Metroid: Samus Returns [First Impressions]

-by Dylan DiBona

It seems like a large portion of the internet was and still is dedicated to hating Nintendo’s latest remake, Metroid: Samus Returns. After a group of fans spent years recreating one of the least spoken about Metroid games, Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy; Nintendo quickly shut the project down for no explicable reason. Players praised the fan-made remake dubbed AM2R or, Another Metroid II Remake. But the inexplicable became the explicable when at E3 2017 Nintendo revealed not only Metroid Prime 4, but their very own remake of Metroid II coming quickly for the Nintendo 3DS. Being an avid 3DS lover and visionary for the system, I had always hoped Nintendo would make a 2D Metroid with 3D visuals. You see, I’m one of the weirder Metroid fans who only likes the 2D games. So did I get what I wanted? Does Nintendo’s remake deserve all the hate?

Answer Sheet:

First question: Absolutely

Second question: Absolutely not

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To be honest, I have a lot going on in my life at the moment and couldn’t quite grasp the polish of this remake until my second or third time picking it up. The Game Boy is obviously an admirable system, but not too many games on the system scream “PLAY ME!” anymore. I appreciate the original Metroid II for being a fully realized game in the series for such a small system, but I wanted an update to the classic forever. The story always intrigued me the most out of every Metroid game. Here we have Nintendo, the family friendly company, basically making a story out of their main heroine committing genocide- or xenocide in this case.

Samus Aran is tasked with killing every single Metroid on their home planet SR388 after the threat of this species became apparent in the first game of the series. In typical Metroid fashion the game gives you an opening of about three minutes and then just leaves the player alone for the rest of the game. It’s an almost pure gameplay experience.

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I can tell you happily that the gameplay had been modernized and improved. I was a little fearful of the “free-aim” ability that allows Samus to essentially have a 360 degree free moving gun, but it works quite well. The new Aeion abilities are fun so far too and allow Samus to scan for secrets and electrify her armor.

As my faint memories of the original game tell me, there were 99 metroids to kill. They were simple enemies for this reason. But so far it seems there are only 40 in this remake and are more difficult because of this. Each metroid feels like a mini boss and in every new area they gain new abilities.

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Also new is the “melee counter” ability which is something else I had lukewarm feelings about at first. Many enemies will spark right before jumping towards Samus. But if you hit the Y button at the correct time, you can counter them and fill them up with energy beams. I didn’t want to be dependent on this ability since it seemed so many enemies needed it, but luckily this isn’t the case.

My last praise goes out to the map. Metroid is a series all about wandering and this game is no different, but what’s great is how this remake doesn’t force players explore without any clue for too long. I once remember being lost in Super Metroid for about an hour and a half until finding out that a certain area of spikes could be walked through. No such thing will happen in this game. There are places called “Chozo Ruins” which will reward the player with some directions to the next metroid if they’ve already defeated one. Think it’s too easy? Just skip them then! Chozo Ruin directions are totally optional. This combination of free exploration and wandering succeeds in my book.

People like me who vastly prefer the 2D entries of the series have been starved since 2004, and that was a remake as well. The last original 2D game was Metroid: Fusion in 2002. As somebody who never finished the original game, this title feels just like a new game, and I feel safe in assuming that anybody who has beaten the original will get the same fresh feeling.

While I’m still early in the game (I still don’t even have the classic Varia Suit), I’m glad to say that this remake of the second Metroid puts up competition for my favorite game in the series which is currently Super Metroid. Samus Returns has beautiful visual and audio direction, exciting spices in it’s gameplay, a truly fun map to explore and an interesting tale to tell. I can’t wait to keep playing it.


If you haven’t yet, I strongly recommend picking this title up. If you want to jump into Metroid but don’t know where to start, Metroid I has a fantastic remake called Metroid: Zero Mission for Game Boy Advance and Wii U Virtual Console. Then you can jump on into Samus Returns for 3DS! Thank you guys so much for reading.

Until next time.

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When is it Time to Stop Collecting?

-by Dylan DiBona

I believe the year was 2012 when I first discovered TV and Lust on YouTube. I didn’t understand it at first, but people online with video game collections would post videos on their finds and favorites. I always had a lot of games as a kid and continuously traded them in so I could keep playing more. But after exploring the gaming side of YouTube I decided I would not simply buy a game and trade it away, I would start collecting.

collection

Starting around the age of thirteen I hunted online vendors for good deals, watched countless YouTube videos like “Top 10 Hidden Gems on PS2” and played games endlessly. It was a fun way to really experience my favorite hobby. So why am I bringing this up?

I think I’m done!

Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I’m never buying another video game again. I’m still going to wait in line for a SNES Classic and I’m still going to buy Danganronpa V3. 

