Halloween COUNT-down 2009: Silent Hill is Dead (Space)

As I was continuing to slog my way through Silent Hill: Homecoming, I suddenly had a revelation. I had finally reached the town of Silent Hill proper, and not its lake-side neighbor Shepard’s Glen. Despite being reconnected with Wheeler in the prison, whom for me was the only interesting (and hilarious) character in the game, I just quit playing. Sometimes when I’m playing through a game, particularly when I have spent money on it, I will continue to subject myself to horrible, frustrating, or boring gameplay. Fuck that shit. Fuck that non-skippable cut-scene shit.

So, I’ve started playing Dead Space, and while it’s not as frightening as Silent Hill (with the exception of Homecoming), it is definitely more fun. Dead Space has been talked to happy death everywhere, so it’s no surprise that I’m enjoying it; it’s a well made game. One thing that does get my goat is the voice acting on the two main characters. They are pressing through a lot of dialog and they kind of suck at it.

BONUS:

Pyramid Head bead art from SerenaAzureth is cute and available for purchase:

il_430xN.61831839

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Halloween COUNT-down 2009: Alone in the Dark soundtrack

The year 1992 seems like it wasn’t that long ago. That’s probably just a sigh of my age that I admit to suck a observation. Of course, it’s over ten years ago, but for me, it was just like yesterday, especially when I pop in the CD version of Alone in the Dark and take a listen to the CD audio contained therein. The original Alone in the Dark for the PC was the game that set the standard for the Survival Horror genre. God-damn it, it was annoying as hell. Take a look at this video of the various ways which you can die in the game:

Yes, that is correct, at 2:13, your character’s torso is stretched like Play-Doh simply for reading a book. Don’t let the Librarian Association get a hold of this video.

Despite it’s difficulty, Alone in the Dark was a creepy and effective horror game, with an awesome soundtrack. Here are a few samples that would be perfect ambiance for your Halloween festivities of hanging up spider webs and rolling up popcorn balls.  In the process of ripping the audio from my copy of the game, Windows Media Player decided that what I was ripping was, in fact, the Alone in the Dark album of one UK-based Electronica artist, Thee Maddkatt Courtship.  The only album info I could find to replace that was the soundtrack to the 2008 Alone in the Dark game, not to be confused with the soundtrack to the 2005 Alone in the Dark movie starring Christian Slater, and directed by Uwe Boll.  Seeing as this one of the first CD-ROM based titles to utilize CD audio, the confusion is understandable, however, this means that any name or artist info you see is incorrect.  How’s that for Tricks or Treats?!

Most of these tracks don’t work so much as ambient music and were meant to punctuate specific moments in the game, though there are a few “soundscape” tracks that serve as background noise for certain environments.  I believe it was Walter Murch, sound engineer for THX 1138, The Godfather, and others, who stated, “Sound makes the picture look better.”  In the era of FM Synthesis, the CD-quality sound effects and music of Alone in the Dark truly achieves this, which is particularly significant when your characters consist of approximately 10 polygons.

While not the first track, this the track that plays as you approach the mansion and really gets your blood pumping and foot tapping.  For me, this track IS Alone in the Dark.

[audio:03 The Fissure.mp3]

Here is one of the aforementioned “creepy” tracks that not really a tune, as much as an atmosphere:

[audio:06 Reception Hall.mp3]

This tension inducing track is a short, but effective freak out moment:

[audio:07 The Humanz.mp3]

One puzzle in the game was based around an ancient phonograph and a few records that you can find scattered around the mansion.  Playing The Blue Danube record causes some ghostly ballroom dancers to appear and cut a phantom rug:

[audio:14 No More Humans.mp3]

Playing the Danse Macabre record would cause your character to be killed instantly by giant balls (see above):

[audio:16 Niamam.mp3]

October 30th, Halloween Racer for the Gameboy Color

Halloween has many traditions. The dressing up in costumes. The giving away of candy. Bobbing for apples. Pumpkin carving. Paying homage to Gorto. Now you can add one more holiday ritual to your already full plate of terror and merriment (terriment?): a race to the death. Halloween Racer for the Gameboy Color let’s you take Halloween and racing with you wherever you go. While the objective is as simple as winning the race, the ultimate test of Halloween Racer comes before the race begins. It is here that Halloween Racer’s true menace is revealed: the character selection screen.

