on May 8, 2013 by I love Japanese games
Sometimes games really hurt to play. Nope, I don’t mean having to suffer an evening of being no-scoped by a team of feral nine year-olds, I mean real, physical pain. Physical pain caused by one of the most sedentary pastimes known to man. Physical pain that’ll make you screw you face up a bit and make whining noises like a little girl…
…no? Just me?
Okay. Well maybe I’m a pussy – but here’s are my top 5 most physically painful to play games anyway…
Metroid Prime Hunters
I remember an interview with Miyamoto once where he said that the DS was made for First Person shooters. I seem to remember him saying the same thing about the Wii too. As much as I like the guy, I think you can file those comments under ‘Stretching the Truth’ along with my F-Zero anecdote below.
Metroid Hunters had two control schemes. ‘Absolute nonsense’ or ‘Take me to the hospital mamma’. Unfortunately, if you wanted to play the game with any degree of skill, you’d have to go with the latter.
This meant you had to play using your supporting hand to move and strafe, and the touch screen to aim and fire making for a horribly uncomfortable set up. I don’t know anyone who could play this game for long without having some kind of convoluted support mechanism to eas the pain.
However, this was exasperated by Hunters’ terrible boss encounters – which were basically two types, repeated and escalating in difficulty. Both of which I’d have to pause, and wait an hour before returning to them – for fear my arms might spasm until they fell off.
I think the closest you can get to this now is playing Kid Icarus on 3DS.
You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘tense’ until you’ve fully cleared this racer. It it is without a doubt the fastest racing game on the planet. It’s also one of the hardest, with ultra-competitive racing and, thanks to the sheer number of competitive racers on the track – throws in a little of the random element that can so easily frustrate.
As a result, extended sessions on this badboy causes you to tense so much with concentration you could crack bowling balls on your forearms.
This is no lie – when I was playing this game at the peak of my powers, my buttocks were clenched so hard that I actually ripped the cushion covers off my seat and snatched them right up my anus.
Oh, okay, that IS a massive lie. The slightly more embarrassing truth is, after a particularly irritating attempt to try to unlock the Arcade tracks, I threw my Wavebird down on the arm the sofa so hard, it ricochet back into the bridge of my nose.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.
Behind Winter, fish bones and boiled sweets, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games is probably responsible for more OAP deaths than anything else.
For the last three Christmases, my dear old Nanna has been ‘pumping Bowser’ down the 100m straight so hard that we have the St John’s Ambulance on standby outside my parents for three days straight.
While she is still very much alive and kicking – my arms and dignity most certainly are not. Like most people, my parents don’t live in the kind of mansion Nintendo and Microsoft so often depict when advertising their jumpy-jumpy-shaky-shaky-console-bits. The reality is ten very sweaty kids, adults and pensioners in a room not much bigger than a closet, jumping up and down and waving their arms around.
There are only really two possible outcomes – on top of biceps that burn hotter than the sun – and that’s Wii-remote-to-face/eye action or, as in my brother’s case, Wii-remote-holding-hand-to-glass-lampshade-action – so he’s flinging trails of blood all up the wallpaper, like some kind of psycho.
Monster Hunter any PSP-version
Not to take anything away from this brilliant series – but the PSP and Monster Hunter are not the most comfortable of bedfellows. If ever there was a perfect case-study of a game not really befitting it’s host hardware – then this is undoubtedly it.
Anyone who’s spent any serious time with this game will know what I mean by the development of ‘The Claw’ – that twisted gnarled formation of your left hand as you attempt to move and manipulate the camera simultaneously.
You can understand why this control scheme was settled on – it’s not like the PSP had many options – but damn was it uncomfortable.
It was exasperated by the fact that Monster Hunter demands that you play in long sessions. It’s not the sort of thing you can just dip in and out of – especially if you’re playing with others. More to the point, when the game gets demanding, using the camera well is absolutely essential to success – and yet doing so can end up being excruciatingly painful.
The left hand simply wasn’t designed for deft use of analogue nubbin and d-pad at the same time. Hundreds of years into the future, confused archaeologists will be unearthing skeletons – all with unusually gnarled stumps where the left hand should have been.
That’s Capcom’s contribution to evolution right there.
Coming from the UK – I wasn’t exactly spoiled for choice when it came to arcade games – so when my local cinema got Time Crisis, I think I spent more time in the lobby playing this than I did watching actual films.
Perhaps my resounding memory of this game however, isn’t how much I enjoyed it – more, how much it made my bloody arms hurt.
I remember being intensely frustrated that, as I progressed though the game, it wasn’t the waves of terrorists that were my biggest enemy – but fatigue. Bicep burning fatigue, as I tried to keep my arms up to better aim as the game got tougher. Constantly twitching the trigger and flicking the gun off to the side to reload. With each passing minute my actions would become increasingly laboured.
With successive updates to the cab in the cinema – and the option of dual wielding – the pain only got greater.
One thing I will say though – videogames do seem to be particularly good at drawing attention away from the ache and on the task at hand. Kinda like some unconscious anaesthetic.
Not that’d recommend videogames as a the best course of pain relief when you’re having your wisdom teeth out mind…
ILJG runs the I Love Japanese Games Facebook Page.
His views are not necessarily those held by Rice Digital or its partners.