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Articles on this Page
- 10/19/18--19:30: _Project Nova: EVE O...
- 10/21/18--12:00: _How Clock Tower Was...
- 10/21/18--12:30: _Silent Hill: Explor...
- 10/22/18--12:30: _Daredevil: Why The ...
- 10/22/18--12:47: _Metal Gear Survive:...
- 10/22/18--13:55: _Devil May Cry: Capc...
- 10/22/18--16:47: _EA Executive Jade R...
- 10/23/18--09:15: _10 Best Castlevania...
- 10/23/18--09:45: _Resident Evil: How ...
- 10/23/18--11:55: _Intellivision Amico...
- 10/23/18--12:05: _Artifact: Release D...
- 10/23/18--12:51: _Facebook May Have C...
- 10/24/18--11:15: _Castlevania: A Drac...
- 10/24/18--13:15: _From Halloween to S...
- 10/24/18--16:15: _Castlevania: The Re...
- 10/25/18--12:45: _Castlevania Season ...
- 10/25/18--12:45: _Castlevania: Netfli...
- 10/25/18--13:15: _Manhunt: The Legacy...
- 10/25/18--13:39: _Red Dead Redemption...
- 10/25/18--16:57: _Paris Games Week 20...
- 10/19/18--19:30: Project Nova: EVE Online's Promising New Shooter
- 10/21/18--12:00: How Clock Tower Was Inspired by Dario Argento's Phenomena
- 10/21/18--12:30: Silent Hill: Exploring the Terror of the P.T. Demo
- 10/22/18--12:30: Daredevil: Why The Man Without Fear Game Never Happened
- 10/22/18--12:47: Metal Gear Survive: Konami Reveals Silent Hill Event
- 10/22/18--13:55: Devil May Cry: Capcom Announces $8,000 Special Edition
- 10/22/18--16:47: EA Executive Jade Raymond Leaves Star Wars Developer Motive Studios
- 10/23/18--09:15: 10 Best Castlevania Games Ever Made
- 10/23/18--11:55: Intellivision Amico: Price, Release Date,and Everything We Know
- 10/23/18--12:51: Facebook May Have Cancelled Oculus Rift 2
- 10/24/18--11:15: Castlevania: A Dracula Masterpiece 90 Years in the Making
- 10/24/18--16:15: Castlevania: The Real History of Dracula
- 10/25/18--12:45: Castlevania Season 3 Confirmed
- 10/25/18--12:45: Castlevania: Netflix Series Easter Eggs and Reference Guide
- 10/25/18--13:15: Manhunt: The Legacy of a Rockstar Horror Masterpiece
- 10/25/18--16:57: Paris Games Week 2018 Date, Games, Location, and News
Although it still needs quite a bit of work, CCP's Project Nova is a promising new shooter set in the EVE Online universe.
In 2013, EVE Online developer CCP launched its first foray into the shooter genre, Dust 514, a niche but ambitious free-to-play multiplayer FPS title for the PlayStation 3 that sought to seamlessly connect two games set in the same universe. Battles fought in Dust 514 were meant to affect the eternal power struggles playing out in EVE Onlinewhile spaceships in the MMO offered bomb support from orbit during matches in the shooter. Players from both games could even communicate with each other in real-time for the ultimate ground and air assault. While Dust 514 shut down in 2016 after a tepid reception at launch, it remains an admirable experiment in cooperative play the likes of which we've not seen since.
Project Nova, CCP's new cooperative PvE and competitive PvP shooter, isn't quite as ambitious as its predecessor, trading gameplay cohesiveness with the MMO for something much more important: getting the foundations of a great FPS right. While the experience isn't quite there yet, the game, which is still in active development, is a promising start.
I spent a day at CCP headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland with Project Nova, playing a pre-alpha version of the game as well as talking to the developers working on the project. The focus of my demo was the four-player cooperative PvE mode, Onslaught. CCP showed off a single map set on a ship under attack by Sansha's Nation (EVE Online players should be familiar with this faction of "cybernetic zombies"), with a few basic loadouts to choose from. It's important to note that what I played is an early, in-development version of the game that still has quite a few kinks to work out. Needless to say, I encountered a few bugs and glitches during playtime, the animations and physics were rough at times, and matches crashed once or twice.
You play as a Warclone, an elite clone soldier recruited by AEGIS, a branch of EVE's space police specializing in "defense against external threats." In this case, the grotesque cybernetically-enhanced soldiers of Sansha's Nation, which seek to enslave every living being in their path. Your job is to rescue those under attack and eliminate the Sansha threat.
Only three hero classes were available during the demo: the usual assault, heavy weapons, and sniper types with their own unique loadouts. CCP explained that players will be able to unlock new heroes and loadouts and customize them as they progress through the game.
To start, your team of four will want at least one of each starter class to survive the Sansha horde. My personal favorite was the Logistics hero (the heavy weapons guy), who is armed with a grenade launcher that can blast through a group of enemies when in a tight bind. When surrounded by the Sansha -- and the adaptive AI on display in the demo showcases an enemy that can flank you very quickly -- you'll want someone with that grenade launcher to blow a path through the enemy ranks for a quick getaway.
Assault is your typical infantry hero equipped with an assault rifle while Sharpshooter can lend a hand from several yards away with the sniper rifle. Each class also has a special ability that can be activated after a cooldown. Assault, for example, can activate a relay that heals any player within range as well as replenishes ammunition. Sharpshooters, on the other hand, have a cloak they can use to escape sticky situations.
I was also able to try out a few other weapons not found in the default loadouts, including the shotgun and a flamethrower, an exciting prospect that's unfortunately a bit disappointing in its current form. The flamethrower is limited in range and doesn't quite spew the ball of fire you'd expect, instead shooting something closer to a beam of light (but only when you're basically in an enemy's face, which is usually too close when it comes to the brutish Sansha). The shotgun also lacks the satisfyingly devastating blow to the enemy you've come to expect from first-person shooters. It's clear that these weapons are still a bit underdeveloped, and overall, I think that all the weapons (besides my beloved grenade launcher) could probably use a bit of a buff. There's still work to be done when it comes to making players feel like they're actually holding an assault rifle or a shotgun or flamethrower.
While Project Nova will boast "procedurally-generated objectives," the demo played out more like a standard tower defense game. My team was tasked with holding down three strategic zones on the ship while fighting back the Sansha. If you've played zone-capture modes such as Control in Destiny, Domination in Call of Duty, or Territories in Halo, you'll get what this PvE mode is all about pretty quickly.
Most of the time, you'll find yourself running back and forth between zones, defending them from the enemy. The experience is hectic and at times exhilarating as you fight for control of the board. The more zones you control on the map and the longer you hold them down, the more points you get on the scoreboard. Trying to control all three zones at the same time is key to dominating a match, but the ruthless Sansha won't make that very easy. I found that the AI could deduce which zone to focus its efforts on at any given moment, meaning that close games can play out like chess matches, as you sacrifice one zone to hold down another.
Even when surrounded by approaching Sansha, you're not completely alone when defending a zone. Players can install automated weapons to protect a zone's perimeter. Depending on which character you choose, you can install machine gun turrets, rocket launchers, and the like. I didn't find these emplacements particularly effective against the enemy in large numbers but a turret can have your back when a stray Sansha approaches.
Even if you survive the Sansha and manage to reach the score limit, the game's not over. The final sequence of the match sees you and your team shooting your way towards an extraction zone before the timer runs out. It's pivotal for your character to reach the extraction if you want to gain the most XP and rewards at the end of a match. It's that last push that proves to be Onslaught's most interesting moment.
While I can't say that the extraction portion of the match will feel as epic after the 10th or 50th time you play it, it really did the first time around, as my teammates rushed to the evac point, trying to stay alive. We found ourselves subconsciously creating a story around that escape, that of the heroes who saved the day but weren't able to make it out alive to enjoy the spoils of victory.
In the end, we all died before we could be extracted. As one developer put it, the people of New Eden would one day sing songs about our sacrifice. You can already start to see how Project Nova might be able to emulate the story of player-created storytelling that's made EVE Online such a unique staple of the MMO space, even if Project Nova's scope is a bit more limited.
Overall, there's a lot to like about Project Nova's Onslaught mode, even if it's not exactly reinventing the wheel. You'll definitely leave the experience feeling like you've played this sort of game before, but the fact that it's set in such a rich sci-fi universe might be enough to set it apart from other entries in the shooter genre. Right now, it's definitely a bit rough around the edges but there's definitely potential.
There is one really important thing to note: I'm not a hardcore EVE Online player nor do I have a deep knowledge of the game's lore. I've dabbled with the MMO and have more than a little admiration for the cut-throat community that populates the game's universe and the stories this community has created, but I'm not currently running a corporation, waging war on any empires, or bending the knee to the Space Pope. I'm just a guy who loves first-person shooters.
That's an important audience for CCP, which is not only designing Project Nova for the most hardcore EVE players who spend several hours a day in New Eden, the setting of this massive game universe, but also for those who simply love the shooter genre. For Project Nova, CCP is really pushing a philosophy of "opt-in" complexity.
Indeed, there's a familiarity to Project Nova's gameplay that allows you to jump into the action without having to worry about allegiances, ISK (EVE Online's in-game currency), or much of the lore. Considering that EVE Online is often regarded as one of gaming's most intimidating franchises -- in terms of its history, size, gameplay possibilities, and ruthless playerbase -- it's an absolute breath of fresh air to be able to play in this universe without having to make much of a commitment to its larger metagame.
"For normal FPS players, it should stand completely on its own, be fun, be exciting, and have still some classic FPS goals like unlocking achievements or medals, that kind of stuff should work, but there should be a deeper metagame that people can choose to be a part of," Snorri Arnason, the game's director and self-proclaimed FPS superfan, explains. "I think that's very important, and sometimes even players that don't want to do the corporations and all that stuff, they even found roles as just, 'I'm the best in the game and that means people want me in their corporations. So I'll join their corporation, I'll show up and fight, but I'm not gonna do crafting. Tell me when to show up and I'll kill everyone for 30 minutes and I can leave.'"
In terms of the shooter-specific metagame, Arnason, who also served as Senior Producer on Dust 514, stresses it's completely up to players how much time they invest in Project Nova's progression system and customizable weapons and equipment. For those players who enjoy RPG elements such as crafting, Project Nova will certainly scratch that itch.
"For those players who like that much deeper, complex experience, we want to have that progression in there," Kevin Clarke, Project Nova's lead game designer, says. "We want to have things where players can start customizing their drop suits, start swapping around equipment, finding what works best for their playing style. You know, changing the weapons, adding and removing attachments. Eventually getting to the point where you're able to manufacture your own weapons, your own drop suits, maybe trade them."
You won't be thrown into Project Nova's complex systems right away though, according to Arnason, who thinks it's important to ease in players to the game before giving them countless customization options.
"That's where the hero to class-based progression comes from," Arnason explains. "Let's not try to make life extra difficult for normal FPS players, let's give them something that they recognize. Just play the sniper guy, play this awesome guy. Then you can start to get into the game. Don'tgivemeaguythatdoesn'thaveaweaponandI'msupposedtochoosewhichweaponhehas. Too much choice in the beginning is a bad choice."
The same goes for the storytelling, which will be as deep or light as the player wants it to be, according to Clarke.
"With our narrative style, we're not trying to make it lore heavy in such a way that you need to know everything in the game that's happening in EVEto understand what's happening in our universe. We want to sort of work with what we're calling Jigsaw storytelling. It's our sort of narrative device where we're just gonna give bits and pieces for players to discover to interact with. If they're interested in the lore, the lore is there for them to dive deeper into."
Casual players who have watched EVE Onlinegrow from a distance but have been unwilling to put in the time to learn the ropes of such a massive universe may finally have the right alternative in Project Nova. Time will tell if the game can capture that audience or if it's the playerbase CCP already has that will truly embrace this shooter.
Work in Progress
There are still plenty of questions surrounding Project Nova, such as its official title, whether a console version is in the works down the line, and if the game will feature controller support. According to Clarke, CCP plans to work with its community of players to determine what's right for the game in the long run.
"It'snotthatwe'rerulingout,wewillneverhaveaconsoleport,butit'sjustnotonourroadmapbecause,rightnow,we'rereallyfocusingonourcoremechanics,thatcoregunplay," Clarke says. "Wewantthatgunplaytobesatisfying.That'sourprimaryobjective.Wheneveryone'sreallyhappywiththat,thisiswhenwebuildout,thisiswhenwestartlookingtowhattoprovidenext.Andwewanttoco-evolvethisgamewithourfans,withourplayers.
In terms of controller support, "this is something that there is a real demand for, there is no reason why we won't add controller support," according to Clarke. "But, right now, we want to just get that core mouse, keyboard, first-person shooter experience working and then, basically, our players are gonna tell us what we need to provide them with. If they need controller support, then that's something we would definitely consider."
During a brief presentation before the demo, Arnason also mentioned that CCP is taking a "game as a service" approach to Project Nova's development, meaning that players should expect post-release content and support for the game. CCP declined to share the exact business model it's putting in place for Project Nova or whether microtransactions will be present in the game, as the company has "not locked down" how it plans to monetize the shooter.
