If you have been with me awhile you know I go in hiatus during the Holidays. I do this because I believe it is a time to focus on others and not myself and my collection. Another thing you might ask if you have been around awhile is, "How is this different than all the other hiatuses you take given that your average post comes out once every two months?" The difference is that I announce this one and ... and that's about it.
This is an off topic post so feel free to bail out now, but if your curious this short video shows the Christmas Gift I am bringing to my work Holiday Party tomorrow. It made me chuckle so I decided to share, and ust in case I don't get a chance to post again until after the holiday: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, or Happy Chanukah, or Happy Holiday if you prefer, Merry Something To You.
Your standard Nintendo (Nes) game box has five basic components: The box, manual, cart, sleeve, and styrofoam brick. In this quick video I show you how I assemble these parts to best protect each component.
I didn't know if I was going to crank out a post a day but I managed. I will be the first to tell you that not every write-up was a work of art, but I am glad I did it.
The video above shows all the games mentioned in the last 31 posts pulled from my personal collection, with a few exceptions. Exception 1: I could not find Vampire Night, I have no clue where it went. Exception 2: Simpson's Tapped Out and Costume Quest are not game that have physical copies for any console. The video is pretty fast and has no talking, but it does shows some additional editions of games mentioned in the blog.
The Last Of Us... Hands down one of the best games ever made, so good I bought a PS4 to be able to play the remastered edition as my Halloween game this year. So good my wife actually watched me play through it two times.The Last of Us has everything you want in a Halloween Game, A memorable setting, creepy locations, zombies, music that adds to the tension, fatal mistakes, tales of woes, and a few good scares. I could rant and rave about this game for pages, but why bother, if you have played it you know. I am really hoping this game doesn't get a sequel, it's perfect as it is, though I did enjoy the DLC.
I make Apocalypse jokes like there's no tomorrow.
I have already stated that I love Tim Schaffer, Haunted Mansions, and Point and Click Adventures. Given this information I am sure Maniac Mansion being on my list comes as no surprise to anyone. One thing that is different about Maniac Mansion from other games on this list is that I didn't get it for a birthday, and I didn't play it for the first time in October. Maniac Mansion was ported to the NES in September of 1990 but I didn't had never heard of it. I picked this game up in the summer of 1994 on a whim for a local game store that sold used video games for $5 (cart only).
Very shortly after beginning the game I knew I had found a gem, and a game almost custom tailored to my individual taste. I have since played through this game 3 or 4 times all in the month of October. Maniac Mansion is a splendid Halloween game that story wise still holds up. Maniac Mansion did receive a sequel called Day of the Tentacle but it was for the PC only, I keep hoping it will be ported to Xbox Live or PSN. Something interesting I just found out is that it had a TV show that ran for 3 seasons and was over 60 episodes.
Parasite Eve was released in September 1998 for the Playstation. At this point in time I had just joined the military and was getting ready to spend my first birthday away from my family and friends. Given my lonely state of mind I decided to fill the void with a new game. I went to the BX, think Target but on a Military Base, and decided to buy the first game that caught my eye.
Parasite Eve would be the lucky winner, as I was already a fan of SquareSoft and for some reason the game was rated M. I didn't know anything about this game when I bought it, so I was expecting an RPG more along the lines of Final Fantasy and was very surprised when this game went more the way of survival horror. This title is rated M, and features: exploding people, a race for sperm, a an opera, mutation, birth, dead sisters, purebreds, ultimate beings, and a hastily explained resolution. All in all a solid Halloween title, that had a pretty good sound track, and a mood befitting a Halloween game.
Shadowgate for the NES is a point and click adventure set in the dreaded Castle Shadowgate, where everything you click kills you. This game should be called 1000 Futile Clicks and How They Kill You! I know that sounds like criticism but it's not, I love this game, the best part about Shadowgate is dying, and then dying again, followed up with more amazing deaths. Shadowgate gives you a very clear sense of consequence, you know right from the beginning of the game that your choices matter and that you need to think through the puzzles. This game was originally released for the MAC in 1987 but was ported over to the NES in 1989. It was later remade for the GameBoy Color, and a successful Kick Starter funded a totally revamped version that was just released in August.
