground bully without the sand in the mouth.

2.) Doom (SNES, 1995)

I know. The original MS-DOS version is the best looking/sounding version, but nothing tests a gamer’s mettle like a FPS without a save or password feature. If that wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, I still had to contend with Doom‘s dimly lit corridors and feelings of isolation. Plus, to a guy that was raised Catholic, the idea of demons with rocket launchers made my skin prickle just a little: hardened space marine or not.

 1.) Venture (Colecovision,1982)

Evil Otto from Berzerk often gets mentioned as one creepy customer. However, the one that stands above Otto’s smiling carcass is the Lovecraftian horror known as the HALLMONSTER. The goal in Venture was to guide your bow-equipped smiley face into various rooms to steal treasure and run. Outside roaming the halls in between the rooms are the hallmonsters: invulnerable tentacled creatures that are green and mean. In essence, Venture is the love child of Pac-Man and Berzerk. If you overstay your welcome in a room (after defeating what’s inside), the hallmonster will come thorough the walls making a terrible humming sound and chase after you. I really remember enjoying this game on the Colecovision, until I really bad dream about the hallmonster ruined that (remember, I was six years!). For the next thirty years, whenever I heard a sound similar to that I would get anxious. It wasn’t until this year that I decided to face my fears and play Venture via emulation. Seriously, I was a nervous wreck and I had to stand steadfast against my fears. I told myself that I’m a grown adult with two kids that have fears of their own. It’s my job as a parent to allay their fears, so I must do that same for me. At the end of it all, I had a really good time with it, and yes…I did get over my decades-long fear. It’s this emerging maturity that really characterizes the older gamer, and play helps us deal with these raw feelings. The wonderful thing about Video Games is that we can deal with our fears and (for the most part) come up on top with talent, brains and a bit of luck.



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