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

July in Review

3pmegamanstyleHey, folks! Welcome to my quick wrap-up of July and what I’ve been up to and writing about over the past 31 or so days.

So what’s been going on in my neck of the woods this month?

Well, in life, it’s been incredibly warm in my area so I’ve spent a lot of time outside and looking for some life improvement while searching for an apartment and generally finding my next direction to travel in. I’ve also entered into year two of the tabletop game that I’ve been running, which has been a bit of an accomplishment for me given the fact that I was terrified of running something like that for friends at all. I’ve also set myself up to try to get more reading done in the future regarding both blogs and literature I’ve been meaning to get to or revisit.

It sounds like a tall order and, to be honest, it is. I suppose working in a direction that I want to be heading toward slowly but surely is better than just expecting everything will fall into place right away, right?

So far as gaming is concerned, I started out the month on a bit of a spree across a bunch of systems, though I’m always working through my Steam backlog and collecting so the pile of games grows ever larger. Before I became hopelessly obsessed with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I started in on Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 1, a remake of the original game (which I also never played but have heard great things about). I’ve also been looking at some fun platformers and horror games coming up- especially with Man of Medan on the horizon for next month.

It’s been a great time for games, hasn’t it?

20190629155923_1Posts in Review
This month was a pretty horror heavy month, though not without my having finished some games I’ve been meaning to for a while:

Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song (PS2)
Huntsman: The Orphanage – Halloween Edition (PC)
The Ring: Terror’s Realm (Dreamcast)

I also managed to write up a blog post on how games handle protagonists that the player probably shouldn’t empathize with but they should enjoy playing as:

The Frank West Conundrum – Analyzing a Non-Traditional Protagonist

I really enjoy analyzing and discussing these kinds of topics. They’re usually based on conversations I’ve had in passing with gaming friends in person, so bringing them to folks who I get to talk to in the comments here and on Twitter always results in some night insights.

20190706235039_1What’s to Come?
Over the next month, I’m looking forward to updating the couple of overviews I’ve started to include more of the Atelier games and to cover Fire Emblem entries that have released since like Fire Emblem Warriors, Fire Emblem Heroes, and my current obsession, Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I’ve also been working on playing through to do a review and overview of the Left 4 Dead series. I don’t think I’ve played enough first-person shooters or cooperative games lately, so I’d like to branch into that a bit more.

Of course, I’ve also got a review for Dead Rising coming up, along with another game I had been meaning to get through, Castlevania 64. I have a whole host of other games to play through, and I’ve been pretty happy with my balance of PC and console coverage as well as retro and current generation focus, so you can most likely expect more of the same from me upcoming.

Preferably a higher volume of writing, as well- once I finish up with Three Houses, of course.

There are also a lot of you that I would love to support more, and I want to make another post soon showing some love for the folks who have been actively chatting and interacting and some blogs that I’ve been appreciating and frequenting.  I want to stress that there are a lot of folks on here that I appreciate, admire, and support, despite my inability to keep up with all of the amazing content you all produce!

Have a great rest of the week and here’s to a fantastic August!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

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

The Frank West Conundrum – Analyzing a Non-Traditional Protagonist

20190714095151_1As I play through video games, I love to think about the characters and their motivations. I enjoy parsing through how a game- or movie, book, or any other media- represents its protagonists and their journey. Do their actions reflect any growth or movement of any kind emotionally or in their maturity? Do they come to terms with personal flaws and grow from them or, sometimes even more interestingly, do they keep their flaws and find ways to work around them? How does this piece of media engage me with a protagonist that acts as my surrogate in the world I’m interacting with?

Being a huge fan of role-playing games, I’m used to finding myself with 40 to 60 hours of time to sort through events with a small cast of characters from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. They may start out selfish and have a turning point that leads them to a life of altruism or they may be a bit too naive and harden as the plot rolls out, becoming battle-weary and keen. In shorter games, it can be easier to track a character’s progression because the story beats are so close together and they have to have impact if the game takes pride in its narrative. On the other hand, it can be harder since there is only so much time to show someone’s story arc outside of the ongoing plot and changing a character too much in that time can prove disastrous. Games like The Last of Us, Tomb Raider, and Horizon: New Dawn work to fit an immersive story in with flourishes of character growth in a relatively short time. The protagonists, though, can be relatable to many of the audience members- those characters have their own struggles from the past and striking at them from time to time to rein the player into the mindset of their avatar.

In a bid to try to write a bit about the series, I’ve been playing through Dead Rising to refresh my memory and track improvements as the games released. While I’ve been enjoying it, there is one thing I can say for certain:

No one should be able to empathize with Frank West. 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