This game is a blend or horror and fantasy, and is a fine choice to fulfill your Halloween gaming needs. The Uninvited, also form the makers of Shadowgate, is another point and click adventure but this time set in a Haunted House. The Uninvited isn't as well known as Shadowgate, but you if you are looking for a Halloween game and you don't want to revisit Shadowgate this would be an excellent alternative.
For your enjoyment I have added pics of a few of the Shadowgate death, and at the very bottom a link to a video that shows all of them
BioShock originally started out as an Xbox 360 exclusive and was released in Aug 2007. The buzz around the game was pretty strong but I was playing something else so I just figured I'd wait and get to it eventually. After finishing The Mansion of Hidden Souls as my Halloween game in the first week of October I wanted to play something a more modern so I pulled BioShock out of my pile of to be played games and gave it a whirl. That "whirl" would last 12 straight hours and eventually lead me into calling in sick from work because I hadn't slept and wanted to keep playing.
I didn't really know anything about BioShock when I started, and it was a great experience to go in without any preconceived notions about the game. If you have played the game you know the setting of the game is dark, eerie, and kind of haunted. I wasn't expecting a game that would make me think of Halloween but this game did. I can go on and on about how much I love this game, but if you have played it you probably already know. I can sum up how much I enjoy by showing you the following picture
BioShock is one of the few games for the 360 where I made it a goal to collect all the achievement. 100% in this game means multiple play throughs, which I did happily. BioShock is one of my favorite games of all time, and I only wish they has shown a little more care when they made BioShock 2 because it was a pretty big let down by comparison. I can probably never give BioShock 2 a fair review as I will always be holding it up against the original. BioShock Infinite I enjoyed a great deal, but that game doesn't make me think of Halloween at all and I wasn't looking to compare it to the first one. My only real knock against BioShock is the cover, I just don't like it. I like the special edition cover way better.
I picked up my Sega Saturn in 1999 and at the time I bought 1 game, It was Shining Force 3. Fast Forward to 2007, I am just starting to become an actually video game collector rather that just some guy with a lot of video games. I decide that my Halloween game for 2007 is going to be for the Saturn and since I had just picked up a lot of about 20 games I had a few to choose from. In the lot was The Mansion of Hidden Souls, D, and Lunacy. My discs for D were a little beat so it was really between Mansion and Lunacy. Lunacy looks pretty good, it's made by Atlus and the cover is nice, but the description on the back is beyond stupid.
Quick side quest about Lunacy. The back of Lunacy says "There Exists a legendary city where every wish is granted but wishes have a price. Those who have walked into the city wear a special mark upon their foreheads - and have no memory of who they once were." Okay so that's the story, and it goes on to say you have to stop the magical realm for destroying itself and your home land all while recovering your most precious possession - your memory. Seriously, this is the language it uses, home land not one word but two, and magical realm. What the eff is with all the vague description? How about he Magical City of (Name Here)? So while I have a problem with the bad and vague descriptions my bigger problem is with the premise. It might just be me, but if I live in a magical land of wishes and I am having a problem, and again this might just be me, but I just make a wish for those problems to be solved. Let me solve this game real quick, I wish for my memory back, and I wish for the worlds to not blow up....BOOOOM problems solved, hooray magic, hooray wishes. Also, what kind of shitty magic city is this? The one cost is you lose you memory, for all the wishes ever, but this magical city can't even get that right. How am I suppose to trust that my wishes will all be granted if this city can't even get such a simple detail right.
