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

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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)

The Family That Games Together

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Not everyone can say that they have fond memories of gaming with their parents.  Based on the few replies on Twitter from a recent expression about my mother’s Animal Crossing achievements- I called to check up on the house and part of her response was that she just reached 50 million Bells in her bank account on the game- being able to game with your parents is a rare occurrence.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but I suppose it makes sense.  Most households where gaming was within the family seems to be either with siblings or as a hobby that their parents didn’t associate with.  I definitely gamed with friends, but until I was old enough to actually go to their houses by my own means, my parents were usually up for a game of some kind.

It’s probably pretty safe to say that in traditional stereotypes of the only child: I was spoiled.

My fondest memories of gaming with my mother go back to running through all of the Donkey Kong Country series together.  When I play them now, I realize just how good at gaming she had to have been because those games are not a walk in the park by any means.  The second game, Diddy’s Kong Quest, was probably the one that got the most play since she absolutely adored Diddy Kong, and I was a big Dixie Kong fan.  Thinking about that game transports me back to my room as a kid with vivid memories of sitting on the floor and staring up at the TV as we pushed through those games level by level.

There were a few other games that she really enjoyed (or humored me with as I enjoyed): she helped me through parts of Secret of Mana when she had some free time, enjoyed exploring Tomb Raider and its sequels once the Playstation era started, and Super Mario 64 was a family favorite.  She and my dad even went into the trenches with me with X-Men: The Arcade Game and The Simpsons cabinet (as I wrote about briefly in my arcade gaming history).  I have a close family, despite some of the usual differences that come up, and I think a lot of that was due to being able to share in hobbies and interests, gaming being a large part of them.

Gaming with my dad was a different experience, but it was still a bonding experience when we got the time to do it.  The sharpest memory I go back to with him was when we got the Nintendo 64, and the first game we played wasn’t Super Mario 64 like most kids.  It was Wave Race 64.  He commented on how awesome the intro was, realistic water effects and all, and we sank a ton of time into jetskiing around courses together and against each other.  Earlier in out gaming adventures, we spent a lot of time with NHL 95 on the Sega Genesis.  I don’t play a lot of sports games now, but I still have the urge to go back and play some of those because I remember how much fun I had with this when I was younger.  He was a big fan of racing games in general, so we had them in a bunch of different forms: Super Mario KartRoad Rash, and SSX Tricky making prominent waves in our household.

Lately, we don’t play a ton of games together and when we do, it tends to be remotely.  My husband and I played through portions of Fantasy Life on the 3DS with my mother, and every so often, we would visit her town in Animal Crossing.  My dad briefly got into the Wii craze when it first came out, but recently, he gave their system to me as a backup since they don’t play as often anymore.  Due to my parents not really being able to get out as often as they used to, my husband and I are always looking for games for my mom to check out, mostly in the vein of Animal Crossing and the old Legend of Zelda games.  My dad has pretty much played Candy Crush for months and that’s about all of the gaming he does now, but it works with his job to play in quick spurts so while I may feel like that particular game is- well, what it is- it makes him happy so I guess I can’t argue with that.

There are still plenty of memories to be had and written about, and I will probably jot them down as the mood strikes me.  Gaming really has the ability to bring people together, and while plenty of folks have made some of their best friends through gaming, I also managed to have it strengthen the bonds between my family members and create some pretty amazing recollections to come back to.

So how about you, folks?  Do you have any memories of gaming with your parents growing up?  If not, maybe you had some other family members who shared the same gaming bug that bit you just as hard?  Let me know and feel free to chat about it in the comments!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

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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Let’s Think Positive! – A Retrospective on My Time with Gaming

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Much like many people who would call themselves ‘gamers’ that I know, I have been bewildered by the assertion that video games consistently have a negative effect on people.  I’ve surrounded myself with people who list video games among their primary hobbies since grade school.  Sure, I faked sick a few times to play Final Fantasy VI or lost a day to (insert name of game here, as they’re plentiful), but I’ve primarily seen and witnessed the positive side to playing video games for as long as I can remember.

Please understand that I’m not blind.  I know that you can’t turn and take a step in the gaming community without at least seeing a pocket of toxicity within spitting distance.  That’s not foreign in any community, though, and that can extend outside of media related pastimes.  The truth of the matter is that volatility can be inherent anywhere that passion exists.  If the masses can access a piece of work, a concept, or even a political ideal, a multitude of emotions can spring forth, be they inspiration, satisfaction, or even vehemence.

I’d rather focus, for a short time, on the positive.  The positive effects that video games have had on myself and others I’ve interacted with throughout my life.  It’s definitely easy to say that without video games- and plenty of other ingredients, but bear with me since this is, after all, a gaming blog- my life would probably have gone into a much different direction with much different people and results, many negative or unfulfilling.

I invite you to take a quick digital stroll with me through some memories to reflect on some positive effects video games have had on me (yes, even some violent ones) and hopefully, feel free to share your own in some way!

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Where Did That Come From? – Exploring the Influences in Zombies Ate My Neighbors – Part 4

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Here we are, game and pop culture fans.  This is the final entry in the “Where Did That Come From?” series for Zombies Ate My Neighbors.  It’s been a long ride, and hopefully it’s been an entertaining one.

There have been a lot of different origins to dig through and thankfully, mostly through the magic of Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database, I’ve made a sizable dent at reaching my goal of chronicling the many nods and pokes at multimedia sources and gotten them together in one series of articles.

Let’s embark, now, on the final stretch of research that I managed to eke out of the corners of entertainment history to detail Zombies Ate My Neighbors!

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