Fans dying to get their hands on the game will get a chance to do so sooner than expected. CCP will begin Alpha testing Project Nova in November. Players interested in participating in the Alpha will need to register here for an invite. No release date has been set.
Clock Tower is the classic survival horror game inspired by the work of Dario Argento. Here's why the game is still so important!
In the opening moments of Dario Argento's Phenomena, a young traveler stumbles through the woods, abandoned by her tour bus. She finds a house and enters, looking for help. That's a mistake. A serial killer stabs the teenager repeatedly with a pair of scissors, then shoves her through a second-story window.
It's a brutal and strange beginning to an even stranger movie, and it's a perfect jumping off point for one of Argento's best films. It's also the inspiration for Scissorman, one of the most memorable villains in video game history and the star of 1995's unsettling survival horror point-and-click adventure Clock Tower.
Clock Tower may not be a massive franchise like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, but it's just as terrifying as either of those games. In hindsight, Clock Tower is also uncannily prophetic about survival horror's future. Recent Resident Evil games are schlocky action titles, not horror games (although the next entry in the franchise, Resident Evil 7, looks like a return to form). Silent Hill is all but dead following the collapse of Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima's reboot, Silent Hills. And yet, in the past half-decade or so, more and more games are playing with the ideas that Clock Tower first explored over twenty years ago.
While historians consider the Japanese role-playing game Sweet Home the first real survival horror game, it's really Infogrames'Alone in the Dark that set the standard for future games of the genre. Like many of the survival horror games that followed, Alone in the Darkuses fixed camera angles with pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D models to create a spooky, cinematic atmosphere—an impressive technical feat back in the early 1990s.
Mechanically, Alone in the Dark borrows liberally from point-and-click adventure games, with much of the tension coming from managing the player's limited inventory, and solving puzzles by using the right objects at the right time. There's some fighting, but it's not always effective. Many enemies can't be beaten via traditional punches and kicks, and mundane tasks like walking down a hallway or opening a book are just as likely to kill you as Alone in the Dark's supernatural foes.
Resident Evil, which debuted in 1996,follows Alone in the Dark's template almost exactly, even adapting the same B-movie tropes as its predecessor. Silent Hill, which hit the PlayStation a few years later, uses fully 3D environments and focuses more on Lynchian surrealism than jump scares and gore, but follows the same basic model.
Meanwhile, Clock Tower, which came out a year before Resident Evil, takes Alone in the Dark's gameplayback to its adventure game roots. Clock Tower is, quite literally, a point-and-click adventure game. Players control the main character using a cursor, even though Clock Tower was built specifically for the gamepad-equipped Super Famicom (Nintendo released a mouse peripheral for the Super Famicom, but Clock Tower doesn't use it). While Resident Evil gives characters Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine a full arsenal and features a robust combat engine, Clock Tower's hero can't fight at all. In order to survive, she has to hide until the danger passes.
Clock Tower derives most of its tension from that kind of vulnerability. That makes sense, given its influences. Clock Tower's main character, an orphan named Jennifer Simpson, looks and dresses exactly like Phenomena's hero, Jennifer Corvino (played by a very, very young Jennifer Connelly). Most of Phenomena takes place in a Swiss boarding school. Clock Tower unfolds in a sprawling Norwegian mansion. In Phenomena, Jennifer is hunted by a deformed, blade-wielding child, whose diligent mother covers up his crimes. Clock Tower never gets quite as weird as Phenomena—in the film, Jennifer teams up with an entomologist and a chimp and has a psychic link with insects—but in terms of overall plot and tone, they're very, very similar.
As Jennifer, Clock Tower players must explore the labyrinthine "Clock Tower" mansion in order to rescue Jennifer's friends and escape before a murderous little tyke (technically named Bobby, but more commonly known as Scissorman) kills them all. As mentioned before, Jennifer can't fight. If Bobby (or one of the Clock Tower's other assailants) gets too close, players can defend themselves by mashing the B button, but that only grants a temporary reprieve. Worse, after a close encounter, Jennifer panics. While panicked, Jennifer is more likely to fail at future attempts to protect herself, and tends to trip and fall while running away from her attacker. The only way to calm Jennifer's nerves is to find a quiet and safe place and rest—which leaves her open to unexpected attacks.
No, it's much better to avoid Scissorman entirely, either by finding a hiding space or by using one of the many traps scattered around the mansion. Unfortunately, planning the perfect route through the house isn't always easy. In Clock Tower's most masterful and devious twist, Scissorman's attacks are completely random. You never know when or where he's going to strike.
That gives Clock Tower a sense of both entrapment and relentless pursuit, which are Argento's trademarks. Sure, Phenomena is gory, but its horror doesn't rely on jump scares or shock value. In Phenomena, Jennifer's teachers want to lock her up in an asylum. Her father's agent won't give her the money she needs to return home. A potential savior tries to drug Jennifer, then locks her in the house with the killer. The more that Jennifer tries to escape, the more trapped and vulnerable she becomes.
Clock Tower taps into the same kind of tension—something that other games are only starting to explore. The developers behind the 2014 game Alien: Isolation, which features a similarly unpredictable antagonist, cite Clock Tower as one of their main inspirations. Slender: The Eight Pages and its sequel, Slender: The Arrival, both star a villain who can teleport at random, and whose attack patterns change as the game progresses. Other modern horror classics, like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Outlast, and SOMA, continue to practice this discipline of making the player feel helpless to terrifying effect.
Scissorman's random attacks aren't Clock Tower's only modern feature, either. The Clock Tower mansion isn't procedurally generated, but its layout changes with every playthrough, and the item's locations are different every time you start a new game. Everything that you do matters, too. As in the PlayStation 4 exclusive Until Dawn, supporting characters die if Jennifer makes the wrong choices, changing the story on the way to one of nine potential endings.
Clock Tower isn't perfect, of course. The point-and-click interface isn't a great fit for a console controller, and the mansion's layout—which is presented in 2D, but maps to a 3D space—can be confusing to the point of frustration. As a Japanese-exclusive release, it's also impossible to play in English without dirtying your hands with emulators and an (excellent) fan-made translation. Still, for survival horror fans, Clock Tower is an essential play—not just to see where the genre came from, but also to catch a glimpse as to where it might be headed.
Christopher Gates is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.
The P.T. demo was a horror experience unlike anything the gaming industry had ever seen. Terror hadn't spread like this since The Exorcist.
In many ways, I consider myself lucky to have grown up a horror film fan during the VHS/cable television era of entertainment. It was an arrangement that afforded many far too young individuals the opportunity to experience a sizeable chunk of horror history.
At the same time, I’ve always been jealous of the generation who experienced the revolutionary horror films of the 1960s and ‘70s at the theater. This forlorn feeling was instilled in me by my dad and others who lived through that era of horror.
While there was something annoying about their unprovoked rants about the good old days - who among us can’t say we haven’t fallen into that particular shameful pit of adulthood? - I will concede that they had a point.
If you didn’t know better, you’d swear that the footage of people watching The Exorcist in theaters for the first time was simply crafted by the studio as part of a marketing ploy. It wasn’t a ploy, though. People really did faint in the aisles. People really did run out of the theater screaming for help from their preferred deity. Adults left the screening physically shaking and crying while a line around the block consisting of eager viewers watched on with false confidence that they would not succumb to such madness.
For years, I bitterly conceded a point that I’d heard many times before. “There will never be another movie like The Exorcist.” I conceded that a combination of technological and cultural changes made it almost impossible for a film to have that same impact on modern theatergoers.
Fortunately, not all is lost. While the modern theater scene may limit the potential of another Exorcist-like experience, we can thank video games for providing us with a champion of social experience horror that will no doubt live in infamy. One day, we will be telling a new generation of young horror fans that “there will never be another game like P.T.”
The funny thing is that P.T. and The Exorcist are quite far apart in many practical respects. The Exorcist was a film adaptation of a bestselling novel. It rode into theaters on a respectable wave of hype.
P.T. did not benefit from a similar approach. A trailer for the project was sandwiched between far more notable announcements at Gamescom 2014. The short teaser gave us little to go on: P.T.was a horror game made by a studio nobody had ever heard of (7780s Studio) that was available now for PlayStation 4. It was the first time anyone had ever heard of the project.
Those who gave the mysterious P.T.a shot that night were treated to a first-person horror game about walking down a hallway. We'd seen that trick before.
2010’s Amnesia and 2013’s Outlast made it especially clear that first-person horror games done can offer a kind of experience that really isn’t possible in any other format. By virtue of the contributions of a legion of shooters, we’re used to the first-person perspective making us feel empowered. However, the horror genre uses the limited peripheral vision of the first-person perspective to force players to stare their fears right in the eyes.
From a sheer design perspective, few horror games have ever utilized that player disadvantage as brilliantly as P.T. Unlike similar titles that afford you the ability to run and hide, P.T. makes you wander down a restrictive and repetitive corridor. Amusingly, the game even anticipates that you might feel the need to turn away from the game’s scares. Doing so often results in you being greeted by an expertly crafted supernatural terror.
Of course, facing things head-on doesn’t exactly make the scares more bearable. If you feel like being critical, you could write-off P.T.’s creature design as “derivative.” Most of the game’s ghouls are of the “scary female ghost” design that we’ve seen many times before.
What truly matters, though, is the way the game delivers its scares. Alongside the classic turnaround scare, P.T. delivers such classic frights as a ghost slamming a doorway shut right as you approach it, an apparition standing in bright light directly ahead of you at the end of the hallway, and an ominous red light that slyly directs your attention to a mysterious figure looming above.
In short, P.T. utilizes a combination of choreographed and surprising scares to keep the player unhinged. Giving you no means of defense and nowhere to run are the most obvious ways the game makes the player feel helpless, but that feeling is truly achieved through the way the game makes all of its scares feel organically implemented. Repetitive play will reveal that isn’t the case (though some scares are slightly randomized), but your first playthrough may leave you weeping at the prospect of turning another corner. All the while, you’re somehow expected to solve a series of puzzles that exist entirely outside the realm of conventional logic.
This is P.T.’s greatest design accomplishment. It utilizes the constrained nature of a funhouse-like setting for most of its scares but expands the walls of the funhouse just enough so as to not make players feel like they’re simply being led by the hand and forced to endure the primitive shock of being jumped at when they least expect it. It’s the perfect combination of environmental tension and jump scare payoffs. Indeed, P.T. forces you to be brave enough to seek its next big scare and treat it as a mile marker.
Beating the game, as you may now know, reveals that P.T. is simply a teaser. A clever way to promote the then-upcoming Silent Hills game co-created by famed developer Hideo Kojima and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. In the hours that followed P.T.’s release, that bit of information became the biggest story.
I’d love to tell you that I was among the first gamers to download P.T. Alas, that is not the case. In a way, I envy those brave gamers that immediately jumped on this curiosity and were able to experience it with the freshest eyes. How wonderful it must have been to not be aware of the game’s pedigree, its scares, or its true intent.
However, something equally wonderful happened in the days that followed P.T.’s initial release. Many other gamers like myself, who had no idea of the game’s significance, slowly became aware that P.T. was a horror game that everyone needed to experience. How did that happen? Well, for the most part, word of the game spread through the screams of those who had already experienced it.
P.T. was not the first horror game that was largely promoted through the word of mouth of streamers, YouTubers, and offline friends. Amnesia certainly benefited from that effect, as did Five Nights at Freddy’s, which came out about a week before P.T.
What separates P.T. is the scope and nature of its impact. Amnesia sold well over a long period of time, but there are several considerable time gaps between its release, its popularity among online entertainers, and its eventual sales success. It took two years for the game to break one million sales. The story is similar to Five Nights at Freddy’s, but that game’s reputation hindered by the popular perception that it's little more than a series of cheap jump scares.
Meanwhile, P.T. was downloaded one million times in just two weeks. Unlike Amnesia, P.T. was a free game that was just accessible enough to be enjoyed by people who would not typically consider playing a true horror title. Unlike Five Nights at Freddy's, P.T. was still enough of a “game” as to ensure that its machinations were analyzed and respected by even the most dissenting of genre purists. All of these factors helped P.T. reach a wide audience who soon uploaded their reactions to the game online or otherwise slyly forced their friends to experience it as well.
That’s when the real magic happened. For a brief period of time, P.T. was the talk of the industry. If you were truly lucky, you played it right after its announcement trailer, without watching videos or reading articles beforehand. Even if you did indulge in proxy playthroughs, though, you no doubt still found yourself at P.T.’s mercy. Its brand of scares translated so well to video form that it wasn’t uncommon for people to swear the game off before ever playing it.
Much like The Exorcist, though, the most notable reactions to P.T. were also the most extreme. As popular as it is to call out YouTubers for their over-the-top “digital clickbait” reactions, their jumps and streams of curse words felt genuine in the case of P.T. Even the most over-the-top reactions were easy to empathize with. Even jaded gamers took pleasure in laughing at how others were so very scared by that which they bravely soldiered through.