So having compared both games I went with The Mansion of Hidden Souls, plus as it shows on the cover this is a Saturn EXCLUSIVE...except it isn't or is it. When I begin collecting for the Sega CD in the very first lot I buy, I find this
Yup, Mansion of the Hidden Souls for Sega CD. The one for Sega CD was released in 1993 and the one for the Saturn in 1995. So are the games the same, turns out no. The title of the games is not actually the same. For Sega CD its Mansion of Hidden Souls, and for Saturn it's THE Mansion of Hidden Souls. The one Saturn takes place in the same location but 20 years later. Anyway these games are first person point and click adventures in a haunted mansion, very much Like D, 7th Guest and 11th Hour. You might be seeing a pattern here, point and click adventures, and haunted houses. So yeah, the idea of haunted houses or mansions are my preferred Halloween go to, some people like gore in the vein of Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, I am more a House on Haunted Hill, The Grudge, Haunting in Connecticut, and The Conjuring kind of guy. Anyway, the game was only okay and it was pretty dated by the time I played it. I forgave some of the dated conventions, but bad voice acting is hard to ignore. the ending of the game is pretty weird, not what I was expecting so bonus points for that. The experience of choosing The Mansion of Hidden Souls was very memorable and now when I see either version of the game I can't help but think of Halloween.
I was looking forward to Dead Space from the minute I saw the first trailer. It instantly made me think of Event Horizon and Alien. While I am sure you have all seen Alien you may have missed Even Horizon. You should go watch it, it is one of the scariest space movies I have ever seen. Dead Space nailed the release date coming out on October 13th in 2008. This was a day one buy for me, made all the easier by some sweet birthday gift certificates. Dead Space delivers on nearly every level, it's has an interesting story, the game play is fun, and the atmosphere is spooky. It is hard to find flaw with Dead Space, I liked it so much I actually have held off playing the sequels. I had such a good first experience I feel like the sequels could only take something away for this A+ game. I know that sounds crazy but playing Bioshock 2, took away from how much I liked Bioshock 1, not by a lot but enough to make me regret playing it. Do yourself a favor, buy this game, wait until sundown, turn off the lights, turn up the sound, and enjoy the experience.
Where We're Going We Won't Need Eyes To See
Night Trap was my Halloween game for 2009, I had just acquired a Sega CD and Shining Force and Night Trap were on the top of my list of games I wanted to play. Night Trap was released in October of 1992 (finally, a game that understands timing) and unbeknown to me was a game about vampires. I didn't own a Sega CD as a kid and I didn't even know anyone who owned one. To say Night Trap was not on my radar would be an understatment, but that would all change by Xmas 1993. In 1993 the Congressional hearings about violent video games would occur and Night Trap would be named as a prime offender. The result of the hearings would have Night Trap pulled from shelves of many stores, and whispered about by all the kids I knew. Wild rumors were be passed back and forth, they filmed actual murders, that the girl from Different Strokes get naked, that it was so violent that people actually threw up when watching it. Obviously that was all a bunch of nonsense but none of us had a Sega CD to see for ourselves. One thing is for sure, the Sega Cool Factor was on the rise amongst kids.
Amid all the controversy I was never mentioned that this game was about vampires, and I wouldn't find out until sometime in 2006 when I wrote a paper in college about Controversial Video Games. The lore and the subject matter were more than enough to put this on my must play list, but alas the hype, as it unusually is, was overblown. The controls are rough, the story is weak, the video is pretty grainy and worst of all, it just wasn't fun. Night Trap did not deliver, and it's sad that it is now known for it's controversy rather than the fact that it was pushing the envelope when it came to FMV in games.
My first encounter with Splatterhouse was at a friends house, well friend is too loose a term, kid I met on the street that days house.This kid was talking about how cool TG16 was and how the NES sucked and that he had this game Splatterhouse where you got to play as Jason from Friday the 13th. He went on describing the game and I was interested, what kid doesn't want to play as Jason, rather than be chased by Jason all game. I can't remember this kids name but I remember him playing Splatterhouse, and all the gore guts in the background. I was so ready, and I am just sitting their waiting for my turn when this kids mom gets home unexpectedly. Apparently he wasn't suppose to have anyone in the house when his parents weren't home and especially not some kid he just met on the street. I was tossed out, the kid was in trouble, and I wouldn't play Splatterhouse on the TG16 until 2008.
