Archive for the ‘Features’ Category
Tomb Raider is a very well known series in fact just recently the series hit its landmark 20th anniversary so it felt fitting to enter the series into the Horror Obscura this year. Many of course will argue that the Tomb Raider series is an action series but lingering in those tombs in practically every entry of the series there are horror themes to be found. So to celebrate the 20th anniversary and talk about some horror it’s time to discuss some of Tomb Raider‘s most memorable scares.
When it come to the obscure and horror games I really like to search out the titles you may have never heard of and today’s game is no different.
Avenging Spirit – I have seen this title floating around on the 3DS virtual console for quite some time and decided to recently pull the trigger on it. This is a Game Boy game released in 1991. You play a nameless character who has been gunned down by the mob and who’s girlfriend has been kidnapped. You wake to find this whole mess was your girlfriends fathers fault as the mob wanted to obtain his research on ghost energy. The father now has the balls to ask you to rescue your girlfriend before you fade away into the afterlife. Oh did I mention you’re now an adorable cuddly looking ghost? Yeah the story of Avenging Spirit sounds a lot darker than its appearance would lead you to believe.
Rise Of Nightmares
The Xbox Kinect 1.0. Yes I’m talking about Microsoft’s first attempt at motion controls on the fantastic Xbox 360 console. The device actually sold pretty well to begin with people seemed to buy into Microsoft’s marketing for the device for about 5 minutes and then people left it on the side lines only to pull it out from the dusty corner of the living room when a new entry in the Dance Central series released. Then Kinect 2.0 happened and no one cared, so the real horror here is Kinect’s failure to capture an audience. Of course you’d have seen the title and you know that’s not what we’re here to talk about. No horror fans, today we are going to talk about the reason I kinda wanted to buy a Kinect for the Xbox 360 in the first place a little Sega title called Rise of Nightmares.
Rise of Nightmares to me is House of the Dead for the Kinect. Now I know that’s an incredibly bold statement to make since the House of the Dead series is just light gun zombie shooting bliss and Rise of Nightmares, well its a Kinect game and that just makes people just groan generally. We’re gamers right? we don’t like standing up and flailing our arms around we like to sit on sofa and be lazy. Unless of course your like Fred and you stand up to play games anyway in which case buy this game and enjoy.
Back by popular demand the Horror Obscura returns for another series of terror. This year, as well as discussing some horror titles you may not have heard of, I also wanted to revisit some games which are not necessarily considered horror but have horror elements portrayed in them really well. I’ve always been quite the fan of horror. When I was 5 years old one of my parents made the big mistake of allowing me to watch Stephen King’s It. Pro Parenting tip: Don’t let a 5 year old watch It they will think Tim Curry is terrifying, Home Alone 2 to me is terrifying with his inclusion (full disclosure I’m currently not a parent). Regardless of this experience I always held a kind of fascination with horror and think deep down we all sort of do. Whether its watching a scary film, playing a scary game or doing something scary like falling in love. Okay, I know this is a gaming blog not a life lesson but I feel we all sort of find horror even if its in media that doesn’t contain a monster as my first entry of the Horror Obscura 2016 will begin with.
It all began in 1989 with developer Reflections Interactive showing a tech demo to British publisher Psygnosis. With Psygnosis impressed by what they saw Shadow of the Beast was originally released on the Commodore Amiga and was graphically mind blowing for the time. With several colours on screen at once as well as up to twelve levels of parallax scrolling backdrops, the game looked like it was from an arcade machine. Martin Edmonson, one of the founders of the company, was fond of very difficult video games. He wanted to be challenged and have to play a game multiple times to be able to master it. The score for the game was composed by David Whittaker, which was very atmospheric and left a lasting impression on fans. The cover art for the game was from the talented hands of Roger Dean who was well know for working on album covers for Yes, Asia, Budgie, as well as several others. Roger Dean merged a stone age look with technology to create a very unique look to the cover of Shadow of the Beast. He would also later go on to redesign the logo for Tetris.
Sorry to have led you here on false pretenses by suggesting that I had written an article on the subject. Don’t worry, there’s a link here to the incredible, somewhat heartbreaking details of the beginning and tragic end to Lionhead Studios. I’ve said before that the challenge of being a no ads blog about retro games and located in the Midwest (Kansas City) leaves me at a loss for developer inside stories. I’ve got Jam, who is closer to some of the core studios in London, but frankly he doesn’t work for pay (none of us do) and I have no idea how he would get into a closed studio to ask insider questions. None of these factors are the case with Eurogamer. Writer Wesley Yin-Poole wrote a fantastic piece last week that not only told the history of Lionhead (many of us could do the research and write that) with the rare inclusion of some candid stories. Those stories, including quite a few of the colorful actions of Peter Molyneux, are what I always want to know about game development and the studios responsible. In short, read this story now. The link can be found here, or by clicking on the Lionhead logo at the top, which some of you may have already done.
Welcome to an all new style of article I’ve written exclusively for Gaming History 101: Game Fights.