Racer #1 – A Ghostly Suit of Armor Riding a Floating Triangle

A Halloween staple, the Ghostly Suit of Armor Riding a Floating Triangle (GSARFT), finds himself in a race in which he simply doesn’t belong. GSARFT doesn’t remember entering a race, signing a release form, or even what he ate for breakfast that morning. His companion, the aforementioned Floating Triangle, however, is a completely different story. A complete mute, the only language Floating Triangle knows is the language of speed, but she speaks with the eloquence of Garrison Keillor and the fervor of Gilbert Gottfried. She guides her witless friend GSARFT around the race track and keeps her silent vigil, never once asking for anything in return. We can all learn a little something from Floating Triangle.

Racer #2 – Scarecrow John

Scarecrow John is a bitter, bitter man. Just two consonants and one vowel away from being the life of the party, the guy everyone wants to hang out with: Scarecrow Joe. John is a ball of rage, wrapped in a layer of contempt, surrounded by a torrent of misanthropy, encased in a steel cage of slightly dick-ish. Rather than drive an interesting vehicle of some sort, Scarecrow John floats above the earth on apparent “magic legs”, like a hay filled Lt. Dan. I was tempted to suggest that Scarecrow John rides a futuristic hoverboard, but ever since Robert Zemekis duped us into thinking they were real in that The Making of Back to the Future featurette, I’ve been half a Scarecrow John myself. Thank god the news was broken by good Christian Kirk Cameron in his own The Making of Back to the Future featurette, not to be confused with the first The Making of Back to the Future featurette. Kirk later when on to star as Buck Williams in the Left Behind movie series, god bless him. Buck Williams, coincidentally, has the same name as the guy who played Forward for the Portland Trailblazers during the 80s and often practiced at my local gym. I mention this because one of Buck’s teammates was Kiki Vandewheghe, and I really like saying Kiki Vandewheghe.

Racer #3 – Just Witch

Our third racer is Just Witch. Just Witch is your pretty standard witch on a broom. There is nothing funny about Just Witch. She is perfectly ordinary. Does she ride a mop? Nope. Standard broom. In her navy blue jumpsuit, she races competitively, yet fairly, never daring to cheat or even trash talk her opponents. Upon being victorious, Just Witch is the picture of sportmanship, neither bragging or being overly modest. Were she to lose a race, Just Witch will gracefully admit defeat, whilst congratulating the winner on their fine racing skills. Just Witch annoys the piss out of me.

Halloween Racer plays out on a number of different venues that all look pretty much the same except for a change in background picture. If you remember playing Turbo on your Colecovision, you’ll know what you in for with Halloween Racer. Not since Turbo have I experienced such a sensation of sitting absolutely still and sliding back and forth avoiding obstacles while the road scrolls by underneath me as if on a conveyor belt. The obstacles you are tasked to dodge are the scariest things on a conveyor belt since Speedy Gonzales played an Easter trick on Daffy Duck at his south of the border chocolate bunny sweatshop.

Spiders webs litter the ground, tornadoes tear up the asphalt, and snails slowly inch their way across. That’s right, snails. Conveniently forgetting the fact that every single one of it’s racers floats above the ground, Halloween Racer makes you dodge those snails, or pay dearly.

A quick search reveals that snails and Halloween are connected in ways far greater than I imagined.

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October 22nd, Pinball Quest for the NES

Pinball. It’s not quite a video game, it’s not quite a sport. Pinball Quest for the NES. It’s not quite a pinball game, it’s not quite an RPG. It’s something….different. I’m not sure how, but Pinball Quest made it’s way to my cellphone and since I’m too damn busy to play games anymore, the only gaming I get is when I’m sitting on the Great White Throne in my bathroom. And so it was that I met Pinball Quest. POP!POP! VIVA!GOLF and CIRCUS are the three main tables to choose from. You’d think that a circus would warrant an exclamation point, especially after it’s used with such abandon on the other two tables, but you would be wrong. It’s a somber circus; the kind with sad clowns. All these things meant nothing to me. I was there for one thing, and one thing only: RPG MODE. Like some obscene cross between The Legend of Zelda and Balls of Steel, RPG MODE has you battling skeletons, witches and warlocks with your giant, steel ball of justice. You can purchase additional bumpers and upgraded paddles from the Devil himself. Yup, Old Scratch has found himself dealing in used pinball machine parts. I guess the soul trade is not what it used to be since the end of the Inquisition.