When anybody starts collecting anything, there’s that initial phase of “where do I start?” You make careful decisions on where to begin, move on from there and sooner or later you know what you like. After knowing what you like and experiencing everything in that series or genre, you “branch out”. After branching out and catching up with everything you love, things will get boring.  At least that’s what happened to me!

Let’s use a train as a metaphor for collecting. Starting the engines and going forward may be slow at the beginning, but once you’re in the middle you are zooming. Finally, when you get to your destination it’s time to slow down again until you come to a full stop.

I’m not at a full stop quite yet, but I’m definitely slowing down.

I think it’s time to “stop collecting” when the excitement and sense of wonder for the thing you are pursuing fades away. I was never one for the obscure video game systems. I don’t care about the Sega Mega Drive, TurboGrafx- 16 or stuff like that. I found out early that I loved Nintendo and pursued that with as much passion as possible. I then expanded into Sony until my current point of feeling fulfilled.

When I look at my video game collection I don’t really see anything unnecessary or worth disliking. I’ve amassed probably 150-200 video games that I enjoy and to me that is quite the accomplishment. I’m moving bedrooms soon and when I rearrange all of my games onto their respective shelves, I will take a seat and look back on what I’ve collected over the past seven years of my life.

As collectors we put so much pressure on each other to grab anything we can, experience it for at least five minutes and share an opinion. I never played video games like that. Some people post videos on YouTube like “Games I Bought March 2017” and they showcase 20-30 games. With work or school and other real life responsibilities, how do you play 20 video games in one month? You don’t. I usually ended a month with 5 or less purchases, gave them whatever free time I had and spent even more time cooking up a real opinion on them.

I’m a bit of an entertainment glutton and I was once on a mission to “experience everything worth experiencing”. If a game had a 90 or above on Metacritic, that meant it was “worth experiencing” to me. But now I think my mission changed to “find out what I like and soak it all up”. It’s a much more personal and cozy objective, and honestly as a collector it is immensely satisfying to say “I’m done”.


As always, thanks for reading.

Sonic the Hedgehog is Taco Bell

-by Dylan DiBona

I’ve got an imaginary wheel in my head spinning with tons of Sonic the Hedgehog topics. Do I ask if the original Genesis games were ever that great? Do I talk about the bizarrely terrible Sonic Underground cartoon? Do I compare the series to its old competitor Mario? I’ll just do them all right now.

Except Sonic Underground. I love and hate that show.

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If there was ever a Lindsey Lohan of video game mascots, it would unfortunately be Sonic. What was once a trusted face that acted as a seal of quality soon became a living meme on the internet. Bug-ridden games, awful concepts and controls and for some reason early 2000’s rock. Only the most dedicated of Sonic fans could find something to enjoy (granted there were the accidental two good games: Colors and Generations).

Don’t let the nature of my writing fool you though; I’ve only played Sonic 1 (beaten), half of Sonic 2 and currently Sonic Mania. I’m no scholar on the topic. But what happened? I like my Sonic old-school: chubby, stumpy legs and with loads of attitude. Why did he grow an extra two feet and change into some selfless good boy?

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No…

I’m at odds with myself. I should really not like Sonic. There are much better platformer series out there to play, but the times I do play Sonic (the older 2D games), I like it. Even though the main concept of going fast is NEVER utilized by the player and only triggered by environmental objects, Sonic has this charm and overall feel that is unique to the genre.

Levels are big with tons of pathways, gathering a bunch of rings can be a dangerous mission and finding those Chaos Emeralds is tricky! I find myself thinking a lot differently when I play Sonic compared to other platformers.

 

Even though I may not be a genius at Sonic, I do consider myself a prolific and knowledgeable player of the Super Mario games. You see, Mario isn’t as exciting as the blue blur, but he’s always been there and he’s always been pretty decent at his worst. In the past twenty years while Sonic has continuously tripped, we’ve gotten Super Mario Sunshine, both Galaxy games, 3D World and Super Mario Maker. I’m avidly disapproving of the New Super Mario Bros. series, but even those games can be solid with some friends. To me, a level in Mario is all about getting through a set path of obstacles with my skills and maybe finding a secret. A level in Sonic is all about running through a giant landscape and seeing what’s present while also going towards the end. If you look at it like this then I think it’s safe to say that Mario is almost objectively better as a platformer series. I came to a realization. Super Mario is Chipotle: quality ingredients, good taste and other than giving some people Ebola twice (New Super Mario Bros.) it’s trusted. Sonic the Hedgehog is Taco Bell: questionable ingredients, absolutely delicious, emphasis on aesthetic and flavor.

