ICOM Simulations / NEC
Genre: Action Run and Gun
What I can remember as a kid is primarily based in the 1990s. It seemed like everything was X-Treme, dayglo, or in Pog form. It was also the prime time for the major players in gaming like Sega and Nintendo. When my father was helping out at his friend’s video rental place, though, I found a cozy spot behind the counter playing the TurboGraphx-16 they had set aside for display so games like Bonk’s Adventure and Air Zonk were favorites growing up.
One game I vaguely remembered was Yo’ Bro, but the years had washed away a lot of the experience. I remembered a tie to the Beach Boys and something about a bear on a skateboard. I also remembered really enjoying it as a kid, but at the time, I was about seven years old or so. My taste in games hadn’t developed quite as well as it has now, and even now, I’m pretty easy to please.
Since I’ve been diving into the system’s library again, I needed to see how my vague memories stacked up against the reality of what Yo’ Bro had to offer. With a title that screams “straight out of the 90s”, it was entirely possible that it might be a relic of the past better left coated in dust. On the other hand, it was possible I could uncover a hidden gem that had fallen to the wayside against other games vying for the attention of impressionable youngsters.
In the end, there was really only one way to find out. Continue reading
Genre: Horror Beat-em-up
Despite some dabbling into the series, the Splatterhouse games have flown low on my radar for a while. There’s nothing in particular that has kept me from them. I played them a bit as a kid, but the only one I’ve played through was the reboot that came out a few years ago. It’s always been interesting to me but for a few reasons, it kept getting brushed aside for other franchises.
The strange part is that Splatterhouse has a myriad of elements I enjoy. The protagonist is a buff hockey-mask wearing figure, the story has elements of Lovecraft and slasher films, and it falls right into my retro wheelhouse. The excessive violence, even having been toned down before being released on American consoles, would have been right at home alongside games like Night Trap and Mortal Kombat during the creation of the ESRB ratings and trials. The only thing keeping me from playing through the entire series was a lack of a Turbografx-16 growing up.
In an attempt to take a look back at the system and its library, I knew Splatterhouse would have to be one of my first stops due to how long the title’s been sitting in my backlog. Since the series has fallen into obscurity despite a relatively successful revival back in 2010, I thought it could be fun to check on the beginning of the series and how it evolved, not to mention how it holds up now. Continue reading
DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark
Genre: Survival Action Horror
Certain games lend themselves to a convoluted and drawn-out mythos. Taking into account some certain popular horror games, you could easily find essays about Silent Hill’s background and characters. Personally, I’ve poured through a number of analyses about Rule of Rose and the symbolism within the world drawn up over the game’s events. While a lot of that is in the eye and explanations of the analyst behind the keyboard, most franchises are not foreign to the idea of adding more to an already existing mythos to explain mysteries or flesh out their universe. It’s what endears people to their work, after all.
The original DreadOut (which I reviewed a while back here) took its inspiration from some already existing mythology, sending a group of trapped teenagers and their teacher up against some of the specters and demons in Indonesian stories. The game didn’t just rest on this, as it had its own plot and story to tell, but the combination of existing and specifically created histories made for an interesting plot to watch unfold as the horrors played out.
Keepers of the Dark is not a straight sequel to DreadOut as one might be led to believe from the title and timeline. I say this not only informationally but as a bit of a warning for the discussion to follow since there is almost no way to discuss the game without referring to elements from the original DreadOut and possibly giving some spoilers. Acting more like a “missing chapter”, according to the game’s page on Steam, it sort of takes a quick sidestep from the plot of the original and has events that relate to it. If you haven’t played the original game and don’t want it ruined for you, feel free to turn away now. No hard feelings here, I promise!
Otherwise, take a peek at what I thought of this extra chapter from the DreadOut universe and how effective it may or may not have been as a standalone piece. Continue reading
The Ring: Terror’s Realm
Asmik Ace Entertainment/Infogrames
Genre: Action Survival Horror
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
Friday the 13th
Genre: Action Horror
Continuing in the October spirit, I thought about a lot of the unrecognized horror games from the ages. Having just covered the Atari 2600 chapters of some of these games, I figured why not jump to the Commodore 64?
I know there’s a Friday the 13th game there. I’ve played it before.
I love Friday the 13th.
Heck, I could even publish the review of it on Friday the 13th to get everybody as psyched as me that the day falls in October this year!
Well, let me tell you why I’m posting about this game now: because Friday the 13th means too much to me to post about this on that day.
Listen up, and I’ll tell the interesting and sordid tale of the Friday the 13th game that even the NES version may outshine.