Monday, 31 October 2022

Neptune - 7 Lesser Spoooooky Saturn Games

 Happy Halloween, Saturn heads! On this final installment of the Month of Spooky Spooks, we're going to take a look at games that are not getting any real recommendations. Either the game's quality is rather subpar or their attempts at being scary fall flat. Either way, they're Saturn titles, so they at least get the minimum recommendation.

                                                                Deep Fear

Of course, we would see at least one Resident Evil clone on this list. There are those who enjoy this title and you can roll with that as far as it will go. I never found its creatures all that scary, nor did I ever feel any real atmospehere radiating from this title. The voice acting and glitchy graphics pretty much killed my immersion on that front.

                                                            Battle Monsters

If you told me that I could dress up in a Halloween costume and becone immortalized in video game form, I would be 100% on board! So, there's no judgment to the people posing as characters in this title. The game itself, oh yeah, plenty of judgment. The monsters aren't scary, the controls are horrific and you can win once you find that perfect spam attack. Go nuts.

                                                            Death Crimson

Probably the worst railshooter on the system, and probably worse than a lot of other genres on top of that. This game is notorious among old school gamers for some of the most terrifying graphics, atrocious hit detection and all around nauseating gameplay. So, if you looking for a bad game for Halloween, it's worth a look.

                                                            Alien Trilogy

Probably one of the least bad games on the list but still not really striking that horror chord. Alien simply made some levels, put aliens in it with some guns and called it a day. Okay, that's pretty harsh, but this title invokes more boredom than it does terror. It's an alright title, it just needed a bit more spice.

                                                                Horror Tour

You've probably never heard of this title and there are many reasons for that. For one thing, it was released only in Japan. For another, it can hardly be considered a game because there's really no gameplay to speak of. Like the name suggests, it's more of a point and click site seeing tour around a gothic castle. There's some talking paintings, some big spiders here and there and there's a witch that speaks Japanese. Beyond that, there's not much. But it's SPOOOOOOOKYYYYY!

                                                Alone in the Dark 2: Jack is Back

A recent addition to my entourage of games. This one is just bad. I dare say you pretty much need to learn fire is hot by getting constantly burned here. You die in pretty much every scene because without knowing what's happening, things can kill you from off screen because of the sluggish tank controls and slow movements in general. The game is boring, but as stated earlier, giving zombies tommy guns is quite the novelty.

                                                                    Casper

Movie tie-in games are thankfully a thing of the past but they did have their gems. This was not one of them. It is immensely boring. Floating around the house as a ghost who can't fly through walls, you will be hard pressed to figure out the control scheme and apply it in an effective manner. The ghostly trio lack any of their jerk charms from the movie and Casper is just as dull as ever. Good luck getting a remake.


So, there you have it. Halloween is here at the time of writing but it is time now to wait for next year's Month of Saturn Spookiness. No matter what day it is, it is time to plan for the next year. Halloween is the best time of the year for a lot of reasons and this is no exception. Remember to stay safe, enjoy the season, stay with family and friends and drink zombies.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

D and D2 - Nonsense Transformations

It certainly seems like I take pleasure in comparing D to other games. Well, in the Month of SPOOOOOOOOOKIIIIIIIIIIness, I wanted to analyze it next to a game that many have considered superior. Get ready for a hot take this Halloween season.

Just to quickly recap, I love the first D, even though the title is Dreadful. See what I did there? ... I'll see myself out. But no, I really hate the title. Trying to look this game up on a search engine is an experience all its own. Still, the gameplay, the atmosphere, and the slow, creepy pace that you go at, it all comes up as a heartpounding experience with the lights out and the house empty. It's a short game, usually around an hour and a half if you know what you're doing. 

D2, on the other hand is a complicated matter in itself. The real problem is that there was almost no attempt to pin it with the first game and what attempt there is is lost in an entire barrage of cringeworthy plant transformations and... uhhh zombie... things. It really seems like they didn't make any attempt toward setting the same unsettling atmosphere. They seemed more intetested in adding combat and item pickups for health and stats.

It's obvious from the get go that they wanted a Resident Evil clone to piggyback on the success. The problem is that D already had its own strengths to draw upon and its own lore to expand upon. Instead of visiting a nightmarish world of haunted interiors, we get a snowy thundra and random encounters while wielding a semiautomatic weapon. In and of itself, this wouldn't be a problem, but this is D we're talking about.

