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Eight videogames and the body parts they hurt

10:35 PM on 10.27.2010 // Chad Concelmo

Every review I have read of recent indie platformer Super Meat Boy has had one thing in common: almost all of them -- including our own! -- have mentioned how brutal the game is on the reviewers’ own fingers.

Strange thing to bring up in a videogame review -- the way the game affects your real world body parts.

But after playing the game over and over (and over) again, I realized: the reviewers were right. After clutching the controller as tight as humanly possible to navigate the game’s brutally beautiful levels, and pressing down on the run button with all the force of an angry gibbon’s gnarled death grip, my fingers did hurt. They hurt a lot.

You really do finish each gameplay session of Super Meat Boy shaking your hand and wondering why your entire hand hurts as much as it does.

And all of this got me thinking: What other videogames over the years have taken their toll on gamers’ physical bodies? Outside of clutching the controller too tight, are there any games that have hurt you and left your poor body black and blue? (Or, less dramatically, just a little sore?)

Every review I have read of recent indie platformer Super Meat Boy has had one thing in common: almost all of them -- including our own! -- have mentioned how brutal the game is on the reviewers’ own fingers.

Strange thing to bring up in a videogame review -- the way the game affects your real world body parts.

But after playing the game over and over (and over) again, I realized: the reviewers were right. After clutching the controller as tight as humanly possible to navigate the game’s brutally beautiful levels, and pressing down on the run button with all the force of an angry gibbon’s gnarled death grip, my fingers did hurt. They hurt a lot.

You really do finish each gameplay session of Super Meat Boy shaking your hand and wondering why your entire hand hurts as much as it does.

And all of this got me thinking: What other videogames over the years have taken their toll on gamers’ physical bodies? Outside of clutching the controller too tight, are there any games that have hurt you and left your poor body black and blue? (Or, less dramatically, just a little sore?)

Grab a Band-Aid and hit the jump for the painful details.{{page_break}}

As mentioned, the stunningly awesome Super Meat Boy is brutal on your fingers. After my first bout of post-game finger cramping, I thought this had to do with the shape and fit of the Xbox 360 controller. But then I realized there have been 70 to 80 hour role-playing games I have played on the 360 (in marathon sessions!) that have not resulted in the same level of digital fatigue.

Super Meat Boy is the kind of platformer that relies on such precise movement, you don’t even realize you are gripping the controller and pushing down on the buttons as hard as you are ... until hours have passed and your hopes of enjoying a good old-fashioned night of masturbation ends in nothing but painful disappointment.

I have two "fond" memories of the NES Power Pad accessory:

1. Running on the pad while playing World Class Track Meet and absolutely exhausting myself (in particular, my legs) in the process.

2. Slipping and falling on said Power Pad -- nearly cracking my head open on the corner of an end table -- because it was sitting on a slick floor, resulting in the always safe accessory completely sliding out from under my feet.

Thanks, Power Pad. You almost killed me.

There is a single-player minigame in the original Mario Party called “Mecha Fly Guy”.

In it, you have to rotate the analog stick on the Nintendo 64 controller as many times as possible to windup a Fly Guy and see how far it will fly across the screen.

Oh, here, just watch a video of it in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SII_19371Kg

Do you hear that sound in the background between :03 and :14? That is the sound of the person playing placing their palm on the top of the plastic analog stick and spinning it around as fast as they can.

It is easily the best technique for mastering the minigame ... but IT ACTUALLY RIPS THE SKIN OFF THE PALM OF YOUR HAND!

I am not kidding. My poor palms were raw after playing this minigame over and over again.

It’s no surprise this torturous minigame never made another appearance in any future Mario Party sequel. So painful.

Imagine you are sitting in front of your television playing Sonic Adventure 2. Your headphones are turned up nice and loud.

Suddenly, you reach the Wild Canyon stage:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44diYY_y8Wc

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! MAKE IT STOP!

Elebits is one of those cute, quirky games that never sells well, but I absolutely adore. When it was first announced for the Wii (and released only a few weeks after the console launch) I knew I had to pick it up. The unique action/puzzle/FPS hybrid looked like something I would love.

I never suspected the game would permanently damage my poor wrist.

About halfway through Elebits, my wrist was hurting so bad from the constant pointing, twisting, and shaking of the Wiimote that I truly felt like it was going to stop working. Like, it would just snap in two, leaving my sad hand to just ... hang there.

Yet, for some reason, I kept playing!

I think I eventually wrapped my wrist in a band and rested it on a pillow to get through the rest of the game.

Let me type that one more time: I wrapped my wrist in a band and rested it on a pillow to get through the rest of the game. All of that to finish Elebits. ELEBITS!

<sigh>

Not only do I still own (and occasionally play!) my Virtual Boy, I actually -- brace yourself! -- kind of like some of the games on it. Granted, there were only, like, four games ever released for Nintendo's doomed-from-the-start 3D helmet-thingy "portable" console, but two of those I really, really like. Mario Clash and Virtual Boy Wario Land are amazing games and pretty ahead of their time (the depth gameplay in both is revolutionary and widely underappreciated).

But ... I can't defend the horrible headaches and eyestrain caused by the Virtual Boy. Oh God, the headaches were (and still are!) so bad.

After playing Mario Clash for more than an hour at one point I think I took my head away from the system and saw nothing but spinning images and bright white spots.

I think I even saw my dead grandmother calling for me.

I was also dizzy.

FUN!

Oh, you know you and your Xbox 360 controller have tried what I am referring to at least once when playing Rez HD. Everyone has. You were in college. You had a glass of wine. You were curious.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, you have either never experienced the rumble-tastic game ... or you are lying.

True, the Addams Family Generator is not so much a videogame as an arcade monstrosity, but it is one of the most odd and painful interactive nightmares I have ever experienced. That alone warrants its inclusion on this list.

Basically, the Addams Family Generator is a giant arcade cabinet with two metal handles. After selecting a power level (low, medium, or high), the player grabs the handles and the machine proceeds to shock you.

Now, real electricity does not flow through the machine -- the handles just vibrate so fast it mimics a shocking sensation -- but, damn, if it doesn't make you hurt all over.

Many people will say the Addams Family Generator is nothing and doesn't hurt a bit.

Those people are tough.

I am not.

Just ask some fellow Destructoid editors, who watched me use the Addams Family Generator at Disneyland.

I screamed.

A lot.

So, what do you think? Did any of these games hurt you as much as they did me? Do you have any other examples of games that had their way with your physical body? (Hot.)

Discuss in the comments!



Chad Concelmo,
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