A Delightful Though Dated Diversion – Sony Playstation – D – 1995

TitleD
Sony Playstation
Warp / Panasonic / Acclaim
Genre: Horror Adventure
1995

Gaming in the 1990s was living in an age of wonder and innovation. In no way is this meant to nullify the decades before that sealed the foundation of gaming technology, but in retrospect, the 90s feel like they were a turning point in the medium’s popularity. The majority of the people I talk about games with can remember systems like the Atari and Colecovision consoles, but their fondest memories always come back to systems like the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and later on, Sony’s Playstation console.

When I first got my Playstation, I rented two games. One of them was Final Fantasy VII which showed off just how much the new system could do graphically as well as content-wise. The other was a little game that I couldn’t remember much about after a few years called D. What I did remember was the protagonist and some scene involving a mirror… maybe? It was very fuzzy but I remember not spending much time with it for one reason or another.

Shocking, I’m sure, that when I had the chance to go back and play the game again recently, I took the chance gladly. D and its sequels have gained a solid cult following over the years. I’ve read up a bit on how bizarre and interesting the games are on a variety of levels for the sake of research but managed to avoid any major spoilers. Being able to head back into D semi-blind after nearly 20 years seemed like a task I’d be willing to take on, especially heading into the Halloween season. 
Continue reading

A Tragically Low Sum from a Number of Parts – Super Nintendo – Secret of the Stars – 1993

Image result for box art secret of the starsSecret of the Stars
Super Nintendo
Tecmo
Genre: Role-Playing Game
1993

Video games have a variety of ways that they can gain notoriety over time, but they tend to fall into one camp or another. One way is that the game is so well-made, fantastic, or charming that the general public can’t help but fall in love with it. There are a vast number of games from the golden age of the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis days that I can think of off the top of my head when I think about the games that captured my attention and have stuck with me to this day.

Then, there is the other way; the way that may not be considered quite as positive as the first. There is a selection of games that miss the mark in such a grandiose way that they become cult classics, revered for the mess of positive and negative elements that they bring to the table. These are the games that are not so universally terrible that they can’t be played, but the ones that effort was put into to make into a game that could walk alongside its technological brethren and hold its head high as one of their equals- and managed to miss the point of why those games were so successful.

Tecmo’s Secret of the Stars is one of those games to me. Before I got the chance to play it, I had heard so much about how terrible the game was but hadn’t really heard exactly why it was awful. It wasn’t that I doubted the people saying these things about the game. Usually, when I haven’t heard of an RPG from the early 90s era by this point, I feel like there’s something off about it that has kept it in mind blind spot over the years. I felt like I would be letting myself down to not at least try to forge through Secret of the Stars and see exactly why it has been panned by so many people, though, and much like some other games I’ve reviewed here, I turned the game on with an open mind in an attempt to analyze it to the best of my abilities.

Let’s see how that went, shall we? Continue reading

They’re Back In Game Boy Form! – Game Boy Color – The Simpsons: Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror – 2001

Simpsons, The - Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror (U) [C][!]_02The Simpsons: Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror
Game Boy Color
Software Creations/THQ
Genre: Action Platformer
2001

My first introduction to horror growing up came in the form of television specials that would pop up around the Halloween season. I vividly remember episodes of Home Improvement, Roseanne, and Boy Meets World that entranced me as a kid. Honestly, they probably scared me a bit, too, even though they’re probably pretty laughable to me today. They were a good gateway into a genre that I love now, though, and my gaming and movie tastes might be fairly different if it weren’t for those spooky interludes in my sitcom watching days.

As it happens, I also watched a lot of The Simpsons growing up. Like most other sitcoms, they had a Halloween episode carved out each year, too, called the Treehouse of Horror due to the framing narrative involving the stories being told in the oft-utilized structure in the family’s backyard. As an anthology of short Simpson-flavored homages, this appealed to me since I enjoyed reading and the specials were well-produced, I’ve always held a special place in my heart for them.

Imagine my delight, then, when I was looking through my collection for something a bit scary to play while leading into the spooky season (yeah, I start early) and stumbled across The Simpsons: Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror. How this had slipped under my active radar, I’m not entirely sure, but I made a quick plan to rectify the problem. After some quick preparation- and honestly, setting myself up for the possibility that the game could be terrible since I had never heard of it and it’s a licensed game- I jumped into the shoes of the familial quintet to see if I was in for a trick or a treat. Continue reading

Through the True Lens of Terror – Playstation 2 – Fatal Frame – 2001

TitleFatal Frame
Playstation 2
Tecmo
Genre: Survival Horror
2001

In general, horror is a tricky genre to be successful in, despite there being quite a bit of leeway as to what “horror” can actually pertain to. Sometimes, horror can be encapsulated by the visuals of a game, making for some gruesome scenes or grisly environments that can offset a player’s senses. Action-horror can give a player weapons and defenses aplenty at their disposal only to let them whittle away as the game continues. Then there are games that don’t even give you weapons, offering either environment or a host of hiding spaces to avoid assailants as you attempt to escape the encroaching danger.

