Support Us!
Powered by
Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

25 Years of PlayStation: Eleven Lesser-Known Horror Games from the Original System

Video games changed forever in North America on September 9, 1995 when Sony released the PlayStation. The console would go on to redefine the industry, selling over 100 million units in its lifetime, and bringing fans classic franchises, with many still going strong today. But hey, you already know about the Metal Gears, the Silent Hills and the Resident Evils.

What about the other games that don’t get the love? Well, rather than do a list of all of the games every horror gamer should know, love and experience (because everyone else is doing those), we’ve put together a list of some of the lesser known horror titles in the PlayStation’s library. Some are good, some are great, while others are certainly here for curiosity’s sake.

Nightmare Creatures (Activision, 1997) –

In 1666, a devil-worshipping cult called the Brotherhood of Hecate, with plans to take over London and eventually the world, attempted to develop an elixir that would grant them superhuman powers. However, the experiments resulted in the creation of grotesque monsters. Realizing what they’ve done, one of their members, Samuel Pepys, set their headquarters on fire, resulting in the First Great Fire of London. Moving forward to 1834, occult scientist Adam Crowley enlists the help of the Brotherhood in order to take over London. It’s up to renowned American immunologist Dr. Jean Franciscus and his daughter Nadia to stop Crowley and the Brotherhood.

Likened to a mix of Tomb Raider and Resident Evil, Nightmare Creatures certainly looks good for the time, but sadly fell short of coming close to its inspirations. The main gameplay mechanic of having an adrenaline meter that requires you to constantly seek out and battle monsters (otherwise your health starts to suffer) is interesting, but is ultimately hampered by jumping puzzles that require time that you simply don’t have, and sluggish controls that will have you on the wrong side of a werewolf attack. With an erratic camera that makes combat even more frustrating, Nightmare Creatures wastes an interesting premise that quickly becomes a chore.

OverBlood (Electronic Arts, 1997) –

A team of scientists at Lystra Laboratories have been conducting genetic experiments. One subject, Raz Karcy, awakens from a cryogenic container with no memory. More urgently, his right arm seems infected by a strange, painful infection that keeps on spreading. Raz must now not only uncover the mystery of just who he is and his involvement in the facility’s experiments, but also escape the facility in time.

Another game that was given the Resident Evil comparison, OverBlood relies more on atmosphere in its storytelling, puzzles and exploring rather than actual action. It was an unfair comparison, though admittedly, OverBlood does limit itself as a result. OverBlood is also rough in the combat and the animation department, but thankfully for the former, you don’t have much in the way of enemies. The game can be likened more to something like Out of This World than traditional Survival Horror fare, which should tell you whether or not you’d be up for playing this one. It’s definitely more of a “one and done” curiosity, as there’s nothing to get you coming back.

Castlevania Chronicles (Konami, 2001) –

In this port of the version developed for the Sharp X68000 home computer in 1993 (which in turn was a remake of the NES original), players assume the role of Simon Belmont, who must travel to Castlevania in order to defeat Count Dracula. This remake expands upon the original game, adding new areas to levels, as well as new levels entirely.

One of the hardest Castlevania games, Chronicles’ difficulty comes in its deliberate and thoughtful level design. Simon does get a few new abilities to compensate, including being able to change direction during his jump, and the ability to whip downwards while jumping. He loses his directional whipping from Super Castlevania IV, however. In addition to the unretouched original X6800 version, Konami also included a remixed “Arrange Mode” that comes complete with new graphics and music. Released with a budget price, this garners collector prices on eBay. It’s worth it for Castlevania fans who are looking for more of a traditional Castlevania challenge that wasn’t found in Symphony.

Martian Gothic: Unification (Take-Two Interactive, 2001) –

A team of three investigators has been sent from Earth to a Martian base called Vita-01, the first human settlement on Mars. The team has been sent to examine why Vita-01 has been silent for ten months. After crash landing on the Martian surface, the team discovers that the base is filled with corpses, many of which are frozen solid despite the temperature of Vita-01 being at a comfortable temperature. What follows is the discovery that the base unknowingly unleashed an ancient evil.

We’d covered this hidden gem a few years back, and it still rings true with what was said. Sporting some excellent end-of-life graphics for the PS1 and a clever use of the multiple character mechanic, Martian Gothic‘s story is its greatest strength. Each character has a distinct personality, and the sheer amount of world-building and lore is absolute brain candy. There are admittedly some annoying puzzles (due to the limited inventory space), but you can let that slide when the sheer amount of effort (and on a budget no less) went in to the atmosphere of this game. With developer Creative Reality sadly having to close up shop after the game’s release, you owe it to them to check this game out.

Clock Tower (Human Entertainment, 1997) –

After the events of the original game (also named Clock Tower), