On the Flip Side of Innovation – Sony Playstation – Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within – 1999

Title.jpgClock Tower II: The Struggle Within
Sony Playstation
Human Entertainment/Ascii Entertainment
Genre: Point-and-Click Survival Horror
1999

Horror movies and games share a lot of similarities in structure, especially when it comes to sequels. In horror films, you may have the same Final Girl and killer for a film or two before you have to move onto a completely new set of characters. Most likely, though, a franchise will try to keep up a similar style of horror and tone for its duration, shifting only when it becomes vital to keep the series fresh and interesting. In similar fashion to films, horror games usually try to stick to their guns until they become too repetitive.

The Clock Tower series had established itself as a tense slasher game. Jennifer Simpson was our Laurie Strode, Scissorman acting as our Michael Myers, hellbent on destroying her and the lives around her. Like the first Halloween film, Clock Tower: The First Fear was a dark and atmospheric endeavor while Clock Tower on the Playstation was more like the second film. There was more of an emphasis on action and the slasher aspect, but it still kept the players’ hearts in their chests.

Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within is our Halloween III.

The real difference between those two works, though, is that there is an audience who appreciates Halloween III for what it was- a failed attempt at turning the franchise into an anthology that worked fine if it was considered on its own merits sans the Halloween name tag. In all of my memory hearing about The Struggle Within, though, I hadn’t heard one good thing about the game. No one was singing a solo of unappreciated merits in the overwhelming chorus of vitriol against it.

As someone who enjoys singing solos about certain games of that sort, I had to finally complete the one game in the Clock Tower mythos I hadn’t yet and see for myself if there was anything worth salvaging.  Continue reading

Top 5 – Video Game Villains

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Welcome, fellow gamers!  It’s been a little while since I posted up a Top 5 list, and I spoke with a couple of folks to ask ‘what kind of list would you like to see?’  While I’m working on some reviews on some pretty killer games, I really wanted to do some more fun and subjective pieces to keep my creative factory running.

The first list I had pitched was by my good friend (and wife to my co-contributor) who asked about my favorite villains.  My top pick was easy; honestly, anyone who has ever talked to me about video games and knows the game they are from has heard me go on and on about them.  To fill in the other four spots, though, I had to do a little more thinking on a few different levels.

I got to wondering about what made a good villain to me.  There’s something about the feeling when you think of a good villain and specifically how they stand out to you.  Asking on Twitter warranted a lot of different responses including being drawn to comical villains or sympathetic villains that you can relate to.  A lot of great names came up- Bowser, GLaDOS, Ganondorf and one particularly well suggested James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2.  Seriously, if you like dark storytelling, you need to play that game.

But I digress.

Listed after the jump is my personal list of Top 5 Villains.  Your opinions may differ, and I gladly welcome you to chat about them in the comments or on Twitter with me.  You’ve been warned, though.  There are spoilers in here since you can’t really explain the villainy of characters without at least describing some of their actions, though they aren’t necessarily game ruining tidbits.  Also, this list is entirely subjective.  Did I mention that yet?  It also changes just about everytime I think about it so without rambling on too much more-

Lights.  Camera.  Villainy!

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Twitter Topic – Get Down With The Sequelitis

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In a recent post over in The Well-Red Mage’s neck of the woods, he brought up a topic I’ve had conversation with some folks about over the course of my gaming career that I realize I haven’t posted at length about:

“What video game series got infected with Sequelitis?”

As a fan of many- many- horror movie series, the concept of sequelitis is not a new one to me.  Once a series hits a certain point, they start to shows symptoms:

Maybe a character comes back completely changed, shrugging off everything you knew about them.  Maybe your favorite action movie decided to appeal to a new demographic and has a forced romantic subplot.  What if the locale changes from a quiet blood-soaked summer camp to a space station?

…okay, that series was a little sick by then anyway, but you get my meaning, I hope.

Why don’t you grab a seat while I diagnose a few gaming series that may have fallen to illness for a time- but bear in mind, you’re always welcome to a second opinion elsewhere!

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5 Moments I Fondly Recall in Games (That Others Might Not Necessarily)

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Off the top of my head, I can list a vast quantity of high profile gaming moments that everyone seems to have been affected by in their formative gaming years- Final Fantasy VI’s opera scene, the final battle with Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat, any occurrence beginning with ‘the death of’; there are so many definitive events that people remember because of their magnitude within their games’ worlds or how abruptly they sideswiped the player.  This doesn’t change their impact. Heck, I have one of those moments tattooed on my leg it had such relevance to me.

What people don’t always actively take into account is that there are so many smaller beats that meant a lot to gamers for a wide variety of reasons.  Video games are established to illicit some kind of emotion or reaction from those participating in what they have to offer. Even through the memories of Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger ripping at my heartstrings, I started to reflect on moments that stood out to me that may not stand out to the community at large and why they still remained so prominent in my retrospective eye.

So feel free to check out some of my personal remembrances of times past!  They may not be industry shattering, but they are definitely a glimpse into my gamer inner workings.
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Clips and Phrases of a Love Letter – PC – NightCry – 2016

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NightCry
PC
Playism Games
2016
Genre: Point-and-Click Horror

It is with a heavy sigh that I start this review. I am a huge fan of (most of) the Clock Tower series, as I may have mentioned in past reviews. When I found Clock Tower 2 in an Electronics Boutique way back when, I scrounged to buy it. When Clock Tower 3 was announced, I hunted it down as soon as possible. When a project was announced with the name “Project Scissors” involving Hifumi Kono, the creator of the Clock Tower series, I was eagerly anticipating the outcome from the Kickstarter.

When NightCry, the result of that Kickstarter, was released, I immediately dug into the materials I could before buying it. The concept art was pretty, the screenshots looked intriguing- everything about this made me want to dive right in and check out the spiritual successor. The team seemed to be making this a labor of love, as well, with a strong desire to get back to the Clock Tower feel.

Did the game end up living up to my personal hype, though? Did it live up to the original games and their admittedly fluctuating quality?

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