Category Archives: List

Six Reasons Why Having an Anxiety Disorder is Bullshit

UPDATE 2/7/2014: Hey, as you read this, make a note of the date this was posted. This is a pretty old piece now and while it perfectly captures the state I was in at the time, a lot can change in three years. Just keep that in mind.

UPDATE 5/30/2013: Just an FYI, I don’t check this site a whole lot anymore but I’ve re-posted this piece at my new blog located here: http://rambohiggles.com/blog/2013/2/28/six-reasons-why-having-an-anxiety-disorder-is-bullshit

Like just about any nerd out there, I grew up with the constant knowledge that I was “different.” I’ve always been shy and quiet; I’ve also gone to great lengths to avoid uncomfortable situations and once or twice a year I have a full-on anxiety attack in the form of a huge tantrum.

Only in the last few years have I really found something to blame for all the things that made me feel like such a weirdo: high anxiety. It’s a small problem when compared to something like, say, addiction or genocide (you know, the standard benchmarks for sizes of problems), but having a constant sense of dread running through your brain is, to say the least, stressful. When that dread becomes too overwhelming, I freak out. These moments aren’t always, necessarily, full-blown panic attacks, but they are uncontrollable fits of nervousness and depression that shut me down for a day or two as my brain frantically sorts through all of its bullshit and buries me underneath.

High anxiety is such complete bullshit. It’s real and it isn’t at the same time. It’s in your head, but it also takes an actual, physical toll. It’s a construction of the mind, but it feels as tangible as a brick wall, where the bricks are made of mithril and the wall is covered in adamantium spikes and manned by rabid velociraptors armed with rapid-fire grenade launchers.

So what, exactly, makes high anxiety such bullshit? Well, for starters…. Continue reading

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For the Love of the Games: Three Reasons you Should Play El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron

The beautiful and divisive El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron… that’s the game I’ll be convincing you to play in this entry of For the Love of the Games, the bi-weekly column (or monthly… I’m still figuring it out, so bear with me and enjoy your free content) in which I give you X number of reasons why you should play an overlooked, under-appreciated or (sometimes) just straight-up bad game. Why would you do such a thing? Because if you love games as much as I do, you want your gaming horizon to be as panoramic as possible.

El Shaddai is a character action game from Takeyasu Sawaki, one of the creators of Devil May Cry and Okami, two of the classic-est classic games ever made, the latter of which is a torch carried by games-are-art snobs the world over (and if that bothers you, then boy are you going to hate the rest of this article).

The game itself is loosely based an an apocryphal text from the Old Testament. (“Apocryphal” is Bible-talk for “redacted,” which is government-talk for “Popes will decide what’s important for you to know”). It tells the story of Enoch, a human tasked by Heaven to track down seven fallen Angels who are corrupting humanity before He (that’s right, the capital H “He”… you know who I’m talking about) floods the world, which is apparently His solution for f***ing everything.

Now when I say that El Shaddai is “loosely” based on a Biblical text, I want to make it clear what “loosely” means. Yes, there are Angels and a guy named Enoch… but there’s also lots of Karate-fightin’, motorcycles, robots, designer jeans, and cute, cannibalistic monsters that look like they emerged fully-formed from Hayao Miyazaki’s butt… so… yeah, I guess it’s pretty much what you’d expect the Bible to look like in a Japanese video game. There’s even a Voltron in there.

El ShaddaiBehold the Divine Bulge of Enoch

El Shaddai’s critical reception was pretty split at its release. Some praised its beautiful visuals and bold design; others derided its repetitive combat and simplistic platforming. Regardless of its faults, here are three reasons why you should play El Shaddai, if only for the love of the games.

Note: This article is full of minor gameplay spoilers, which kind of subverts the argument I’m making — that you should play El Shaddai because of its consistently unexpected scenarios. Oh well, but if you want to go in totally cold, then you probably shouldn’t read this. Boy, I’d make a great pitch-man. Continue reading

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Five Reasons why Catherine is my Biggest Disappointment of 2011

Recently, after much anticipation, I finally got around to playing Catherine, one of my most-anticipated games of 2011.

Boy… what a piss-off that was.

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot spoilers galore for Catherine.

Catherine banner

If you’re unaware, Catherine is a thematically ambitious game about relationships, (in)fidelity and becoming an adult. The game relates this mature tale through the classic gaming tradition of the block-pushing puzzle, which is kind of like gaming’s iambic pentameter. Or whatever.

Kind of like how the Legend of Zelda games are actually about Link, Catherine is about Vincent, a 30-something man struggling to navigate a rapidly-developing relationship with his longtime, pregnant girlfriend Katherine, who’s pressuring him to settle down and start a family. After a late night of drinking, Vincent has a one-night stand with 22-year old blonde bombshell Catherine, and his world is turned upside down when, every night after, he’s forced to endure a series of life-threatening nightmares meant to test and punish unfaithful men.

These nightmares force Vincent to navigate a tower of falling blocks, frantically sorting them into something climbable so as to reach the top and not fall to his death. See? Block-pushing. Escaping towards a goal, navigating a life-threatening situation, pressure and fear propelling Vincent ever upward — ohhh! It’s a metaphor! Games are doing that now! Continue reading

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For the Love of the Games: Four Reasons you Should Play Nier

This is For the Love of the Games. What is that? I’m glad I asked. For the Love of the Games is a new column in which I’m going to give you X number of reasons why you should play a largely overlooked and/or justifiably-considered “bad” game.

Sometimes I’m trying to shine some light on a hidden gem, sometimes I’m digging through a game’s muck to find what little redeeming quality it has, and other times I’m simply exploring a game as an example of what not to do.

Basically, if you think one of these is a game not worth playing, I’m here to tell you why you are wrong and should die peacefully in your sleep (just because I want you to die doesn’t mean I’m sort of monster) knowing that you are forever and objectively wrong.

In this first column, I’m giving you four reasons why you should play Nier, a little-known Square Enix game from 2010 that, at first glance, seems largely forgettable. White-haired anime hero with a big sword, frail white-haired anime girl you need to save, an overly-sexualized white-haired warrior chick — pretty much all you’d expect from a JRPG of little renown. But, as I previously stated, you’re wrong.

Here are four reasons why Nier is worth playing, simply for the love of the games.

Oh yeah, and I’m spoiling the fecal matter out of this game, so — you’ve been warned. Continue reading

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Three Reasons you Should Play Winter Voices (Even Though it Kinda Sucks)

If you’ve been reading my not-reviews of Winter Voices: Avalanche, then you already know how I feel about the game. If you haven’t been reading them then I’ll humor you by legislating this introduction to the lowest common denominator ( you lazy reader, you). More studied readers can skip ahead to the next paragraph. To you, lazy reader, I say that I did not care for Winter Voices: Avalanche. It was boring and grueling and taxing and frustrating and exhausting.

It was also smart as a whip, ideologically brilliant, and well worth playing for anyone who considers themselves a connoisseur of electronic virtual gamez. Here are three reasons why the game deserves mad props, daddio, handily doubling as three lessons game designers could learn from it. Convenient how that worked out…. Continue reading

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