Friday, 31 October 2014

100 More Gruesome Games (11-9)

Gah! Here's a quick few games up for Midnight! The rest will appear's the Day of the Dead anyway, so still ripe for spookyness! First a couple of Speccy games released for Halloween last year....

11 - Tenebra Macabre (ZX Spectrum) : 

Mega Meghan, star of another Mojon Twins Spectrum game, has found herself trapped in the rather spooky crypt of Jurufrasto Morante, The Ghoul from Alicante! To escape, she'll need to break an evil spell cast on the main door to the crypt and the only way she can do this is by lighting a candle in each and every room of Morante's tomb!    

Of course, there's a catch...the catch being that as all the candles are out, Meghan has to navigate the crypt in total darkness! Well, not total can see just a tiny bit around Meghan...but the rest of the screen is really, really dark! Luckily, a thunderstorm is raging outside and the lightning flashes light up the rooms for brief moments, allowing you to see where platforms and dangerous nasties are!

Once you light all 24 candles, Meghan will be able to escape to freedom! It's a great little game, and the lightning is a nice touch that really gives the game a spooky atmosphere....definitely worth a few games on spooky winter nights! Download it from here....

10 -  Nightmare On Halloween (ZX Spectrum) :

Poor Mr. Bates! He's only gone and lost 5 sacred pages from the Sacred Clan's Book Of Witches! Not only that, but doing so has gotten him cursed and now he's a living skeleton!! The only way to put things right and bring himself back to full & proper life is to retrieve those 5 pages...

A few beers are scattered around the levels too so you can regain some health, which you'll be needing to do as this game can be quite tricky with just 5 lives! Still, it's just the thing to get you in the mood for Halloween! Radastan has done a great job with the Mojon Twin's Churrera Engine, especially with the graphics which are groovily ghoulish!

You can download it from here, and you really should! Go do it immediately or I'll get the Sacred Clan to curse you lot too! 

9 - Minecraft (Various) :

"WHAAATTTTTT!???!??" I hear a million (well, slight exaggeration...maybe 30 or so) voices say! "Minecraft in a horror game list! Surely you jest, good sir!?" 

Well, if you're saying that, then clearly you've never played Minecraft's Survival mode properly! I mean it's right there in the name...Survival...and that is what this Minecraft mode is! Ultimate Survival Horror!

You start stranded in a wilderness with nothing but the clothes you have on, and have to find some trees, chop some wood with your bare hands and then create tools to build a shelter before they come out at night...

Zombies, Skeletons, Spiders... All of them creeping towards you and wanting to put a stop to your breathing!  If you haven't created weapons and built a shelter by nightfall on the first day, you will die! And when you do get inside your shelter, you probably won't have been able to create a bed yet and go to sleep so you can skip until morning, so you have to sit there...all night...listening to the moans, groans and hissing outside the door. Unable to do anything until daylight comes to your rescue....

And then there's the Creepers! Even when you do manage to progress far enough into the game to survive the other enemies, there's always the threat that one of these numpties will sneak up behind you and explode with a massive KABOOM, making you jump about ten feet in the air and then come to the realization that the epic castle you've just spent 4 hours building has a hole in it the size of an elephant...

And the Endermen! These teleporting Slender Man rip-offs will mind their own business, and just randomly shift blocks around...unless you look at directly at them! Then they emit a horrible, terrifying noise and come after you like the rest of the enemies!

Then there's the Nether with it's Ghasts and Zombie Pigmen...and the Slime.....and the ever present threat of a fiery death in the lava pits...and..and...Well, you get the idea! Minecraft can be scary stuff, especially if you're under the age of 10, which a lot of its players are!

It even has it's own urban legends! Like Herobrine, a character said to actually haunt the game! He looks just like main character Steve, but has spooky  white eyes...He supposedly builds random constructions, and does weird things with your inventory items if you happen to bump into him. The creator of Minecraft, Notch, has denied he exists...but helps add fuel to the fire by stating in update logs "Herobrine Removed"....

They've added a skin for your character so that you can pretend to be him and scare any young kids, nieces or nephews that you happen to be playing Minecraft with too, which is great fun!

So there! Minecraft is survival horror! And it deserves a place on the list because of it, so I won't hear any moaning! Well, apart from those bloody zombies outside the door of my hastily constructed cabin....*shivers*....

