A Grotesque and Beautiful Love Letter – Friday the 13th’s Virtual Cabin and Challenges

Given that we’re smack in the middle of the spooky season- and yes, for many of us, Halloween is a month-long celebration- I find that this is one of the easiest times to marry two of my pop culture passions: video games and horror movies.  I’ve made it a mission to play through a few of the horror games I’ve been stowing in my backlog, hence my last review of Layers of Fear and hopefully at least one or two more before the pumpkins and sheets with holes in them are tucked away until next year.

Something keeps bringing me back to GunMedia’s Friday the 13th, though.  I’m not big on multiplayer that involves matching up with random people and trying to play a game as I’ve had one too many toxic encounters and, to be honest, it makes me a little anxious to think about despite having had plenty of pleasant rounds of this one.  Oddly enough, though, I’m enamored with the single-player offerings that the game has on display.  For those of you who are hesitant to grab the game but are fans of the series, allow me to expound on why I still love this game despite not jumping into the real heart of its contents as a stellar-but-still-flawed asymmetrical horror romp.  If you’re not a fan- well, obviously I still hope you enjoy this little off-the-cuff spurt of excitement.

Also, just as a precaution, there are some minor spoilers involved below, just in case anyone wants to go in completely blind to either of the single-player parts of the game.

Give Me Something To Scream About

20180525093419_1It’s easier to pinpoint exactly what I love about the single-player Challenges.  With a total of ten ‘vignettes’, Friday the 13th puts you in the grimy boots of the infamous Jason Voorhees as is in the middle of trying to murder a number of teenagers.  While this is exactly what one might expect, there’s a degree of difficulty in opening the next Challenge from the one you are attempting, as you have to put to use keeping track of where your targets are, who might be in their line of sight, and what tools are at your disposal.  I’m told this is a lot like the Hitman games, but I honestly haven’t tried those yet so I have to take other gamers’ words for that.

The beauty of these Challenges is all of them are slight variations on scenes from the films.  The first finds you just off of a clearing where two young men are having car trouble and while one attempts to fix the car, the other goes off into the woods to relieve himself.  Fans of the series will almost instantly recognize this from Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.  Another has you causing a power outage, resulting in a stoner couple who have to fix the problem among other people on the grounds.  This echoes back to my favorite entry, Friday the 13th Part 3, and winds up playing out much like the climax of that movie does.

20180525095913_1The developers were smart about this, however, and they vary up the scenarios so that they feel fresh and a little unfamiliar, partially due to the plugging of the game’s counselors into the roles fans already know and also due to the aspects that sometimes, characters will do something completely different than their analog in the film does.  They really do become challenging after the first few, given that I still haven’t actually “completed” the final scenario.  Challenges are good fun snippets that play out like a highlight reel for the Friday the 13th series and if like me, you aren’t fantastic at stealth style games, you’ll get some hours worth trying to perfect each mission.

“Paul, There’s Someone In This Room…”

20171222014550_1Where I really spent a lot of time, however, was in the game’s Virtual Cabin.  When you first ‘boot up’ the cabin, you find yourself in a nice cozy space that has been frozen in time.  Teenagers lean against the railing of the second-floor overhang, the room is in just enough disarray to show it’s been lived in, and the only way anything moves is if you pick it up or manipulate it.  After inputting some information on a nearby computer, you can move about and hover over nearly every item that stands out during which you are given the option to interact with it.  Most of these items will result in a pop-up with some snippet of information about the game, the film series, or something about the actors and development involving both.  At its core, the Virtual Cabin is an interactive encyclopedia of knowledge on Friday the 13th that even I, as a pretty stalwart fan, found some new bits of information from.  That in and of itself was pretty worthwhile to me.

20171222014622_1Then I noticed the puzzles.  Small items that were out of place made their way into my ‘inventory’.  The first time this happened, I stopped and my heart got a little fluttery- I wasn’t just looking up facts.  There was a game to be played here and I would be damned if I wouldn’t solve these puzzles.  Some of them involved putting figurines into a diorama of a scene from one of the movies in their correct positions.  Another involved putting the different masks that Jason has worn in order on hooks against the wall.  Every piece brought me closer to- something.  I wasn’t really sure what.  Eventually, I found my way into a part of the cabin I couldn’t get into before and with one interaction, it was over.

That didn’t seem right.

