Digital Death (Part 2)

Level 2. In which I lean to smash every piece of art I find because there must be a key hidden within.

Towards the end of 1995 something crazy happened. O.J. Simpson was found not guilty! Also, the PlayStation came out. Whereas one of these things would be relegated to a trivia question, the other changed the world!!!! Okay, maybe not, but the PlayStation was the tits and since I was a spoiled brat, I got one for Christmas that year.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love my Genesis…or my Sega CD…or my 32X (what can I say, I was a Sega mark), but it just seemed like the right time to try something new. I was already familiar with this whole cd business thanks to the Sega CD, but, if you ever played that piece of crap, you’d know that what I knew wasn’t much.

One of the first games I got (besides Ridge Racer which came with the system if my memory serves me) was a little diddy with a somewhat odd title called…

Resident Evil (1996)

Alright folks, here it is, the big daddy of horror gaming. Don’t believe me? Ever heard the term ‘Survival Horror’? Yeah, that term was literally coined by Capcom (makers of the game) after RE hit the scene. To be fair, RE didn’t really invent the genre. Alone in the Dark, which featured similar gameplay mechanics did proceed it. But since almost nobody played that game (definitely nobody I knew anyway), RE gets all the credit.

The story finds some special agent types, called S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Service), investigating disturbing reports from the forested area surrounding Racoon City. It seems that there have been some recent attacks and the victims appear to have been…eaten! Anyway, the S.T.A.R.S. unit head out…and promptly crash their helicopter in the forest. Doing their best Harrison Ford impression, they casually walk away from the crash like it wasn’t shit. Unfortunately, the woods are teeming with zombie dogs. The zombie dogs, or zogs as I call them, force them to take refuge in a massive nearby mansion (The Spencer Mansion).

The game starts as soon as the doors close behind you. Character options are either Chris Redfield (sharp shooter and all-around panty dropper) or Jill Valentine (the master of unlock37472-Resident_Evil_[U]-7ing—no, really, she is actually called this in the game. It’s like, shit, I can unlock like a champ, maybe I can be a master of unlocking as well…). Depending on who you pick, the story changes slightly. If you go with Chris, you meet jail-bait Rebecca Chambers. Choose Jill and mouth-breather Barry comes running to your rescue suspiciously fast. He reminds me of that weird cousin who always tries the bathroom door just after you go in. It’s like, dude, we all know you’re just trying to see somebody naked.

No matter who you select, the real star of the game becomes quickly clear: the house. This place is a work of art. Exquisitely detailed rooms. Confusing, yet somehow brilliant, floor layouts. Secrets and mysteries hiding behind nearly every painting or statue. Continue reading

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Digital Death (Part 1)

Level 1. The time my 10 year old ass got rocked by a guy named Rick

Hey, know what I love? Horror video games! Seriously, I can’t get enough of them. Some of my all-time favourite horror stories have come in video game form. When done right, a video game can be the most immersive story you can experience. Don’t believe me? Imagine the scariest movie you’ve ever seen. Got it? Now instead of an hour and a half, make the story stretch for days (even weeks or months, depending how fast you play your games). On top of that, the story is completely interactive. You are not just along for the ride, you actually get to control the fate of the protagonist (to a degree).

Nothing beats a scary game. With that in mind, here are some of the ones that have left the biggest impression on me.

Splatterhouse (1990).

My cousins had a turbo Graphix 16 (I know! Lucky little bastards!). I was stuck with a broke ass Nintendo while they were rocking 16 bit graphics. The Nintendo had waaaaaay more games, but it didn’t have anything even remotely close to Splatterhouse. I could remember sitting on the carpet in front of their 20 inch television, watching glorious bodily mayhem explode across the screen.

Splatterhouse_arcadeflyerYou played as a hockey mask wearing, 2X4 swinging fellow by the name of Rick. Being a huge (HUGE!!!) Friday the 13th fan, I was already down with the guy based solely on his choice of facial armour, but then when I witnessed the first creature get spattered against a nearby wall Jackson Pollock style, I officially joined the Rick fan club.

Besides the gratuitous gore, what really stuck with me about this game was the setting. You had to traverse a house so haunted that it would have sent Father Merrin running for the hills. Every floor of this place was a nightmare. The best part was, none of it made sense. You would exit a room on one level…then come out into a cemetery on the next, and then walk into the attic after that. I really didn’t notice the odd-ball architecture as a kid, but yeah, The Winchester House wishes it was as weirdly designed as West Mansion in Splatterhouse. Continue reading