What once was a puzzle solver is now a knockoff game that tries at the very least. Some of the mechanics are okay but most of the time, they end up adding nothing and taking away from the solid identity it started with.

You could have gone so much more in depth with the character study aspect of the first game. The idea of going into the mind of a psychotic killer had all of the potential and they drew upon that so well in the first game. They could have built upon that way better with a bigger budget but decided to mine gold where everyone else was already mining and some were doing it better.

Think about another two characters. They could have been family members or one could have been a victim of the maniacal other and something similar could have happened. Think about going through a larger mind palace with different themes and different horrors to face with your wits and quick reflexes. D2 did none of this.

What the sequel did was less than stellar. It was not an outright bad game, but it also did very little with its own concept. The part where you shoot the gun at the creatures was clunky, despite the fact that it was implemented in a more experimental way. It shows that they were trying and it was admittedly better than trying to shoot with tank controls.

There was some potential here that seems flat out untapped and that's a real shame. It would have been nice to have a sequel that delved into the idea that the first D had. While D2 wasn't a total failure (it does have its fans), I can't help but feel an overlying sense of disappointment. I never played the third or fourth game but I've heard I'm not missing a lot. If you're a fan of D2, believe me when I say that I don't hate it. I just wished for a bit less Resident Evil and a lot more Dread.

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Neptune - 7 Spooooky Saturn Games


When you think of scary video games, you probably wouldn't look back to the 32-bit era. Whether it be the lesser quality of graphics or the overarching tone, a lot of people pass this off as nothing special. Do not listen to them.

There is a lot to love in terms of dark tones when it comes to the Saturn. Here in the Month of SpoooooooOOOOoooooooooOOOOOOoOoOkiness, we'll be looking at such games. Not all of these will be games that are meant to outright frighten you. Some of these are simply games that have interesting monster designs or a tone that fits the horror genre. I do solidly believe that some of these are genuinely devoted to a creep factor. These games are not in any real order, hence why none of them are numbered. Now that we've got that out of the way, on with the virtua blood!


                                                                         House of the Dead

We start things off with an action railshooter! It is not especially scary in its setup, but it genuinely has some terrible monsters in it. We're not just talking about zombies, either. These range from swamp beasts made of algae, undead piranhas and armored monsters made of sludge cream filling. The flavors of monsters range far and wide and you will be hard pressed to count how many different types there are. How scary is it? Well, not especially scary, all things considered. It does have that wonderful atmosphere, though and it makes up for a lot of that with gore! Shoot these monsters apart with a hand gun and watch their chunks fly! Just try not to shoot innocent people, that's not the kind of gore we're supposed to have.

                                                                         Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Another entry in the action genre, this time for a platformer. Anything from skeletons to strange flower monsters spitting acid are on display here. The bosses are especially horrific! The very first one you fight is Dracula in a formless, horrific transformation! This is another title with such a wide range of monsters and ghosts, that your horror quota will be met in just a few hours of playing, whatever that quota may be. There are even monsters here that either have no classification or just flat out doesn't matter because they'll eat your face anyway! The castle is full of heinous beasts and you must kill the lot of them. Oh, crap, they respawned. Now, do it again!

                                                                                         D

Cutting right to the heart of the matter, D encapsulates the genre of horror to its max level. Get yourself in a dark room with this game in the forefront and there is a very good chance that you will at least feel some unsettling vibes. While it may be light on the monsters, it certainly fits every bill when it comes to atmosphere. There is still a lot to look at and the place you're in still feels haunted as all hell. D is an all around fun time and it is short enough for you to play on Halloween if you're looking for something to do.

                                                                                        Doom

That's right, I said it and I'm not taking it back. Doom is a game for any day and Halloween welcomes it with open arms. With such a large array of demons to squash, how could you not add it among the ranks of horrific titles? It doesn't have the creep factor unless you find yourself in a dark area with imps and cacodemons creeping within. There's enough blood here to fill a lake and the river that runs through it. It's horror, alright. It's just the type of horror you can pump a shotgun at.