So yeah, a bit too busy celebrating to get all the games done! But hope you all have / have had a Happy Halloween! As I said, I'll be posting the final lot tomorrow, so just because Halloween has passed, don't be a stranger! Day of the Dead is actually two days! So spooky stuff will be going on until Sunday! ;-)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

100 More Gruesome Games (15 - 12) Freddy Vs. Jason

Yes, in today's selection of Gruesome Games I take a look at some video games based around two of horror cinemas greatest villians, a Mr. Freddy Krueger and a Mr. Jason Voorhees! Who will come out on top as the winner and have the best games? Read on to find out....

15 - A Nightmare On Elm Street (C64 / PC DOS) :

First up, we have a man who has probably helped keep the coffee industry booming since the 80s,  that devious dream -demon Freddy! This 1989 game from Monarch Software is based around Nightmare On Elm Street 3, and has you controlling the Dream Warriors from that film...

The first thing you'll need to do is find Krueger's house , and so you guide your little white stick figure character through the streets, looking for a house with all the lights on! Freddy is chasing you all the way, and if he catches you he'll drain your Soul Energy, which you need to survive! Once you find the house, you'll have a quick chat with Sister Mary Helena, and pop inside to rescue your friends....

 The game now changes to a top-down view of inside the house, and you'll get a better look at whatever character you picked at the start of the game. Each character has their own special dream power that they can use in the fight against Freddy! Kincaid has a power punch that can break through walls and Taryn can use her special knife throwing ability! These use up power though, and you'll need to use them sparingly...

Various items can be picked up like baseball bats and daggers to kill enemies with, coffee to keep you awake and coins with which to buy upgrades and stuff. Enemies trying to stop you from reaching your friends include skeletons, ghosts and even killer wheelchairs taken straight from the movie! There's also fire, slime and deadly spike traps to avoid, so you'll have your work cut out trying to reach pizza-face and put an end to his nasty nightmares...

Handily, the bar at the side of the screen lets you know what level the rest of your gang of warriors are currently residing on, so that makes it a lot easier to find them and insures you won't waste too much time hunting for them on every level and can just concentrate on trying to find the exit until you reach the area where they're at!

Obviously, the PC version looks a lot better than the C64 version, and runs a bit smoother too...but they both play more or less the same and have pretty much the exact same layout. I've tried to include similar screenshots from both games here, so you can see the differences for yourselves, and you'll see that the PC version also has some nice little extras like floorboards, little rugs with eyes on and actual slime on the ground on the slime levels (complete with smothered bodies) !

 These extra little touches make the PC version the one to go for, but the C64 version is far from awful, and I would have been happy to have owned it back in the day!  The C64 also has a nice little rendition of the Nightmare on Elm Street music on the title screen, so it gets bonus brownie points for that too! But yeah, both games use the licence to good effect and are pretty enjoyable adventures worth giving a go!

14 - A Nightmare On Elm Street (NES) :

Also using the third Nightmare On Elm Street as inspiration, LJN's game for the Nintendo Entertainment System has a similar plot, but plays quite a bit differently. In this you have to find Freddy's bones which have been scattered around the levels, take them to the furnace in the High School and burn them so Freddy is put to rest and can no longer threaten Elm Street's teenagers!

As one of these teens yourself, you'll find yourself on Elm Street outside various buildings, only one of which can be accessed from the start. Annoyingly, you have no idea which, so you'll have to fight your way past enemies such as snakes, bats and zombie-types and push up on the controller at every door until you find the one you can enter! 

Once inside you'll be faced with platforms to jump around until you reach a boss at the end of a level, who'll drop a key for another house, and you'll be dumped back outside, searching once more for the right door...which is the most annoying thing about the game really, but I suppose it adds some longevity.

What keeps the game interesting is the whole sleep mechanic..If your sleep bar falls too low by getting attacked, you'll enter the dream world and the various snakes, bats and spider enemies will become twisted skeleton or phantom variants of themselves! You'll need to collect coffee to try and keep yourself awake then, and if you do doze off there's a stereo that can be found to waken yourself up again!

Special dream power pick-ups can be collected, and this lets you switch to a special souped-up version of yourself and use abilities like Shadow Warrior (Ninja), Acrobat or Wizard. These aren't as impressive as they sound, but make for some amusing illustrations in the game's manual! 

Mr. Krueger will pop up for a ruck if you fall too deep into incident that's preceded by a scary "Freddy Is Coming!" message flashing up on the screen! You should see him off with a few hits though, as he's disappointingly non-scary once he appears. The boss versions are better at the end of the levels, with you facing off against Snake Head Freddy, Big Knifey-Glove Freddy and a few other incarnations!  (Names above are what I called the incarnations of Freddy...these are not official....obviously...)