It is the nature of P.T.’s communal experience which makes it such a historically special piece of horror entertainment. Like The Exorcist and other event horror films before it, P.T.’s appeal was bolstered by the fact that we were experiencing it together. But unlike movies such as The Exorcist, P.T. didn’t foster that communal experience by simply putting viewers into the same room. The game’s intensity and the nature of its stealth release inspired gamers to pass it on to one another.
Sadly, P.T.’s legacy will forever be sealed by the fact that the very game it was designed to promote - Silent Hills - will never happen. Kojima and the game's publisher, Konami, had a falling out that sealed the project’s fate. Cruelly, Konami even pulled P.T. from the PlayStation Store.
In doing so, the publisher ensured that those mythical few weeks that followed the release of P.T. would be stretched to an eternity. When those who never had the privilege of playing the game upon its release speak to those who did, the conversation is appropriately similar to the talks I used to have with adults regarding the impact of major horror movie releases. There’s nothing but admiration in the eyes of the listener who can’t believe such a thing once happened and quite a bit of regret in the voice of the speaker who wishes he could pass on the experience.
Inevitably, something will come along that will replicate the essence of that experience in some new way that the current generation can't quite anticipate. Truth be told, something always does. That does nothing to diminish the legacy of P.T., though. It was a marketing ploy that cut through thick layers of consumer cynicism and delivered an injection of pure terror to the heart which spread globally at a rate that would qualify it as an epidemic.
There never will be anything quite like P.T. again.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.
We were much closer to a great Daredevil video game than most fans realize. Here's why The Man Without Fear game never happened.
We are fortunate to live in an era of gaming when we can no longer earnestly ask, "Why are there no good superhero games?" Much like filmmakers did, game developers eventually discovered that superheroes could, in fact, make for some compelling subject matter and have been churning out notable superhero releases ever since. The latest, of course, is the excellent Spider-Man game for from Marvel.
Still, you can never have enough good superhero games. That's especially true of characters who have yet to really star in a compelling title of their own, which is why the latest Did You Know Gaming? video about the fall of an ambitious Daredevil title that was close to seeing release is particularly disheartening.
Have a look:
The basic rundown of this sad story is that developer 5000ft Inc. was contracted to make a Daredevil game after its publisher acquired the rights to some Marvel characters. The original plan was for the small studio to make an equally small game that focused on recreating the major moments of Daredevil's life. That all changed, however, once news broke that Daredevil was going to be the subject of a major motion picture. Once that happened, Sony and Marvel now had a much greater interest in ensuring the game was as big as possible. In fact, they wanted 5000ft Inc. to make an open-world Daredevil game and gave the studio all the resources they would need to do it. Good news, right?
Well, not exactly. From that point on, it seems that Sony began to exercise its creative control on the project by insisting that elements of other popular games (such as the grinding from Tony Hawk) be implemented into Daredevil. Marvel, on the other hand, was more concerned with preserving the sanctity of the character and was adamantly against such additions.
This would only signal the start of a tumultuous development cycle that included many artistic differences, several changes in direction, an influx of contract staffers that allegedly had quite a drug problem and other less than ideal work conditions. Though the project (now known as Daredevil: The Man Without Fear) was nearing completion, the plug was ultimately pulled at the last minute.
What's particularly depressing about that is The Man Without Fear actually sounds like an intriguing game. The plot involving the assassination of the Kingpin and the power vacuum that follows sounds great, elements like Daredevil's unique sight fit right at home with modern games, and the concept art looks fantastic.
Maybe one day we'll finally get that great Daredevil game, but it's certainly a downer to think that it may have been in development years ago.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.
Pyramid Head will make a Metal Gear Survive cameo in this Silent Hill event.
Konami is digging up the corpse of Silent Hill just in time for Halloween.
In what is being described by some (or maybe just us) as the absolute least Konami can do with the Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill franchises, a special Halloween event for Metal Gear Survive. By "special Halloween event," we mean that you'll be able to purchase Pyramid Head's headpiece in the game and wear it like you wear the burden of knowing that Silent Hills will never be released.
It's not clear how many points you will need to purchase the headpiece, but it appears that you will need to have completed the game's campaign first. On top of that, you'll be able to unlock special tapes containing the Silent Hillsoundtrack as well as the soundtracks for Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night (because let's drag Castlevania into this too). There are also some new recipes and items to play with.
There might be more to this event, but Konami hasn't revealed all of the details yet. What we can tell you is that this Halloween event will run from October 23 to November 6.
Well-earned Konami jokes aside, the disappointing thing about this event (at least what we know about this event for sure) is that Metal Gear Survivetheoretically lends itself to a much more interesting crossover. The game's foggy environments and menacing horror elements could have served as the perfect secondary home for Silent Hill's trademark features. Alas, it looks like this might be a mostly superficial event.
At least Castlevania is getting a couple of interesting remasters. We just hope Konami finds it in their hearts to do something similar with the Silent Hill franchise in the near future. We'd especially love to see some of the later Silent Hill games (especially Silent Hill 4: The Room and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories) get some love.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Devil May Cry 5 super fans with money to burn will love this deal from Capcom.
Capcom's optimism must be at an all-time high because they seem to think that someone will pay almost $9,000 for a special edition of Devil May Cry 5.
Capcom's Japanese online store lists an "Ultra Limited Edition" of Devil May Cry 5 that costs 972,000 Yen (a little over $8,600). What do you get for that princely sum? Surprisingly, you don't get that much. This version of the game includes the regular special edition of the title, a reversible cover, and (most importantly) a replica of Dante's leather coat.
Why on Earth would anyone pay that much for a coat? We will admit that it's a nice looking replica (if the picture is any indication of its actual quality) but unless we're talking about the finest leather in the world, we can't help but feel that you are paying an unheard of markup price for the fact that Capcom is aware you are a super fan for even considering this purchase.
The coat itself is based on the one that Dante's motion actor wore when working on Devil May Cry 5. That is to say that it's about as authentic of a replica as you're going to find. The translation makes it a little difficult to tell how sizing works, but we're going to guess that if you're willing to pay this much money, then Capcom will probably help you find the proper size coat.
Of course, if you're going to spend this much money, couldn't you probably get some custom-made, custom-fit replica coat? Granted, I haven't spent nearly this much on a video game character's coat before, but I'm fairly certain that there's someone in the world who will make you a Devil May Cry coat for that much money. Most online replicas are floating around the $500-$800 range as it currently stands.
Humorously, Capcom is selling replica V and Nero coats for significantly cheaper. The Nero one will set you back 750,000 Yen (with optional damaged sleeve) while the V coat goes for 600,000 Yen. There's no word regarding whether or not these will ever be sold outside of Japan.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Raymond and Motive were working on a major EA Star Wars game prior to her departure.
EA's work on the Star Wars series has taken yet another creative hit as Motive Studios founder Jade Raymond has left the company.
"Jade Raymond has decided to leave Electronic Arts," reads a statement from EA. "In her time with us, Jade helped to build great teams, and our projects underway at Motive and other studios continue unchanged. We’re appreciative of all of her efforts, and we wish Jade all the best as she moves on to her next adventure."
In that same statement, EA reveals that Samantha Ryan (the Senior Vice President of EA's mobile division, Maxis, and BioWare) will take over Raymond's role as head of Motive Studios. Ryan previously participated in the development of games like No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R., and Batman: Arkham City.
If the names Jade Raymond and Motive Studios are all ringing a few bells in your head, there are good reasons why. During Raymond's time with Ubisoft, she was a leading figure in the creation of the Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs franchises. In 2015, she announced that she had decided to join EA and would serve as the studio head of Motive as well as one of the leads of Visceral Games. Sadly, the only game that Raymond helped bring to life as part of Motive was the campaign portion of Battlefront II. Visceral's Star Wars game was infamously canceled when the studio was shut down, and Motive was the studio tasked with reimagining that Star Warsproject.
The wording of the statement seems to suggest that Raymond decided to leave EA. However, the somewhat aggressive touting of Samantha Ryan at the start of the statement almost gives the impression that Raymond's departure may have partially been based on EA's preferences. It's also possible that her decision to leave was in discussions for quite some time.
We'd be lying if we told you that Battlefront II's campaign was the single-player Star Wars experience we've been dreaming of, but it was at least a narrative-based Star Warsexperience. Add to that the fact that Raymond was also heavily involved with Visceral's single-player Star Wars experience, and we kind of get the feeling that EA's pushing a creative direction for the property that the studio's actual creators may not be on-board with.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
Castlevania has a long history of excellent platformers. Here are the 10 best games in the franchise!
Castlevania, one of the greatest video game franchises of all time, has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence of late. The original game released on the Famicom Disk System on September, 26, 1986. Since then, nearly 40 titles have been published across just about every significant system in gaming history from the NES onward.
The franchise has even made it's way to TV, thanks to Netflix, which released the first great video game adaptation. We certainly loved the four-episode first season and we're very much looking forward to the second season. This is an interesting development, considering there hasn't been a new Castlevania game in a few years.
Castlevania fans haven't gotten a new game since 2014's Lords of Shadow 2released to little fanfare on the aging PS3 and Xbox 360. Worse yet is the fact that Castlevania is owned by Konami, which has made it clear it's more interested in mobile apps and pachinko machines these days than working on big budget AAA titles.
But while the future of the game franchise remains unclear - even as it becomes a successful TV series - the more than 30-year milestone is as good of an excuse as any to take a look back at the series as a whole. With more than three dozen titles on the roster, not every game has been a commercial or critical success. But when Castlevania is at its best, it's provided players with some of the most memorable experiences in gaming history.
Here are our picks for the top 10 Castlevania games of all time:
1986 | Konami | NES
Castlevania as a franchise would pick up a lot of new tricks in later years, but at heart, it's always been about the horror. The original title was a classic side-scroller, but its Gothic-themed romp through Dracula's castle set it apart from other similar platformers of the era. Players guided vampire slayer Simon Belmont through six levels that got ridiculously difficult at times. His main weapon, a whip called "Vampire Killer," was perhaps a little too spot-on in its name but would soon become an iconic part of gaming history.
9. Castlevania: Bloodlines
1994 | Konami | Genesis
Bloodlineswas the only Castlevania title to see release on Sega's 16-bit console. It tells the story of a legendary vampire named Elizabeth Bartley, who is Dracula's niece. Bartley suddenly appears in the 20th century, intent on continuing her uncle's dark legacy with the ultimate goal of bringing him back to life. Heroes John Morris and his best friend Eric Lecarde stand up to Bartley and prevent Dracula's resurrection.
This installment is notable as the first game in the series that did not take place in Dracula's castle. In fact, Bloodlines sends players on a journey throughout Europe. The European connection looks ironic in hindsight, however, as the game was heavily censored for its PAL release. Bloodlines was even renamed The New Generation in Europe. Blood effects on the title screen were changed to water and zombies were changed in color from pink to green to make them appear less gruesome. Despite the censorship, the game was an instant hit around the world.
8. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
1990 | Konami | NES
Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest received what you might call a less than warm reception from fans. (You want me to go around and gather Dracula's body parts and bring him back to life... just so I can kill him again? Seriously?) As a result, Konami decided to go back to basics with Castlevania III, getting rid of most of the RPG and action-adventure elements from Simon's Quest in favor of a return to the original game's platforming. Players took on the role of Trevor Belmont and could select one of three additional characters to fight alongside him in the quest to once again defeat Dracula. Castlevania IIIwas unique in that it allowed for different story paths and multiple endings based off which companion accompanied Trevor, a concept that felt new and exciting during this era of gaming.
7. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
2005 | Konami | PS2, XBO
Curse of Darknesswas not perfect by any means, but the art style alone earns it a spot on this list. The gorgeous levels and character designs would serve as inspiration for a manga spinoff that was published by Tokyopop.
The game is set three years after the events of Castlevania III. It offers a fresh story and protagonist, leaving the Belmont family behind in favor of Hector, a Devil Forgemaster who was previously employed by Dracula. Trevor Belmont does become playable, however, along with his trusty whip once the main game has been beaten.
6. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
2010 | MercurySteam & Kojima Productions | PS3, X360
We're tempted to just write that Hideo Kojima was a producer on this title and leave it at that, but really, the entire production team deserves kudos for making Castlevania: Lords of Shadow a great game. When Konami first announced the title, it was just Lords of Shadowbecause they wanted to keep the fact that they were completely rebooting the Castlevania franchise a secret. In the end, this is the Castlevania title that was most successful at transitioning to 3D. Yes, the action-based combat felt a lot like God of War, and the game's ending left a bit to be desired - but hey, look at me, I'm cracking a whip at a vampire in high definition.
5. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
2008 | Konami | DS
The Nintendo DS has three Castlevaniatitles and they're all pretty good, but Order of Ecclesia takes home the top prize. Players take on the role of a woman named Shanoa, who is leading an organization that set out to defeat Dracula after the Belmont family vanished. As such, it's one of the few games in the series to not contain the famous Vampire Killer whip. But the controls were excellent and the boss fights were way more epic than what you would expect from a handheld game.
4. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood
1993 | Konami | TurboGrafx
Rondo of Blood is probably better known in the U.S. as Dracula X, which was the name that Konami gave the SNES port of the Japanese TurboGrafx-16 title. The problem is that most hardcore fans consider Dracula X to be a weak port, meaning Rondo is still the best version of the game. Like Castlevania III, Rondo of Blood featured multiple paths, fantastic level design, and some pretty good action-based combat. Players progressed as both Richter Belmont and Maria, his lover's sister.
3. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
2003 | Konami | GBA
Castlevania has had quite a few portable titles over the years, but 2003's Aria of Sorrow for the Game Boy Advance still holds up today as an all-time classic. The game wins points for its unique story featuring Soma Cruz, who is basically a teenage reincarnation of Dracula. Think about that. A Dracula with acne and probably a big authority problem. Anyway, Aria of Shadow is also unique in that it's set in the year 2035. Cruz eventually ends up in Dracula's castle because Plot Reasons. There he finds out that the original Dracula, who was vanquished by Belmont and friends in 1999, is trying once again to come back to life and he's planning to use Cruz's body as his vessel. The game being set in the future also allowed for a cool mix of both vintage and futuristic looking weapons. This was the worthy spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night that fans had been waiting for.
2. Super Castlevania IV
1991 | Konami | SNES
What was it about the Super Nintendo that created so many epic games? Much like A Link to the Past and Super Mario World, Super Castlevania IV was a huge leap forward for its respective franchise. The graphics looked incredible compared to the games on the NES, the soundtrack was equally fantasticm and Simon Belmont's iconic whip could now take on vampires in eight different directions. Grappling and crouch walking provided additional ways to progress through the levels. The messaging was a bit mixed on the story, however, as the original developers considered it to be a remake of the first game, but Konami's American counterparts decided to market it as a direct sequel to Simon's Quest. Either way, Super Castlevania IV raised the bar for what fans have come to expect from the series.
1. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
1997 | Konami | PS
Symphony of the Night took all of the best parts from the most loved previous games in the series and put them all together for an absolute masterpiece. The game features great controls and epic boss fights mixed with open-world exploration and RPG mechanics as well as the best platforming since Castlevania III. You would think that such a mash up would be hard to keep up with, but the result was groundbreaking. Symphony is responsible for coining the phrase "Metroidvania," as it requires players to backtrack through previous levels as new abilities are learned. A great soundtrack, solid level design, and a pretty good plot twist are just icing on the cake.
Symphony of the Night, a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood, ironically didn't perform that well in the United States when it was first released, but the passage of time has been kind. Symphony of the Night is now considered to be one of the the great cult classics in video game history, if not one of the best video games of all-time.
When Konami made its widely publicized exit from big budget video games, many fans lamented the end of epic franchises like Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill. Castlevania, it seems, was largely forgotten about in the media coverage that followed. But even if Konami never publishes another proper Castlevaniatitle, fans can still see its influence in plenty of other games. Most notable perhaps is the upcoming independent title, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which is being developed by Koji Igarashi, who served as a producer on the "Metroidvania"-based Castlevaniatitles. This crowd-sourced spiritual successor will release in 2019.
Jason Gallagher is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.
Before Resident Evil, there was Sweet Home. This is how a half-forgotten film and game spawned a video game genre...
This article originally appeared at Den of Geek UK.
Ring, Audition, Dark Water, Onibaba, House, Kuroneko... Ask most film fans to name a prominent Japanese horror, and one of those titles would probably come up. Ask most video game fanatics to name a Japanese horror game, and they'd probably reply with Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or, if they're feeling a bit retro, Splatterhouseor Castlevania.
There's one name that almost certainly won't come up in conversations about either category: Sweet Home. Yet this 1989 horror, and the video game of the same name released with it, inadvertently helped define an entire genre - and even spawn the Resident Evilfranchise, which is still going 20 years later.
The Sweet Homemovie is a curious genre mishmash with an impressive pedigree. It was written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a filmmaker who would earn much wider critical attention for such movies as Pulse(2001) and Tokyo Sonata (2008). Its special makeup effects were created by Dick Smith, who made Linda Blair look possessed in The Exorcist, and famously blew up heads in David Cronenberg's Scanners. Sweet Home's producer was Juzo Itami, in the late-80s well known for his "ramen western" Tampopoand as an actor in such films as Lady Snowblood.
Sweet Home's style, which echoes everything from Italian bloodbath epics of the 1970s and 80s to Robert Wise's The Haunting to Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist, almost borders on pastiche. Its story sees a group of filmmakers - plus the director's teenage daughter, Emi, who's along for the school holidays - enter a deserted mansion to make a film about the work of a famous artist. The artist's mansion is said to contain one of his last frescoes, and the crew are determined to clean the painting up and present it to the Japanese public for the first time. But by poking around the crumbling old building, the filmmakers stir up the ghost of the artist's grief-stricken wife, and her supernatural shadow has a deadly effect on anyone it reaches.
Acted and directed with the tone of a horror-comedy, Sweet Home soon switches gear when the supernatural events kick in: the ghost's shadow is capable of burning and dissolving mortal bodies, with spectacularly gruesome results. In one scene, a cameraman's lower body is reduced to a streak of crimson goo. In another, an old man (played by producer Juzo Itami) is stripped to his bare bones. If the minimal, recognizable style of Kiyoshi Kurosawa seems largely missing, that's apparently because he and Itami fell out while the movie was in production. Itami, a decidedly hands-on producer, had his own ideas as to what the film should look like, and changed Kurosawa's cut considerably before its release.
Kurosawa's fingerprints can still be found in Sweet Home's more vivid moments, however. The sequences where his characters flee from huge, finger-like shadows are wonderfully eerie, and the final third, where TV producer Akiko (Nobuko Miyatomo, the producer's wife) faces the mansion's demonic forces alone are really effective - all Poltergeist-style optical effects and loathsome prosthetics.
Sweet Home could be regarded as a fun yet inconsequential footnote in Japanese cinema - or at any rate a relic from Kurosawa's earlier career that he might prefer to forget - were it not for its innovative ties with the video game company Capcom. Games adapted from movies were common in the 1980s, but Sweet Home was different, in that the game and the film were developed in tandem and released almost at the same time. While Kurosawa and Itami made the film, designer Tokuro Fujiwara worked on the video game - a top-down action RPG set in the very same haunted mansion.
Fujiwara was already an established creative force at Capcom by 1989, having directed or produced classics of the era like Ghosts 'n Goblins (a platformer with a comic-horror theme) and Bionic Commando. Sweet Home, however, was far slower-paced and story driven than most of his earlier titles, and, because it was developed for the Famicom - Japan's version of the Nintendo Entertainment System - it could be given far more depth than the quick-fix arcade games of the era.
Kurosawa and Itami appeared to have a fair bit of input into the video game, since they're credited as the designer and producer respectively. In an interview with Japanese magazine Continue, Fujiawara also recalls that he was allowed to visit the film's studio and "use the movie as reference."
"I got to see the movie and take a tour of the film studio," Fujiwara said, "and use whatever essence I thought would work in the game. I carefully considered how to go about bringing elements from the movie to the game screen."
While the game departs from the movie in some ways, it's also one of the most cinematic console titles of its era. The characters in the film appear in the game, each with their own specific abilities - the director has a cigarette lighter, the art restorer carries a vacuum cleaner - which come in handy at specific moments of the game. The film's deadly shadows are replaced by randomly-spawning monsters, but an air of horror tension still remains. When a character dies, they're gone for good, and the game's ending changes depending on who makes it out of the mansion alive. Some of the movie's set-pieces remain, too, including the cameraman who's cut in half and the incredible melting old man.
Despite being one of the stronger RPGs available for Nintendo's console, Sweet Home was never released outside of Japan - perhaps because of its pretty extreme moments of gore, which would have had Nintendo of America running for the hills. All of this might mean that, like the film, Sweet Home could have been categorized as a curio from the 8-bit era, were it not for its direct influence on one of the most important horror games of all time.
Four years after he made Sweet Home, Fujiwara and his colleagues at Capcom began to look at Sony's first foray into the console market, the PlayStation, and what they might be able to develop for it.
"Once the PlayStation was released," Fujiwara recalls, "conversation turned towards the idea of launching an original franchise. The basic premise was that I'd be able to do the things that I wasn't able to include in Sweet Home. It was mainly on the graphics front that my frustration had been building up. I was also confident that horror games could become a genre in themselves."
Shinji Mikami, who would eventually direct under Fujiwara's guidance, recalls that he was less certain that a horror title would be a sales success.
"[Fujiwara] said that he wanted us to make a horror game using systems from Sweet Home, which was a horror game for the Famicom that he had directed," Mikami told Gamespot in 2016. "I was actually a big fan of Sweet Home, and he was someone that I really respected, so I was excited about the project from the beginning. But I was a little worried about how well a horror game would really sell."
Fujiwara's PlayStation horror game was originally planned as a direct remake of Sweet Home, before the decision was made to spin it out into its own separate entity called Biohazard- or Resident Evil, as it would soon become known in the west. While much changed during Resident Evil's development, with a first-person viewpoint explored before a third-person perspective was chosen, much remained from Sweet Home.
The action takes place largely in a mansion, it features multiple endings, and Mikami notes that even some of the item management systems are closely modeled after those in Sweet Home. Resident Evil's designers also toyed with a similar, supernatural threat to Sweet Home in an early build, before adding the now-iconic zombies to the mix as the game developed. Resident Evil launched to huge acclaim in 1996 and, with that, the survival horror genre was born.
While other games had an undoubted influence on Resident Evil - Alone in the Dark gave Mikami and Fujiwara the idea of having a fixed camera, for example - the Capcom classic owes a considerable debt to Sweet Home. Indeed, it's a little sad that both the game and the film are so obscure in the west. The game is generally regarded as an interesting bit of trivia in Resident Evil's early history by gamers, while the film is, in turn, obscured by the game.
To date, Sweet Homehas never had an official DVD release, probably because of the bad blood between its producer and director. Sweet Home can be watched in decidedly unofficial form, either on well-known streaming websites or by ordering a DVD from this site, but the muddy, low-definition transfers are far from ideal. As for Kurosawa's original cut of the film - well, that's probably in an archive somewhere, waiting to be rediscovered.
Kurosawa is now one of Japan's most respected directors, and his most recent film, Creepy, is an effective return to the horror genre he lit up so disquietingly with Pulse. Sweet Home might not be a film he's especially proud of - hailing as it does from the stage in his career when Kurosawa was making low-budget erotic and gangster pictures - but it remains a fascinating entry in the Japanese horror genre.
Like the gothic house at its center, Sweet Home has been shunned for nearly three decades, but it remains the dark seed from which the survival horror genre first emerged.
Intellivision is getting back into the console game with the Intellivision Amico.
In celebration of Halloween, Intellivision has risen from the grave and will release a new console in 2020.
The Intellivision Amico is described as a family-friendly console that is primarily designed to appeal to younger gamers. Every game will be rated E in North America (or your local equivalent of that rating) and it seems that it will feature exclusive games. However, it's not clear at this time where these games will be coming from. We imagine that major developers won't bother to port a game or two to this console (maybe), but it seems like the vast majority of titles will come from indie developers.
The good news is that it seems like most of the games for this console will cost somewhere between $5-$8. At present, it doesn't seem like any of these games will offer DLC or other microtransaction options. Even better, the Intellivision Amico will launch with 20 pre-installed games. Many of the confirmed games for the Amico are updated versions of classic titles like Asteroids, Centipede, Tempest, and ToeJam and Earl.
Surprisingly, the Intellivision Amico is a fairly modern console in terms of its technological capabilities. It allows for online play, HDMI output, and multiple USB ports. Its Bluetooth controllers even support touch-screen options, a gyroscope, a speaker, and a microphone.
At present, the Amico is set to be released on October 10, 2019, in North America and Europe. It is expected to retail for less than $200, and it might even be as cheap as $150.
All of that sounds nice, but we've got to say that this is a tough sell. Intellivision's Tommy Tallarico says that they want the Amico to be "a console that parents WANT to buy, not that they were asked to buy,” and a device for "a world where everyone is interested in playing at home and with friends." However, it feels like this console is designed for very young gamers. We imagine that many families will probably save up for a proper modern console (or even a generations-old console) that everyone can truly enjoy.
Read and download the Den of Geek NYCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine right here!
What you need to know about Devil May Cry 5, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!
Few people expected Valve's next game to be a collectible card title based on the Dota 2 universe, but that's exactly what we have in Artifact.
Before you roll your eyes, though, you might want to use them to take a closer look at this game. Artifact isn't like any other CCG out there. Actually, it's kind of like a version of Dota 2 that you play with cards instead of with heroes and teammates. Artifact's implementation of Dota 2staples like lanes of battle, heroes, and in-game markets is made all the more fascinating by the fact that the title also boasts some traditional - albeit hardcore - CCG elements. Of course, that last part shouldn't be a surprise given that the game was at least partially designed by Magic: The Gathering creator, Richard Garfield. It will be fascinating to see what that creative team comes up with.
Here's everything that we know about Artifact:
Artifact Release Date
Artifact's beta date has been pushed back. Valve's CCG title will now go into beta on November 19. That's actually not that far removed from the game's full release date of November 28.