I love platformers. They are synonymous with video games in my head. Give me a handful of abilities and then test my skills to complete levels and find secrets: perfect. I thought I knew what I like and didn’t. I told myself that Sonic was trash and nostalgic icons such as Crash were infinitely better. Well guess what? After tons of hours with the Crash N Sane Trilogy, I realized I hate Crash! I guess what I’m saying is you’ll never know what you have a hidden affinity for unless you try it. I love Taco Bell.


Thank you guys so much for reading. Have a great latter half of the week!

Month of Less Failed

-by Dylan DiBona

For August 2017 I tried to dedicated myself to experiencing more through less. I “banned” myself from doing any of the following:

  1. Needless snacking
  2. Playing video games
  3. Buying things on amazon

It wan’t going to be easy, but I wanted to really boil down who I am and what I like to a simplicity. I believe when it comes to gaming, books and movies that “less is more”, so I wanted to see if that is true for people as well. I failed though.

Day 9 came and so did the urge to play some more Dragon Quest VIII and Danganronpa 2. Unfortunately I fell into those urges, but at least I had some fun. Playing games after a 9- day ban was refreshing.

If you find yourself falling victim to “gaming burnout”, I think taking a week hiatus should fix that right up.

Gaming is a beautiful thing and I guess I wanted to do it while I still had large chunks of free time. I plan to try a month of less soon again!

At least I read two and a half books! I also got my own writing done and am editing it in hopes of getting it published someday.


I apologize for the lack of blogs; I haven’t been feeling very motivated lately. I will get back to posting more once I feel up to it! As always, thanks for reading.

Month of Less Day 9

For August 2017 I have dedicated myself to experiencing more through less. I have banned myself from doing any of the following:

  1. Needless snacking
  2. Playing video games
  3. Buying things on amazon

It won’t be easy, but I want to really boil down who I am and what I like to a simplicity. I believe when it comes to gaming, books and movies that “less is more”, so let’s see if that is true for people as well. (There were no blogs for the past four days)

Wednesday August 9th

Sadly I’ve been snacking a bit, a few healthy snacks were mixed in but overall my eating habits haven’t really improved yet. I had jury duty this past Monday and Tuesday and on Monday I completed a whole book! I’ve never read a whole book in one day but it was truly fantastic (After Dark by Haruki Murakami).

I also finished Spider-Man Blue in one sitting which was a great read.

My progress on Monster is getting better, the only thing holding me back is the price for the last five volumes which is almost eighty bucks. I need to finish it soon though to give me time to read the end of Goodnight Punpun this September (another fantastic manga).

Desire to play video games: 7/10

Yes, unfortunately my desire to play games has spiked significantly. I really want to play some more Danganronpa 2 after leaving it behind for a few months. I’m at a loss for what to do. On one hand: self-discipline. On the other hand: boredom.


How is everybody doing? If you haven’t seen it, check out my collaboration project with Athena from ambigamingcorner. This is Part 1 and Part 2. As always, thanks for reading!

YOUR Gaming Coping Stories!

-by Dylan DiBona

A while back Athena from ambigamingcorner and I asked all of our readers to send us their stories on how playing video games helped them cope with something in their lives. Below are the questions and a compilation of excerpts from answers, completely anonymous like we promised.

If you would like to see my original content connecting to this, click here.

  1. Has a video game ever helped you cope with something difficult happening in your life? What was happening?

— When I was a sophomore in college, I was dealing with the death of my grandmother—the first loss that really impacted me in a major way—and a recent change of academic major that I was not at all certain about. It was a stressful time, but I found some reprieve while playing video games.

— Out of nothing, persistent nautical vertigo struck, while at work […]. I then developed debilitating anxiety because of doctors not figuring out what this crap is. That’s where all went downhill. [My girlfriend] cheated (several times), with a resulting breakup, quarreling, disagreement about who’s keeping the dog and apartment.

With a chronic disease, responsibilities and hell at work, [I] more than flirted with alcoholism as self-medicating the anxiety[…] I am, after a 4-year ordeal, out of this mess, after cutting ties, acquiring a new place to live, and in general reordered my life into a more comfortable existence (still dizzy as shit, though).

During this whole shit-storm, I found (de)focus, escapism (especially from the vertigo, still does today on my word days), and a small sense of achievement and control through playing RPG’s and building/management-games. Most notably Skyrim, Cities:Skylines, Zoo Tycoon (lol, I know).

I gradually said “no” to more and more destructive social gatherings, in favor of staying at home nurturing my favorite hobby, video games (and caring for my dog).

A life-changing realization grew in the back of my head, that the pointless, downward spiral would eventually prevent me from enjoying my favorite pastime at some point, I[…] changed behavioral patterns, slowly, one thing at a time.

— Yes. During my second year of university. I had been struggling with a bad break of OCD that started during my last year of high school, and it was made worse by the new environment.

