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GAME REVIEW (RETRO): Sweet Home

GAME REVIEW (RETRO): Sweet Home

SWEET HOME:
THE BEST SURVIVAL HORROR GAME YOU'VE NEVER PLAYED

By Nick Durham

Sweet_Home_Japanese_Famicom_box_art

Most people tend to think of the original Alone in the Dark as being the first survival horror video game that they can really remember. Resident Evil would end up being the series that would more famously expose the genre of survival horror to mainstream gamers, but did you know that the original Resident Evil was actually originally supposed to be a remake of a game called Sweet Home? Well, it was.

Now you may be asking yourself, what the fuck is Sweet Home? Well kids, sit down, listen up, and crack open a beer or two and I'll tell you a tale: Sweet Home was a game for the Famicom. The Famicom was basically the Japanese version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. That beloved grey box that we all fondly remember was a bright red and white console (with a disc-based add-on) in its native Japan, and even featured a few bells and whistles (hardwired controllers, a microphone built into the second controller, etc.) that we never got. Anyway, the Famicom had a shitload of games that never made it on our side of the pond, with Sweet Home being one of them.

Sweet Home is a survival horror role-playing game (that in turn is based on a film of the same name), in which you control a party of five characters that must traverse a spooky-ass mansion. You encounter all kinds of nasty beasts and ghosts in random battles (this is an RPG after all), and there's some majorly creepy shit that happens in the process. The mansion itself is like a giant maze, and also features one of the earliest examples of perma-death in a game; i.e. once a member of your party dies, they stay deader than shit. Yes, this game can be totally unforgiving when it wants to be...and can also be super rewarding too.

Now because of its horror nature and mature subject matter, Sweet Home wasn't deemed fit for American NES players, mainly because a majority of them were super young and enjoying the exploits of a certain stereotypical Italian plumber. So yeah, we missed out on a classic game...at least until the internet became a thing. Various playable ROMs of Sweet Home have been all over the place, thankfully with English fan translations. There's also websites you can find that offer up NES reproduction cartridges that feature the English translation of the game, although these will cost you. So with all that in mind, I wholeheartedly recommend checking Sweet Home out however you can. It's an early classic of the genre, and is every bit as good now as it was back then.

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
GAME REVIEW: Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (2015)

GAME REVIEW: Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (2015)

By Nick Durham

fatalframe3

I've had a love/hate relationship with the Fatal Frame franchise since its inception. They aren't bad games, not one bit, for me personally, the promise that each game in the series offers gets overshadowed by sloppy mechanics and overall lack of execution. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is no different, although it does offer its fair share of positives along the way.

For those unfamiliar with the series, the Fatal Frame games usually put you in the shoes of a buxom Japanese babe that somehow winds up combatting ghosts and other supernatural elements, using a camera that attacks the spirits by snapping their pictures. The better picture you get, the more damage you dish out. Rinse, repeat. While never a household name of a franchise, the Fatal Frame games have their fan base, and while I kind of shit on it a little bit in that opening paragraph, the games themselves usually end up being fairly entertaining. This game, the fifth in the franchise, is no different.

You play as various characters at different points in the game's story, running around collecting items, solving very slight puzzles, and taking pictures of spooky ghosts. There's a mystery unfolding as the game goes on, taking place on a mountain range that is infamous for being a hot spot for suicides. Things get a tad confusing from that point forward, but I've never played these games for their stories in all honesty. Nevertheless, there is plenty of creepy atmosphere and haunting moments that take place throughout. Quick shots of ghastly apparitions swinging from nooses or leaping off cliffs really help give the game a sense of dread and spookiness. In the atmosphere department, Maiden of Black Water delivers the goods.