Anyway, it's a fun enough little game, and should keep you entertained for at least a few goes on Halloween! And while you've got the NES out you can give this next game a bash too.....

13 - Friday The 13th (NES) :

At Camp Crystal Lake, six counselors are looking after the latest batch of kids who are their for the summer, and everyone's enjoying the peace and tranquility of the lake and its surrounding countryside. Unfortunately for them, one child who had a particularly bad experience at the camp a few years back has returned, all grown up and with an axe to grind!

For some reason, the place has also fallen prey to all manner of spooky nasties like zombies, angry wolves and crows! Must be something in the water! Anyway, you take control of the counselors and can switch between them as they try to stop Jason murdering all the children and/or other counselors!

The counselors have differing abilities, and the faster ones are better used as scouts to look for items.Others are better at crossing the lake in a boat. A couple of them seem to be completely useless, but I'll leave it up to you to discover which ones for yourselves...

Using a map, you can see where you are and at moments of danger an alarm will sound and you can check to see where you have to head in order to stop Jason hacking someone to pieces! Unfortunately if you enter the woods, the map becomes pretty useless and it's easy to get lost among the maze of paths and find yourself bombarded with enemies.

All you have to defend yourself at the start, y'see, is a bunch of rocks! Throwing these at enemies isn't always that successful as they travel in an arc and sometimes miss wolves completely. Thankfully, there are other weapons to be picked up such as knives that fly in a straight line and are much more effective.

If you manage to make it past the enemies to the area where someone is being attacked in time, you'll receive a rather premature "Thank you!" from whoever you saved, and then discover Jason lurking in the cabin right beside them! You'll then have to lob rocks, knives or whatever else you have at him whilst dodging his attacks and hoping he gets bored and leaves!

Once he does, he'll be gone for a little while and then he'll attack somewhere you'll need better something he's scared of to truly beat him! Apparently he's really scared off big, flaming torches, so if you light all the fireplaces in the cabins with lighters that the enemies drop, a flaming torch will eventually become will a flashlight that will help you see your way in the caves, which is a place I never found during my few games. Apparently the severed head of Jason's mum awaits you in there too, so I'll need to keep a look out when I go back to playing again...

When night falls, the enemies become a little tougher so watch out for that, but if you manage to fend them and  Jason off for 3 full days you'll win and everyone will be happy except for poor old hockey-head. Hurrah! 

Well, I went in to playing this having heard this was one of the worst games of all time, and having played it for at least 40 minutes I can say that I find that analysis totally wrong! Sure, it's by no means a great game..but it's not that bad! Once I worked out what I was meant to be doing I actually had quite a lot of fun trying to save everybody and I'll definitely be going back to play it again in the future and try to find Mrs. Voorhees severed head! 

So don't believe the naysayers...give it a go and see what you think yourself! Of course, maybe you'll hate it anyway, but that's half the fun of playing games you haven't played before! One man's Arkham Asylum is another man's Rise Of The Robots! You'll never know until you play 'em!

Oh, and one thing you can definitely thank the last two games for are these wonderful things...

Yes, NECA  have made action figures based on both the LJN games and they come in the same colours as the characters in game! They'll look great on your shelves and are a perfect Halloween gift either for yourself or a friend! Oh, and they also come in replica boxes based on the game ones too! 

12 - Friday the 13th (Spec / C64 / Amstrad):

A few years before the NES game, one appeared on the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 & Amstrad CPC computers. In this one, the main aim is to gather all your friends in safe spot that you've secured by placing a a huge cross in it!

Jason has disguised himself as one of your friends and won't show himself until he's ready to attack, at which point you'll have to confront him and use one of ten weapons that you've found lying around to bash him with!

Now this game is a lot worse than the NES version! well, the ZX Spectrum version is at least. It looks terrible, controls terribly and is just well...crap! The C64 at least has some spooky music, and when someone dies you'll hear a blood-curdling scream, which I imagine at least freaked out some kids back in the day! It controls a lot better too, and also looks far nicer....although for some reason Jason looks more like a random guy in black jeans and a black top than the knife wielding behemoth we're used to seeing on screen!

Apparently, the best version of the lot is the Amstrad version, but as I'm still struggling with trying to get an Amstrad emulator to work so I can sample its games, I've yet to play that one. So although the C64 might be fun for 5 minutes, I can't really recommend you play either, when there are so many more gruesome games to eat up your time....if I ever get round to the Amstrad version, I'll keep you posted!

So there we go! I think in this particular battle of the baddies, Freddy wins hands down! His games are a lot more fun than Jason's, but there's still room for someone to make a truly great game based on either series, as none of the games could be called amazing! 