PC Gamer has released a full breakdown of how Valve's Artifactcard game will work. It's a lot of information to take in, but here's what you need to know:
Artifact has you build a deck of 40 cards that contains five heroes. The base game will include 280+ cards and 44 heroes. You can't have more than three of any type of non-hero card in your deck.
Gameplay sees you essentially play across three different boards designed to strategically resemble Dota 2's lanes. Each lane has its own mana pool, heroes, and a tower. Lose that tower, and a much stronger Ancient appears. If you manage to either kill an Ancient or if your opponent loses two towers, you win the game.
Complicating all of this is the presence of creeps in all lanes that heroes must battle as well as some truly in-depth mechanics that require you to manage the resources of all lanes using the same deck of cards. Fortunately, your resources are bolstered by the ability to earn gold whenever you destroy an opponent's cards and use that gold to buy items from the store that your heroes can equip. Heroes can never be permanently killed, but they can be taken out of action for a round.
Valve seems to be aware that this multi-lane style of CCG play creates a lot of complications, but they are embracing those complications. It seems like Artifact is mostly going to appeal to veteran CCG players or those that are willing to learn an entirely different style of game. Hearthstone this is not.
Speaking of Hearthstone, Valve is already planning on separating Artifact from that game by reducing the amount of randomness in matches and by allowing players to trade cards via Steam's marketplace. That last one is a huge deal as it could drastically impact both gameplay and the costs of Artifact in the long run. Indeed, Valve has stated they do not want Artifact to be a pay-to-win experience.
It all sounds fascinating, and Artifact might end up being extremely appealing to those who demand more complexity from CCG titles.
Here's the teaser trailer that formally introduced Artifact to the world.
Conflicting reports within Facebook cast doubt on the future of the Oculus Rift 2.
The future of the Oculus Rift 2 may be in jeopardy following a series of recent events.
This story really starts when Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe decided to leave the company. His decision to depart was, at the time, seen as a shocking move. However, TechCrunch soon reported that his decision to leave may have been based on some arguments within Facebook and Oculus regarding the future of the technology. Specifically, it seems that Facebook may want to cancel the production of the Oculus Rift 2.
However, the differences between Facebook and Iribe reportedly go deeper than just the cancellation of a future product. Sources indicate that the two sides have fundamentally different views regarding the future of Oculus and VR in general. The gist of the debate seems to be based on Iribe's desire to ensure that Oculus remains a leader in terms of VR power. The implication is that Facebook might value more of a budget device that will be more appealing to a wider array of users.
Iribe's Facebook farewell made no mention of that cancellation. Instead, he stated that Oculus "started a revolution that will change the world in ways we can't even envision," and that he is "deeply proud and grateful for all that we've done together." Beyond that, he made no other public statement regarding his decision to leave.
Meanwhile, Facebook is throwing a little cold water on all this speculation. They say that they "can’t comment on our product roadmap specifics," but that they do "have future plans, and can confirm that we are planning for a future version of Rift." We assume that a future version of the Rift is not a reference to the previously announced Oculus Quest.
However, the specifics of the Quest might be more revealing than they initially seem. As an all-in-one VR headset, it's possible that the Quest represents Facebook's view for how future VR headsets should be. This is in opposition to previous versions of the Rift that required a high-end PC to use but were more powerful than their standalone competition.
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The making of Castlevania is the story of a game 90 years in the making.
We don't know what the weather was like in the U.K. on May 26, 1897. A romantic individual, however, might say that all throughout the nation, it was a dark and stormy night. This was the day a man named Bram Stoker, a business manager for the popular Lyceum Theater, finally published the book that would turn him into a horror legend.
On May 1, 1987, almost 90 years to the day of the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Konami released Castlevania in North America. The developer's timing was as deliberate as the game design. After all, Castlevaniawas meant to pay homage to Dracula and the popular horror universe the book had cultivated since its initial release.
That same romantic individual from earlier might tell you that the release of Castlevania symbolized the passing of a torch. Just as Dracula had helped pioneer a horror renaissance in literature and film, Castlevania would become the basis for a revolution in horror gaming. It is a narrative as fantastic and beloved as Dracula itself. The truth, however, is not quite as simple as that.
Neither Dracula or Castlevania were entirely the first of their kind. Bram Stoker did not invent the idea of the vampire, nor did he ever claim to. That honor is a little tricky to pin on any one individual, but one of the first documented works of fiction to tackle the subject was a 1748 poem known as The Vampire written by Heinrich August Ossenfelder. That poem, and a brief vampire craze in the early 1700s, was inspired by the rumors that two exhumed corpses in Serbia may have been vampires. Even in his time, Stoker was beaten to the publishing punch by Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, a story about a lesbian vampire, and John William Polidori’s 1819 classic The Vampyre.
Similarly, Castlevania was far from the first game to feature horror elements. What initially separated the game from the pack, however, were its influences and genre. Unlike games such as Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the Atari that had attempted to capitalize off the latest horror hits, Castlevania’s influences can be traced back to the Universal era of horror films. It also didn’t try to scare players like 1986’s Uninvited did, but rather take them on an adventure filled with allusions to classic horror. As part of the second wave of NES releases in North America, Castlevania’s approach to this subject matter helped it to become one of the first notable action platformer titles.
Dracula benefited from the same approach. It was published at a time when Victorian readers were obsessed with good adventure novels, which would help to explain why Stoker wrote Dracula to be just as much of an adventure story as a horror novel. The book was frightening to be sure (it was, perhaps, the scariest book of its time), but readers and critics back then were just as likely to speak fondly of Dracula’s more exciting moments as they were its macabre aspects.
One of the reasons why Draculaworked as an adventure novel was because of the character Abraham Van Helsing. Van Helsing was one of the first characters in all of vampire fiction that seemed capable of, and willing to, directly oppose these creatures of the night. He and his band of fellow hunters willingly travel the world to confront Dracula and his vampire horde. This idea of a vampire hunter also allowed Stoker to craft a vampire that was worthy of hunting. His Dracula had many weaknesses for Van Helsing to exploit but was also capable of a great many powers that previous vampires did not necessarily possess. It is the dynamic of these two characters that allowed Dracula to function as a tale of good vs. evil.
The benefits of this approach were not lost on Castlevania’s development team, who recognized that the idea of a vampire hunter vs. the world’s most feared vampire was a tremendous setup for an action game. They chose to use Dracula himself as the series’ main villain but refrained from having their game star Van Helsing. Instead, they created the very Van Helsing-like Simon Belmont, a member of a line of vampire hunters who must destroy Dracula when he rises every 100 years. Despite the fact that Simon’s primary weapon is a whip and Van Helsing never wielded one (that is most likely a reference to Indiana Jones), the two characters do share a fondness for wooden stakes, holy water, and killing vampires no matter what the risk.
Simon Belmont had to deal with a far wider variety of horrors than Van Helsing ever did, though. In his quest to reach the peak of Dracula’s castle and take down the lord of all vampires, Belmont encounters zombies, ghouls, skeletons, birds, and suits of armor. Even those are just the appetizers for the game’s boss fights, which feature game adaptations of some of horror’s most famous creations, like the Grim Reaper, the Mummy, and Frankenstein’s monster. The inclusion of these creatures feels surprisingly organic. After all, Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Wolfman, and the Mummy are all forever tied together by their film appearances during the Universal Studios golden age of horror films.
What's interesting about the inclusion of those iconic monsters in Castlevania and their shared legacy with the world's most famous vampire is that neither Stoker or anyone from his estate ever intended for Dracula to become part of film history at all.
Bram Stoker may have wanted to see Dracula become a hit, but that did not come to pass during his time. Those that read the book at the time of its release could not stop praising it, but that didn't translate into incredible sales. Its eventual entry into the public conscience actually came as the result of the legal battle that ensued over the distribution of the 1922 film Nosferatu. The Stoker family won just enough money in the case to pay their legal fees, but copies of Nosferatumanaged to make it into theaters anyway. As for that famous 1931 adaptation of the book, Universal Studios found that it could avoid all legal troubles due to a clerical error during Dracula’s U.S. publishing that forced it to enter the public domain.
Because of the late success of Dracula (and other life occurrences), Stoker ended up going broke and died before ever knowing the full impact of his work. In desperation, his wife, Florence Balcombe, even ended up selling Stoker’s handwritten novel notes at a Sotheby’s auction in 1912. She received just over 2 pounds for them.
It is appropriate that Castlevania would suffer a similar fate given how closely it follows the spirit and structure of Dracula. Castlevania was met with critical acclaim both at the time of its release and thereafter as well as the admiration of fans who were able to navigate past its brutal difficulty and appreciate its horrific charms and classic adventure sensibilities (like Dracula's original readers). The game's sales tell a slightly different tale, however. Castlevania sold well enough to justify two NES sequels, but its final ranking among the best-selling NES games is somewhere outside of the top 40 or 50, based on which figures from that time period you believe.
Castlevania IIand III didn’t fare much better in that regard. Actually, it wasn’t until 1997’s Symphony of the Night that Castlevania as a franchise began to make a name for itself among those who were not fans from the beginning. Even then, that title's initial sales were underwhelming. Much like the 1931 film adaptation of Dracula, Symphony’s status as the boiling point of its source’s success is fascinating when you take into consideration that both works significantly altered the original material. Universal’s Dracula greatly simplified Stoker’s novel in order to turn it into a digestible film of the era, while Symphony of the Night adopted Metroid’s style of gameplay to reboot the franchise. Yet, both would go on to define the current legacy of their respective properties.
As for what Castlevania’s lead director Hitoshi Akamatsu thinks of that, it’s difficult to say. That’s due, in part, to the fact the original Castlevania featured joke credits used to pay homage to horror movie icons, meaning that Akamatsu’s place as the father of Castlevania has only been established by others. In any case, Akamatsu disappeared from the video game industry in the early ‘90s after working on the first three games.
These details make it easy to label the gamer who romantically remembers Castlevania as the same immediate groundbreaking sensation that Dracula was to be a fool in two parts, but you must also remember that romanticism is nurtured by time. Time and perspective have allowed us to see that Castlevania and Dracula deserve to be remembered as historical companions due to their shared aesthetics, influences, and legacies. They are, in many ways that matter, one and the same.
Blood, guts, and controversy abound, as we delve back to look at the evolving gore and mayhem in a dozen '80s videogames...
This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
Ah, the 80s. The decade of video nasties, The A-Team, Boy George, and Ronald Reagan. A time of conspicuous consumption and voluminous hair, the '80s were also the decade when video games rapidly evolved, from the blocky 8-bit computers and consoles at its beginning to the more powerful 16-bit systems at its end.
The '80s were also a period when the depiction of video game gore would be realized with ever greater detail - much to the consternation of media watchdogs, who commonly regarded games as bleepy toys for children. The mainstream furor which would greet Mortal Kombat was still just over the horizon, but from the start of the decade to its end, mischievous (and sometimes cynical, it has to be said) developers occasionally churned out surprisingly bloody and violent games to a ripple of mild controversy.
In fact, the first ever controversial video game was probably Death Race, which appeared way back in 1976. Based very loosely on the Roger Corman-produced Death Race 2000 movie, this black-and-white arcade game involved running over stick men (supposedly gremlins) in blocky little cars. Although crude, the game was considered scandalous enough to appear in the earliest TV documentaries about the impact of video game violence and was eventually banned.
Death Race was therefore not only one of the very first movie-to-game adaptations, but also anticipated the next decade of video game bloodshed and the growing concern over its effects on players. So with an inevitable warning over the blocky, splattery content of this article, here's a look at how video game gore evolved through the 1980s...
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Atari 2600 (1983)
In the late '70s and early '80s, the Atari 2600 was a sales phenomenon, and dozens of companies rushed to make their own games for the system - often with little concern over the quality of the finished product. One of those companies was Wizard Video, an indie movie distributor owned by filmmaker Charles Band.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of two licensed games released by Wizard before the 1983 game crash reversed Atari's fortunes, and it's a true oddity. It puts the player in the maniacal Leatherface, who rushes around a pastel-green countryside in pursuit of fleeing victims. Offering little in the way of variety or challenge, Texas Chainsaw was little more than a bad-taste novelty; nods to the movie included the cameo appearance of a wheelchair (the one belonging to the luckless Franklin) and a high-pitched beeping noise which we're assuming is meant to be the screaming of your victims.
Gore quotient: Surprisingly low. The Atari's humble underpinnings meant that Leatherface's violent hobby could only be depicted in the most abstract ways - his chainsaw is little more than a handful of blue pixels, and hitting a victim with it simply flips them upside down. Is that brown row of pixels meant to be blood? We're really not sure. Understandably, there were complaints about the game's amoral subject matter, but Leatherface does get his comeuppance in the end: when the villain's chainsaw eventually runs out of gasoline, one of his victims runs back on the screen and kicks him up the backside.
Halloween - Atari 2600 (1983)
Wizard Video's next Atari 2600 horror offering was Halloween, based on John Carpenter's genre-defining slasher flick. On slightly less murky territory this time, the game cast the player as a blonde babysitter (presumably Jamie-Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode, though she's never mentioned by name) who has to protect a cavernous house full of kids from the maniacal Michael Myers.
