The Video Game Critic's
Halloween Review Special
Part 3 of 5Updated 2017/10/21
The Critic's "Fright Factor" ratings:Child's play "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
Creepy "I see dead people."
Unnerving "That cold ain't the weather. That's death approaching."
Intense "I know you're there Tina. Because I can smell your brains."
Terrifying "It’s Alive! It’s Alive!"
Unbearable "No tears please, it's a waste of good suffering."
Dark Seed (Japan) (Cyberdreams 1993) C-
D (Acclaim 1995) B-
D is a bone-chilling, spine-tingling first-person adventure where you control a woman wandering around a huge mansion attempting to discover what happened to her father. This game is unique because it's played in real time, and it ends exactly after two hours after you start playing, unless you finish it, of course. You can't even pause or save your place, so make sure you have two hours free before you undertake this intense adventure. The plodding pace made me impatient at first, but I soon got caught up in the creepy atmosphere. D is effectively frightening and has some genuinely intense moments. Chilling sound effects and ominous music are used effectively, and the first person graphics, although somewhat grainy, are good enough to immerse you in this dark world. Movement is smooth but also very SLOW - slow enough to make retracing your steps feel tedious. Fortunately the puzzles tend to be straight forward, so you won't get stuck in any room for too long. Your character automatically moves toward vital objects, and there are no red herrings to be found. Unfortunately, by the time you get to disk 2, the slow movement and endless puzzles start to get tiresome. The replay value is gravely wounded by the fact that you can never skip the cinematics, which are often lengthy and annoying. But overall D is a spooky and worthwhile trip, at least the first time through.
House of the Dead, The (Sega 1998) B
Corpse Killer: Graveyard Edition (Digital Pictures 1994) D+
Mr. Bones (Sega 1996) A-
Mr. Bones is a collection of high quality mini-games sandwiched between some extremely impressive full motion video (FMV) clips. You control a skeleton named Mr. Bones who was formerly a blues musician. He is pursued by an army of skeletons under the spell of an evil wizard. The video clips that convey the storyline are the most impressive I've seen on the Saturn, seamlessly combining live actors and computer animation. I'm pretty jaded when it comes to FMV, but these clips held my attention. The levels themselves range from typical side scrolling mayhem to some of the most original concepts I've ever seen in a video game. Some of the more unique stages include playing a guitar (cool!), playing drums, telling jokes (seriously), gliding through a huge cathedral, fighting a skeletal T-Rex, and saving a village of little people from spiders (their high-pitched screams are hilarious). In most stages, hits will cause you to actually "lose" bones, forcing you to crawl around with no legs, or hop on your spine! Although no single level here could stand on its own, it's evident that a tremendous amount of thought and effort was put into each one. The graphics are sensational, and the sound effects and music are equally impressive. If Mr. Bones has a fault, it's the difficulty level. Just making it through the first level is entirely too hard. Also, the jumping control could be more responsive at times. But overall, Mr. Bones is an amazing piece of work.
Crypt Killer (Konami 1997) C-
Sony Playstation Games
Echo Night (Agetec 1999) B-
Jersey Devil (Sony 1998) B-
Clock Tower (Ascii 1997) B-
Clock Tower 2 (Agetec 1998) B-
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Konami 1997) A-
Castlevania Chronicles (Konami 2001) C+
Once again Konami has brought Castlevania back to the Playstation, this time in the form of a late-80's Japanese PC title. Compared to Symphony of the Night, Chronicles is simpler and decidedly more old-school. There's no separate screen to juggle your items, and the sound effects are tinny, as you might expect from an old PC game. The graphics however are remarkably good, with high-resolution monsters and interesting background animations. The control is a little stiff, and there are a few annoyances including "instant death" falls and irritating bats. Even so, Castlevania fans will relish this long-lost gem. An interview with the game's producer is also included.
Crypt Killer (Konami 1997) C-
MediEvil (Sony 1998) A-
Clearly inspired by Ghouls 'N Ghosts (Genesis, 1989) and The Nightmare Before Christmas, MediEvil puts you in the role of a lanky, partially-decomposed knight. The first few graveyard levels are your standard hack-and-slash variety, but as the game progresses, you discover a nice variety of weapons, missions, and ghouls to hack up. The difficulty is fair, the humor is good, and the game becomes more entertaining as you progress. MediEvil's graphics are particularly interesting, especially in later levels where you explore a asylum and a pirate ship. Stick with MediEvil through its tedious early levels and you will be rewarded.