Anyway, we've only a few hours left and then it's Halloween! And I've still to write about 11 games! Zoinks! Best join me tomorrow on this very blog to see if I manage it! ;-)

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Cinema of Stuff Presents.... A Few Random Tales!

Whilst watching Youtube as I struggled to sleep in the early hours of this morning, I stumbled upon some old ghostly tales that had once been shown on British telly! This did little to help me achieve sleep of course, as I spent about 4 hours watching them all!

Anyway, I decided to post a few on here so the rest of you can watch them as well. I won't bother saying anything about them as (1) I'm absolutely knackered today after not sleeping much, and (2) part of the enjoyment I had watching them was not knowing what to expect! Here they are then, in all their spooky splendour....

Monday, 27 October 2014

100 More Gruesome Games! (19 - 16 )

Crikey! Time is whizzing by! At this rate it'll be Christmas next least that's what it feels like! Never mind though, as I still seem to be on track with actually getting through this list! Although I've probably just gone and jinxed myself now, and the world will end tomorrow or it'll be eaten by space zebras or something, just to be annoying! Oh well, better get a move on and read this just in case...

19 - Monster Max (Gameboy) :

Poor Max, the monster guitarist, was getting ready to rock up a storm when a particularly pesky human invader by the name of Krond took over the planet & banned music! Being more than a little miffed at losing his chance of stardom and faced with never again moshing like a monster of rock should, Max enlists in the Mega Hero Academy! Here he must complete nine levels of training before he's ready to face the evil Krond and save music!

Taking control of Max, you're faced with hundreds of screens filled with platforms and puzzles in an isometric adventure that's probably the best example of the genre ever made! You'll control robots as you try to manoevure platforms with them, use ducks! And bombs, guns, swords and all sorts of other power-ups to solve the sorts of puzzles you'll be expecting if you know your isometric-type adventures!

Programmed by Jon Ritman with graphics by Bernie Drummond, these guys took everything they learned from previous hits Batman 3DHead Over Heels, and created a real monster-sized game! 600 locations made it twice as big as Head Over Heels, and the level design is superb meaning you'll never really blame the game for any mistakes! If you fail at a puzzle, you'll curse yourself for making a mistake and jump straight back to trying to conquer it again. 

As you'd expect from a title with a rock-star monster,  the game also features a great soundtrack by David Wise with lots of great toe-tapping tunes! Nice little extra touches, like Max rocking out when you leave him idling, make for a charming & fun game that should be more famous and popular than it actually is.. 

As Jon Ritman says on his own site..

"Max got the best reviews I’ve ever seen but Titus seemed very slow in getting it on the shelves – I have to question the reasoning behind getting 98% in January’s reviews and selling it the following December. As a result the sales were fairly poor for a Game Boy product. Such is life.

This means it can be hard to find a copy for sale,  but if you can find a copy grab it quick as you can with your monster mitts before those pesky humans invade and try to ban it or something....

18 - The Mummy (GBA) :

Based on the animated series (trailer below), which itself was based on the The Mummy Returns, this game was a pleasant surprise! Usually when you get games based on animated shows these days, they reek of quick cash-in and have very little in the way of gameplay or indeed, fun!

But here, we're given control of all three members of the O'Connells as they scramble to collect the pages of the mystical Book Of The Dead that evil Imhotep is trying to get his manky mummified hands on! And the levels they traverse are a grand set of puzzle-filled mazes.. full of traps & treasures! 

Each of the three family members has unique abilities to help in the quest to recover page pieces. You flick between them using the right shoulder button when you need someone to do something specific. Rick is the muscle, so he pulls levers, rolls rocks and has the strongest punches! This also means he's the slowest of the trio though. Evy is a bit more athletic and somersaults over traps, lobs sticks at unreachable levers and enemies and is a bit faster but not as strong. 

She is however an expert in hieroglyphics, so you'll be using her to read any inscribed pillars you find! Alex, their son,  is in possession of the manacle which allows him access to the treasure chests & specific locks. He's the fastest, but also the weakest of the family, so he can find four different magic spells to fire at the nasties instead of trying to beat them up!

The enemies themselves are what you'd expect to find in ancient tombs! Scorpions, ancient zombie guards, know, the usual! A little red circle appears when you approach an enemy, and this means that you've automatically locked on to that baddie. Beating them up grants you combos, and the longer you can keep the hits going you'll be awarded with extra coins or health.