— I’ve actually been using video games as a coping mechanism for almost my whole life. It all started when I was 5 years old. [I had been hospitalized and was] terrified out of my little mind, but when I picked up a video game controller for the first time, it offered me a happy escape from the traumatic situation. When I was released from the hospital, my parents got me my very own console, and video games have been helping me cope ever since. My parents always made sure I had the latest and greatest video game things, and I have fond memories of spending an entire summer playing games with my mom.

… Cheerful video games, like Diddy Kong Racing & Banjo-Kazooie, helped me forget about my constant fears of mortality during [my hospitalizations]. I refused to tell anyone (including my parents) about my fears. They didn’t show it, but I could sense that the situations were very difficult on my parents, and I didn’t want them to worry about me so I tried to seem strong.

[Between my health problems and being bullied at school], I started bottling up my pain in the form of volatile repressed rage. All that anger at least made me feel strong. Soon, I shut out my few friends and shut myself away from everyone, even my best friend. Games like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and Resident Evil 4 helped me by giving me a safe outlet for my silent aggression. I also started blogging about video games online during this time. It was a blessing to connect with other people through this.

After I graduated college I [pursued] my first career type job in a small town I never felt welcome in. The work environment was hostile… My repressed rage frequently lashed out on toxic people, and… Eventually I was hauled into the unstable boss’s office and given a rather callous layoff notice (officially due to “economic reasons”)… In the unending days that followed, I felt like less than nothing as I dealt with my misery alone. All of my former coworkers wanted nothing more to do with me…The only thing that kept me sane during that time was World of Warcraft. At least I could still achieve things in the virtual world. In a few weeks, I had no choice but to move back in with my parents while looking for work. For their sake, I pretended everything was okay until even I was convinced.

I landed a dream job (I still have it too) and got back on my own two feet. It was an overwhelmingly positive work environment, [and] I got paid much more than my previous job, [yet] while I was all smiles at work, I was a lonely train-wreck at home… One distressing night, it just popped into my messed-up mind that I should just try this […] game I found in a discount bin…

— My father died on Christmas Eve when I was senior in high school. I was so angry. He had been sick for a long, long time, and I remember praying – I was actually a fairly religious person at that point, if you can believe that – that he would be healed. As Christmas came closer, and his health declined, I became desperate and my prayers were more frantic. A Christmas miracle… please? I’m not sure I could have asked for that any harder. It seems silly now, asking for a miracle just because it was going to be Christmas, but… Well, it was not only earth-shattering when my father died, but also a colossal cosmic slap in the face that he died on Christmas. I guess you could say I lost my father and my faith all in the same day. It’s not something I’d recommend, to say the very absolute least.

My dad and I had always been close, and I was so lost. More than lost. I’m not sure there’s a word to describe how I felt. But it was one whirlwind week, and after the wake was over and the funeral was over, I was left in my house alone with my grieving mother. I always stayed up late with my dad, talking or watching movies, sometimes playing games, and he and I were the only ones who made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. It was so strange to be awake on New Year’s alone, my mother having gone to bed long before midnight struck. I popped in Metal Gear Solid 2 because it was the game that was in the console and I didn’t even want to bother deciding on a game to play. I played that game from around 9:00pm until around 5:00am the next day. It was like instead of my dad, I was spending New Year’s with Solid Snake.

— I was away at school. The stress brought up practically every insecurity I had, which took a toll on my sense of self. Old thoughts that no one would like me, I wasn’t worthy of friendship or love all came flooding back.

— A few years ago I was in an abusive relationship. My girlfriend took away the little self esteem I had and made it so I needed her approval for everything, or else I felt completely worthless. Although I felt completely worthless anyway. For a long time I was under her total control. I wasn’t allowed to be my own person, I belonged to her. She used my intense feelings of guilt to convince me that I was the worst person on Earth. And through it she had me convinced that I was always the one at fault for her actions. Even after she broke up with me she basically used me as her slave and made me feel like I was worthless. At this point self harm became a problem and I soon realized that it was clear I suffered from depression. And again, I had no control over my life. Because of her I was in a constant war with the people I cared about. My withdrawal from close family and friends and my constant dependence on my girlfriend caused so many fights I can’t even remember what most of them were about. For a long time there was no one and nothing I could turn to.

— Yes, by escape

  1. Was there one video game in particular that you were drawn to? What was it?

—  I had recently picked up The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition for pretty cheap. I knew nothing about the franchise, but the game quickly captivated me.

— Skyrim

— Yes. WildTangent’s Fate. It was a pretty ubiquitous PC game in the mid 2000s. I got hooked on the series and then its spiritual successors, Torchlight and Torchlight II (no surprises there, since Fate’s creator went on to develop those two games).

