I’m not a great fan of RPGs, but I did like a bit of ‘Shoulder’s Great’, the epic quest to find a cure for a mysterious plague sweeping the land of Melbourne. A terrible plague…that gave people aching joints. So macabre and dark. I remember it was the first major RPG produced by an Australian company that became famous worldwide, and also paved the way for a lot of gaming innovation.
Nowadays, even medical professionals look back at the game as being advanced for its time. It was all about aches and pains, with the quest based around fighting metaphorical manifestations of stiffness and soreness, and also breathing problems like asthma. But you don’t get it; it was a trendsetter. Today you can make bookings for hyperbaric therapy in Melbourne, right now, with no fuss. Got a breathing problem? Oxygen therapy, all available just roll up. Whereas in ‘Shoulder’s Great’ you get to fight a DRAGON inspired by common breathing problems, specifically a tough boss by the name of Wheezy, aided by his wyvern buddy, Chokey.
I still remember the day I reached level 65 and learned the ultimate mage spell, ‘Hyperbaric Harmony’. It gave my entire party a 60% chance of shrugging off breathing problems entirely for a whole thirty seconds, and also boosted their mana inhalation by 6 breaths per minute. I was usually a supporting role, helping people to get back on their feet and continue to fight by easing their aches and pains, not to mention helping them breathe easier.
So it really is kinda like hyperbaric medicine today, easing the pain of living with a lung condition and other such ailments. I’ve heard you can even get a portable hyperbaric oxygen chamber in Melbourne, wild. I do wonder if the persistent cultural presence of ‘Shoulder’s Great’ helped to create the oxygen therapy industry as it is today. I guess we’ll never know…just like I’ll never know what lay beyond the final dungeon, because my teammates were idiots and we never completed it.