 Once you get cornered it can be quite tricky too, so don't expect to be playing a game just for the kiddies! Of course, you can choose just to obliterate them with some magic or one of Rick's souped up punches rather than waste time on combos, which is quicker but produces less items!

Music & sound effects are suitably Egyptian, and as you can see from the screenshots the graphics are pretty groovy too with some nice lighting effects when magic stuff is happening! All in all it's presented pretty well, and does a great job with the licence! I'm only a tiny bit of the way into the game, but so far it's been loads of fun exploring the tombs and using the family's different abilities. So yeah, pick it up if you can find it.....or you could always get your Mummy to get it for you! 

17 - Under The Skin (PS2) :

When a child turns 3 years old on Planet Mischief, they must travel to another planet and hone their skills in the art of mischief making. If successful in inducing mass panic on that planet, they will be awarded with praise and be ready for their lives as adults. However, the star of this game,  Cosmi, will have his work cut out as he is being sent to Earth...a planet that no other alien has ever managed to conquer! If he manages to make mischief here, he'll become a hero!

On his way to Earth however, Cosmi crashes into a TV station satellite, and ditches his craft near Coco Town! Thankfully, Earth's Mischief Master, Master Itazura, finds him before the earthlings and whisks him off to the Dojo to train for survival...

After learning a few of the tricks of the game in the Dojo tutorial, you're unleashed upon Coco Town as Cosmi, where you'll be competing with another alien to collect the most coins. Or sometimes you'll work together to collect as much money as possible! All this is done by playing pranks on the inhabitants of whatever level you happen to be on. First however, you'll need to use your hoover gun to capture a human that you can disguise yourself as!

After nabbing your human, head to one of the flying saucers dotted around the level, and you'll be able to disguise yourself as that person. Once disguised, you can use that humans items to prank your victims. There's loads of items to use, such as bowling balls to knock people over, microphones that you'll use to sing Karaoke and assault peoples eardrums and cannons to fire yourself from and splat people with!

Be careful though as one hit from an enemy will see you running about in your undies and arousing suspicion from the townsfolk, and another will make you lose the disguise and a load of coins and have you rushing back to the nearest UFO! Just remember to have sucked up another human too, or you won't be able to change into someone else!

Whoever has the most coins at the end of the timed level wins, and progresses to the next area. There are 8 areas in total, and each has a different theme. Frontiersville is a wild-west themed town for instance, whereas High Stakes Hills has a Casino theme. As a nice surprise there's also a level based around Raccoon City from Resident Evil, where you have to steal coins from RE3's Nemesis and you can disguise yourself as Jill Valentine

At a certain point in the levels, Panic Time happens, where things get even more crazy for a rush hour in Coco Town or Death being unleashed to claim souls in Pranksylvania! You'll need to work extra hard during these periods to hang on to your coins, as the panic is hard to avoid!

There's a versus mode so that you can compete split-screen with a friend and a co-op mode that can be unlocked so you can both attack a level together, so it's worth finding someone to play along with! Some of the levels can be a bit tricky, and the camera is one of the games biggest flaws, as often your view will get totally obscured by the masses of people you've just pissed off by flattening them with a giant cheeseburger....

But these are minor niggles and it's all massive fun, and has that insane feel that only the Japanese developers can seem to get right! It's more or less exactly ten years old now, released in October 2004, and it's a shame that it's never quite had the following it it's the perfect time to seek it out and give it some love!

16 - Beetlejuice In ~ Skeletons In The Closet (PC):

Another game based on a cartoon version of a movie next, as we get to grips with old Beetle-bonce himself in this odd, old Hi-Tech DOS game from 1990. It's a fairly simple little game. You play as Beetlejuice and walk him round the screen shooting loogies at skeletons, which crumple to the ground for Lydia to hoover up the bones! 

Sandworms stick their heads up every now and again to try and eat you, so you have to avoid those, and sometimes Lydia gets trapped by the skeletons and put in a cage, so you'll have to rush up and free her from that predicament by collecting a lightning pick-up from a dead (re-dead?) skeleton. The skeletons drop a few other pick-ups too, like one that gives you the ability to fire your head at them instead of spit or multi-spit shots, etc.

Beetles crawl around that you can pick up to spell the word "TRUTH", and that acts as a smart bomb that kills all the enemies on screen at once. Once you complete a screen you move on to the next...and...uhm...well, that's it! I told you it was fairly simple! It does seem to get a bit trickier the further you progress, but there's nothing else to the game really!

Which is fair enough! It still manages to be quite addictive despite not having much to it and would actually be a great game for kids to play after watching an episode or two of the cartoon! It won't have you playing for hours upon hours though...