I think what made me want to try it was that you couldn’t perma-die, instead, you could be resurrected at the cost of experience, money or fame. If you didn’t want to lose any of those things you went back to the surface and had to fight your way down again. Spending experience and fame made you resurrect on the spot you died, whereas taking a wealth penalty resurrected your character on another dungeon level nearby

— Dragon Age: Origins

— A few months after she had broken up with me I discovered retro games I could play in browser and soon learned how to emulate. The game that stood out to me the most was Metroid on the NES.

— Yes; Tetris

–Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

 

  1. Was there a particular part of the game that you really connected with at the time? What was it (the characters, the story, the ability to feel strong, the way a character acted, etc.)?

— I was drawn to Oblivion because it offered a temporary virtual life. It was easier to get lost in a RPG because there were so many things I could focus on, so many paths I could follow. Instead of constantly thinking about loss and the future, I found something to distract me late into the night and in-between classes (in my car with a laptop that could barely run the game at medium settings).

— Creating an alter-ego, a hero. A strong, selfless someone, who always did the right thing, while caring for others. A kind of naive idealist, looking back. But it helped.

—  A few things. I realize now that it wasn’t a particularly strong game plot-wise, but it was really grindy and it helped me calm down and get lost in the dungeon-crawling. I died a lot, but the way the game worked made me feel some sort of accomplishment when I learned how to beat a level or boss.

The setting was also a big draw. I mean, this was my first fantasy RPG, but I was already into the standard fantasy trope where a regular person can grow into a hero. Another thing is that a E-rated fantasy setting helped me avoid my OCD triggers

Another point that made me connect was that the player character had a pet, one that you could take care of and took care of your character as well. I’ve always been an animal lover and I think I identified with that

There is also the soundtrack. It doesn’t have that many pieces, but they are great (the ones I always remember are O’Carolan’s The Clergy Lamentation and Captain O’Kane. I wasn’t in a good place, I had sort of stopped caring about the things that made me happy, like music, and the game made me curious about music again.

— From the moment I first saw the [main character], my frantic mind settled… I wished I was as strong and beautiful as she was. I became absorbed in the story and grim world, completely forgetting my selfish misery. I was shocked to discover the character seemed to behave like I did, and she made the same painful mistakes as me… As I guided her along her first linear journey, it felt like I grew with her character and learned more about myself.

…I started working out and eating healthier with the goal of becoming stronger like my hero. The healthier lifestyle had the unexpected benefit of stopping my panic attacks and controlling my depressed feelings. I no longer felt weak or helpless, and for the first time in my life I was proud of the strong woman looking back at me in the mirror.

[I gained a lot of insight into myself and the world, and I’ve learned to better handle some of the scarier aspects of the future].  I’m truly not sure where I would be today without that game’s influence. It’s almost like the main character punched the defeated mess I was in the face, and then dragged my self-loathing ass over to life’s Continue screen.

— The game was serious enough and challenging enough that I needed to pay attention and could be completely absorbed by it, but it wasn’t so difficult that my emotionally-exhausted brain couldn’t handle it. I think the other thing that I loved was Snake, because even though he wasn’t like my dad at all, the fact that he was so tough and strong despite terrible odds, and survived even though he shouldn’t have… well it was a rather attractive theme at the time.

— For those who don’t know, Metroid gives the player freedom. A whole planet to explore on your own terms, and if you can’t go somewhere, you find a powerful that lets you. Nothing can stop you from going where you want to go, doing what you want to do, and being your own person. That was something I had lost while with my girlfriend. She was like Ridley, this monster who took everything from me but in the end just couldn’t steal my independence and strength. And Samus’ arc taught me so much about myself. The series starts out with Samus realizing her potential and finding who she really is. As the series goes on, she starts to lose herself and doubt her ability to do good. The baby in Super Metroid serves as a parallel to this arc, and its sacrifice is really a showcase of Samus’ ability to do good. And as I got to these games in the series, I realized how much of myself I saw in Samus. My guilt had been used against me and Metroid helped me realize that. The next game, Other M, is Samus’ low point. She is dependent on an abusive figure almost the entire time. The game’s linear design shows her lack of freedom under this figure. He uses her emotional weaknesses to gain control over her. right after his death, the game opens up and finally starts to feel like the old free-roam exploration games we got from the NES to the Wii. The next and last game in the timeline, Fusion, ends feeling like a true free-roam Metroid experience. This goes hand in hand with the ending, where Samus regains her self confidence and independence. To me, this is exactly the goal I work towards every day. Learning to love myself and moving on from the abuse I suffered is so important. Metroid, with both its gameplay and story being about freedom of being, helped me realize this. It changed my life forever. Without it, I probably wouldn’t even be here.