20171222012939_1I jumped back in and after some struggles (and I’ll admit, a quick glance at a walkthrough), I found myself in a very different Virtual Cabin.  To be clear, it was the same but after a few actions, the lights were out.  The power box now had a large axe jutting from it.  The frozen teenagers weren’t in their spots anymore in the main lobby of the cabin.  There was a sense that someone was definitely in the cabin with me and that I was no longer safely doing puzzles and learning about my favorite film series.  It felt like I was plunged into a survival horror situation.  Hovering over things now gave different information which was still interesting trivia but stressed that I was now in a very unfamiliar setting.  Once again, there were puzzles to be solved- but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little tense and dangerous to be walking around at that point.

All of that was before the third run through.

Some Folks Sure Got a Strange Idea of Entertainment

I won’t go any further with describing the Virtual Cabin experience since hopefully, you’ll get the chance to check it out yourself some time if it interests you.  Are the Challenges and the Virtual Cabin worth the price of the whole game?  Not really, though you can definitely get your hours worth out of them if you’re a big fan of the film series.  While the multiplayer aspect of the game is pretty fun, I’ve honestly gotten a lot of mileage out of the single-player that I didn’t expect.  I also think that this aspect gets swept into the shadow of the online aspects of Friday the 13th unfairly.  If you’ve bought the game as an enthusiast and you haven’t spent time in the single-player modes, you really should.  A lot of love for the source material and quality work went into both aspects and neither aspect really seem to get the recognition they deserve.

On that, happy haunting and have a great time until we meet again!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists – TGS Trailer Breakdown

I’ve made no secret of my love for the Atelier series.  The next entry, Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists, is slated to hit the Nintendo Switch on North American shores in the Winter.  Much like another favorite series of mine, Fire Emblem, they decided to take an approach involving the past of the Atelier series.  With Nelke, it’s a bit more heavy-handed than with Awakening as the game has you utilizing a swarm of the series’ protagonists to proceed through the plot.

As a quick plot rundown (and here is the obvious spoiler warning in case you want to play the game and go in completely blind for your enjoyment), you play as Nelke von Lestamm, a government official in training who has shown no talent for alchemy, despite her appreciation of it.  She has grown up with a fascination regarding a legendary tree that can grant power and wishes to those who discover it.  Of course shortly after she is set to graduate from her academy, she hears that the tree is rumored to be within her father’s lands.  As she sets her sights on finding the tree, her father agrees to help her so long as she takes over a nearby town as its governor.  With the task of helping the town flourish, she cooperates with the many alchemists who are drawn to her new city to find the mysterious tree and learn the mysteries surrounding it.

At the Tokyo Game Show, a new trailer was shown which appeared to be an opening movie for the game (or at the very least, an entertaining promotional piece).  While there was a separate gameplay trailer, I wanted to do a quick breakdown on some of the titles that would be involved and some of the observations I made while looking through a few times.

So you can check it out yourself, here’s the trailer:

This will mostly involve references back to the old games and some conclusions I’ve come to through some quick peripheral research.  Hopefully, this is pretty accurate and up to date, but with more information coming along every few days, it will be interesting to see what’s released before the game arrives!
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My Top 10(ish) Predictions for Games Coming to the PSOne Classic Mini

Playstation Classic Mini
With the recent announcement of the Sony Playstation Classic Mini being produced, speculation has been running wild as to what games might be joining the five that have already been announced: Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Wild Arms, Tekken 3, and Ridge Racer Type 4.  Following in the traditions of the other Mini systems that have been released, there has been a promise of 20 titles that should be on the final list of games available.

Of course, everyone has their predictions and their reasons behind them- so why shouldn’t I join in on the fun?  I loved my Sony Playstation growing up with Final Fantasy VII being the first game I purchased for it (even before memory cards, which is a story in an of itself)!

After the jump are ten games that are a mix of logical predictions and wishlist games that I would enjoy seeing on the upcoming Mini.  By no means are these all of the games I would like to see- that list stretches a bit longer than I have time to write about- but I’ve got plenty of thoughts as to what would make the Playstation Classic Mini an actual classic.
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Responding to My Sunshine Blogger Award


In a strange and stunning turn of events, I was nominated for another award recently by Red Metal over at Extra Life Reviews.  While I gather my thoughts on some more games, work on my piece for the Games That Define Us collaboration, and piece together some more collection gushing, I thought it could be fun to respond to this!