Nightmare Creatures (Activision 1997) B
I really enjoyed Nightmare Creatures, if only on the strength of its creepy atmosphere. This game is right up there with Resident Evil when it comes to creating a tense atmosphere straight out of an old horror movie. Its stages tend to be dark and foggy with old, decrepit buildings. Zombies rise from their graves and werewolves leap out of the darkness. There's plenty of fun to be had as you battle weird creatures and large bosses. Unfortunately, the frantic action is marred by an overly-complex control scheme which is condusive to mindless button pushing. Nightmare Creatures is no classic, but it's a certainly good Halloween game.
Resident Evil (Capcom 1996) A
Resident Evil 2 (Capcom 1998) A
This second chapter of the Resident Evil saga expands the scope of the original in a number of ways. This time the entire town of Raccoon City is a burning disaster area overrun by zombies. Spread across two disks, Resident Evil 2 offers multiple missions and two playable characters. The graphics have been refined, and the ferocious new bosses include a giant alligator lurking in the sewers. While the premise might suggest a free-roaming game experience, in fact your movements through the streets are heavily constrained by cars and burning wreckage. Most of the action actually takes place inside of public buildings including a large police station. There's one particularly startling sequence in the station involving a mirror that scared the living hell out of me! Despite being a bigger adventure, the gameplay follows the same winning formula as the original, with thoughtful puzzles and intense monster encounters. As a terrific sequel that remains true to the original formula, many fans consider Resident Evil 2 to be the pinnacle of the series.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (Capcom 1999) B+
The first Resident Evil (RE) set the standard for survivor horror, and RE2 expanded its scope from a single mansion to an entire town. In some ways, this third chapter feels like Resident Evil 2.5, since it takes place in the same burning city and even reuses some locations (notably the police station). Despite a strong sense of deja vu, it's hard to beat the tried-and-true Resident Evil gameplay, with its awesome pre-rendered scenery, interesting puzzles, and jump-out-of-your-seat scares. The main character, Jill Valentine, looks seriously hot running around in her boots and miniskirt. But the real star of the game is a hulking boss named "Nemesis" who keeps coming back much like Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. He's pretty scary, especially when you're limping around with that ugly bastard hot on your heels. Since Nemesis loves to sneak up on you and can crash the party at any moment, the intensity level is always high. The improved control scheme offers a quick turn-around move, a dodge, and a nice auto-aim mechanism. Other new features include the ability to manufacture different types of ammo (about as fun as "mixing plants"), and new "decision points" that can slightly alter the branch of the story. Resident Evil 3 feels awfully familiar, but those who can't get enough of the series will appreciate this well-designed third chapter.
Resident Evil Survivor (Capcom 2000) F
Survivor is such a monumental disappointment, it probably doesn't even deserve to bear the Resident Evil name. Previously Resident Evil (RE) games had always been played from a third-person perspective, but over the years rumors were swirling about a first-person version. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but this piece of garbage feels like a low-budget throw-away project. Survivor's 3D-rendered graphics are extremely blocky and pixelated, and the scenery is marred by unsightly seams and glitches. The audio is completely recycled from past RE games, but it's the control that really drags Survivor down. You can't strafe, and turning is painfully slow. Targeting zombies involves moving a clumsy crosshair around the screen, and you can't even tilt down far enough to hit creatures chomping on your legs! The need to explore is eliminated by the "quick search" button which automatically zooms in on any useful objects in a room. Likewise, objects in your possession are automatically used when needed, eliminating the need to think. Survivor is a linear experience with a lot of "find the key, open the door" puzzles. All that's left is constant shooting at monsters, which is surprisingly lame. Adding insult to injury, the load screens are frequent and you can't even save your progress! Clearly, Survivor was ill-advised and should have never seen the light of day.
