Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why Water Is The Most Terrifying Video Game Enemy Ever

When it comes to making virtual worlds, game programmers can do whatever they want. They have absolute freedom. They can concoct a terrifying monster, they can give you the ability to fly, they can provide you with the catalyst to live out all of your Rambo-esque fantasies. They can build entire cities, dense jungles, or underground temples. They can hide Easter eggs anywhere they please, they can fill the dialogue with classic video game in-jokes, and thanks to recent technology, you can have sex with prostitutes, followed by murdering them and taking your money back.



However, even though I appreciate the creativity that goes into even the worst games (because let's be honest, it's hard to make a compelling video game, especially these days), there is one thing that I hate so much that it's literally a deal-breaker for me in some games. I'm talking about water.

I love horror games. The only kind of game I love more than a good horror game is a good, challenging platformer. I got more excited during this past E3 from watching footage of Dead Space 3 and Resident Evil 6 than I did anything else. But you know what? If one of those games has a section that requires me to be underwater with enemies, there's a good chance that I'll get so stressed out that I'll either turn the game off or ask someone else to play that section for me.

Now, this fear I have didn't become realized until the advent of 3-D worlds. I can handle swimming levels in 2-D games just fine, and I think it has to do with controls. In the old school platformers, the controls in water were practically identical to the controls on land. In the case of the NES, the button you used to jump was the same one you used to swim upward, makes sense. When it comes to 3-D games, however, you usually need to learn a new set of controls when encountering a swimming section. No matter how many 3-D Mario titles I play, I always have trouble getting acclimated to the controls again.

But getting used to the controls is my own problem. It's really just about stress. It may be because I have an oxygen meter, or because I have to fight enemies, but being underwater in games just stresses me out. The first instance I can think of is in the Sega Genesis Sonic games. In this case, though, it has absolutely nothing to do with the oxygen meter, absolutely nothing to do with the enemies, and everything to do with that terrifying music when Sonic is about to be deep-sixed. You know the music I'm talking about.

I still hear that music in my nightmares, followed by the horrifying visage of Sonic's slow, agonizing death. The fear continued with Ecco the Dolphin, a game that takes place entirely underwater. Why did that game scare me? Because sharks, bro. Then once games got into the 3-D space, Tomb Raider II came along and traumatized me forever. Ecco the Dolphin is understandable, because he's a dolphin, he belongs in the water. But the first time I got attacked by a shark in Tomb Raider, that was it. No thank you, sir. I turned the game off, and never returned to it. Stupid Lara Croft, there's a reason you don't go underwater, because that's where God put all the monsters. Seriously, have you seen some of the stuff that washed up on the shores after all the tsunamis in recent years?


You can't look at that thing and then tell me that it's not a monster. That thing has about 7 SyFy original movies in production about it at this very moment. I don't know what species or family this fish belongs to, so I made one up that seems the most fitting, and I've decided to call it "Satan's Nightmare Fuel."

I've always been fascinated by Greek mythology, and one of my favorite movies of all-time is Clash of the Titans. Not the 2010 remake disaster, but the 1981 original, the one that had real thespians like Burgess Meredith (Rest in peace, Mick). That movie still rocks from top to bottom, and if you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself. It was one of those movies that was always on television when I was a kid, and I never passed up an opportunity to watch it. The giant scorpions, the Stygian Witches, Cerberus, Medusa, Calibos, this movie had some amazing villains and awesome stop-motion effects. But the highlight of the film was definitely the Kraken, the most terrifying creature from ancient mythology.


Look at that thing...just awesome! Being the mythology buff that I am, I was pumped to play the original God of War back in 2005. Then I realized something. I said to myself "I'm probably going to have to fight the Kraken." Then I remembered that the Kraken came from the water, and I'm probably going to have to go into the water to kill it.....F that! The Kraken did make an appearance in the sequel, and I was beyond happy to find that I didn't have to follow it into the depths. But the God of War series, despite being a personal favorite series of mine, is also one that I find myself with feelings of unease to. I'm yet to play Ghost of Sparta, but in the four titles I've played, there is always a swimming section. Going back and playing them now, I have no problems, but upon the first playthrough, my stress level is at an all-time high because I didn't know what to expect. The swimming sections are mostly pointless in the series, except in the original, which is also the only title in the series that has obstacles and things that can kill you.

Remember Kingfin from Super Mario Galaxy? Yeah, he was terrifying. Remember El Lago from Resident Evil 4? Horrific. Remember swimming with Emma in Metal Gear Solid 2? That's the reason my hair started turning gray.

Have you ever heard of Leviathan? The most terrifying thing ever thought up by anybody ever? He's mentioned in the Bible as a giant monster. In Satanism he is one of the four princes of Hell. You know where Leviathan lives? The water. I rest my case.