Although better programmed than Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's still a fairly shallow offering; Myers' appearance is marked by a warbling rendition of Carpenter's theme tune, and the player has to either shepherd any nearby kids off the screen, or pick up a sword - if there's one lying around - and stab Myers with it. Doing so causes the killer to rush off the screen for a few seconds, only to return to menace the player again later on.
Gore quotient: Moderately high. If the babysitter got too near Myers, she'd be decapitated, leaving her body running across the screen with gore oozing out of her neck stump. Like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween's adult theme saw many shops either refuse to stock it or hide it behind the counter. Understandably, Wizard Video's experiments in horror gaming ended here.
The Evil Dead - Commodore 64 (1984)
Three years after Sam Raimi's debut feature ended up on the video nasties list in the UK, Palace Software decided to license the title and turn it into a game about closing windows and doors. The aim was to protect your friends from the demonic forces attempting to enter the archetypal cabin in the woods, and with the help of the shovels and swords lying around, batter the occasional green ghoul into submission.
The Evil Dead was Palace Software's debut and the first in an intended string of licensed horror games (home versions of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween were also planned), but never happened. As though cursed by the Book of the Dead, The Evil Dead game's launch at The London Dungeon went awry, and the ZX Spectrum version was never released - instead, it was given away free with copies of Cauldron in 1985.
Gore quotient: Considering the unhinged nature of the movie that inspired it, The Evil Dead was surprisingly gore-free, and to modern eyes, its top-down perspective and chunky characters make it look like a PG-cert version of the brutal Hotline Miami. The ability to club a demon to death with a shovel makes it a more adult proposition than, say, Monty Mole, but the cartoonlike puff of smoke that marks their departure is hardly the stuff of nightmares.
Go to Hell - ZX Spectrum (1985)
A maze game with a heavy-metal horror theme, this Spectrum curio involved finding crosses in order to rescue someone from eternal damnation. Its programmer, John George Jones, had a real knack for creating grim and disturbing games. His 1987 arcade adventure Soft & Cuddly was all about a character finding the dismembered body parts of his mother in order to rescue his father, who was trapped inside a fridge.
Gore quotient: Although low on blood and dismemberment, Go to Hell is full of nightmare imagery and often looks like a neon-colored Bosch painting. One screen contains a giant head with a saw cleaving through it, what looks like tiny yellow demons bowing to their horned master, and a screaming skull bursting out of a grave. Other screens contained flickering crosses, rivers of blood, and bodies stretched out on racks. For a generation raised on stuff like Jet Set Willy and Sabre Wulf, it was pretty ominous stuff.
Chiller - Arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System (1986)
A year before Operation Wolf made arcade cabinets with machine guns strapped to the front universally popular, along came Chiller, a light gun game apparently designed to offend as many people as possible. Programmed by Exidy, who'd caused a fuss with Death Race exactly a decade earlier, Chillertook place across a series of horror-themed screens, ranging from torture chambers to monster-filled crypts.
Unlike most shooting games, however, the aim wasn't to kill as many aggressors as possible, but to simply blast various items on the screen in order to see what happened. Worryingly, this usually involved shooting helpless victims strapped to torture devices, making Chiller one of the most baffling and unseemly games of the decade.
Gore Quotient: Extraordinarily high. Actually, the crude graphics and jerky animation make Chillerlook like a grisly South Park episode. A conversion of Chiller also appeared on the Nintendo Entertainment System - and although censored to a certain extent, the rather creepy preoccupation with torture devices remains.
Death Wish 3 - Commodore 64 (1986)
It took more than a decade, but in 1986, Gremlin Graphics finally allowed 8-bit computer owners to step into the role of movie theater's ultimate vigilante with a side parting, Paul Kersey (or Charles Bronson). Like the movie, the game involved running around New York and gunning down bad guys, all to the strains of some incredibly catchy music courtesy of Ben Daglish.
Gore Quotient: Controversially high. With a variety of guns and bazookas, Kersey could blast villains and civilians alike into a disturbing pile of dismembered body parts. Like several other games on this list, the gore did a great deal to paper over the repetitive nature of its gameplay, but Death Wish 3's programmers should be commended for the quality of the central Charles Bronson sprite: like the actor himself, the digital Kersey remains grim-faced and emotionless throughout.
Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior - Commodore 64/various (1987)
At the time, Barbarian was most commonly noted for the scantily-clad models (Maria Whittaker and the hulking Michael Van Wijk, better known as Wolf off of Gladiators) on its cover, but it also became infamous for its violence - Barbarian was even banned in Germany due to its gory content. A one-on-one fighting game with an emphasis on swords, kicks, and headbutts, Barbarian was highly entertaining, at least in those pre-Street Fighter II times...
Gore Quotient: High. The ability to decapitate your opponent quickly became its signature and is perhaps the earliest example of a one-hit finishing move in a fighting game. Although simple and repetitive by today's standards, the satisfaction gained from executing the perfect move (you had to be just the right distance away from your opponent) was quite unusual, and the brutality of the moment illustrated with some great animation: the victim slumps lifeless to the floor, before a little green goblin trudges into view to collect the corpse and kick the head out of the arena like a hairy football.
Jack the Ripper - ZX Spectrum (1987)
As a change of pace, here's a graphic text adventure based on the infamous killer who stalked the East End of London in 1888. Jack the Ripper's publishers released some similarly grisly games before and after, includingDracula (1986), Frankenstein (1987), and Wolfman (1988). The explicit imagery in Jack the Ripper made it the most commonly discussed, though it also helped that the game was also well written and highly atmospheric. Cast as an ordinary Victorian man accused of the crimes in Whitechapel, the player must find a way to track down the real killer while avoiding the police at the same time.
Gore Quotient: Loads. Jack the Ripper gained quite a lot of attention at the time due to its 18-certificate from the BBFC - something highly unusual in the days before games didn't yet come with any kind of rating attached to them. Although publisher CRL claimed that it was required to submit the game to the ratings board (or risk being prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, it said), some sensed that it was all a bit of a publicity stunt.
Certainly, the repeated still images of dead bodies, entrails, and pools of blood seemed like a calculated attempt to shock, and it was widely reported that these scenes were added by CRL near the time of release. The original makers, St Bride's School, were only responsible for the text.
"Wait," you're probably thinking. "St Bride's School? What kind of name for a developer is that?"
Set up in the mid-'80s, St Bride's School was located on the west coast of Ireland and was run by a headmistress named Marianne Scarlett. For the princely sum of £120, adult women aged 20 or over could head to the retreat and pretend that they were school children in a harsh 1930s boarding school. As a side project, St Bride's School also happened to make adventure games, including The Secret of St Brides (set on the grounds of the school, naturally), The Very Big Cave Adventure, and The White Feather Cloak. Both the school and the games ceased in 1993, amid stories of fleeing mistresses, spanking fetishes, and other murky goings-on. It was all very, very strange.
Splatterhouse - Arcade/various (1988)
Previously known for its relatively cheery arcade hits, such as Pac-Manand Galaxian, Namco plunged into darker, horror-themed waters with Splatterhouse. A weird amalgam of just about every '70s and '80s genre theme going, the game featured a hulking hero clad in a Jason Voorhees hockey mask, a haunted house, and a huge variety of movie-inspired monsters to kill.
Gore Quotient: Very high. Although its side-scrolling, beat-em-up gameplay was typical of the period, Splatterhouse's gore and violence were relatively unusual. Its hero could slash the heads off ghouls with a meat cleaver, blast chainsaw-wielding monsters in the face with shotguns, and batter snake-like creatures to death with planks of wood.
Although Splatterhousegenerated a certain amount of fuss, there's a comic sense of fun to its gore, making it more akin to the anarchy of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead than the crass seediness of Chiller. Namco even parodied its own game in the 1989 NES title, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti. A kind of cartoon remake of Splatterhouse with super-deformed characters, it retained the horror theme of the original, while adding more platforms, ladders, and Thriller-style dancing undead monsters.
Narc - Arcade/various (1988)
"No one had the guts... until now" ran the tagline to this side-scrolling shooter, which involved a pair of masked cops gunning down a legion of drug dealers with machine guns and missile launchers. Narcwas designed by Eugene Jarvis, whose run of '80s classics included Defender, Stargate, and Robotron 2084. In fact, you can chart the rapid evolution of arcade game graphics through Jarvis' work. Narc used cutting-edge technology at the time, with a 32-bit processor allowing for high-resolution graphics and dozens of enemies on the screen at any given moment.
Gore Quotient: Astronomical. That 32-bit processor allowed Williams to render its digitized characters and heroic bloodshed with a fidelity that developers earlier in the decade could only have dreamed of: launching a missile resulted in your victims exploding in a shower of arms and legs. Viewed today, Narc looks like some sort of pumped-up, mad parody of '80s action movies - even its character names (Max Force and Hit Man) sound like something from a Chuck Norris flick.
Before Williams' own Mortal Kombat in 1992, Narc was one of the most controversial games then released. Your Sinclair's Matt Bielby called it "one of the most objectionable Speccy games I've seen in ages" in his review of the 1991 Spectrum port. While the NES version sidestepped the drugs ("KRAK" became "KWAK"), it left the flying limbs intact.
Tecmo Knight (1989)
A surprisingly violent beat-em-up from Tecmo, better known for its Ninja Gaiden series of games, Tecmo Knight was also known as Wild Fang in some territories. Like Golden Axe or any number of scrolling brawlers, the game involved wandering from left to right and battering anything that got in your way. What made Tecmo Knight stand out, however, was the design of its graphics. You controlled a warrior who rode around either on the back of a giant, a tiger, or a flying dragon, depending on your mood. There were some great monsters, too, including some huge half-man, half-vulture things, and a guest appearance from King Kong.
Gore Quotient: Dizzying. The trudging giant had the ability to punch the heads off of bad guys and smash their bodies to the consistency of milkshake. In fact, flying heads appeared to be one of Tecmo Knight's major additions to the scrolling beat-em-up subgenre. With its fantasy theme and riotous bloodletting, this was about as close as '80s arcades got to the similarly messy God of War series.
Beast Busters (1989)
Like 1986's Chiller, Beast Busters is a gun game with a horror theme, albeit with far better production values courtesy of SNK. Borrowing ideas from all sorts of horror and sci-fi sources, including Dawn of the Dead, The Thing, and Aliens, Beast Busters was perhaps the last word in '80s blasting excess.
Gore Quotient: Stratospheric. Absolutely everything exploded in showers of gore and meat. Although repetitive (there only appears to be about five different types of enemy, at least until the bonkers final stage), Beast Bustersis the clear forerunner to Sega's hit House of the Dead series. Legend has it that Beast Busterswas also much appreciated by one Michael Jackson, who'd have the arcade cabinet dragged around with him on tour. Beast Busters is memorable for its bosses (including huge muscle-bound zombies in white shorts and a tank with a grinning face) and the captions in its cutscenes, such as the magnificent, "Were the missing scared to death then back to life?"
Castlevania is a very loose adaptation of the story of Dracula, whom is also inspired by real-life villains from history.
The world's most infamous vampire, Count Dracula, has terrorized the living for over a century through books, movies, TV, comics, and even video games. In terms of the latter, we have Konami's seminal Castlevania series for providing the Dracula-themed scares for over 30 years.
While not exactly an accurate retelling of the original novel by Bram Stoker, Castlevania is a brilliant Japanese reimagining that sets a vampire hunter loose in Dracula's monster-filled castle for an action-packed and spooky adventure that ends in the hall of the greatest vampire who ever lived, the Count himself. If you've not played any of these games but want to know more about the Belmont family's centuries-long struggle against the Lord of Vampires, go pick up Castlevania Requiem, a new collection of two of the series' most memorable entries, for the PS4.
Or you could tune into the excellent animated series from Netflix, which is entering its second season. Based on Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, the show tells the story of Trevor Belmont, who is on a quest through the cursed land of Wallachia to reach Dracula's castle and save Wallachia's people from the monsters that stalk them in the night. Along the way, Trevor also faces off against a malevolent Church, which is responsible for Dracula's outrage in the first place. It's certainly a dark story but also a brilliant video game adaptation.
Ahead of Castlevania season 2, which drops on Friday, Oct. 26, Netflix has released a new video detailing the real history of the people who inspired the legendary literary villain. Check it out below:
In case you're not caught up on your history, Dracula is based on two incredibly cruel rulers: Vlad the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia, and Elizabeth Bathory, a countess from the Kingdom of Hungary. Vlad was known as a vicious warlord who impaled hundreds of his enemies or burned them alive. He also washed his hands in their blood.
Believe it or not, Countess Bathory was even more sadistic. Known as one of the most prolific female murderers in history, Bathory tortured and killed hundreds of women in order to bathe in their blood because she believed bathing in the blood of virgins would keep her young. Talk about superstition.
Interestingly enough, Dracula didn't turn out as evil as either of these real-life villains. I guess we should count ourselves lucky?
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Netflix's Castlevania series has already been renewed for a third season!
Netflix's Castlevaniaseries has turned out to be the shining light of video game adaptations. While the history of bad video game movies and TV shows is long and regrettable, Castlevaniaproved that it can be done. You can successfully (and faithfully) adapt a video game into another medium without sacrificing what made the story and the characters in the first place.