The game's biggest strength however also ends up being its biggest weakness. The game takes full advantage of the Wii-U's massive gamepad controller to use as the game's Camera Obscura (i.e., the name the franchise's spectral camera is called), and it uses it pretty well. Aiming and taking shots of the ghosts is simple and fun enough, and in fact this is the best use of the gamepad I've seen done in a long time. I've owned a Wii-U for a long while now, and not nearly enough games for it take advantage of the pad at all. Maiden of the Black Water happily does. That being said, when things get panicky (i.e. when there's a few ghosts teaming up on you), things get kind of cumbersome control wise. While in camera mode, your character can still move around, which is good, but if you back up against a wall, you wouldn't really know it until you realize you're not moving anymore. Then it's drop out of camera mode, and run a bit to give you a little distance between you and the ghosts to finish dispatching them. This wouldn't be that much of a bad thing, were it not for the fact that the character movement controls themselves are really, really fucking clunky. Trust me when I say: when things get hectic, you're going to get frustrated.

Graphically speaking the game looks good and there are some impressive lighting effects as well. The environments are nice and the character models and ghost effects are pretty good as well. From an aesthetic point of view, Maiden of Black Water kicks ass, especially for a Wii-U game. That, and the occasional gratuitous ass shots don't hurt either.

My biggest complaint about Maiden of Black Water however isn't so much the game itself, but how you have to play it. Now over in its native Japan, this game received a physical, disc release. Over here, it's digital only. Now that's really not that big a deal, but considering the game is close to being 10 gigabytes, and the Wii-U itself has a tiny ass hard drive (mine is 32 gigs for fuck's sake), this shit just doesn't fly. Now the one positive to this is that, at least for now, Nintendo is offering the first three chapters to play for free. Once you get through them, you can purchase the full game for 50 bucks if you feel so inclined. Considering that price tag, there isn't enough here to warrant that, at least for me. Plus Nintendo has apparently censored a number of revealing unlockable outfits for the female protagonists, replacing them with Princess Zelda and Zero-Suit Samus outfits instead. My penis weeps.

Anyway, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water isn't a terrible game one bit. Give it a try for free while you can and see what you think. It's not worth the full 50 bucks, at least for me, but you may enjoy it much more than I did. So with all that in mind, give this a shot. There really isn't much in terms of survival horror to find on the Wii-U, and hey, I guess this winds up being better than that other Wii-U exclusive survival horror game The Letter right? That's not much of an accomplishment though, but that's besides the point; getting kicked in the dick by an ice skate is more enjoyable than that fucking game.

Rating: 3/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
GAME REVIEW: Clown House

GAME REVIEW: Clown House

By Margeaux DeMott

clownhouse

Clown House is a horror game. Oh wait, I'm sorry. I spelled that wrong. Clown House is a HORRIBLE game.

The game starts up with a little insight into what's going on: You're trapped in a house with lunatic clowns due to a "MEANINGLESS REASON". Literally. That's what it says. That right there should have been a red flag. The creator didn't even care enough to take maybe ten seconds to give a reason as to why you're in a house with crazy clowns. So you (naturally) want/have to find a key to get out of the house. Around the house there are clowns. Just kinda sitting around, doing nothing. The clowns don't immediately attack you, and you can't shoot them until after they have decided to kill you. Thankfully there's a music spike to let you know you're about to be attacked, so you have more than enough time to defend yourself. The clowns are very slow. Mostly they're just lazing around, disinterested in your existence. When they attack you, it seems like they're thinking, "Hey man, it's not personal. I'm just doing my job. Look, you can still get away!" rather than "I'm a lunatic clown and I'm going kill you and wear your skin!" Oh, and the key is always in plain sight just sitting on top a dresser or another random table.

The graphics are okay, Playstation One-era looking, and in black and white. For some reason they put this weird shine on everything so it looks like everything has a layer of goo over it. You have to choose between moving forward and having the gun out, which I hate because I prefer being prepared. The set mouse sensitivity is insane, so if you do choose to play it be sure to fix that. The sound is boring, and I can barely recall anything outside of the 'hey a clown is creeping toward you' noise.

0/10

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
GAME REVIEW: Five Nights at Freddy’s

GAME REVIEW: Five Nights at Freddy’s

By Margeaux DeMott

FNAF1
This game is a first for me. I have never played a game in which you are utterly defenseless when faced with the enemy. I'm used to my jump scares being followed by spastic gun fire. In Five Nights at Freddy's (FNAF) there is no, "Oh, but I can just shoot it". You're forced to look into the lifeless eyes of your mechanical murder. Or, in my case, the inside of my eyelids as I scream in helpless shock and fear.