I'm not scared of water in my every day life. I'm not afraid to go swimming...in pools. Screw the ocean, man. When I'm in a pool, the worst thing that'll happen is I run into some urine or I see a very hairy, sweaty man walking around. But I still prefer that over being swallowed whole by Nessie.


The face of evil!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Top 5 Workout Albums Ever

For anyone who reads my blogs, it's quite apparent to you that I am very passionate about certain things: pro wrestling, video games, The Simpsons, etc. But two things that I enjoy go hand-in-hand, two things that I partake in every single day. I am of course referring to working out, and heavy metal. I've been working out regularly for almost ten years now, and right when I first started, my taste in music went from metal to RAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!! Basically what I'm saying is that I started listening to heavier and heavier bands. I went from a mostly nu-metal fan (Korn, Limp Bizkit) to a straight up "Hey, let's put on some metal and fight something" type of metal fan. And there is nothing that can psyche you up to lift serious amounts of weight than these five albums...

5. Chimaira - The Impossibility of Reason


This album came out right before I graduated high school, so it was a mainstay in my car's CD player the last weeks of my high school career. I had listened to their previous album Pass Out of Existence, and I had enjoyed it for what it was, but it wasn't until Impossibility was released that I absolutely fell in love with the band. From the opening track to the final 12-minute medley, it's one of the best metal albums of the early 2000s, and still gets regular play on my iPod. I got to see them live a little over a year ago, and they played more songs from this one than any of their others, and rightfully so, it's brutal from beginning to end. When "Down Again" is the softest song on your album, you know you've created a monster metal album, and the song "Pure Hatred" has defined what Chimaira is: a whirlwind of destruction, which is why they close all of their live shows with this track. It doesn't get more metal than a chorus where the singer simply screams "I. Hate. Everyone." This is definitely a good option if you're going to the gym angry.

Additional awesome tracks:


"Pictures in the Gold Room"

"Eyes of a Criminal"

4. Throwdown - Vendetta


I discovered Throwdown in around 2005 when I was really into the straight edge thing, back before the word "throwdown" was synonymous with MMA apparel. I don't remember how I discovered them, but it was most likely because of MySpace or my friend Adam Buell introducing them to me. Vendetta hits all of the themes I like to hear when I'm at the gym, themes of loyalty, respect, supremacy, and discipline. They reminded me a lot of Hatebreed, which is a plus for any band. Throw in guest vocals from Howard Jones, the best metal singer of this generation, and you have a winner. The band has evolved in the years since Vendetta, and I would go as far as to say that their latest effort, Deathless, is the closest thing you're going to get to a modern day Pantera. But this album is definitely their magnum opus.

Additional awesome tracks:

"We Will Rise"


"Give My Life"

3. As I Lay Dying - Powerless Rise


It's no secret to anyone that As I Lay Dying is my favorite band, so they were bound to make an appearance on this list eventually. Every album they put out is better than the previous one, and they're live show is one of the most intense things you'll every experience. The amount that they've evolved over the last decade is astounding, and The Powerless Rise will be hard to top. The album never lets up, even their "softer" songs still pack a powerful punch. Most bands in metalcore these days sound identical, and there's a reason As I Lay Dying have emerged as the leaders of the genre, most notable of reasons being Tim Lambesis' vocals. You'll be hard-pressed to find anyone in music who sounds like him. Combine that with some truly inspiring lyrics, and you have my personal favorite album of the past 10 years.

Additional awesome tracks:



"Upside Down Kingdom"

2. Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power


The album cover speaks for itself. If you're not familiar with this album, shame on you. Pantera is the reason I am who I am today, because they were the first metal band I ever heard, and I instantly fell in love. Every metal fan is familiar "The Big 4" of the 80s: Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. But when it came to defining metal in the 90s, the majority of the credit goes to Pantera. Even if you're not very familiar with them, I guarantee you've at least heard one of the songs from VDoP. Other than the final track, the entire album is testosterone in musical form. It's all about anger, frustration, stress, and getting all of that negativity out of your system. Pantera will never be duplicated, it was a matter of all the stars aligning and bringing the best musicians together to form a beast with unlimited fury. If you look up "Heavy metal" in the dictionary, there should just be a picture of "Dimebag" Darrell shredding on his Washburn. No band better represents what metal stands for.

Additional awesome tracks:

"Mouth For War"

"A New Level"

"F**king Hostile"

1. Hatebreed - Perseverance


This album punches you in the face as soon as it starts, it doesn't even give you a chance to get settled in. If you're wondering where my man-crush on Jamey Jasta began, look no further. The man has written more motivating songs than Bill Conti. My favorite memory pertaining Perseverance was when I brought it in for morning weightlifting in high school. I played the first song, and everyone got mad at me and made me take it out...we spent the rest of the workout listening to Incubus, because there's nothing more motivating than listening to a skinny dude wailing "Wish You Were Here." When I saw how angry everyone got, I knew I would forever love Hatebreed. Perseverance is an album based on just that: persevering, and it's received more play time at the gym than any other. It's a mainstay on my gym rotation, and I seek it out whenever I need an extra boost. This is, quite simply, THE workout album.