— The characters. I role-played as myself, and despite always feeling like I need to prove myself in real life, the characters in the game all accepted me. One even fell in love with me, and never asked me to change, which was a somewhat new experience for me. And feeling competent even though there was so much going wrong…. I wanted to feel that way in my own life, and tried to take heart from the main character on the screen, who was dealing with so much more dire things than I was and handling them infinitely better than I was handling my own life. It’s strange to think that a character I role-played wound up being a sort of role-model, isn’t it?

— Yes –the lack of emotional investment required during a year of intense teen mourning, just keep stacking the blocks

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about your video game playing habits during this time?

—  I’m fairly certain Oblivion was the only game I played during this time. While I used a video game as a form of escape, it didn’t keep me from my other tasks or responsibilities; rather, it was a safe outlet I had control over during a difficult period of my life as a young adult.

— Before this (and part during, at the first half), I enjoyed multiplayer games a lot. Like battlefield, Guild Wars, Dead Island et cetera. Competitive games. I rarely play them these days. It became less and less rewarding or recreational for me to play them.

Now I almost exclusively enjoy single player games in a dimly lit room, while my SO watches Real Housewives in the living room (it must be lack of stimuli that makes them create a problem out of nothing).

— I hadn’t played many video gamed in the previous 3 years due to school and other activities, so while I wasn’t new to video games, it felt like rediscovering them a bit.

— Video games will always be my escape from life’s depressing issues. They give me worlds I can save, fictional characters to meet, and interesting stories to be inspired by. We all have our own issues to deal with, and my small problems don’t mean a damn thing compared to what hells other innocent people have to go through. I’m going to do whatever I can to help those people in my life I can, and stop wasting my life worrying about what fate is lurking ahead.

— I began studying the level design of Metroid. I realized why I and other people found it fun and intriguing, and now I am studying to become a game designer. Nothing would make me happier than being able to make others who suffer from depression or abuse feel better and maybe even learn about themselves.

— I have always been thankful that an uncle I barely know who came to visit from California gave me that game. It is the only way I survived that time of loss, sexual trauma, emotional trauma, bullying, and depression: I escaped to survive. Thanks Uncle. Thanks Tetris.

— I was pretty depressed, and so not a lot of my habits were healthy. School was out for the summer, and I literally played one video game for about three days straight (I wish I was joking). I realize now how depressed I was, because I barely stopped to eat or sleep. But I played through the game about three and a half times in a week, and at the end of it, I did actually feel a little bet


Thank you everybody for your honesty! It means the world to us as not only writers but gamers. As always, thanks for reading.

Why We Connect to Video Games

-by Dylan DiBona

It took a lot longer than we expected, but Athena from ambigamingcorner and I finally finished our project on the connection between video games and people who are going through hard times or have extra challenges in life. We compiled a list of the the stories which you can read here; Athena is going to be focusing on the more scientific and factual side of things which I like to think as the brain of our project. For my half I wanted to do what I believe I do best, write from the heart. So, why do we connect to video games?

Image result for zelda 1 art

The possibilities are as endless as the horizon.

I noticed a trend in all of the responses; people either experiences loss, familial problems or mental health issues. Maybe this is a rude blanket statement, but people who don’t experience these things are “whole” on the inside. I think that people like myself who went through or still go through tough times find that parts of them are missing, and not only is enjoyable, but it’s satisfying to fill those missing parts with video games.

Most games today take bits and pieces from all mediums; cinematics from movies, reading from books, music from- well music, and animations like in cartoons. But there’s one key element of video games that make them unique, it’s like the Chemical X for the Powerpuff Girls:

Interactivity

If you have a video game on your shelf, it needs you to be beaten and have those credits roll. I wrote in my own story about coping with video games that I like the sensation of being needed. Anybody can pop a DVD in their player and click play, but it takes a certain somebody to have the skill and wit to beat a video game (without a walkthrough). Sure you can watch a let’s play on YouTube, but that isn’t gaming. As an avid reader I do not want to buy a kindle because I’d miss the sounds of picking up and turning a page, the weight of the book in my hands or finally sticking a bookmark in and seeing that I’m more than halfway through.

Image result for breath of the wild

What’s beautiful about video games is how the memories and emotions we have with them can literally be replayed at any moment. When I go back to Kingdom Hearts 2, I’m instantly transported back to my childhood home where things were peaceful on the surface but familial tensions were at an all time high. And unlike other mediums, when replaying a game you can always have a new experience. Replay a song and the same notes will always be heard, but replay a game and maybe you’ll do certain things completely differently or maybe you’ll find something new and exciting.

It’s not even solely the gameplay that keeps us hooked; many people in their stories shared their connections to the stories and characters within our games. For people like us, gaming is the very best entertainment possible. It’s a pleasure, a passion and in our darkest of times it’s a coping mechanism. Maybe I’m biased, but to me video games are the most living forms of entertainment. It’s kind of like Toy Story where the toys are actually alive and full of emotion. These virtual worlds can be preferable to the real one sometimes.