The first stage takes place in a forest where Pinball Quest throws you into a graveyard to battle it out with a series of juvenile delinquent headstones. The dead get no eternal rest in Pinball Quest, so you must destroy their headstones and piss on their bones. All of sudden, I’m Ol’ Dirty Bastard, cuz the first level is basic and easily mastered. It’s after this level that you have your first meeting with Beelzebub, and his appearance foreshadows an even greater evil just around the corner. For all I know, this is Satan’s last appearance in Pinball Quest, because I could not, for the life of me, get past this second level. See, if the ball happens slip past your flippers, it falls all the way to Level 1 where you must battle all the way back to the top. Now, it’s bad enough that the flippers react like they are underwater, but you’ve also got to contend with a warlock throwing magical rings that paralyze them, as well. These damn flippers are so slow, I hesitate to call them flippers, at all. They’re more like gentle touchers. I guess it doesn’t make much difference when the physics call for the ball to increase it’s velocity and angle by 300% at random intervals.

What the hell does all of this have to do with Halloween? Take a look down below…

October 18th, Halloween The New Nightmare for the PC

I kind of blew my wad on Drac’s Night Out. What could possibly top a game that combines my two favorite things: booby traps and sports apparel? So, it’s with reluctance that we take a look at Halloween The New Nightmare for the PC. Essentially what appears to be a Quake mod, Halloween The New Nightmare is so terrible, I barely have the strength to make fun of it. Of course, we’re here to celebrate Halloween games, not disparage them. There must be something of redeeming value in Halloween The New Nightmare. It doesn’t appear to be based on any movie or license I’ve ever heard of, but I’m too tired to do any actual research on Halloween The New Nightmare. As far as I’ve seen, Halloween The New Nightmare was released sometime between 2004 and 2007. Every time I find it mentioned on a different web page, the date has changed. You run around blocky corridors, firing blocky weapons at blocky enemies, and picking up slightly less blocky, yet still pretty damn blocky power-ups. Perhaps Halloween The New Nightmare is based on the Lego license.

I think I’ve got something. Halloween The New Nightmare has some pretty cool music and some seriously hellish sound design. I’ve taken the liberty of changing the names of some of the choice sound files to the names of some of the default Windows XP sounds. Simply download them here:


Windows XP Startup.wav


Windows XP Shutdown.wav


Windows XP Error.wav


Windows XP Ding.wav


Windows XP Critical Stop.wav

Change the underscores to spaces and place them in your friend or co-worker’s “C:\Windows\Media” folder on Halloween and wait for the fun to begin.

October 17th, Drac’s Night Out for the NES

Going into this, I had certain expectations about the games that I would be covering. There were certain games I knew I had to talk about. There were characters that I knew would come up one way or another. Frankenstein, the Mummy, Wolf-Man and Dracula were sure to make appearances, not because they are such iconic characters as much as a ton of movies, and thereby crappy licensed games, feature them. Dracula alone could probably fill the entire month himself, with an astounding 9 games being based solely on the early 90s Francis Ford Coppola directed biopic. Mobygames‘ list of games that feature Dracula currently stands at 55. Shifty-five games! As part of my presidential platform, I vow to increase educational spending, put an end to bi-partisan bickering, lower health care costs, reduce taxes, and extend the Halloween season to 55 days.

Now, I’m an old-skool Bela Legosi Dracula fan and cheesy horror flick buff, but nothing could prepare me for the wondrous recockulousness that I stumbled upon on a random emulation web site. This particular game is not contained within Mobygames extensive library, and probably for good reason. There are barely any words capable of describing how I feel about Drac’s Night Out for the original NES, so I’ll make up a new one: euphrapturedise! Never before have two seemingly unconnected things come together in such an orgy of pertinence!

Okay…I need to slow down…my heart is pounding…that last sentence makes no sense. The hyperbole is flowing like Mountain Dew Game Fuel.

Deep breath…

Phew…

Let me think… Is there any way in which Drac’s Night Out could be improved?

HOLYFUCKINGSHIT-PIZZABAND-AID! YEEEESSSSSSSS!

.
.
.
.
.

Sorry.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Drac’s Night Out COULD be better, but only if Count Dracula were to be replaced with Count Duckula.