As usual, I want to give a special thanks to the person who sent this my way.  Red Metal’s been around since this blog started, and his blog has been a bit of an inspiration for me and how I’ve been working to improve on 3PStart here.  He also just recently put up another piece in his series on The Legend of Zelda series (this one on Breath of the Wild which I’m still reading through), and he always offers up interesting background information and cool insights on the games he writes about.  Head on over and check out his stuff- once you’re done here, of course!

With that said, onward to the always thought-provoking questions!
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The Ship Sinks – When the World is Full of Spoilers

Picture yourself sitting at your computer.  My guess is that at the moment, this may not be a stretch but bear with me.  As you’re scrolling through the front page of your favorite gaming site, you see an advertisement for a game you’ve been waiting for what feels like five lifetimes to play.  It’s been out for a few weeks, but you’ll finally have the money to grab it and see what everyone’s ‘oh man’s and ‘you need to play this game’s have been all about. As you scroll down your Twitter feed, you happen upon an interesting looking screenshot and linger a bit too long.

Is that the main villain of the game?  Wait, though, that character was clearly being shown as a friend to the hero in the trailer you watched.  You would have never seen that coming!

Okay.  No problem.  It sucks that the plot point was ruined for you, but you get your mind off of it by heading out to the movies for the night.  You’ve been looking forward to the new Marvel movie (there’s always one, isn’t there?) and after the diligence you’ve put toward avoiding interviews with the stars and major movie sites, you’re sure you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the two-hour thrill ride that awaits you.  You sidle into the line at the snack counter and just as you start to order, you hear the group behind you talking about how they are on their third viewing of this movie.

“Seriously, I can’t wait to see that again!  I was totally surprised when-”

Before you have the chance to throw your hands over your ears and sing loudly to mask the voices, you’ve had the entire second half of the movie ruined just because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you’re someone who wants to go into a piece of media pure and uninformed, the Information Age can be tough.  The general populace seems eager to not spoil everything for people who haven’t checked out the latest games, movies, books, and other works of the sort.  Eventually, though, the question arises:

When Is a Spoiler Not a Spoiler?

I took to Twitter to throw together a poll, gauging how people felt about spoilers and how long the grace period should be between something releasing and when you can generally get away with talking in a public forum about it in gritty detail.  The results?

Spoiler Poll Results

Thanks to the folks that participated in the poll!

Like most polls, I was in the minority on this though I’ll get to that in a bit.  While I admittedly left out the option for folks to express that spoilers are no big deal, I expected a bit more breathing room between release and full-blown public critiques.  Of course, that would be my feeling on this if people hadn’t replied with such well explained feelings on the matter. Given the stipulations and reasoning, six months to a year actually sounds completely understandable.  It also comes as no surprise to me that the second strongest answer was that it is never okay to talk about anything spoiler related. I don’t subscribe to the same thought process necessarily- if I want to tell people that they’re going to find Toad (spoiler alert)  in seven castles before they actually get to see Princess Toadstool, I’m taking the liberty to do so.  That said, if someone wants to go into detail about some of the finer points of a game like Final Fantasy VI, even with a grace period of 24 years I feel that the responsible thing to do is at least warn a fellow gamer.

Thankfully, that seems to be the major caveat that most people who answered the poll added.  Providing some kind of forewarning that there are indeed spoilers incoming will help the person looking at your blog or your Facebook post decide whether or not they want to partake in the information you’re putting out into the atmosphere.  There is certainly something to be said for consideration when discussing anything in depth especially in a place where everyone can see or hear it plainly. There are a few factors I hadn’t considered in my initial question, though, one of which doesn’t revolve around video games.

The Shameful Narcissist (check out their blog here) made a good point that some of the consideration could revolve around monetary and time commitment.  While no one wants to see spoilers for a movie they’re excited about that just released, ticket prices are not nearly as expensive as most games fresh off of the shelf.  Along the same lines, a film takes a couple of hours worth of investment whereas quite a few games can range from five to ten hours or so up to even 60-100 hours (I’m looking at you, Persona 5).  

Does this make the spoilers for a film less important than a video game?  Not at all! The cycle of a film, though, does feel like it lends itself to a shorter spoiler process.  Being able to finish a movie in a couple of hours means that it isn’t spread out over the course of a month or two.  Rarely can a video game be completed on the first day it’s purchased. How is this judged for things like television shows, books, and other media?  In a world full of people who believe the nature of spoilers to be different concepts, it’s tough to come up with one conclusive answer.