The streaming service didn't waste any time renewing the series for a second, 8-episode season, which will drop sometime this summer -- and it's now been revealed that Castlevaniawill also return for a third season. The news was revealed by Richard Armitage, the actor who voices main protagonist Trevor Belmont.
"We're about to record a third,"Armitage told Digital Spy. "The second season hasn't been aired yet, but we're about to do a third."
Armitage didn't share much more about the third season, but he did hint at what fans should expect from the show's second season, specifically how Trevor and Alucard's relationship might play out.
"The son of Dracula [Adrian Tepes, voiced by James Callis] and my character get much more collaborative," Armitage said. "I think that's one of the most exciting things, they start to really work together."
Indeed, Trevor and Alucard's first meeting is a bit turbulent. After all, Trevor is a member of a long line of vampire hunters and Alucard is a vampire, but they're both driven by a common goal: to stop Dracula from unleashing a reign of terror upon the world. Whether they'll be successful or not remains to be seen.
We'll keep you posted as we learn more about Castlevania seasons two and three!
Netflix's Castlevania series is full of easter eggs and callbacks to the original video game series. Here's what we found!
Netflix's Castlevania came out of nowhere and captured the attention of franchise fans who still can't believe that one of the few respectable video game adaptations so happens to be based on a series that hasn't gotten a lot of love recently.
While Castlevania features some notable diversions from the established mythology of the games - many of which were implemented in the name of fleshing out Castlevania III's thin story - that doesn't mean that the show doesn't pay homage to its source material. In fact, Castlevania's first four episodes are loaded with callbacks that all but the most ardent of Castlevania fans might have missed.
To help ensure that you squeeze every bit of Castlevania goodness out of the series' painfully short first season, here's our rundown of the Easter eggs and references found in Netflix's latest cult hit.
Also, while we scoff at the notion that we could possibly have missed a single reference ("Ha!," we say while swirling our brandy), be sure to let us know in the comments below if you spotted any Easter eggs in Castlevania that we might not have noticed.
The Field of Impaled Bodies
This is a very simple, but welcome, reference that many of you likely spotted. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see that the show pays homage to the real-life Dracula inspiration - Vlad the Impaler - by showing a field of bodies that have been impaled.
Actually, this does create a bit of chronological confusion as Castlevania: Lament of Innocence severed Dracula’s ties with the Vlad the Impaler lineage so far as that universe goes. However, as this show is an adaptation of Castlevania III, this lineage reference is technically accurate as that game’s instruction manual directly referenced Dracula’s past as Vlad.
“This Entire Structure Is a Travelling Machine”
This seemingly throwaway line that Dracula uses when explaining why he doesn’t travel like a normal person is made all the more interesting by some vague references within the original games regarding the design and functionality of Dracula's castle.
Alucard once noted that Dracula's castle had changed since he last saw it which - when combined with the ever-changing visual design of the structure - has long led many to believe that Dracula’s castle can change form and location through either magic or machinations. This line goes a long way to confirming that theory, at least in regards to the show’s world.
Alucard’s Plea to Dracula
This is a fun one. When Dracula decides to summon an army from Hell in order to destroy humanity, he is confronted by his son, Alucard, who begs for Dracula to consider reason and not commit genocide.
Though this scene isn’t explicitly shown in the game, it has been referenced. Within the game’s mythology, Alucard was able to speak to his mother shortly before her death. There's a brief moment in the series' intro which suggests this moment occurred off-screen within the show. Lisa used her dying words to pass along a message meant for Dracula that is similar to the speech Alucard gives in the show.
Dracula’s Teleportation Beam
This is a small visual reference, but a neat one.
When Dracula discovers that his wife has been murdered, he tells a nearby villager to flee for his life and teleports away. His teleportation involves him turning into a pure, vertical beam of light. The animation of this move is very similar to the teleportation that Dracula performs in Castlevania IV.
The Belmont Family Crest/Trevor’s Clothes
When Trevor is drinking in the tavern, a drunk patron references the crest on his shirt and immediately identifies it as the Belmont family crest.
This crest is hinted at in the artwork of earlier Castlevania games, but it strongly resembles the exact crest used in the reboot of the Castlevania franchise, Lords of Shadow. Actually, the design of Trevor’s garb in the show seems to be a blend of Gabriel Belmont’s (Lords of Shadow) armor and Leon Belmont’s (Lament of Innocence) clothes.
The Very NPC-Like Dialogue of The Villagers
This is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but if the scene in which Trevor met with the various villagers in episode two struck you as familiar, that’s because it likely borrows from a very popular gaming convention.
This entire sequence is a dead ringer for just about every exchange between a hero and non-playable characters (NPCs) in a video game. The cadence of these dialogue scenes even feels slightly modified in comparison with the rest of the show’s conversations. So far as the Castlevania games go, this might be a direct reference to Castlevania II, which introduced NPC villagers to the series.
The Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings Swords
Here’s a reference that has been making the rounds lately. When Trevor is speaking to the village’s swordsmith, we get a brief glimpse at some of his wares. Well, it seems that this merchant might procure some of his swords from other famous fantasy worlds.
Fans initially identified one of the swords for sale as a dead ringer for the sword Jon Snow uses in Game of Thrones, Long Claw. That sword is immediately identifiable due to its wolf-like handle decoration, which the sword in Castlevania appears to possess as well. It’s also believed that the sword on the very right of the merchant’s shelf is a recreation of Andúril from Lord of the Rings. In any case, the blade’s handle hole certainly resembles the one on Aragon’s legendary weapon.
Trevor’s Familiar Cloak Removal
Netflix's Castlevania might not follow every narrative beat in Castlevania III, but that doesn't mean that it excludes all of the game's iconic moments.
In Castlevania’s third episode, Trevor removes the cloak he’s been wearing thus far in preparation for the coming battle. Not only is this scene symbolic of Trevor shedding his shame and embracing his Belmont legacy, but it also bears a striking resemblance to the scene at the beginning of Castlevania III where Trevor removes his cloak shortly after praying.
The Cyclops’ Borrowed Eye Beam
Castlevania’s third episode is especially fun for game fans who appreciate the show's dungeon crawler structure and video game-like battles. Of course, the centerpiece of the episode is a battle between Trevor and a cyclops.
While the cyclops battle does occur in Castlevania III, the cyclops in that game isn’t able to shoot beams from his eyes like the show’s version of the creature can. This ability seems to be a reference to two other notable eye-beam shooting creatures in the Castlevania games, Balore and some versions of Medusa.
Sypha Belnades Callback Reveal
Young sorceress Sypha Belnades was one of the principal characters in Castlevania III, so fans certainly expected to see her in the Castlevania show. Still, it was heartwarming to see just how accurate her debut was.
In the show, Trevor is surprised to learn that Sypha is a girl. This is true to the game where Sypha is never directly referred to as a girl unless the player pursues an optional ending where Sypha enjoys a Samus Aran-type moment and shocks players with the reveal of her true identity. The exact wording of Sypha’s declaration that this ambiguity makes it safer to travel also feels eerily close to a similar scene involving Arya in Game of Thrones.
Dracula’s Rondo of Blood Logic
There’s a memorable scene in Castlevania’s fourth episode where one of the lead demons in Dracula’s army - a monster named Blue Fangs - confronts the evil Bishop and informs him that the demons love the Bishop for the hate he spreads.
This exchange brings to mind a few pieces of dialogue in Castlevania: Rondo of Blood where Dracula suggests that he’s not truly evil and that it is the hate and evil of men that grants him power and life. He also insults humans for letting their faith rule them, which seems to be the basis for the church’s role as villains in the series.
Blue Fangs Is a Reference to...Something
Speaking of old Blue Fangs, he’s a pretty well-designed character for someone that really doesn’t get that much screen time in the grand scheme of things. You’d almost think that he’s a reference to something in the games.
He probably is, actually. The trouble is that it’s hard to tell what exactly the creature is a reference to. One theory states that he is a callback to the Wargs featured in Symphony of the Night and some of the handheld Castlevania games. Others think that he is a callback to Pazuzu, the Devil-like boss from Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. He’s likely a mix of both.
Rondo of Blood’s Opening Level
As this is the second time we’ve referenced this game, this feels like a good time to note that the oft-forgotten Rondo of Blood (released elsewhere in an altered state as Castlevania: Dracula X) is a huge influence on the Castlevania show. This is especially true as it concerns the previously mentioned characterization of Dracula.
However, the most overt visual reference to that game occurs during the fourth episode when the village is on fire and under attack from demons.The look of this encounter closely resembles that first stage of Rondo of Blood wherein Richter Belmont enters a village besieged by demons.
Alucard’s Special Moves
Everyone loves Alucard because anime-style brooding fighters are just always going to be fashionable. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Symphony of the Night really established the son of Dracula as an ultimate badass whose fighting style allows him to serve as the equal to a variety of foes.
Actually, some of Alucard’s trademark moves from that game make an appearance during his fight with Trevor Belmont. Namely, Alucard uses his shadow dash to escape a certain very capable vampire hunter who is very tired of being kicked in the testicles.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!
Before there was Red Dead Redemption, there was Manhunt, a gritty survival horror game from Rockstar. We take a look back...
You walk down 42nd street as the rain falls slowly all-around you. You tip your hat lower to shield yourself from the rain and block your face from the strange faces that feel as if they suddenly know you. Eventually, you reach a run down theater manned by a dead-eyed attendant. Above you, upon the faded and dimly lit marquee, is the title of the evening’s showing: “Vampire Women of the Third Reich In: The Sexkrieg.”
You have arrived at the grindhouse.
Though they’ve long since faded from relevance, at the height of their popularity in the '60s and '70s, grindhouse theaters are where film fans went to watch the movies nobody wanted them to see. They were low-budget films usually made by an individual or small group of friends that typically focused on providing large amounts of sex, violence, and shock. But it’s too easy to dismiss these films as merely exploitative. Even the worst among them were built on the belief that there was an inherent darker desire in people that gave them certain urges that weren’t being satisfied by the mainstream film industry.
Yet, what truly separated an actual grindhouse film from some of the slick homages to the grindhouse era in recent years (such as Machete) is that, most of the time, the people making the films didn’t believe they were making something awful. There was an honest nature about the content that left no doubt that the indescribable film you were watching was made with love.
Which brings us to Manhunt.
Released in 2003, back when Rockstar was using its Grand Theft Auto money to fund pretty much whatever it wanted to make, Manhunt told the story of a death row convict named James Earl Cash. Shortly after Mr. Cash’s lethal injection, he awakens to find that his fatal shot was in fact just a powerful sedative.
It is then that Cash is introduced to a mysterious “Director,” who informs Cash that he is now the star of an elaborate snuff film. Cash must now attempt to get past a series of psychopathic killers who will all be rewarded handsomely if they manage to kill the convict. Should Cash survive each of the director’s twisted scenes, he will receive his freedom.
Manhunt is easy to label as one of those slick homages to the grindhouse era as opposed to a genuine piece of grindhouse entertainment. It certainly has all of the elements of the latter, with its grainy graphical filter meant to instill a sense of cheapness to the production value, even though the game was made by a major video game developer.
The game is perhaps still often far too slick to be a card-carrying piece of grindhouse entertainment, though, despite the better parts of its presentation being lifted directly from that genre. The very basic plot of a convict being given the chance for freedom if they are able to survive a hellish gauntlet is straight from the script of films like The Running Man, Escape from New York, and Battle Royale. The more stylish elements and the general vibe the game is trying to create by resembling a fabled “snuff film” are reminiscent of 1975’s Snuff or The Last House on Dead End Street. These are movies obsessed with the idea of a snuff film being able to disrupt polite society, which is what Manhunt’s Director has been trying to accomplish since his exile from the Los Santos film scene.
Some elements are even directly lifted from the films that inspired Manhunt. The game’s most iconic enemy, “Piggsy” - a pig-headed psychopath wielding a chainsaw - is ripped straight from the 1980 slasher classic Motel Hell. Meanwhile, the themed roaming gangs are highly reminiscent of The Warriors, which Rockstar would go on to adapt in 2005.
However, much like it isn’t fair to write off the grindhouse genre as a cheap attempt to rake in the cash of gore hounds and perverts, Manhunt is a game that is difficult to merely treat as a gimmicky attempt by a major developer to create controversy while also giving a nod here and there to the films that inspired its aesthetics. It feels more significant than that.
A part of this has to do with Manhunt’s pedigree. This was not a game made by a company that needed cash and hoped to generate some by making something exploitative. It also wasn’t a game that was trying to capitalize on the craze for more violent open world content that Grand Theft Auto had created. No, that Rockstar game is called State of Emergency.
In fact, Manhunt suffered from its refusal to follow the Grand Theft Auto formula. It was a stealth game made by a development team that wasn’t particularly skilled at the subtle art of the stealth genre. It’s easy to tell that they were trying to keep the stealth mechanics as simple as possible, but even that focus on minimalism didn’t help Manhunt’s dodgy camera, iffy controls, and general lack of deeper gameplay elements.