What’s the point of all this nonsense? Ol’ Drac awakens one night (Though it’s not expressly stated, I think it’s strongly inferred, mostly by me, that it is Halloween night.) to find that his Transylvanian castle has been invaded by delicious mortals hell-bent on destroying him once and for all. Not only that, they tracked mud on his new BETTAN LINJE rug from IKEA. Dr. Acula must use the various Goonies-esque booby traps that litter his castle to immobilize the humans, whom he can subsequently pierce the necks of and drink their precious Game Fuel-esque fluids, vampire-esquely. Let the humans touch you, and it’s game over. It’s a bit disconcerting when an immortal, blood sucking, hypnotist like Dracula can be easily overcome by an 80 year old Transylvanian woman in a head scarf, but, as we learned earlier, video game character head gear can be deceptively cunning. Besides traps, Dracula has one more weapon of justice with which to beat back the human hordes. Take a look at the title screen and see if you notice anything out of place.

Now look again.

Still not clear?

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

What could this possibly mean? I did a double-take. Twice. If the Microsmiths had somehow managed to shoe horn an early 90s shoe fad into a game based on a 19th century vampire, they would be the most powerful force in game design the world has ever known. Then again, how could they go wrong? I mean, I love Reebok Pumps. I love Dracula. This is the game I’ve been waiting my entire life for.

The Reebok power-up lets Dracula run faster, jump higher, and look sexier than ever before. Not since the Bubble Bobble Red Shoe has a pair of footwear changed the course of a battle to the death so swiftly. Witness the power of the Pump as I execute a double-kill on a poor, unsuspecting Grandmother and her boy toy Renaldo. White men can jump, indeed, and the whiter they are, the higher they’ll go.

Unfortunately, while 10 foot jumps are possible with The Pumps, 8 foot falls are, apparently, not. My mind was blown after this one. This COUNTdown could end right now and I’d be totally satisfied. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to know more about Drac’s Night Out. One Google search later, and I was staring in the face of another cross promotion that sent even more shivers down my spine.


October 16th, Jack Bros. for the Virtual Boy

Who would’ve thought that the Virtual Boy would save Halloween. We have, not one, but two frightening games to review BS about for the Virtual Boy. This means that the Old Boy has a greater percentage of Halloween games than any other console in existence! We heart you Virtual Boy.
Jack Bros. for the Virtual Boy, just based on the name alone, is ripe for ridicule. However, we here at the kentdog blog, like to think that we take the high road when it comes to these kinds of things. We could talk about how the gameplay is rudimentary and boring, how the dialogue is poorly translated, and how we only played it for about two minutes. Sure, Jack Bros., is all of those things, but it is also so much more. Most of the games we’ve covered so far have had fairly obscure connections to Halloween. Monsters and ghosts are pretty standard video game fare. From Doom to Super Mario Bros., a lot of games feature macabre creatures that get translated into plastic masks and find their way to the seasonal aisle of your local Walgreens to hang between Spongebob Squarepants and a Power Ranger. It’s a rare game that fully embraces Halloween. The Halloween section of Bully was over before we had a chance to enjoy it. In an era where it’s nearly impossible to come across a broadcast of Garfield’s Halloween Special, Jack Bros. will now and forever hold a special place in my Hallowed heart.

Following Japanese Halloween tradition, the intro to Jack Bros. is long and agonizing, but it sets the stage for an epic journey rivaled only by The Adventures of Milo & Otis.

It seems that every Halloween, due to the purchase of so many miniature Snickers bars, the fabric of the universe is torn asunder, thereby allowing fairies to enter our realm and gad about the house all day like Sandy Frank.

Three brothers from different mothers, all named Jack, but with different last names, have come together for their one night of human-style debauchery. The brillgenius of naming all three of your characters Jack quickly becomes apparent. When the player chooses one of the three as his avatar, you can refer to them by name in dialogue and cut-scenes and not have to lift a finger assigning variables or using arcane GOTO commands. Jack Bros., can you do no wrong?

Like a moose on a coke-induced rampage, or Cinderella, Jack soon realizes that it’s almost midnight and if he doesn’t high tail it home, he’ll be trapped in our dimension forever. You’ll guide Jack through a series of mazes on his way back to the land of the fairies.

I’ve just realized that there’s not a whole lot of scary in this game, and even less horror. In fact, it’s kind of cute.

I hate you Jack Bros.