                                                                                   Quake

If we have Doom, we may as well have this gib-soaked title. It may have guns and explosions, but there's also a vast number of monsters throughout. Not only the monsters, but also the atmosphere and the sinister tones that the setting enhances just spells out that Lovecraftian, gothic vibe that let's you settle into it and rocket jump straight into its face! Just look 

                                                                                  Resident Evil

The first game to coin the phrase "Survival Horror" and for good reason. BioHazard has got to be one of the most influential titles to come out of the horror gaming genre. It has enough clones and copycats as such. It is known to the rest of the world for its zombies but it sports a number of different creatures both of its own making and ones you would see around the genre. You could be fighting a Licker, sure, but you could also be fighting a giant spider! Its list of terrifying crratures knows no bounds!

                                                                                     Hexen

With dark castles, monsters at every turn and a gothic fantasy atmosphere, you better believe this title belongs here. Hexen is a very challenging game, don't you doubt, but the level design and aesthetics make it look so sinister, especially with two headed brutes and winged flame creatures flying overhead. There is a darkness to this game that is fun to explore. Just try not to get gored by giant lizards.


Now, you may be wondering why you don't see titles such as Deep Fear or Battle Monsters. Well, those games are going on a different list. I simply need to work out the details of said list. Until then, these are the games I would suggest for a night in with either yourself or some friends to enjoy. "Enjoy" being the key word here. Don't worry about such menial details as to why Horror Tour isn't included here. Oh who am I kidding, you're not wondering that. Virtua Boo!

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

On the TitanCast: Kenji Eno's Legendary D with Derek Alexander of Stop Skeletons From Fighting

 

Greetings Junkies!

The Halloween season is upon us and Stop Skeletons From Fighting's Derek Alexander joins the TitanCast crew for a D-lightful retrospective deep dive into Warp and Kenji Eno's cinematic horror adventure game, D.

Help us wallow in the spooky spirit as we vibe in Kenji Eno’s brain castle!

Now playing on a podcast app near you, including:

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Listen on Spotify
Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Player FM

Listen on Buzzsprout
(Host site w/ more app links)

Referenced links:

Stop Skeletons from Fighting

SSFF's Patreon, including Stop Skeletons From Podcasting episodes | https://www.patreon.com/StopSkeletonsFromFighting

SSFF's Kenji Eno Past Mortem video | https://youtu.be/i3TrfyNTcB8

SSFF on Twitter | @stopskeletons


Nuno's book via Editorial DivergĂȘnci (publisher site)

Book page: Pela Cabeca do Rei Volume


The Virtua Planet (Brian's blog)

Main page | https://thevirtuaplanet.com/

"The Bouncer: Square's Cutscene 'Em Up Sandwich" | 

http://thevirtuaplanet.com/2022/10/04/the-bouncer-squares-cutscene-em-up-sandwich/


TitanCast Episode 29 -- The Yakuza: Like a Dragoncast with Kinsey Burke and KC RadioMan https://thesaturnjunkyard.blogspot.com/2021/03/yakuzalikeadragoncast.html


Host links

Brian's Twitter (@VirtuaSchlub)

Camron's Instagram (@Tsundain)

Sam's Twitter (@SMylesDrew)


Junkyard links

Saturn Junkyard website/blog

Saturn Junkyard YouTube channel

Saturn Junkyard Twitch channel

SJY Facebook community

SJY Twitter (@SaturnJunkyard)

The Dreamcast Junkyard website/blog (sister site)

The Dreamcast Junkyard's Dreampod podcast



Friday, 7 October 2022

Alone in the Dark 2 - Jack's Heart Attack


We continue our month of SpoooooOOOOOOOOOOKY CRISPS with this very obscure, strange title for the Saturn. Even for Survival Horror standards, this game is very strange. In fact, before this review, I had no idea this game even existed. Obviously, Alone in the Dark had sequels, but I had never even looked into them and this one hasn't come up in any of the conversations when talking about survival horror games. 

Total transparency here, I used a game walkthrough and I did not finish it. Every single element on display here was beyond terribly implemented. The controls are the worst of all. Not only are they tank controls, but they require you to fight zombies with tommy guns. Sounds awesome, right? No, it's really not. The only thing good about it is that it's funny and random. Actually fighting the three you encounter at the start of the game is jarring. You need to figure out these controls and that takes time you do not have when a zombie is using a bullet typewriter in close proximity to your face. 