Additional awesome tracks



"Remain Nameless"

The Most Iconic Images In Pro Wrestling History: Part One

There are certain moments in history that we all will never forget. Things like the Twin Towers going down, Michael Jordan hitting the game-winning shot against the Jazz in Game 6, the moon landing, or the "Miracle on Ice." For me, however, it seems like the majority of the images that are burned into my memory are from the world of professional wrestling (not surprising, I know). There have been so many great images in wrestling history that this will in no way be the only article I dedicate to these beautiful moments in time. With that said, let's get started

"The Irresistible Force Meets The Immovable Object"


If you're roughly my age and grew up as a wrestling fan, this image needs no explanation. Two legends meeting in the ring in the main event of WrestleMania in front of a sold out crowd at the Pontiac Silverdome. In one corner, you have the Hulkster, who at the time (and still today) was one of the most recognizable faces on the planet. Charisma that can't be matched, the bleached-blonde hair and mustache, the trademark yellow trunks, Hulk Hogan was the man.

In the other corner stands the largest and most well-respected professional wrestler of all-time: Andre the Giant, managed by the most diabolical of men, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Some would argue that the image of Hogan slamming Andre would be a better image, but if there's anything I love in wrestling, it's a good stare down.

A Star is Born


You may think that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin became a star when he defeated Jake "The Snake" Roberts at the 1996 King of the Ring, where he coined his "Austin 3:16" catchphrase. But for my money, I would say Austin became a true superstar during his match with Bret Hart at WrestleMania 13. I remember watching this live on pay-per-view at the age of 11 with my eyes wide and my jaw on the floor. This is my earliest recollection of seeing that amount of blood in a wrestling match. I was rooting for Bret in the match, and even though he did wind up winning, his victory was secondary to the fact that Austin refused to give up. Seeing the blood dripping from his face, down the front of his teeth, and onto the mat in one I'll never forget.

Best. Entrance. Ever.


I've always been attracted to "dark" things. Things like metal music, horror films, etc. So it's no wonder to me why I've always been awestruck by the Undertaker. In my opinion, he's the greatest of all-time, it's not even a contest. The Deadman's undefeated streak at WrestleMania is always the biggest attraction of the show these days, and every year they try to make his entrance bigger and better, but in my opinion, nothing can match the first time they brought out the druids and torches for his first ever encounter with his brother, Kane.

Celebrating Life


This will probably go down in history as the saddest image in wrestling history. If you're reading this, then you're probably a wrestling fan, and if you're a wrestling fan, then you undoubtedly already know the outcome of these two individuals' lives, so I won't say anything about that. This was at WrestleMania 20, and the end of a 16-year journey for Chris Benoit to receive the recognition he had long deserved. His best friend, Eddie Guerrero, had a similar tale, and had won the WWE Title one month earlier. Even today, despite what became of Benoit, and what happened to Eddie, I still fight back tears when Benoit is handed the belt for the first time, turns around, and sees his best friend there to congratulate him.

"The Boyhood Dream Has Come True"


There is a large amount of people who think that Shawn Michaels is the single greatest professional wrestler of all-time. At WrestleMania 12, after coming out victorious in a 60-minute Ironman match with Bret Hart, he definitely staked his claim. There are very few men who can have as good of a match for that period of time, and I would count this match as the best Ironman match ever. There is no doubt that Shawn Michaels is a legend, and he took a big step toward cementing his legacy with this incredible match, and seeing how emotional he was after the win, capturing the WWE Heavyweight Championship for the first time, is something you don't see very often.



I was never a huge Goldberg fan. But over the years, I've become less close-minded, I now realize that Goldberg needed to happen. There needed to be a bulldozer who just destroyed his opponents. One thing that a lot of people not involved in the business don't understand is that becoming a huge superstar is as much about your character as it is your in-ring skills, and Goldberg's entrance was always a sight to behold. The pyro surrounded him, and as soon as it stopped, you would see him breathe the smoke out of his nose like a raging bull and let out a primal scream. His intensity was unmatched, and his entrance was the calm before the storm.

The Macho Man and the First Lady of Wrestling


The "Macho Man" Randy Savage is one of the greatest wrestlers ever, and as far as charisma goes, few could compare. Elizabeth, his wife, was the precursor to what you see as Divas today. At one point, they had parted ways, Macho Man turned heel, and all was wrong with the world. When Macho's new manager, Sensational Sherri, had turned her back on Randy, it was Liz who came back to claim her man, and the two were reunited. This was one of the most emotional moments in wrestling history, and the last time I recall seeing fans cry.

Part two of this series coming soon.