In 2008 for my Birthday I got a TG16 Express and the first game I purchased was Splatterhouse. I played through it in pretty much one sitting, thankfully I had the power adapter for the Express. Splatterhouse was orginally released in the arcades and was ported to the TG16 in 1990. The series has several sequels including 2 for the Sega Genesis. It's most recent release is simply called Splatterhouse and was a multi-platform title that appeared on the 360 and PS3 released in November 2010. I know I keep saying it, but the companies that pick these release days are doing a terrible job.
Splatterhouse has nothing to do with Friday the 13th
Day 22: Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge - Xbox
It's a bit on the nose, but Nightmare Before Christmas does make me think of Halloween, I almost feel like maybe it should just be headed under Xmas but the line is pretty blurry. This game is pretty simplistic but the art direction is good and that makes it worth playing. It was released in here in the states in October 2005
Fun facts: about this game, it was actually made by Capcom, and the PAL cover is way better than the NTSC cover.
Simon's Quest is one of my favorite Castlevania games, I know that is not the most popular opinion as this game has been panned by a few popular game reviewers. The problem with reviews of old games in a modern world is the complete lack of context, also those reviews are not considering how important this game was to the series. Everyone Castlevania fan will tell you how Symphony of the Night revolutionized the series and took it to the next level but very few seem to realize or at least admit the first nonlinear Castlevania with RPG elements was Simon's Quest. Simon's Quest was also the first game in the series to give us a peak into the larger world that was outside the Castle. Simon's Quest showed us how the towns were affected, how the the evil of Dracula had invaded the minds of the people and the land itself. Without Simon's Quest who knows if we ever get a Symphony of the Night, I am not taking anything away from SOTN, but rather giving Simon's Quest its due respect. Now that my Castlevania 2 rant is over I guess I can talk about how it applies to Halloween for me.
Castlevania is very much something I identify as Halloween, and it is a series that I visit every October but at the tail end of September in 1988 I received in the mail issue 2 of Nintendo Power which featured Castlevania 2 on its cover. The first issue of NP featured a very kid friendly claymation cover but, this cover was far more adult featuring a beheaded Dracula, blood red mist, and a creepy skull. My child's mind was on fire and Castlevania 2 is all I would thing about until I got it for Xmas later that year.
Simon's Quest also gave us this gem.
Author's Note: The rant I have in defense of Castlevania 2 is almost identical to the one I have for Zelda 2, I feel both games are under appreciated and not recognized as bold titles that took daring steps to advance their series. These games are the middle children in their respective series and as a middle child myself I feel the need to stand up for them.
The Morning Sun Has Vanquished The Horrible Night
Deadly Premonition is a horror game that is both very interesting and surprisingly terrible. This game is unique for placing the sandbox world style inside a horror title, with changing weather, time of day, triggered events, and nonlinear game play. The game begins with a gruesome murder scene in it's opening that reels you in, making you want to know more. The town that is the setting of the game is very strange and unsettling, giving off a heavy Twin Peaks vibe. The murder, the town, and the strangeness of the game are all of it's best parts but even as good as those are it is marred by terrible dialogue and worse controls. I started this as one of my Halloween games for 2013 but I have not finished it. I really want to know how Deadly Premonition ends and I think watching a play through on YouTube might be the way to go. I recommend everyone who is into survival horror or Twin Peaks checks this game out, even it it just by watching a play though.
Fun Facts: This game has a Directors Cut on the PS3, It has an interactive guide available on the iPad, and in 2012 Guinness Book of Worlds Records stated this is the most Polarizing Survival Horror game of all time.