What Is a Spoiler?

A miserable little pile of secrets.

Actually, that kind of works, doesn’t it?  A lot of folks that I’ve spoken with, both online and off, have stated their opinions on what exactly constitutes a “spoiler” in the grand scheme of a game.  The story I tell most people to outline my confusion on the topic is that either just before or just when Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released, I mentioned to an acquaintance and diehard fan of the series that the bow that Link uses in the game looks really cool.  Their response was for me to stop talking about it because they didn’t want to hear spoilers for the game. Never mind that I haven’t played the last few Zelda games in any capacity but either they had avoided spoilers so much that they hadn’t seen the promotional art or the paranoia of the conversation continuing into spoiler territory was so great that the mention of a prominent weapon throughout the series set off their alarms.

The majority of the people I spoke to and that responded to the question online came down to the same conclusion as to what constitutes as a spoiler concerning a video game.  To most, a spoiler is a revelation that would remove the emotional impact from the game as a whole. Whether it be through character beats, plot twists, or the result of difficult choices that may affect the game, people tend to see these as spoilers that are the most egregious.  To confide my opinion on this in general, I feel the same way. I had a huge plot twist to Final Fantasy X ruined for me a few months after it came out and still haven’t finished it to this day because- well, why bother when I know the plot now?  Experiencing the plot is half of the point of playing an RPG and despite my resolution to go back and finish it someday soon, that mark will always affect my interest in watching everything unfold.

While in the minority of answers to my question, a few people did say that they take it upon themselves to cultivate the amount of promotional material they’ll observe and avoid whatever they can leading up to a game’s release and their time with it.  While I don’t take the same approach, the understanding did seem to stress the point of taking it upon themselves to avoid the information.  It can be difficult now especially if you read blogs or keep up with social media.  There is a lot to be said, however, for people wanting to get the most out of their experience and holding themselves accountable with filters and avoiding their favorite gaming news sources until they can get into the game themselves.

until dawn image.jpg

Sometimes, you just have to put your headphones on and tune out the information spread.

A Conclusion and How to Handle Spoilers

To coin a phrase that I’m sure someone else has said in these exact same words: “Everybody wants something different.”  Some people will play through a game regardless of how much they know about the plot and its intricacies while a number will go into a media blackout until that game hits their console or computer screen.  Some folks think that spoilers are something that should never be talked about while others think that once a game is released, every bit of information is fair game to post for the world to see. Where does this intrepid blogger stand on it?

Spoilers don’t bother me as much as most at this point in my life.  If I’m going to play a game, I’m going to play it regardless. I respect the fact, though, that plenty of other people don’t feel the same way that I do.  When I post screenshots of modern games, I try to make sure that they won’t ruin anything plot related or any incredibly interesting mechanics that may add to the experience for someone and aren’t common knowledge.  I feel that it’s my duty as a blogger and someone interested in promoting gaming history and analysis to outline when I’m going to discuss topics like that and while I may not always succeed, I hope the effort is as effective as I want it to be.  Personally, my threshold for full-on discussion without discussing spoilers openly is about ten years but it does depend on how it might affect the work. Talking about Super Mario Odyssey and its plot and mechanics is a bit different than talking about Octopath Traveller or Persona 5.  Still, I don’t see myself throwing out the Plot Discussion and Spoilers portion of my long form reviews anytime soon.  I’ll just do my best to keep highlighting and containing that information.

In the long run, games are there to be enjoyed.  A lot of people get enjoyment out of surprises and engaging with media with a fresh and clear view and as a community, I think it’s good to bear that in mind.  Thankfully, most of the community I’ve spoken with tend to agree as I honestly believe that a big step in creating a positive community around any media is to let people enjoy things the way that they like.  Being aware that some people want to have this information highlighted for them at the very least is a pretty small step toward that goal.

If you have any thoughts or want to discuss, feel free to do so in the comments (and much like in my Twitter question on this, I have faith in the folks that talk on here will keep things civil)!  How do you feel about spoilers? Any thoughts on how things like re-releases and remasters affect them? Any other advice on how to handle them? Feel free to chat me up here or on Twitter ( @the3rdplayer ) to let me know.

Have a great Friday and weekend, everyone!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)