Figuring out the button combinations and taking aim in multiple points of view is just a terrible way to learn. The controls are absolutely atrocious to begin with as they are the most awkward buttons to find and impliment in the game. Not only that, but finding out what to do in the game, objects to use and secret passages is another gigantic pain in the zombie rear! Figuring out these puzzles and getting ambushed at random points gets really old really fast. 

No matter where you go or what you do, you will die. Fighting in this game is so difficult with everything on display. Not only do the controls make it impossible to master, but you move so slowly. Every single time you run into a challenge, get ready to spend ten minutes trying to figure out how to get by it.

On top of everything, the graphics are about what you expect from Alone in the Dark, in fact, they are just about the same. They are just about as bad as they were in the original. The Saturn graphics on top of it are about the most charming thing you're going to get with this. 

Elements such as story, characters, setting and any connection to the first game, all of that went to the wayside. There's so little to focus on other than trying not to die, that you may as well consider each encounter a minigame. Trying to look at this game as a full entity is so daunting, you'll probably want to give up.

If this game had better controls and better mechanics with a little less of a cryptic nature, it could have been a nice little gem of a game. As it stands, though, this game even makes zombies toting guns boring. It is a dullfest that doesn't even attempt to scare you. That's really saying something when there are some genuinely creepy 32-bit games, despite what you might hear from these youngins today. Yes, I know I sound old, but who cares! That just means I'm getting ready to haunt your virtua dreams!  

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Corpse Killer - Dead Inside Edition

Happy Halloween, Saturn heads! It's time for another review! This is our first review in the MONTH OF SATURN SPOOooOooOOooOOOOKIES! Get ready for some real horror! And I do mean horror because this game is horrible! So, just sit back, relax, and at least act scared.

It is no secret that Full Motion Video is the smooch of death for 99% of games "graced" with its presence. Myst still has a fanbase, but anyone will tell you that the acting in the game's FMV segments are so terrible they're great. The bad acting is infamous in these terrible parts of games. Developers normally just stepped in and did the acting themselves to nightmarish effect. Then you've got games that actually got Z-List movie actors in their games. Yeah, that's what Corpse Killer did. You would think this would improve the acting to some degree, but you would be very, very wrong. In fact, to some degree, it's somehow even worse. 

Among this cast of actors, they got the late Vincent Shiavelli, who actually has quite the long filmography, although most of it is about as low grade as you would expect. He is seen through a lot of this game and his scenes are a master class of bad. He fits right in with the rest of these performers and WOW there is a lot to unpack here. These cut scenes are very hard to watch. You will cringe your face into another dimension and you won't need Vegeta to do it (if you get that reference, you're officially in the cool club). It's obvious that these are all first takes unless something catastrophic occurred. The game developers should have worked a few more takes into the budget, because even the ZOMBIES are over acting here. 

That's just the FMV cut scenes! Believe it or not, all of it is technically full motion video! The characters in the gameplay scenes are still real people, they are simply cut outs that are slapped onto the background. They run toward you in a VERY unconvincing way while you shoot the screen with an ever shooting machine gun. You shoot the cheap looking zombies and they make stock screaming noises in an ever revolving loop. 

The zombies are just people in cheap makeup. Some of them just have regular clothes on and some of them look so cheap, the devs may as well have just reached through the screen and slapped you to kill your immersion. This is beyond awful! 

The game is also ridiculously easy almost 90% through it. Then the difficulty spikes to levels beyond reckoning. Lulling you into a coma only to inject this level of suck is a bit of a jerk move. Seriously, you would be hard pressed to stay conscious amid the constant gunfire, weird screams and terrible cutscenes. There are different types of ammo, explosives and a couple of other things to try and spice things up. Guess how well it works. Go on, guess...

Anyway, this is one of the worst games on the Sega Saturn or any of the other systems it was on upon its original release. There's a label on the Graveyard Edition that says it's one of the top 20 games of the year. This is a blatant lie and I'd be surprised if they didn't get sued for false advertising. You may notice this game was on both of my top worst Saturn games lists. It's pretty obvious why FMV's didn't really stand the test of time and after the fifth generation of games, they became more and more scarce. Thank GOD! If you really want to play this game out of morbid curiosity, it is available on Steam at the time of this article's writing. By all means, it's Halloween and the terrible nature of this game is quite scary. Have a ball and make it spooooooooky!