I D'ohn't (sorry) know how to talk about Tapped Out since it is a mobile game, and freemium. In general many gamers think these kinds of games are the scourge of the earth, since they allow non-gamers to quantify video games into some lesser form of art or skill or for people who only play games on their phone to identify themselves as gamers. Many console and PC gamers do not consider these to be real video games. I am not here to establish the validity of either side of the argument, it's complicated and that is not what this series of posts is about. I can tell you I play this game and have for two years, it is for a lack of a better term "my poop game", some people read the paper or browse the Internet, I play this. I enjoy the TreeHouse of Horror episodes of the Simpson's very much and the Simpson's in general, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I also look forward to the annual Tapped Out Halloween Event. This game might just be a time waster but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment of it.
Below you will find some of the splash screens from previous Halloween Events.
Friday the 13th for the Nintendo was released in Feb 1989. I honestly don't recall the exact year or month I played it. This was not a game I owned but borrowed. The best part about this story is that I borrowed it from some kid I met while renting a cabin by a lake. I still haven't beaten this game and I am not sure if I ever had a firm grip on what I was suppose to do. What I remember most about this game, aside from feeling frustrated, is the game over screen which is amazing.
Here is a fun fact, this game was actually made by Atlus and only published by LJN. A classic horror franchise like this can't help but be associated with Halloween, and when you add to that one of the most memorable game over screens of all time; you have the reason it makes my list.
Garfield's Nightmare is one of two games I purchased this year because they remind me of Halloween. I am sure this seems like an odd choice, but in my life this makes perfect sense. As a child I loved Garfield books and the Garfield Halloween Adventure TV special, which was kind of dark. My love of Garfield eventually lead me to purchasing an orange tabby, sadly he passed away just last month at 11 years old. He is a big reason I choose this game this year. This game was initially released in June 2007 and is your basic 2D/3D hybrid platformer. The puzzles are pretty basic but I am actually enjoying it. I realize my bias might be showing here and that simply missing my cat plays a factor but if you are a fan of Garfield and Halloween you can't go wrong with this.
Some other random notes: I had a Garfield Alarm clock until I was 25. My name is a variant of John, I have an orange cat, and a long eared dog. At one time I owned 15 Garfield books, I have watched every Garfield TV special, and a lot of the animated series from the 90's. I have not seen any of the new Garfield movies.
Lets just call this Day 15 part 2, as this is another game I bought hoping the gimmick would pay off. My hope was unfounded and this game just turned out to be not very good. It's full title is Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir. I find the idea of a cursed book to be pretty intriguing so I didn't find it hard to justify the purchase. I didn't know at the time of purchase that this was a spin off of the Fatal Frame series, knowing would not have changed my decision and as I haven't played the other games in the series so all of the inter-connected bits, revelations, and lore were lost on me. The content in this game was pretty minimal and I am glad I didn't pay full price, I do think my opinion of this game would be higher if I took the time to play some other games in the series so take what you read here with a grain of salt. Spirit Camera turned out to be not what I was looking for in a Halloween game. This game was released in Europe, Japan, and the US from Jan 2012 - June 2012, some how it was not released in the Halloween or Holiday window in any territory, a decision I find puzzling.
Not every game on this list is associated with Halloween for positive reasons. I buy at least one game every October that makes me think of Halloween, but Rise of Nightmares is is one of three games that I bought for the Halloween theme that really failed to deliver. I purchased this last year thinking that the Kinect might add something to the Halloween experience, If frustration counts as an addition then I guess I achieved my goal. Rise of Nightmares has some promise, it starts out with a train ride in old Romania (something I have always wanted to do), a kidnapped wife, and strange companions, but soon the bad accents, worse controls, and boring game play take over. Conceptually this is a good idea, but good ideas poorly executed are all the more sad. This game is sad, sad, sad. sad. Oh, and bad, bad, bad, bad. Bad Sad. Sad Bad, If the atmosphere and controls ever line up for this type of game it could be a real treat, I am rooting for this to happen on the Occulus Rift.