Whatever the specifics are, horror games usually have the primary goal of trying to scare the player. Jump scares can be cheap but effective and atmosphere and digital disorientation can leave a lasting impression but takes a thorough followthrough to pack a punch. There is a delicate balance involving tension, foreboding, art, and programming that has to go into these games for them to achieve their goal.

One game that made this attempt was Fatal Frame, the origin point of a series that never quite reached the popularity of some of its brethren but has a well-sized and devoted following. Touting a rare “based on a true story” label on its cover, the game left quite the impression on me growing up but I never finished the original title, opting instead to play through the second entry with a friend in high school over the course of a night one summer. I’ve had fond memories of the pieces of the series I’ve played in the past, so I decided it was time to buckle in and push through the game that started the series on its quiet course into cult reverence.  Continue reading

August in Review

3pmegamanstyle

Hey folks! I’m a few days late, but it’s been a hectic beginning to September so I hope you’ll all forgive me.

So far as life is concerned, it’s mostly been work and trying to be social where I can. A lot of that involves gaming, which is nice, but I’ve also been working on getting back into reading. I’ve pretty much careened through the first book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, in an effort to read through some of his connected mythos. It’s been nice having a book reel me back in again, and I’m hoping the reading bug catches me this time around. There are a lot of great works out that I’ve been meaning to get to.

I also featured on a co-stream with my best friend, Sparkhive (who’s stream can be caught here!) and introduced her to the game, ObsCure (which I also reviewed here). It was a blast to not only collaborate with a good friend live and in front of a bunch of fun folks, but it reminded me that I enjoyed streaming when I could for the most part before. It may be something I look into doing every so often once I have an apartment or a place to live where I can do it in peace.

Gaming itself has also been pretty erratic, though I’ve tended toward the spooky over the past month. I managed my way through the original Fatal Frame and have started up with Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. I’ve also worked through three or four run-throughs of The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, Supermassive’s follow-up effort to one of my favorite games, Until Dawn, which I’ll have some impressions of up on here shortly for. My co-op playthrough of Dead Rising 2 is coming to a close soon, too. Not to be outdone, though, my Switch has gotten quite a bit of playtime with a second run-through in Fire Emblem: Three Houses and the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered release a few days ago.

Needless to say, it’s a great time to be a gamer!

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Reviews and Posts

Keeping on my horror slant, most of the games I wrote about this month had some hand in the macabre. Exploring Castlevania 64 after all of these years was a fun romp into one of my favorite series, even if the experience is a bit lacking. The original Dead Rising left the same kind of taste but as the origin point of the series, it kind of makes sense that there were some bumps in the road. Surprisingly, DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark was a solid sequel that followed the original DreadOut (review) faithfully and kept most of what worked so well in the original.

The one deviation was A Boy and His Blob which I had wanted to revisit since I first owned it on the NES years ago. It’s an interesting little title that’s worth a peek and has made me interested in the remake that came out on the Wii some time ago.

Castlevania (N64)
Dead Rising (360)
A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia (NES)
DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark (PC)

The only editorial piece I did this month came from the “Adventures in Collecting” series I’ve attempted to keep up- though this one was a bit of a warning to budding collectors more than anything. From my advice pile to you: “make sure you read the fine print”.

(Mis)Adventures in Collecting – Fire Emblem

Looking Ahead

Aside from write-ups on Fatal Frame and some impression on Man of Medan, I’m hoping to continue on with my Dead Rising write-ups and finally put the finishing touches on my overview of Left 4 Dead. I have a few other games that I’m looking forward to but I hesitate to chat about which ones I’ll actually get to jot my impressions of down in here before the end of the month. It’s actually feeling like there might be quite a few editorial pieces upcoming for some reason.

Really, the sky’s the limit and I’m not totally sure what will be coming up in the blog for September- especially since we’re heading into the Halloween season, my favorite season of all. If my gaming habits are any indication, though, you’ll be seeing some fun horror and RPG titles over the next few weeks.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic start to your month- and I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading, watching, gaming, or just generally doing that you’d like to share!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)