Silent Hill (Konami 2000) A
Silent Hill begins by flashing a disclaimer about the game's graphic violence and disturbing scenes. It's certainly warranted, because this survival horror classic sends chills down my spine and makes my blood run cold. If Resident Evil is the Night of the Living Dead of video games, then Silent Hill is the Exorcist. The opening cinematic depicts a car crash, followed by a father's desperate search for his daughter in a nearby deserted town. With moody lighting and amazing audio, Silent Hill creates the most intense atmosphere I've ever experienced in a video game. You view your character from behind (like Tomb Raider), and the camera swings around to capture the most dramatic viewing angles. The creatures you encounter are weird and unsettling, and the line between fantasy and reality is constantly blurred as you navigate a surreal, ever-changing world. For much of the game you explore pitch-dark rooms with the help of a flashlight, and your limited visibility really adds to the tension. But the scariest aspect of Silent Hill is its eerie sound effects that increase in volume as danger approaches, heightening your sense of paranoia. The tension can reach unbearable proportions, making it difficult to play the game alone or with the lights out. There are plenty of "find the key" puzzles, but they tend to be more thought-provoking than frustrating. I found myself slowly drawn into the game even as I became more and more anxious. Silent Hill is a legitimate classic, and perhaps the most terrifying video game ever made.
Muppet Monster Adventure (Psygnosis 2000) A-
Nintendo 64 Games
Resident Evil 2 (Capcom 1998) A
Castlevania (Konami 1999) B-
Castlevania's transition to 3D was a little bumpy, but it's still a very respectable game (despite what most critics say). In the proud tradition of the series, the game features a vampire hunter storyline, better-than-average graphics, and haunting orchestrated music. You'll battle monsters with your whip, hit torches to reveal items, and make death-defying leaps. Castlevania gets off to a rip-roaring start in a forest outside of Dracula's Castle, where a violent thunderstorm knocks down giant trees in your path. Skeletons crawl out of the ground, and it's crazy fun to snap their heads off with your whip. The first boss appears unexpectedly behind the first gate, and his appearance is startling. He looks like the skeleton of King Kong, running around like a giant ape! It's pretty scary. Castlevania's gameplay drew me in immediately, but my enthusiasm waned as I was forced to deal with poor camera angles, deadly water, and control problems (especially around ledges). Your enemies are the usual suspects of skeletons and werewolves, but there are some bizarre surprises like skeletons on motorcycles. There's a lot of game packed into this cartridge, and Castlevania fans should at least give it a chance.
Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness (Konami 1999) B-
The Ring: Terror's Realm (Infogrames 2000) D-
Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare (Infogrames 2001) D
House of the Dead 2 (Sega 1999) A
Nightmare Creatures II (Konami 2000) C+
Resident Evil: Code Veronica (Capcom 2000) A
D2 (Sega 2001) C
Zombie Revenge (Sega 1999) C+
Zombie Revenge plays like a third-person House of the Dead, with one or two players fighting zombies and plant monsters in factories and sewers. The generic name is fitting, because Sega clearly didn't put a lot of thought or effort into this title. Still, I like its arcade-style mayhem, which combines fast-paced action with well-defined visuals and crisp controls. In addition to shotguns and machine guns, your weapon selection includes a devastating flamethrower and massive drill. When you run out of ammo (a rare occasion, trust me), don't lose heart because your punches deal as much damage as bullets! The shambling zombies look pretty standard, but I have to give some of these bosses props for being so morbidly grotesque. At its best, Zombie Revenge feels like a 3D Streets of Rage, especially with two players fighting side-by-side. Enjoy it while it lasts, because the ride is short and very linear. There may be a few hidden rooms to discover, but the main route is always the same. Extra modes include "boss battle" and "training", but the only one I found worthwhile was the "original" mode, which offers a remix of the standard arcade mode. Two VMU games are also included (Zombie Fishing and a memory game), but these won't hold your attention for long. Sega should have added more meat to the main game, but Zombie Revenge is still good for some quick, lightweight fun.
Rating: Mature (17+) Animated blood, gore, violence
Evil Dead: Hail to the King (THQ 2000) D
Illbleed (AIA 2000) B
Part 1: Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Intellivision, Odyssey 2, Colecovision, Commodore 64, NES, Atari 7800, Atari XE, Sega Master System
Part 2: Turbografx-16, Genesis, Neo Geo, SNES, Sega CD, Sega 32X, 3DO, Philips CD-i
Part 3: Saturn, Playstation, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast
Part 4: Playstation 2, GameCube, Xbox
Part 5: Xbox 360, Wii, Playstation 3, Wii U, Xbox One, Playstation 4