For this Monthly Musing
, I'm going to do things a bit different. I've always loved games with all my heart. Playing them has been my main hobby since the age of 4, when I first picked up an NES controller to play Bases Loaded
of all things. It was with my father. But I'm not going to share that heartwarming and wonderful memory with you today, partly because it's not that interesting, and partly because I don't remember the details of it all.
Instead, I'm going to tell you the tale of how I actually lost
interest in gaming. Not altogether mind you - I still played. But not a lot. And even when I was playing, it was usually a sports game or something of that sort, usually with a good friend. It was around 2004 when this really started. I don't really remember a damn thing from that year. Only one thing stands out.
I remember seeing numerous preview videos and images of a new chapter in one of my favorite (and seemingly forgotten) gaming franchises, Resident Evil
. Obviously the title of this blog tells you I am referring to Resident Evil 4
. Seeing one of my favorite characters, Leon, get chased around by a chainsaw wielding
maniac sent chills down my spine, even though it was clear Capcom had ditched the zombies in favor of something new.
I had to play it. I practically counted the days until the game's release, hungrily lapping up any new images or video I could find in preparation of having my mind blown. Needless to say the hype had reached it's peak (at least in my head) right around Christmas of 2004, when I could barely touch the few games I had bothered to ask for that year. All I wanted to do was play this new Resident Evil
game as soon as possible. Not even the revelation that I was going to be a father fazed me. All of that went out the door.
And then, the day came when Resident Evil 4
was unleashed upon the world, instantly racking up tons of awards and rave reviews, which only served to increase my yearning for the game. I tell you, when I popped that sucker in my GameCube and started playing, I almost crapped my pants. The controls felt amazingly smooth in terms of combat, something I could tell just from my first encounter with the Ganados. Then came The Village.
Making a good first impressions is crucial in any game, something the developers of this game clearly know. Here I am walking along, terrified enough of stumbling upon some ax-wielding villagers when I walk right into a whole damn village of them! The fear this provoked from me was and still is the most a game has ever gotten out of me emotionally. I have felt bad for characters and cared about many of them in countless different games, but no game has ever made my heart race and my hands shake like this one.
The sound of a chainsaw was just the icing on the cake for the developers, who used my fear against me in a way I'd never experienced before. Panicking like a little girl lost in the woods, I completely lost my composure for the first time in a video game. I quickly found myself the victim of the greatest video game death I've ever seen when I had my head chopped off. There are many other amazing sequences and boss fights in the game, many of which brought on similar feelings, such as "The Knife Fight" with Krauser, which are of course beloved withing the gaming community. But for me, it was The Village.
Right then and right there, I knew I was hooked again. I fell in love with gaming all over again that year. I quickly reinserted myself back into gamer culture, checking the internet sites constantly to see what the next big game was. Of course, one of my favorite games ever also came out that year, God of War
. It was a few months after RE4
and only helped to reaffirm what I had believed all along through out my life: That games are an art form. They can do things no other form of media can. They can evoke powerful emotions which are enhanced by the fact that you have the control. It's up to you
to save the girl or the world.
Besides all of that, there is certainly no movie or book out there that can recreate the feeling of running from a guy with a chainsaw. And with that, my affair with video games started all over again. For that, I will always love Resident Evil 4