Five Nights at Freddy's puts you into the role of an over-night security guard during his shifts in a Chuck 'E Cheese-like establishment. You have a simple midnight 6:00 a.m. shift, all by yourself, sitting in a security observation post. I mean, you could sit there and play solitaire all night if you wanted to, right? NOPE. As much as you want to play Minesweeper, the mechanical puppets want to shove you inside of them, literally. Which leads to your horrifying death. Seriously, imagine that.

The gameplay is very simple: You have a touchscreen tablet to visually check the various rooms in the building and two doors with a Light Switch button and a Door Close button each. Apparently, Freddy's is not doing so well financially. You have only a certain amount of power to draw upon, and that limited power supply drains while you are checking the building, closing one of the doors, or turning the hall light on. When you check the rooms, you can see where the puppets are at. Sometimes they are not where you last saw them - which leads to rapid checking of each of the rooms to try to find them.

The graphics are not the best ever, but they get the job done. Think Playstation One era. However, the sound is on point. For me, the best part of a good jump scare is the sound that accompanies it - this is commonly called the spike. Five Nights at Freddy's nails it on their spikes! The ambient sound really puts you in the mood of an empty building filled with blood-thirsty mechanical puppets.

That being said, this game scared the crap out of me. It's scared the crap out of a lot of people, and the fan base for Five Nights at Freddy's is incredible. This game series is only four years old, and already there are an insane number of game/conspiracy theories and various fan-fics! The creator of Five Nights at Freddy's, Scott Cawthon, has pumped out three sequels to this game in a year when most developers can't even get one game out in a year. Everything about this game is crazy - from the plot to the fans - and I think that's how everyone likes it.

9/10 peed pant

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EDITORIAL: Why We Need Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered

EDITORIAL: Why We Need Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered

By Nick Durham

A while ago I reviewed Capcom's Resident Evil HD Remastered, which wound up being a supremely enjoyable HD take on the classic first installment of the long running survival horror franchise. The game was a smash hit and made Capcom a shitload of money in the process, so immediately fans were hoping that maybe we'd finally get an HD remaster of Resident Evil 2.

Well, lo and behold, we're getting it.

Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered is coming. Who knows exactly when, but it's coming. It's about damn time too, considering we've had about umpteen remakes of the original Resident Evil as it is, but never a true new take on the classic first sequel (and no, the Dreamcast and Gamecube ports of Resident Evil 2 don't count either). Ever since the idea was planted in my head that this could become a reality, my mind has been running a mile a minute thinking about how amazing it could be given the new technology of today.

Just think back to the first time you played Resident Evil 2. Remember the first encounter with the Licker? Or finding the police station? Or trekking through the underground? Or the final showdown shortly before Raccoon City gets nuked off the face of the Earth? Imagine re-living all of that with a fresh coat of HD paint. Hell, imagine the game with a re-done control scheme that discards the dreaded tank controls of yesteryear. We could have something really special on our hands folks.

Now I know that having an HD take on Resident Evil 2 is going to sell really well. Probably so well that Capcom decides to do an HD remaster of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (which I can almost guarantee will happen some time in the future). As a gamer, I know first hand that no one knows how to beat a dead horse better than Capcom does (except for maybe EA, but I digress), so they could keep on remastering various installments in the franchise all they want, but what I'm hoping happens is that maybe we'll see the franchise as a whole return with new installments that go back to the true survival horror roots of the series.

Back in the day, Resident Evil defined survival horror. Conserving ammo, saves, and health packs/healing plants to make it through the game was the way it had to go to survive. Resident Evil 4 changed the franchise forever with a more action-oriented approach to mix with the scares, and it winded up being one of the best games of its era. Resident Evil 5 and the recent Resident Evil 6...well, they just weren't. They were such departures from what we've come to love about the series that we started to forget what made this franchise so fucking good in the first place. Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered can put us on the right track, and thanks to the first remaster game, it looks like we're already on our way there.

Get ready my people, we're going back to Raccoon City one more time. One more time of a refreshing take on the epic zombie survival horror series that changed everything back in the day. Strap yourselves in folks, shit's about to get awesome once again.

Well, hopefully anyway.

Posted by Alan Smithee in EDITORIALS, 0 comments
GAME REVIEW: The Letter (2014)

GAME REVIEW: The Letter (2014)

By Nick Durham

What the fuck did I do to deserve this? No, seriously. What the fuck did I do to deserve having to play this fucking game? Who did I fuck over in this life or a previous life that has led to me willfully accepting the punishment that is playing?

The Letter? No, you know what, no one answer that. That would be too long a list.

Anyway, The Letter is a first person survival horror game where you take the role of a young man searching for your father who has mysteriously disappeared. Your journey starts in a bedroom and leads to a construction site where dear old Dad was working...or something like that anyway. In all honesty I didn't get too far in The Letter, but I'll get to why exactly in a minute or two. Along the way on your journey you'll walk around a lot in dark areas...and that's pretty much it. To call this game boring is saying it lightly. Literally absolutely fucking NOTHING happens in this fucking game. NOTHING!

Despite the fact that The Letter is boring as sin, this isn't even the game's biggest crime, not even close. First off, when the game first loads, look at that title screen. Did someone make this in fucking Microsoft Paint? Because that's what it looks like. Not to mention the game's graphics overall are untextured, super cheap looking garbage. I've seen early generation PS1 games that look way, way better than this piece of shit. Now I've been playing video games for a majority of my life, and I know firsthand that graphics don't necessarily make a game good or not. That is very true. There's plenty of super fun and enjoyable games that look like shit, but manage to be a great time. This is not fucking one of them.

Second of all, the control scheme for this game is fucking awful. This is mainly because the game's vertical axis is reversed...AND THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY TO CHANGE IT! That's right. You press one way to move, you move the opposite way. Great controls for a survival horror game right? Not to mention the fact that, as previously mentioned by me so eloquently right above, THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY TO CHANGE IT! I can forgive the graphics, and I can forgive the lack of horror, but I just can't forgive this. Not at all.

To make matters worse, the game is just so fucking cryptic. Cryptic games used to be the norm back in the 8 and 16-bit days, and they could be fun (and frustrating) to figure out. Figuring them out here is not fun, it's problematic, mostly because of the game's super shitty mechanics. Even just trying to get out of the first room, THE FIRST FUCKING ROOM, turned into a head scratcher. Like seriously...fuck all this.

Upon further investigation, I learned that The Letter flopped on IndieGoGo, only managing to secure over 300 bucks instead of the $5,000 originally set as the goal. The game was dumped upon the Nintendo e-shop for $1.99, and the outcry from Nintendo's Mii-verse is deafening. People feel ripped off, and they rightfully should. It doesn't take long to realize that "The Letter" is not a finished game, not by a long shot. It is, at its heart, a failed attempt at using crowd-funding to make a game, and then failing even further in terms of releasing a knowingly unfinished product with the hopes of churning out some kind of profit. A product crafted by inexperienced game developers that churned this steaming digital turd out as quickly as possible. Why am I shitting all over it like I am? Because the crew behind this promised over and over that The Letter would be granted consistent updates from its launch day to provide an overall better gaming experience. Guess how many updates have happened since the game was released in the beginning of 2015? Not a single fucking one. That is basically what we call a scam folks. Not a super expensive one, but a scam nonetheless.

On the flip side of that, it costs 2 bucks, so I know there are some of you that may be saying "come on Nick, it's only 2 bucks, what did you really expect?" Well, for starters, I expected something that played like a competent video game. I've played free-to-play games on my fucking phone that are way more in-depth than The Letter could ever hope to fucking be. I know it's only 2 bucks, but you know what? I still want my fucking money back.

Rating: 0/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments