All’s Fair in Love and Covering Wars – XBox 360 – Dead Rising – 2006

20190706233207_1.jpgDead Rising
XBox 360
Capcom
Genre: Action Horror
2006

Zombie games are everywhere. Like the creeping undead they promote, they seem to have vastly grown in number and even when you don’t think they have made their way in, games suddenly have a new mode that has you facing off against the hellish creatures. As someone who swears by Zombie Ate My Neighbors being one of my favorite games of all time, even I have to admit that there’s a lot to look through and not much to be done to make the zombie pseudo-genre feel fresh.

Looking back a bit, though, it didn’t feel like the wave of zombie-centric gaming started to swell until popular games like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Rising hit the scene, bringing a more action-oriented approach to slaying the already slain than many of their predecessors of the era. Plenty of ground had been struck within the Resident Evil series and other one-off titles here and there to give credit where it’s due. At the time of its release, though, Dead Rising felt like a revival of a sort. It was shiny and new while calling back to similar works from film and gaming.

There’s also been about thirteen years of efforts to replicate those shiny and new feelings in a number of ways since. Some have been successful while others have paled in comparison. It only feels right to look back into Capcom’s Dead Rising series, one of the original members of the new wave, and see how it stands up now that so many other games have come around. Plenty of games make a splash and get lost in an ocean of titles and efforts to be the best.

After all of this time, does Dead Rising still hold its own in the arena?
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Enter If You Dare – Nintendo 64 – Castlevania – 1999

TitleCastlevania
Nintendo 64
Konami/KCEK
Genre: Action Adventure
1999

Since the earlier days of console gaming, Castlevania has been a standout series alongside esteemed first-party brethren like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Over the course of the 8 and 16-bit days, the series managed to produce just under 10 or so unique games for itself, and the popularity it gained after the night-untouchable Symphony of the Night released on Playstation made it a force to be reckoned with. While keeping true to its core mechanics, for the most part, Castlevania rode the waves of evolution over generations in a way that many series with they could have, whether by quantity or quality.

Inevitably, this would mean that when the jump to 3D gaming started to rise with Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Castlevania would surely take the leap with them. With a strongly established mythos and plenty of recognizable elements, the series brought a dark tone to the otherwise colorful and fantastical offerings plenty of other powerhouses had been for years to the Nintendo world.

Looking back now, there are some horrors aside from the creatures of the night the Belmont Clan had been used to that many games entering the 3D arena had to compete with. Notoriously, Castlevania 64 tripped into some of these pitfalls, but so did plenty of the heavy hitters during that time. Why, then, have we seen so much love for Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time but not for Konami’s attempt at making a more immersive trip to the Count’s castle abode? Continue reading

A Downward Spiral – Sega Dreamcast – The Ring: Terror’s Realm – 2000

TitleThe Ring: Terror’s Realm
Sega Dreamcast
Asmik Ace Entertainment/Infogrames
Genre: Action Survival Horror
2000

In the early 2000s, American cinema found itself with a glut of remakes from the Japanese horror market. Plenty of countries borrow films from one another and put a bit of their own spin on them to put in their respective movie theaters, but it felt like there were a bunch of films that released here like The Grudge, One Missed Call, Pulse and probably most famously, The Ring.

The Ring kind of felt like it was the start of a popular movement at the time. Based on a series of books by Koji Suzuki- which are well worth reading if you have any interest- the film followed the first of them in which a young girl, Sadako Yamamura, died a terrible death and inflicted a curse to spread, killing those whom it afflicted seven days after contraction. The books explore how this plays out when humans become involved and set up for an interesting a relatively fresh horror angle to be played at.

Like many successful films, The Ring spawned its own media including a little known video game for the Sega Dreamcast called The Ring: Terror’s Realm. With the American remake arriving two years after the video game released, it’s understandable why the game fell to the wayside in the US. Still, there weren’t a ton of offerings on the Dreamcast in the horror genre so to fans of games like Illbleed and Resident Evil: Code Veronica, this probably felt like a dream come true to someone looking for a scare.

Like most films and games, though, those scares come at a cost. Read on to see exactly how expensive the frights of The Ring: Terror’s Realm are and whether it’s worth the price of admission. Continue reading

A Divisive Step Into the Unknown – PC – Huntsman: The Orphanage – Halloween Edition – 2013

20190627160221_1Huntsman: The Orphanage – Halloween Edition
PC
Shadowshifters
Genre: Alternative Horror
2013

I have a strong love and hate outlook on media that comes packaged with the tagline “based on a true story”. When it comes to drama or biographies, obviously there’s a lot more authenticity to be had. It’s when it comes to my favorite genre- horror, in case you didn’t know that about me yet- that it becomes a strange mess of “facts” and embellishment. A Nightmare on Elm Street is technically based on a true story. No, none of what happens in that film is an actual part of the news clipping it was inspired by.

This is where “CreepyPasta” comes in. At its core, CreepyPasta makes up the urban legends of the current day including the now-familiar figures of Slender Man and the Rake. While it knows it’s not real from the get-go, there are some very convincing efforts to make them seem legitimate. The things you can do with technology these days make these efforts even tougher to poke holes in at times. There are some fascinating stories to take in and consequently lose sleep to.

Huntsman: The Orphanage – Halloween Edition is a game that, much like some other small indie games, capitalizes on creating its own story rather than building on an existing mythos. Shadowshifters, the developers of the game, seemed more intent on creating something like the Slender Man and Rake tales by creating an experience that was not graphic or violent in its telling but would leave the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps as to how the story plays out involving its victims. Stumbling across this game among others in one of the many Steam sales, I thought it would be neat to see how this was handled given the plethora of other modern urban legends being created in the gaming landscape. Continue reading

Weaving a Beautiful and Complex Harmony – Playstation 2 – Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song – 2005

TitlesRomancing SaGa: Minstrel Song
Playstation 2
Square Enix
Genre: Role-Playing
2005

The SaGa series is a lot like the Final Fantasy series in a number of ways. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the golden era of Squaresoft and its catalog given the series’ roots being marketed at first as Final Fantasy Legend on the Game Boy. When game designer Akitoshi Kawazu joined Square and helped in the development in the first two Final Fantasy titles, he may not have specifically known that he was going to end up in charge of directing another one of the company’s longest running series when he was made the director of the Legend series.

Romancing SaGa hit the Super Famicom back in 1992, creating a niche in the role-playing genre that was off-beat enough to stall the series from reaching US shores under this name and with its current mechanics until five years later with SaGa Frontier. After the relative success of that game and its sequel, the company got to work on bridging into the next generation of gaming on the Playstation 2 with two more SaGa titles under the banner- Unlimited SaGa and a title simply known as Romancing SaGa.

Being familiar with the infamous reputation of Unlimited SaGa, I recently decided to turn my attention to Romancing SaGa (with the silent subtitle of Minstrel Song, I assume to discern just a bit further between the PS2 version and the original) as it’s been sitting in my collection for some time. The first time I attempted the game, I was lost. I hadn’t gotten the first idea of how to proceed even having been a fan of SaGa Frontier at the time. I’ve grown a bit since then and have had a lot of exposure to the series; I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am for the release of Romancing SaGa 3 coming to us soon. In my excitement and with new information under my belt regarding how to proceed with the series, I decided to give Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song another whirl. Continue reading