This is an idea I’ve thought of for a while and it’s where I pick two contenders which share something special and pit them against each other. The article is designed to just be a bit of fun and while some of the facts presented will be as accurate as possible the final verdict will be based entirely on opinion. Thanks for checking this out and of course if you want to share your own views on the games in this article please share them in the comments below.
Now without any further ado…let them fight!
The 5th of November in the UK marks Bonfire night (aka Guy Fawkes Night) which is our unusual celebration of Guy Fawkes foiled plot to blow up the House of Lords on the same date in 1605. There is a quite a lot of history behind why we still celebrate this date today but one thing you can guarantee seeing on this event is lots and lots of fireworks. Fireworks are certainly prevalent in a lot of video games such as the end level in the gun game Point Blank but few games make them the actual focus of the gameplay. The two games I’ve found to discuss were Fantavision on PS2 and Big Bang Mini for the Nintendo DS. What better way to celebrate Bonfire night (even though this article will post very late) than to pit these two games together and find out which is the best fireworks video game.
It has been quite the journey this week horror fans. Through the days of Horror Obscura we have visited various areas of deep seated fear from the virus infested Antarctic to the fear of being in a relationship. I’ve really only scratched the surface there are so many more games covering various horror themes, but I guess we’ll get to those another time. For the final entry of this series of articles I wanted to save what I consider the game that rocked me to my very core as a youngling. Retro fans, I’ve lived through many scary moments in and out of video games I’ve walked through haunted caves, played through Alien Isolation and walked home in pitch black. It takes a lot to truly terrify me. The reason for this is nothing quite rocked me to my very core more than the software I am about to speak of. Some might even not call this a game in fact it’s actually considered an educational tool in the early days of microcomputers. Just talking the title of this game will send children running to the hills in fear. You think you know fear? Then you have never played Granny’s Garden on the BBC Micro.
The Horror Obscura Finale (2015) – Granny’s Garden
Granny’s Garden is an educational program that plays out as a text adventure game with various visual aids. It was designed as a tool to help teach basic computer skills to kids in Primary school. I remember vividly booting up this software and thinking how amazing it was that I was allowed to play a game in school time. Oh if only I knew the terror that awaited me. Your quest is to go find all the missing children within the Kingdom of the Mountains. You are consistently bombarded with text based puzzles where you would have to type the answer into the keyboard to progress.
Day 7: Catherine
So this is something a bit different, so far on The Countdown Horror Obscura I have covered fantasy horror, gory horror and terrible portable powered horror. Well today I’m going to cover a deep seated horror that concerns the average gamer. I speak of the horror of commitment in a relationship.
Catherine truly is a breath of fresh air in a game. You have a simple premise a man (Vincent) is in a long term relationship with his partner (Katherine) and is conflicted about taking the next big step. Basically all those things that make up an average gamers worst nightmare, such as settling down with the same partner, getting married, having kids. One big plot hole I always questioned in this game was if Vincent was in a relationship with Katherine for as long as he had been, then why on earth was he still not living with her? Instead he lives in an apartment and spends more time with his friends at sushi bars and creepy drinking establishments then actually spending time with Katherine. But this game is Japanese, so maybe its some cultural thing I’m missing. Anyway Vincent has a moment of weakness that all men go through in life where he gazes upon another woman, only Vincent being the dumb Neanderthal man that he is drinks one to many and ends up sleeping with the most blonde just over the limit blonde girl that decided to sit next to him. After this the game plops you in this most disastrous situation you as the player are then given control of how the story progresses. You can take the weight of the situation on your shoulders and try make good with your long term partner or you can just stick with your new love interest as well as make various neutral choices. This control is what most critics and gamers rate as the highlight of the game experience.
Day 6: Resident Evil Gaiden
Resident Evil Gaiden is very much the misunderstood step child of the Resident Evil series. Capcom likes to put it in the corner along with its other B-list Resident Evil titles like Operation Raccoon City and Mercenaries 3D and pretend they just don’t really exist. Unfortunately like a lot of Capcoms other industry mistakes some of us can’t forget the past. I for one feel Resident Evil Gaiden is a portable title that though flawed, brings a unique take on the series formula with incredibly restricted hardware.
So stop me if you haven’t heard this one from the Resident Evil series: you play as a anti-Umbrella agent who intercepts a passenger ship on the sea and soon finds it has been overrun by monsters. Well before the series copied its own idea literally twice in Dead Aim and Revelations, Gaiden was the game that some would consider the genesis of Resident Evil’s small obsession with campaigns on a boat. The agent you play is the greatest character from the series Barry Burton. Except now you finally get to play as this beard faced hunk of manliness. I am aware he’s also recently and finally been allowed to have his own campaign in Revelations 2 but Resident Evil Gaiden was for the longest time the only way for Burton fans to get their fix of the man with the best one liners in the series history. Anyway, back to the game. Barry is basically on the ship to find Leon Kennedy but along the way he comes across a young girl who seems to be the only survivor of this horror as well as a B.O.W who has the ability to morph into human form. One of the main reasons I think Gaiden is absolutely fantastic and I wish this was an actual cannon to the Resident Evil story is because of how it ends. If you really don’t want a pinnacle part of the plot to be spoiled for you then I advise you to skip the following paragraph because I’m about to explain the ending.