Video games are beautiful. Never forget that


Okay guys I hope you enjoyed my homage to not only gaming, but to all of you for proving once again that video games are an amazing passion to have. Thank you to Athena; I know our project had a few speedbumps, but we got to our destination! As always, thanks for reading.

Month of Less: Day 4

-by Dylan DiBona

For August 2017 I have dedicated myself to experiencing more through less. I have banned myself from doing any of the following:

  1. Needless snacking
  2. Playing video games
  3. Buying things on amazon

It won’t be easy, but I want to really boil down who I am and what I like to a simplicity. I believe when it comes to gaming, books and movies that “less is more”, so let’s see if that is true for people as well. (There were no blogs for days 2 & 3)

Friday August 4th

Unfortunately For Whom the Bells Toll has become a total snooze fest. I can’t force myself to go any further at the moment. My progress will be on official hiatus until my brain is rested from the nonsense.

For Whom the Bells Toll progress: Page 225/500

Monster is still amazing and today I should be receiving Spider-Man Blue in the mail (I ordered it before August hit. So my official “currently reading list” is this:

Spider-Man Blue

Monster

I picked up two new books so maybe I’ll jump into one of those. Hemingway just isn’t my cup of tea sadly. Oh yeah, video games.

Desire to play video games: 2/10

If you guys remember, day one was a 3/10! So things have gotten a lot easier. Honestly I just need a good form of entertainment and some friends. I HATE abandoning or putting my book progress on hiatus, but For Whom the Bells Toll really got bad.

I have a fun little question: What’s everybody’s favorite book!?


So things are getting smoother. I need to focus on exercise next. As always, thanks for reading!

Obesity: A Dark Side of Gaming [2/2]

-by Dylan DiBona

So there I was in my new dorm, my new “home” with three kids I never knew. I made the stupid mistake of not going to the first party of the college year, which snowballed into me not making any true friends. Mind you, this was all after high school, a time where I also did not make any new friends. I was clinging onto my elementary school buddies, but now I was able to see them even less.

I was grossly overweight and like I said last time, I had braces on my teeth that would still last me a few more months. Self-confidence didn’t exist within me and after going to an all boy high school for four years, girls were an enigma. To make matters even worse, I fell absolutely head over heels for the girl who lived in the dorm directly next to me. We had a few classes together, she was kind enough to not treat me like a loser because of my weight or obvious shyness, and she had outstanding eyes. Every thing I’m telling you culminated into one of the worst periods of my life.

lived inside that dorm for the vast majority of my day. I would sleep nine to eleven hours, skip classes if I didn’t feel like going, and wouldn’t get food until my stomach absolutely screamed for it. I was terrified that my crush would see my fat braced face, so I stood in and played video games. My hair grew, my skin went pale, despite my plentiful sleep I had dark bags under my eyes, and I was beginning to lose weight because I was eating far less. I reminded myself of L from Death Note.

Image result for l death note

I did the opposite of what I should’ve done. I should’ve tried my best to socialize, but I didn’t. At nights I was so distressed that I would go for walks, far away from campus so nobody could see me and it gave me time to think.

One day when I visited my hometown on a certain weekend, somebody said “Dylan, you lost some weight.” Before I knew it multiple people were saying that. The pain and horrible decisions I made jump-started a small weight loss. I thought to myself “why stop?”

Those late night walks became runs, my one meal per day wasn’t a cheeseburger, but instead a chicken wrap with water (I always drank solely water). I also began eating more meals albeit smaller ones. I bought a 25 pound weight (too heavy to start with) and began working out my biceps while watching Dexter’s Lab on Hulu.

With the smallest amount of effort I said goodbye to the 300’s of weight. I wasn’t happy yet so I kept going. Even though I got my braces off, lost some weight and bought some fancy new clothes; I still never garnered the courage to admit my feelings for the girl quite literally next door. It’s one of my biggest regrets to this day, and when I packed up my bags to leave college forever I knew I’d never see her again.

I dropped out which was officially called a “leave of absence” (a decision I actually don’t regret). I kept up the healthy eating and pleaded with my father not to buy crazy snacks when he went grocery shopping. Fast forward to today while occasionally exercising alongside healthy eating and I currently weight 196 pounds. I haven’t touched the “one hundred” realm of weight since I was about 11. It’s an ongoing battle, one I’ve been failing lately by eating unhealthily. But I have a new found sense of dedication and hope to one day look half as good as Little Mac.

So what’s the point of this article? For me to brag? For me to relish in my previous sadness? Absolutely not. I want to tell everybody reading this that yes video games are the best form of entertainment out there, but don’t let them take priority over your health. Gaming fluctuated between a coping mechanism and the actual problem.

Sure the virtual worlds we explore are cooler than boring old Earth, but that doesn’t mean that our world isn’t beautiful too. Life is beautiful so go out there and explore, have fun. Don’t be like me and let a ball of bad feelings and self-hatred start your weight loss, start it because you want to!

As always, thanks for reading.

Obesity: A Dark Side of Gaming [1/2]

-by Dylan DiBona

There I was in Costco, perhaps five or six years old, asking my father for a PlayStation 2. At the time, I had no idea what a PlayStation was, or video games, all I knew is I wanted a PlayStation 2. I don’t fully commit to the idea of “fate”, but if it does exist then there is no doubt in my mind that my ignorant asking for a PlayStation 2 was fate.

I love video games. I am willing to admit that I love video games over certain family members (the negligent ones of course). They distract me, they make me think, they make me excited and most importantly, they make me happy. But with any hobby, especially the stationary ones, they come with health problems.

The story I’m about to tell is 100% mine, and absolutely true. I don’t tell it as an attack on video games (obviously). I tell it to encourage and to warn people currently in the same position I once was, or people with children who are acting as I did.


Part One: The Gain

In my earliest days of playing video games, it was mainly a solitary act. I would stay in my room or basement for hours and occasionally my dad would sit down to watch me. Nobody in my family really took an interest in my main hobby. No one stopped me, but no one encouraged me either. I had a single friend down the block who also owned a PlayStation 2, I would watch him play at his house and we would go outside, reenacting the games best moments with our imagination. I was a relatively fit kid at that point. By the time I moved from that little neighborhood and closer to the city, gaming was my life. Xbox 360 was a thing, and so was playing games with your friends even when they weren’t with you through the power of the internet. I was the monkey on the cover of Roger Water’s Amused to Death; I stared at a screen constantly.

Image result for amused to death

 

Gaming was always something to revel in with my school friends, instead of running around at recess we would discuss the nights activities for Xbox Live. We would stay inside on hot summer days and play for hours either physically or technologically together.

I regrettably didn’t play any organized sports, but to be honest it wouldn’t have countered the vast amount of time me and my buddies were playing video games; all my friends played baseball or basketball and were still overweight. We were the fat kids, the ones who would always gather a bunch of processed snacks and played Halo or Minecraft during sleepovers. As for me, I was always the heaviest; I tried my best to hide it through the magic of loose fitting shirts and sucking in my gut.

Now obviously video games were not the only cause of our health problems, our parents should have regulated our diets and playing time a lot better, but this is where the story gets even worse.

All of those friends started to do the “normal” thing when we split up for high school. They went to co-ed schools while I went to an all male school. Due to the influence of pretty girls, video games and fatty foods took a backseat for them. They began to work out and play a little less, I didn’t. High school was a rough time for me. I didn’t really have any friends or even enemies; I was the invisible in-betweener who was always there but irrelevant. While my friends were out getting girlfriends or going to the gym, I was still playing video games like that mindless thirteen year old.

The loneliness of high school drove me into my hobby more; I went from seeing my best friends every day to seeing them on a lucky weekend. It was around this same time that I discovered the YouTube gaming community, and that my pile of games wasn’t just a bunch of stuff, it was a collection. All these elements culminated into the absolute worst form of myself; at age eighteen I was a whopping 330 pounds and only 5’11 (not that any height justifies that weight). Staircases felt like challenges, gym class was Hell, and for my high school graduation I wore a size 50 pair of pants. It felt terrible when on one episode of The Cleveland Show, the main character was struggling to get into his pants, stating “Come on! These are a size fifty, these have to fit!”; that was a middle aged man and here I was matching his pant size before hitting twenty.

Image result for skyrim

“Why exercise when I could be an amazing warrior?” Skyrim was one of the many games I used to escape my dire situation.

I hated going to the doctor, but before entering college it was necessary. He said the one horrifying combination of two words I had deluded myself into thinking wouldn’t apply to me:

Morbidly Obese

It hurt. He warned me of upcoming sicknesses and trials that would follow if I stayed on this route. He spoke to me as if I was already done for. I wanted to cry, but instead I hated myself. I still played my games and still ate horribly. My dad would make huge dinners every night and when I got home around 3:30 every day, I ate a meal. But that was too early, so when I got hungry again around 9 or 10 at night, I would eat another dinner and maybe go to sleep after some more video games. To say it was a terrible cycle is to be understating it. I was going to have momentous health issues if I didn’t wake up.

After that summer I packed up my bags and went off to dorm in college, absolutely overweight and with new braces on my teeth to make things worse for my confidence. College is where my path began to change; it’s one of the few times where I’ve heard of more pain actually doing somebody some good. I’ll get to that next time…

Don’t forget to check out Part 2 soon.


Does anybody else here have a similar story? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.