Fear. It doesn’t have to be something jumping out at you, or something chasing you, or even something like a snake (fuck snakes). Fear can also be something as ridiculous as speaking in public, or being alone, or being afraid of pickles like that one girl from that YouTube video that’s been going around for a few years now. Everybody has something they’re afraid of, and if you say you aren’t afraid of anything, then you’re lying to yourself, because everybody has that thing that raises their anxiety level through the goddamn roof that they will do whatever they can to avoid it.
My fear? Water.
Well, that’s a bit vague, so let me expand upon it. Growing up I was a pretty big pussy who was afraid of just about everything, which extended to swimming. I never really had the confidence to swim properly so I’d just flop around and choke on water, which isn’t really fun, especially when you think you’re about to die every single time it happens. It took private lessons for me to finally learn how to swim without killing myself (I was 11). Now at this point in my life, I love swimming, but in pools, and that’s really it. On my honeymoon I went to Hawaii and we took a boat out into open water and I just knew the boat was going to flip over and I was going to drown and die and then probably be eaten by a shark.
All that said, you can probably imagine that I hate water levels in video games. I fucking hate them. They fill me with this horrible anxiety that I realize is stupid and it’s just a video game, but it still takes an incredible amount of focus for me to actually play through them. I’m better now than I used to be, but even recent games like Metal Gear Solid 4’s online had a water/sewer level that just made me freeze up when playing. But the absolute pinnacle of water levels that I am afraid of is the Sewers of the Imperial City in Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire for the Nintendo 64.
SotE came out in 1996, so I was 9 or 10 when I first played it (for those keeping track, that’s still before I knew how to properly swim without drinking half the pool.) I was a huge Star Wars nerd so of course I loved the shit out of this game. My first time through, however, was horrifying. I was on a role, killing the evil bounty-bot IG-88, and I was making my way to the Imperial Palace so I could continue blasting the shit out of storm troopers. But to get to the Palace, you had to “sneak” through the sewers. I started playing through them, sorta not liking it, but whatever, it was Star Wars. The sewers were dark, dank, and due to the horrible draw distance of the N64 technology, you couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of your character. All of those were pretty horrifying to me, but I could still manage, because I could walk! Walking through water, while slowing you down, doesn’t scare me so much.
And then I reached the boss chamber.
For those who never played Shadows of the Empire (shame on you), the boss of the sewer level is a giant fucking rape monster that lives in a giant vat of murky green water that you can’t see shit in and as you try to find him his tentacles come up and slap your ass and kill you and there’s nothing you can do about it. At least, that’s how it was when I played, because when I got to that boss, I grew so anxious that I couldn’t play. I started breathing rapid, short breaths, my hands got sweaty, and I freaked the hell out. I almost started crying because I was so afraid of that damn boss fight. Each time I tried, I failed, and I got more and more anxious and fearful that I had to play in that hellhole again, causing a horrible feedback loop from which there was no saving myself from.
So I went back and played the other levels. I played all of the levels up to that point on hard. I got all the shiny trinkets and found all the secrets. I did everything I possibly could do in that game up to the sewers. Then I took the game back to the rental store. As far as I was concerned, the game ended at the sewers.
A few months passed and I rented it again. Thankfully, somebody had passed the hell sewers, so I could just load their save and play the last two levels. I felt that I had matured enough and was good enough at the game that I could play through it all the way again.
And then I got to the sewers.
And once again, I had to quit.
To this day, I have only beaten the sewer level once. A friend and I were playing it at his house and we would trade off on levels. The sewer level came up right on my turn, so I had to. I rushed through it as much as possible, and when I got to the boss, I couldn’t back down because my friend was there and I didn’t want to puss out and have him make fun of me (because seriously, who’s afraid of a video game level?)
So, in summary, a Star Wars video game is the scariest, most fear-inducing video game I have ever played and I’m a giant pussy who’s afraid of bad draw distance.
- Released: 1996
- System: N64, PC
- Publisher: Nintendo/LucasArts