Through the Spider – Together!

Let’s cross that bridge when we get there. While it’s wise to recall this old proverb occasionally, it’s more often used to delay deciding on unresolved issues as long as possible.

When I was younger, I suffered from a fully grown arachnophobia. And the more fully grown the arachnid, the more fully grown my fear. When I was younger, I also had some issues with the whole horror genre in general. And last but not least, when I was younger, I was…. younger. Taken as a whole, these aren’t the best conditions to venture into Resident Evil 2. But because I’d already been fascinated by the series for many years back in 2000, when the game was released for the Nintendo 64, I still wanted to take the chance. And because I know Janosch – a famous German children’s book author, I know that you can deal with anything as long as you are in it with someone else. And so, in broad daylight, I set out with my buddy Robert to overcome the fear and make room for the fascination.

Robert and I were connected not only by a long-lasting friendship, but also by our arachnophobia and general frightfulness. So instead of encouraging each other, we talked ourselves deeper and deeper into dreading the encounter with the huge spiders, because we had heard that they would be lurking somewhere.

Resident Evil 2 is a short game if you only play one of the two campaigns, and the first few hours of the game were not only spider-free, but provided a surprising degree of fun for us. Instead of testing our youthful limits with a notorious horror shocker, we simply experienced a very good video game. We explored the police station more excited than scared – certainly with respect for some creatures like the diabolic Licker – but with even more delight of exploding zombie heads, the excellent layout of the police station and the pleasing general suspense that dominated the whole experience.

More than halfway through the game, we left the police station and entered the sewers. Robert was playing at that moment and when he realized where he had led us, he hit pause and put the controller down. We both knew immediately that this had to be it: the place where the spiders lurked. We had arrived at the proverbial bridge and only now were we trying to figure out how to cross it. We had made it this far, but giving up was an absolutely viable option. However, we built up our courage, selected the shotgun, and screen-sized spider legs filled the TV. Pause. Running past those things would have be possible, but that would have meant getting way too close to the spider. Back to debating: “You just have to shoot it, it’s still far away. Just blast it.” No sooner said than done. The precious shotgun ammunition banged through the corridors of the sewers and indeed – the monstrosity died witout ever touching us.

The joy did not last, though. We had not anticipated that the spider’s body would not disappear. Lying on its back with its hairy legs still twitching wildly, the fat beast blocked our path to safety. Pause. Debate. An idea: “We’ll go back up the ladder and when we return, it will be gone for sure.” Clever. We climbed up the ladder. We climbed down the ladder. The spider was still there, unchanged, twitching on the ground. Once more, we were on the verge of aborting the whole thing. “It’s already dead, dude, you just have to run through it!” “Well why don’t you run through it if it’s not a big deal!?” Neither of us could. We just couldn’t. The project was doomed. But then it came to us. Not the spider. The idea that saved the day.

You see, the first three Resident Evil games are known for their weird “tank controls”, that let you align the character and then move it in the direction it is facing by holding down a button. Holding down a button didn’t seem so bad. Making slight readjustments didn’t either. And so we teamed up. One of us centered the character, gave the command, and the other just pressed a button. When we passed the spider, we uttered an amused sound of terror and then celebrated. The infamous tank controls and our cooperation had saved us. We blissfully turned the corner and found ourselves right in front of the second spider.

Resident Evil 2 was released on PlayStation back in 1998, and with the N64 release in 2000, it was my first game in the series. When the fourth part came out five years later, not only was I older and less arachnophobic, the game also dispensed with spiders. Nearly two years ago, I played the terrific remake of part 2. I have no real issues with spiders in real life anymore. And yet, after seeing the impressive graphics of the first trailer, I spent weeks trying to figure out if the spiders had made it into the remake. I was ultimately very relieved that they didn’t and was able to enjoy the remake to the fullest.

This post is also available in: German