Adventurers and Ailments

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm
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Adventure and deathly illness go hand in hand.

Adventure is a double-edged sword. I mean, sure, everybody loves adventure in theory. It sounds so thrilling and sexy, a word that signifies the kind of endlessly exciting lives we all wish we could lead. We imagine adventure as a crazy series of high-stakes events that helps our true selves to emerge, that makes all the powerlessness and pettiness of living in a nice, boring society drop away, that reveals the stoic hero underneath. Therefore, we all kind of wish we could drop everything and go on an adventure.

So why isn't everyone quitting their day jobs to comb the ocean floor for shipwreck salvage or to collect rare rainforest spiders? When I tell my friends a story about an "adventure" I had recently, the end of the story usually less like, "And then I sunk my sword deep into the traitor's heart!!" and more like, "And then it just scrambled off into the night... if it wasn't a possum, it was a really nasty-looking cat, you guys." Why is that?

Well, it's because real adventures are fucking dangerous.

They seem so cool to us because there's nothing more compelling than life-or-death struggle, and the possibility of death or severe injury is really what any good adventure is about. But at the same time, those of us living comfortably in a First World country spend pretty much every waking hour doing everything we can to minimize our chance of sudden death.


This is where our buddy fiction comes in. With fiction, we can do things like fight dystopian governments or lead medieval revolts from the safety of our living rooms. Video games, allowing the player to assume (direct) control of a character, are perhaps the best medium to experience adventure and the dangers that go with it vicariously through fictional figures. And so, in video games, often the danger quotient is very high, because the more danger, usually, the grander the adventure.

But sometimes the perils of video games get to be a little much. There are a billion afflictions you can endure through the pantheon of video gaming, and here I've gathered a few of the most memorable, lest you forget how comfortable your day to day existence can be, and why you crave the cool, intoxicating sense of adventure that comes with flipping on your Xbox, PS3, PC or Nintendo.

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The fact that Ness has a mushroom growing from his head doesn't stop the dangerous hobo Everdred from challenging him to a fistfight.

In video games, archers and swordsmen aren't the only thing intrepid heroes have to contend with. In some games, they can actually be set upon by germs. GERMS. Usually these germs are transferred to the player's party by contact with an enemy that's ill. And, it turns out, ghouls trying to eat your brains spread adventurer rot like junior high-schoolers making out spreads mono.

One of the weirdest enemy-borne sicknesses is probably Earthbound's head-mushroom, which makes one feel a little funky. It can only be cured by a mushroom collector plucking it off the top of your skull and paying you for it.

The effects of the head-mushroom are the same as an RPG mainstay, "confusion." A fair amount of RPGs will have an enemy that make one of the heroes "confused." This doesn't just mean that they forgot where they put their keys or that they just watched Inception. It means that they are full-on, entirely wrong in the head and usually cannot discern between friend and foe.

Being "confused" in RPG terms is less like confusion and more like having some type of massive stroke that destroys your ability to tell people from hats or form actual thoughts, but leaves you somehow still able to swing a katana correctly. Having more than one party member "confused" in an RPG is about as infuriating as video games can get.

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Sometimes you bring video game sickness upon yourself.

In Mass Effect 2 there's an optional bit where our hero Commander Shepard can chug like ten shots of Krogan testicle ale or something and then pass out. While certainly not integral to the storyline, this bit does illustrate another facet of video game ailments -- the self-inflicted condition. Similarly, in Deus Ex, nano-augmented super-soldier JC Denton has the option to smoke ten packs of cigarettes in a span of about three seconds and kill himself (and anyone near him).  Take this as a lesson, kids -- don't start! Otherwise you may find yourself in a dark alley sometime in the not-so-distant future, lighting up 60 or 80 cigs to get a puff of that sweet, brain-murdering nicotine.

Adventure sprouts from danger, as we've already mentioned. But where that danger comes from is entirely up to the adventurer. It may come from Dodongos or Goombas, sure... or it may come from within, as these examples illustrate.

Which is why there's no greater adventure than...

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Yoshi practices irresponsible childcare.

This.  In Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Yoshi can get waaaaaay high by touching these fuzzy guys called... "fuzzy." Yoshi is carrying a baby that happens to be the future savior of the Mushroom Kingdom. That's right -- Yoshi is essentially providing a baked babysitting service.

If that's not adventure, I don't want to know what is.



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