I am the walking dead!
November 07, 2005

Some of you are actually surprised to find out that I spend a hell of a lot of my time bent, burnt, bruised and broken. This surprises me, because I made this obvious early in my HG career.

March 12th 2005 was when I submitted my Wizards & Warriors X: Fortress of Fear review, and it pains me to learn that people out there actually thought it was a clever bit of gimmicky writing. It is with this in mind that I have chosen to revisit my legendary write up -- the very review that the mighty Zigfried describes as my breakthrough review!


I need you to bear with me. I have something I want to share, and it may sound irrelevant, but just give me some time; I promise to be brief, and it will all make sense in the end.

I want to tell you about the worst day of my life.

Yeah, this is embellished. Compared to some fo the injuries I've suffered, this is the equivalent of a slight cold.

It was cold out, and, in keeping with the tradition of ominous and fateful days, overcast and dark earlier than usual. I was innocently training with the rest of my football [Americans: read - soccer] team when a rouge ball sent me sprinting into a shard of metal randomly jutting out of the ground, hidden mystically by the early dusk. To the amusement of the others (and the pained shock of myself), two rather huge gashes resulted, the bigger of the pair gushing a blood fountain akin to that of a cheap B-grade horror movie. One of my loyal team-mates managed to subdue his rambunctious laughter just long enough to phone an ambulance, and a short half an hour later, one swung by to take me and my ravaged leg to receive the care it so obviously desired.

This is true, but the gorier details have been spared. The bigger of the gashes (which has since become a rather big and manly scar on my upper thigh) was basically a huge hole from which bits of muscle protruded from. My team mates did laugh their arses off at this until the saw that bits of my leg were hanging out. One threw up, one rang the ambulance and one tried to persuade me to stop trying to poke the escaping muscles back into my legs with my dirty fingers. I didn't even notice the smaller cut until it was pointed out to me some minutes later.

Also, notice the mispelling of rouge. Dutch sure as hell did when this lost to Sho in the TT

I won't bore you by telling of the numerous traffic jams that slowed my angelic yet tardy rescuers; I won't waste your time by expressing my horror at the promised empty hospital waiting room looking like an extras cast assembly for the latest World War II film; I'll skip past the bit that details how someone with two sizeable leaky holes in his leg had to stand in said waiting room, as no chairs were available. I've digressed from the intended point long enough.

Hugely under-embellished. The ambulance took forever, so a worried chum rang them again out of fear that I would get bored and just go home. As it was I was bitching about how it wasn't that big a deal and how I could probably push it all back in and whack some duct tape over it to seal the gap. A few minutes later, two ambulances turned up within thirty seconds of each other, and I was ushered into on. "Don't worry, mate", he remarked calmly as we sat stuck in one of the numerous traffic jams that slowed our progress, "The hospital is dead at this time on a weekday. We'll have you sewn up in no time!"

The waiting room was standing room only. The people within looked at me evilly, making it clear they would batter me to death with a bedpan if I dared delay their waits any longer.

My pains momentarily forgotten, I gazed lovingly upon my salvation as my eventual lift home arrived to wait with me -- and did not come unarmed. With them came the form of an aid parcel containing as painkillers, reading materials, and, in answer to my deepest prayers, my Gameboy SP.

You see, standing in an overcrowded waiting room full of casualties does little to help you escape the fact that your shoddily bandaged leg is leaking a small crimson puddle beneath your foot, but immersing yourself in a the wonderful world of everyone's favourite mobile console would. Greedily, I snatched my prize and noted the two carts that had been brought along, a nonfunctioning copy of Tetris and Wizards & Warriors: Chapter X: The Fortress of Fear.

Even my own family hate me.

We all own games like Fortress of Fear, games we've never heard of and have no recollection of ever purchasing yet have somehow managed to smuggle themselves into our collections unheeded. Just like the fact that you can't lick your own elbow, it is undeniably true, yet no one will ever really know the reason why this happens.

Alright; you can stop trying to lick your elbow. It can't be done, promise.

Boo actually fell for this! He was trying to lick his own elbow when he read the next sentence. Sucker!

Fortress of Fear opens to show your hero equipped with his knight's gear, set against the background of what might be a poorly-drawn mountain range and some squiggles that might make passable clouds if squinted at for long enough. Relentlessly happy and upbeat electrical beepings assaults one's ears immediately; they gained me sharp looks from those suffering from head wounds, so I mercifully killed the sound right there. I dislike playing medieval platformers accompanied by the squeaky-sounding pipe organ noises that most carnivals employ as the dodgems soundtrack, so I was at no loss.

Braving a little further into the game brings up the standard multilevel platform shenanigans every side-scrolling platformer game employs. A few experimental swings of my mighty blade proved jerky but serviceable as I found that a more powerful overhead swing action is available. A few seconds later, I discovered that all that armour must weigh your poor nameless protagonist down, seeing as he has the jumping power of a small boulder. Determined to make do in such dire circumstances, however, I struggled onwards.

Ignoring the curious blobs that I assume are bats, the treasure chests that seem incapable of being opened, the giant snakes that randomly emanate from holes in the grounds, and the hails of arrows that plague my every move, I found myself presented with the game's first real jumping challenge. In front of my heroic avatar lay a fearsome void with two mobile platforms scrolling vertically, no doubt requiring jumptastic timing to traverse. Unabashed, I leapt at my only means of progressing, missed, and died.