Stealth in this game doesn’t really go far beyond sticking to the shadows and trying not to flaunt your presence to the game’s mostly inept killer guards. There was an attempt to incorporate microphone peripherals that allow the player to generate verbal distractions, but they are inconsistent at best. Beyond that, you do have the ability to grab a gun occasionally, or even just beat up on enemies head-on. Yet, aside from a sequence or two later on in the game that essentially forces you to use your guns, the game never feels like it's encouraging any line of play beyond stealth, even when that system doesn’t particularly work.
At the same time, it’s apparent that Rockstar committed to this stealth system rather than an open world comfort zone because it is the only medium that could have properly conveyed the fear and dread that Manhunt’s aesthetics were designed to create. It’s also the only system that could have properly handled Manhunt’s tiered execution mechanic, which is really what makes this game so special.
The tiered execution system works like this: As you sneak up on one of your stalkers with a weapon in hand, you receive a white targeting reticle to indicate that the enemy can now be executed. However, if you continue to stalk the enemy in this position, then the reticle becomes yellow and eventually red. Each color indicates the “style” of the execution, and the longer you stalk your enemy, the more gratuitous the execution becomes. For example, a piano wire kill at tier one just results in the enemy being choked to death. At tier three, however, Cash saws his enemy’s head clean off.
From a gameplay standpoint, this system matters, as it dictates what kind of rating you receive from the Director at the end of the level. The more elaborate executions you manage to perform, the more you please the Director. It’s worth noting that there really isn’t much reward for getting higher ratings, though, beyond verbal praise from the Director and deriving some form of personal entertainment in a game that is often so mechanically shaky, it can struggle to provide such joy. And that’s where this mechanic becomes so interesting from a social standpoint.
While there are of course hyper-violent games outside of Manhunt, none of them before or since have managed to treat violence with equal levels of revulsion and romanticism. The level of violence that earned Manhunt such incredible controversy is reserved for the optional higher-end kills. Oh sure, the game’s lower level violence isn’t exactly pleasant – nor is its gritty premise and environment – but the really shocking stuff doesn’t even need to be explored at all. There isn’t really even a tangible reward for doing so.
But it never feels like that when you’re playing Manhunt. The call for the higher end violence becomes stronger and stronger, if for no other reason than your own amusement and vindication. Without it, you are duly moving through the shadows and occasionally receiving lukewarm responses from the Director for the most simple of executions. Your only purpose in life is survival. Extreme violence is your only higher calling.
The game’s story isn’t equally as impressive. Manhunt’s initially promising plot falters a bit by trying to take on too much responsibility for driving the player forward. This is not the kind of game that benefits from a traditional narrative, yet as the game’s story starts to turn into a larger conspiracy involving journalists and the police, the gritty bloodlust for vengeance becomes harder to appreciate.
No, Manhunt’s true purpose is as a brilliant medium for the question, “What amusement do you find in violence and how important is it to you?” It doesn’t just cater to your darkest desires. It makes you work to embrace them. You are not just an observer to someone else’s perversions, as you would be when viewing a grindhouse film, but you are the star of your very own. Only by embracing your desire to become a willing participant in the madness can you fully accept the guilty pleasure that you receive from it.
That’s a disturbing quality that few other games have ever been able to - or even attempted to - achieve, including Manhunt 2, which ultimately served as the complete antithesis of its intelligent predecessor. This was a hyperviolent exploitation piece with little merit. It focused on cranking up the original game’s more controversial aspects without attempting to maintain the things that made it special. The hero is more sympathetic, his cause is nobler, and the motivation to play is far more traditional.
But the original Manhunt was a dirty game made with love, even if much of it is held together with half-functioning concepts and digital duct tape. Beyond its flaws and brutal exterior, though, lies a brilliant piece of social commentary that speaks on subjects that no other work in its medium would dare to invoke.
No, Manhunt is much more than just a slick nod to the style of grindhouse. It is one of the rare instances of a video game worthy of being featured in a dingy Time Square theatre populated by those housing a secret desire for darker amusement under their low-worn hats.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare proved that the best horror games don't have to be scary.
There were two houses in the neighborhood I would most often trick 'r treat in growing up that I’ll never forget. One was occupied by a man who loved to scare children. He would dress up like a scarecrow and stay perfectly still on the porch until he was ready to introduce kids to the concept of mortality. He would hide in bushes when young candy seekers figured out the porch trick, and he would even just wait to jump from the other side of the door when you were busy gawking at the assortment of sweets that Mrs. Jump Scare handed out. I always loved getting scared every time I visited that house.
The other house I’ll never forget was memorable for entirely different reasons. Every year, the sweet old lady who owned it would decorate her front porch with cobwebs, pumpkins, smiling spiders, haystacks, and these other items that screamed horror without making you scream. When that sweet old lady opened the door in her standard witch outfit with a grin from ear to ear, you felt this sense of welcome and comfort that many of us who grew up with horror find in the solace of a dark and stormy night.
It was a feeling I experienced again the first time that I played Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare DLC.
Undead Nightmare was not a scary game. That doesn’t mean that someone somewhere didn’t get a little spooked by the sight of an undead horde pouring out of the woods as they rode by, but it never felt like a game that was meant to be scary. That will no doubt strike some as a criticism against one of the most beloved pieces of DLC/expansions ever released. However, the idea that every horror game has to be scary is this fallacy that gaming and gamers picked up somewhere along the way that has only been bolstered by the fact that most horror games you hear about are, in fact, truly scary.
Just look at Resident Evil. Like few games before or since, Resident Evil drew this clear line for the horror genre. Either you were a horror game released before Resident Evil, or you were a horror game released after. The difference between the two is the standard for pure terror that Resident Evil set. That's not to say it was a game devoid of ridiculousness, but above all, it was a title designed to terrify you. The moment that zombie slowly turned towards the player in glorious CG (for its time) or the moment that damn dog crashed through that window, people discovered that games could scare them more than just about anything else.
That’s great and all, but what followed was a little disappointing. The message that most of the gaming industry received well and clear is that horror games needed to be scarier than the scariest game what came before. Resident Evil was bested by Silent Hill. Silent Hill was sent home by Fatal Frame. Fatal Frame was made tame by Dead Space, and so on and so forth well into the era of Five Nights at Freddy's, Outlast, and other games made notorious due, in part, to their reputation for scaring the hell out of anyone who plays them.
You’ll never hear me or any other right-minded horror fan try to blast a work of horror for trying to be scary, but the quick jump from “games aren’t that scary” to “we want you to make the scariest game ever” meant that there was very little room left for one of the best horror subgenres: the fun horror story.
I’m talking about Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Shaun of the Dead, Army of Darkness, Beetlejuice, Young Frankenstein, Horrorstör, How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend, and a legion of other horror (or horror-inspired) works that are beloved, clever, and loaded with horror elements, but aren’t necessarily designed to scare you. Instead, they're the kind of pieces of entertainment that you dive into when you want to bathe in horror atmosphere without having to look for the knife-wielding maniac in the shadows.
There are far too few games out there that belong in the group of titles mentioned above. They exist here and there for those willing to look for them - the Hunter: The Reckoning series and Dead Rising are good examples - but for a medium whose horror collection boasts some of the scariest experiences you’ll ever find, the lack of many truly memorable fun horror titles is an oversight that goes from intriguing to depressing when you realize that there are few signs that we’re going to get any such games anytime soon.
However, it’s not the fact that Undead Nightmare is such a rare example of the fun horror genre in gaming that makes it special. No, what makes Undead Nightmare special is the way that Rockstar found the fun in horror gaming via this strange game.
It’s an approach that is evident right from the start of the game. Undead Nightmare’s opening sees John Marston return home as a ‘50s style horror film narrator informs us of Marston’s situation and the thoughts that plague him. It’s a style of opening that film fans will instantly recognize as a throwback to many Vincent Price movies (or perhaps just the opening to the "Thriller" music video). Through this simple storytelling device - as well as the dark and stormy night that John Marston rides through on his way home - gamers are immediately immersed in a throwback kind of horror experience that harkens back to the days of film producers making patrons sign liability waivers before they saw the studio’s latest creature feature.
That nostalgic style of horror serves dual purposes in Undead Nightmare. The first is obviously the chance to step back in time to a simpler era of horror and enjoy its charms. Undead Nightmare utilizes more modern forms of horror (zombies, obviously) but many of its genre elements harken back to the old days. A big part of the reason that era of horror has gone from scary to amusing is that we’ve seen a lot since then. Horror movies have become more intense and we’re more aware of various real-world dangers, too. It’s the same reason why gothic horror stories tend to be less effective; what chance do cobwebs, skeletons, and rainy nights have when weighed against what we know now?
Undead Nightmare doesn’t veer away from the outdated but rather steers into it. Much like how the base Red Dead game derives some entertainment from the fact that you are aware of the tropes of the old West, Undead Nightmare acknowledges the absurdity of its premise and invites you to join in on the fun.
Oh, and what fun it is. Undead Nightmare is filled with instances where the developers are trying to show you that they are very much aware of the absurdity of this whole thing but see no reason to stop having fun with the concept. The best example of this is a side mission involving the hunt for Bigfoot. Any long-time Rockstar fan will instantly recognize that this is a reference to the video game urban legend that says Bigfoot roams the woods of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. However, this mission is more than just the realization of a popular myth. It turns out that Bigfoot (or the sasquatch) was a mostly innocent creature and you have participated in the eradication of its entire family as part of your obsession with hunting it down.
More light-hearted instances of Rockstar's overwhelmingly joyful take on this genre involve hunting down the four horses of the apocalypse (which can all be ridden), getting to brutally murder the "Uncle" character that most people wanted to kill in the base game (a moment similar to how casually the subject of killing Phil is discussed in Shawn of the Dead), and watching a racist shopkeeper who has no regard for humanity whatsoever get taken down by zombies while Marston casually watches. Moments such as these tap into the inherent fun of horror in order to produce something overtly amusing.
It's the same logic employed by fun horror creators of the past. They understood that there is something inherently ridiculous about the horror genre that can offer a strange kind of solace if it is used as a kind of nightlight that reveals the absurdity of what scares us.
That solace is enhanced by the rather brilliant decision to make players feel empowered despite being in a horror setting. You are not the helpless victim in Undead Nightmare; you are the cowboy version of Van Helsing. You are the guy with enough weapons to bring the apocalypse to the zombies. There are very few points in Undead Nightmare where you are made to feel like the survivors in Night of the Living Dead. Why should you feel that way? Red Dead Redemption established John Marston as a man who will do what he feels he needs to do above all. If a scenario happens to include zombies, then that’s really just a detail to him.
However, the details in Undead Nightmare matter very much to the player because the details are all either a loving embrace of the horror genre or a snarky, Scream-like meta takedown of its tropes. We, the players, know to aim for a zombies head and take glee at the opportunity to lay down several perfectly placed slow-motion headshots in a row. We, unlike Marston, appreciate the commentary of the film director who sees this whole incident as the basis for one incredible movie. We can even appreciate Bonnie and John sharing a moment of love in the time of zombies.
With Undead Nightmare, Rockstar made the very aware players the master and commanders of a rich horror world. They gave them control over a genre that has historically removed it and, in the process, they turned a world of horror into a celebratory Halloween Town-style genre playground. That is the core of Undead Nightmare’s brilliance. It’s a game that, in many ways, presents itself as a deliverer of nightmares that can make you feel helpless at any second. What it really is, though, is that sweet old lady’s Halloween house. It’s a game that understands that creating awareness of the window dressing nature of a horror setting is only a bad thing if you’re expecting someone to still be scared by it all.
It’s a shame that there aren’t more fun horror games like Undead Nightmare, but just as Red Dead Redemption offered a western video game experience that was impossible for many developers to top, it seems increasingly possible that Undead Nightmare may have just set a standard for enjoyable horror gaming that few developers will ever surpass.
Heading out to Paris Games Week 2018? Here's everything you need to know about France's biggest video game expo!
Paris Games Week, France's largest games expo of the year, is finally here. For five days, Paris becomes the home of the biggest upcoming titles in gaming, including major blockbusters from Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Square Enix, Capcom, SEGA, and many more. There will even be a bit of Fortnite and PUBG at this year's show.
While this year's show won't feature any big conferences -- like last year's Sony showcase -- you should expect a show floor full of titles. Below, you'll find a list of just some of the games that will have a presence at the expo.
Those hoping that Sony would return for another conference in Paris should know that the publisher has decided to lay low for the rest of the year, which means that there won't be an annual PSX conference either. It might have something to do with the fact the company has confirmed that it's currently developing a next-gen PlayStation console. Could Sony be saving its airtime for a much bigger reveal event next year? That could certainly be the case.
For now, here's everything else you need to know about Paris Games Week 2018:
Paris Games Week 2018 Date
PGW 2018 will be held from Friday, Oct. 26 to Tuesday, Oct. 30. The expo floor will be open every day from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm CEST, except the last day, when doors will shut at 6 pm CEST.
Paris Games Week 2018 Location
This year's expo will be held at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France.
Paris Games Week 2018 Games
There will be plenty of games at this year's Paris Games Week. You can find a full list on the PGW website, but here are some of the highlights: