Fangame Review: (Mario) The Music Box

(Mario) - The Music Box | Title Screen

TW: References to violence, gore, suicide, cannibalism, child abuse, and murder.

Though I have yet to play many of them, I have always held a special interest in fan games. It is especially interesting to see what fans can do with an existing property with nothing other than their own money and free time, and it is especially noteworthy how many have managed to create an experience on par with or better than the original creators can.

Or you could be like (Mario) The Music Box and have nothing to do with Nintendo’s flagship series aside from having Mario and Luigi in it. It’s quite fitting that “Mario” is in parentheses in the title of this game because this game is not really about Mario. Of course one can get the impression that the last type of game that would be appropriate for Mario is a Corpse Party clone, but even still there is so little that has to do with the Mario series involved. Read more

Pony Island (PC): It’s Not About Ponies; But it May as Well be (Detailed Review)

Pony Island | Logo

For a game with such a unique premise, I found myself rather let down by Pony Island. When just about every horror game in existence is based solely around the concept of “run and hide from scary monsters,” one would start to gravitate towards more unique horror games. I always have had a preference for games that can unnerve and scare the player through its sense of atmosphere, storyline, and events rather than just having you run from invincible enemies. That is not to say there is anything inherently wrong with the latter, it is simply that horror games seem to forget that there are other ways of being scary.

One of my favorite horror games is a 2008 platformer called Eversion. Yes you read that correctly, a horror platformer. What I enjoyed so much about this game was just how it created a dark and unnerving atmosphere based around simple platforming mechanics and no cutscenes or dialogue, and without gimmicky mechanics like tank controls that just make the game more tedious; the game was still as accessible as any other platformer.

Pony Island is a game that looked similar in concept to Eversion in many ways. Both games are ones that put up a facade of being a cutesy light hearted title, only to contain something dark and sinister underneath. If you haven’t caught on by now then I will just spell it out for you; Pony Island is not a game made for young girls about ponies. Read more

Quick Review: Blue Whale (PC)

Blue Whale | header

Tw: Suicide and gore.

Blue Whale is a…weird game, and it is also a creepy one. I’m not entirely sure how to wrap my head around this game given that I can barely tell what it is trying to do. I wouldn’t quite say that it is a bad game but I can’t exactly recommend it due to a variety of reasons.

If one hasn’t caught on based on the title, Blue Whale has the same title as a rumored app that tasks teenagers with tasks meant to wear down their mental state over the course of 50 days until ordering the participant to kill themselves on the final day. There is no concrete proof that such an app ever existed but I do think that a horror adventure title based on a teenage girl playing said game makes for an interesting concept. Unfortunately this game is only loosely based on the rumored app and does not make great use of its premise.

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Splatterhouse Retrospective #3 – Splatterhouse 2 (Genesis)

Splatterhouse 2 | Japanese Cover

Splatterhouse 2, known as Splatterhouse Part 2 in Japan, was a good game, a serious improvement over Wanpaku Graffiti if you even consider the games comparable. I would definitely consider it to be among the all time greats of the Sega Genesis, and would strongly recommend it to those whom are fans of Genesis library given that it is often overshadowed by… just about every Sega published title on the system. Whether I would consider it a better game than the first Splatterhouse though, I am undecided on.

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Splatterhouse Retrospective #1 Splatterhouse (Arcade/TurboGrafx-16/IOS)

Splatterhouse | international Cover

TW: Violence and… oh fuck it, I’ll let the cover of the Turbo-Grafx 16 version speak for you.

Splatterhouse | turbo grafx art
Challenge accepted!

This last October, I bit off a bit more than I can chew with the planned Halloween themed content. My initial plan was to review both Euphoria and Sweet Home within the month of October, but I kinda botched that when I tried to simultaneously juggle Read more

RPGs of the Famicom: Sweet Home

Sweet Home | Title Screen

If you live outside of Japan, you likely don’t know of many JRPGs prior to the 16 bit era. Hell, you may not even know of many DURING the 16 bit era either. Until Final Fantasy VII popularized the genre with its cinematic CG cutscenes and enormous marketing budget (not that the game had no merits in story or gameplay, but plenty of other games did to), even the most popular JRPGs in Japan were a niche attraction in the west. JRPGs retailed for up to $80 at the time without adjusting for inflation, and publishers often could not afford quality localization teams. A majority of games localized by Ted Woolsey, for instance, were handled within a month and had to cut several sentences down. The fact that games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV & VI, and Super Mario RPG had such strong scripts regardless really shows a testament to his ability, which allows me to cut him some slack for how bad Breath of Fire’s was (and also because Capcom themselves did a much worse with Breath of Fire II). Oh, and if you were in Europe then you likely never got ANY of these games.

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Amazing VGM: Hell Chaos (Splatterhouse)

Splatterhouse (1988) | Hell Chaos

Well, this is the final VGM of the month and I am feeling hella satisfied that I managed to get a Halloween/horror themed VGM up each week. Yes, “Appetite” counts since Starless IS one of the most horrifying games ever created (albeit for all the wrong reasons), and “The Eye Awakens a Jungle” is a pretty freaky track even if Earthbound isn’t a horror game (although mu training, brain surgery on children, and Giygas should be enough to qualify it). So, what better way to end off this month than with a final boss theme from Namco’s arcade horror classic, Splatterhouse?

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Standard Review: Eversion (PC)

I have stated in the past that I have grown tired of people asking whether or not games can be art due to various reasons. One of the main reasons that I dislike this topic’s consistent appearance is because it seems to be causing a general insecurity on the part of a lot of developers. The more that people believe that games are not art, the more people will sacrifice quality in an attempt to make an artistic statement simply because they think the latter is more important. Normally the best case scenario is a well designed game with a pretentious story that tries too hard to be deep and the worst case is having a game that uses bad game design as an excuse to support said pretentious story. Eversion, however, manages to be a game that actually succeeds in using its gameplay as a story telling tool and being fun at the same time.

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Five Nights at Freddy’s (PC/IOS): Technically Scary, but also Annoying (Detailed Review)

Five Nights at Freddy's | Title screen

The survival horror genre has always been a rather unique case when it comes to games. Typically, the most important part of any game to most people is the fun factor. While it is true that some more recent games have had a higher emphasis on cinematics and cutscenes, it can be argued that those are a different kind of fun to some people. While it is not necessarily true that games need to strive for being exclusively fun, they mostly need to try and evoke some type of emotion that makes the player want to continue.

The survival horror genre, however, is probably the only genre of game I am aware of that tries to intentionally make its gameplay stressful and chaotic for the purpose of an artistic statement. This can be either done to be “realistic” or, in the case of Five Nights at Freddy’s, it can be done in an attempt to give the player an adrenaline rush that makes them panic and lose control. In other words, it is trying to be scary; which it succeeds at doing. There are plenty that have argued that Five Nights At Freddy’s is not truly scary because it relies solely on jump scares and that it is rather simplistic in how it handles it. This is a statement that, to an extent, I both agree and disagree with.

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Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (PSP/Ios/PC): Redundant and Unnecessary (Detailed Review)

Corpse Party: Book of Shadows | Box art

Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is not a sequel in the traditional sense. If anything, it is more of an expansion on the original game. I would say that it is similar to DLC but considering that the game is twice as long as the first game that would be rather demeaning. That does not mean Book of Shadows is bad though. Book of Shadows does do a nice job at telling an engaging story and an eerie atmosphere, albeit not as well done as the first game. What Book of Shadows does not do well at, however, is advancing the main story of the Corpse Party series. It certainly adds a lot of background to the Corpse Party mythos though, and it will satisfy fans of the first game as long as long as they are not expecting a full blown sequel.

In concept, Book of Shadows starts out with what one would actually expect to be a unique continuation of the first game’s story. The opening cutscene shows the depressing aftermath of the first game’s ending for where reality has been altered so that everyone who died during the events of the first game has never existed in real life yet the remaining cast members still remember them. This is shown to be particularly bad for Naomi Nakashima who is shown falling into clinical depression in the game’s opening cutscene. Strangely enough, this is the only part of the game that takes place directly after the first one until the game’s final chapter. Instead the chapters seem to take some really strange directions and seem to be as far from advancing the main plot as possible.

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