I soon discovered that the trick to these fiendish jumps was to blindly jump at them as they scrolled off the sceen and hope they'd catch you on the way back up. On my last life, I made the first platform -- but missed the second. The game over screen rolled, then sent me to the high score board. After the game's opening screen came by, I realised something very depressing: there are no continues here. The sadistic bastards who made this game apparently decreed that if you are to complete it, you'll do it with your original set of lives or not at all. This prompted a flick of the power-switch and the folding of the screen in disgust.

Blah blah blah, game info!

But notice the misspelling of screen!

Back in reality, a small baby to my left noisily vomited. The young mother mildly chastised it before returning her attention to the three-month-old fashion magazine she'd previously claimed from the waiting room table. The sickly yellow pile emanated visible stench lines. Life out, Gameboy in.

This actually happened, but not in the time-scale I put it in here. Call it artistic licence. The mother, who was ugly and obviously a little bit thick, was wearing a pink felt jump-suit kind of set up. I hated her for that.

I dodged the bats, slew the snakes, found that the chests could be opened by myriad hidden keys to reveal gems that were utterly worthless except to gain points with, and still ducked arrows coming from no visible source. This time, plan in hand, I foiled the platforms' dastardly schemes and completed the stage. Before being thrown into the next level, a small message of congratulations was presented.

The evil wizard Malkil awaits to unleash his wrath upon thee.

Who the bloody hell is Malkil? Why am I the target of his wrath? Did I unknowingly insult him in some way? Steal his magical book of dark spells? Take the last doughnut? Buy him a copy of Wizards & Warriors: Chapter X: The Fortress of Fear for his evil anniversary? This baffling degree of hate must have thrown me, because shortly into the second stage -- a generic castle interior -- I fell victim to what might have been a poorly-rendered wandering guard and was again greeted with a game over.

More well-written game info!

Power off, screen down, I limped over to the coffee machine, my love/hate relationship with caffeine getting the better of me. No sooner had I purchased the scalding-hot plastic cup of liquefied goodness than someone in a wheelchair bashed into my leg. The corresponding gulped scream earned me another harsh look from the room's collection of head-wound sufferers. I dutifully offered a muttered apology before I dragged my poor, cursed leg back to my seat, now with a coffee-blistered hand to add to my list of dissatisfactions. 'Bling' went my Gameboy's opening screen as the game loaded back up.

This is true! I wasn't even thirsty, I just wanted something to do, so I limped over to the coffee machine, which was hugely overpriced and looked like it dispensed the black plague rather than black coffee. But I bravely bought a coffee -- I even tipped a little bit out into the machine's drip-tray because I knew my walking would be unsteady and I didn't want to spill any. It was then that some swine swerved to hit me in the leg in their manual wheelchair. It bloody hurt!

Two things sucked here. The first was that anyone could see I was in a huge deal of pain, yet they looked at me like I'd just pissed in their mouths. I had to apologise for being put in agony! The second was the real kicker: the idiot in the wheelchair gave me the filthiest look ever as if to say "at least you can feel your legs, you bastard."

And the coffee spilled over my hand and wrist. And it scolded. And it blistered.

Bats dodged, snakes killed, useless chests ignored, floating platforms bypassed, with still no sign of the source of the constant arrows, I dragged myself back through the game's stages. After several attempts, I did well enough to get to the first end-of-level boss. It's a large bat. A large, nimble, incredibly fast bat that's impossible to hit or dodge. I lost enough lives to figure out its attack patterns, and, on my last attempt, sliced at it enough to build some vain hope of defeating it. Then I mistimed an attack slightly, dropping down to the level below me to avoid its advance. I took fall damage and died. That was the last straw; I made like the phantom archer that had plagued me throughout the game and disappeared from the scene.

It really is a crap game.

Minutes later, my name was called over the waiting room's PA, and I was ushered into a room where demented madmen poked me with all manner of sharp objects in an attempt to patch me back up. Skin that parted like butter to contract my injuries took on a leather-like resistance to their needles. It was sheer agony.

Events considering, it was the highlight of my day.

Minutes later? Pah! I was sat in that waiting room for two hours plus! I had two holes in my leg, a blistered hand and a room full of people that obviously wanted me dead! And when I finally did get in, the anaesthetic they used point blank would not work, so an area of the leg that would normally require on painkilling injection took about five.

I don't care what you say; needles bloody hurt.

If that wasn't enough, the doctor couldn't put the needle through my skin. He had to force it through, and there isn't enough anaesthetic in the world to stop that from hurting. While this butcher was carving me up, I had to lay on this cot-thingy which gave me a perfect view down the huge hole in my leg. No one should have to view their own thigh-bone. No one.

He even have to chop the bits of muscle off with a pair of sissors. For you lucky gits who have never seen their own leg muscles, the outer layer is a sponge-like, fatty substance that expands when not compressed. The more he cut away, the more sprang out. I felt like a meat joint at a BBQ.

The price I paid for my breakthrough review. And it didn't even make it onto the RotW list.

Most recent blog posts from Gary Hartley...

bluberry bluberry - November 07, 2005 (11:41 AM)
*licks elbow*

All the naked and the dead!
lasthero lasthero - November 07, 2005 (02:35 PM)
Fuck, I really can't lick my elbow.

Son of a bitch.
viridian_moon viridian_moon - November 07, 2005 (04:08 PM)
That sucks. o_o
bluberry bluberry - November 07, 2005 (05:44 PM)
lasthero lasthero - November 07, 2005 (05:45 PM)
I think Blu's trying to insinuate something with that, but I totally do not get it.

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