October 15th, Frankenstein’s Monster for the Atari 2600

Let’s say that the most horrific creature ever created were about to be unleashed on a unsuspecting public. Someone must be notified and called into action. Frankenstein’s Monster, you see, is white. Not Caucasian, mind you, I’m talking about horribly horrific bento box white and if that’s not bad enough, he’s slowly beginning to turn green. Someone must stop this agonizing creep of color from infecting the entirety of the monster. The call goes out, and our hero prepares himself. Four-foot ghosts and six-foot spiders will need to be leaped and dodged, so some sturdy American blue jeans and steel-toed brown work boots should do the trick. What type of head-gear is appropriate for monster hunting? Mario and his red cap are inseparable. Master Chief doesn’t ever take that damn helmet off. The Belmonts would appear to buck the trend, oozing machismo as they gad about topless. On closer inspection, you’ll notice that each and every one of them suffers a family curse far worse than the oblivious one. Male pattern baldness. Always the ingenious types, those Belmont’s hair pieces double as head protection of the highest order. Such is the case with the hero of Frankenstein’s Monster. On the surface, his baby blue engineer’s cap would make a lot more sense on a box of margarine, but don’t be fooled, this head piece is 100% butter.

If the big guy does become full of green, not even a iron fedora can stop his awkward stomp towards the camera.

One of Frankenstein’s Monster’s uncredited contributions to the lexicon of today’s youth is the term “bat-shit crazy”. One look at the movie below is all you need to understand how this part of the game can’t possibly be labeled as anything but.

October 3rd: Ghost Hunters for the Atari 2600

I really love Ghosthunters. Those two guys, Jason and Grant really know how to hunt some ghosts. I really think that Steve is cute and Brian is such a goof-ball! Oh, yeah, Donna is really good, too. She has such great feelings (and nice hair). This Ghosthunters game is not what I was hoping for. It’s a bit of a confusion. First of all, you control a little white guy with a red coat who travels around a grid like the Pac-man. Only he doesn’t eat it. Sometime the cubes flash and if you go to the cube, some stuff really happens! Suddenly, it’s like another world as you drive a boxy car to the place that you already went too. That’s a double-travel! You do get a chance to catch some ghosts when your driving, by catching them in your vaccuum. This is a really silly part of the game, I think. Who ever heard of catching a ghost in a vaccuum? Oh! I forgot that at the start you can buy the vaccuum, but then, there is no instruction to start the game, only confusion. You can also buy some BAIT and TRAPS. TRAPS is almost like TAPS…haha. Ha. Anyway once the not TAPS van arrives to the building, Jason or maybe Grant (the look is the same) comes out to set the ghost TAPS (haha). Once it is done, the other guy comes out to face the other direction. A ghost flies around the building and when you push the button, some silly string comes from Jason and Grant. I don’t remember that on the show. Maybe it’s like an EVP or EMP. Anyways, push the button again to try and catch the ghosts. That’s about it.

I don’t likes this game, it is not like the show, there is no Steve (so cute!), and it is not very scary, too. Really. I did take some pictures of the game, and you know what? I found some Orbs! Clearly, there is a haunting in this game.

 

A large orb follows my box car.

 

Here is an orb near the building (not the ghost, silly!)

 

Three orbs over the city…I remember, I felt cold during the city parts.

October 2nd: Ghost Manor for the Atari 2600

What can be said about Ghost Manor for the Atari 2600 that hasn’t been said before? If I were to tell you that Ghost Manor doesn’t take place inside a Manor, would you be surprised? Perhaps, after sitting down to play, and then realizing that the aforementioned Ghost looked nothing like a ghost, your monocle might pop off and your top hat would spin 360 degrees around, but I doubt it. You are savvy, internet reader. You eat rainbow-colored ghosts who dance in erratic patterns for breakfast. With that in mind, there is only one thing I can possibly say about Ghost Manor:

WHAT IN THE NAME OF SWEET BABY JESUS’S BALLS IS HAPPENING?!

Bonus:

Recipe for Sweet Baby Jesus’s Balls

1 cup butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Beat your butter mercilessly, preferably with a belt, though an electric mixer is also acceptable. Cover the butter in about half the flour (give or take a half). stun the sugar and add it, as well, along with the vanilla. Put a drop of vanilla behind each ear, and you’ll smell like a cookie all day. A tablespoon of water is also required, despite having not been listed in the ingredients. I’ll fix that later in a patch.

Beat until thoroughly combined, then, beat some more, this time just for fun. Stir in the pecans with vigor.

Shape the dough into Baby Jesus’s balls (about 1-inch in size…don’t ask me how I know that…), taking care not to squeeze them too tight. Caress Baby Jesus’s balls gently, and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the Baby Jesus stops screaming. Cool balls on a wire rack. Gentile-ly shake cooled balls in a bag with the powdered sugar. Makes about 36 balls.