My love affair with light gun games began with Hogan Alley for the NES, but ended with Vampire Night for the PS2. Like many light gun games Vampire Night was an arcade port that came to the PS2. It was released in late 2001 but I purchased this game as a birthday present for myself in October 2003. Vampire Night marked the end of a long binge of light gun games I had been playing. The games in this binge were Dino Stalker, Time Crisis 2, and Ninja Assault. I also purchased Area 51, the PS1 version, but it was not compatible with the Guncon 2. The Guncon 2 that came with the big box version of Namco shooters really delivered an arcade experience at home, other versions had gotten close but the GunCon 2 was nearly perfect. Unfortunately for light gun games the advent of LCD and Plasma TVs would pretty much kill the genera. The Wii did somewhat bring them back but holding a Wiimote instead of a Guncon just didn't have the same feeling.
As far as Light Gun games go Vampire Night is my favorite, passing House of The Dead and even Area 51, a game I beat on a single credit in my local arcade. Vampire Night was weird, a little creepy, but it didn't go as overboard as the House of The Dead games. Another thing I really like about Vampire Night is the ending, I don't want to spoil it but I like stories that depict victory as having a cost. I would love to tell you guys to run out an play this but logistically it isn't an easy task. If you are looking for a light gun fix pick up a Wii or better yet a Wii U. Some games to look for are House of the Dead Over Kill, Link's Cross Bow Training, and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.
Day 13: The Simpson's Night of the Living Tree House of Horror - GBC
If you are like me, every October / November since 1990 you patiently await the newest Simpson's Tree House of Horror. While I am irked that they often do not air until November, it is a nice closing bow for Halloween. This year we get TreeHouse of Horror XXV (25), but back in March 2001 we got The Simpson's: Night of the Living TreeHouse of Horror for the GameBoy Color. Living Tree House of Horror features 7 levels that resemble tales from previous Tree House of Horror episodes. Unfortunately this game was released well outside of Halloween and in general wasn't released at a good time, as it had no holiday support and it still wasn't quite summer. Another misfire is that the game just isn't very good. While this game does scream Halloween, it misses the mark on fun, but as a collectors item it gets the job done.
Alan Wake was released for the Xbox 360 in May of 2010. The game was either delayed or took a long time to come out (I guess it could be both), because it was on my radar for a very long time. I was really looking forward to this game, but after putting about 2 hours into it I completely lost interested. I don't blame the game, I had a lot going on and just didn't feel like playing this style of game. In October 2012 I was looking for a game that wasn't your typical horror slog and Alan Wake was the easy choice. This time I finished it in under a week, and that includes the DLC. This game feels like: Twin Peaks, Stephen King, and the movie In The Mouth of Madness rolled into one delightful tale. Alan Wake is my favorite brand of horror, which is horror of the mind, the loss of sanity, and the ever present darkness. Some people want blood and guts, but give me stories that blur the line between sanity and insanity any day. Alan Wake is episodic thirller and well worth a play through if you haven't picked it up already. This game also has nice special edition in which the game case looks like a book.
The 7th Guest and its sequel 11th Hour are both made by Trilobyte and are interactive horror puzzle games. 7th Guest came out in 1993 and 11th Hour in 1995. As a teenage I had heard of both of these games and really wanted to play them, but I wouldn't own a computer until 1996 and by then I had long since forgot about these two games. It wasn't until 2005 when my then girlfriend, now wife moved in with me that I would think about them again. In a box we unpacked she had the jewel case for 7th Guest. We tried to get it to run on our PC at the time but failed to get it going. It wouldn't be until it was released on the Ipad in 2010 that I would finally get to play and beat 7th Guest. While 7th Guest was pretty good and it really put me in the Halloween spirit, what I really wanted to play was 11th Hour as it had a better engine and vast improvements. Sadly 11th hour was canceled for the Ipad and is the only game that will appear in this series that I have not played.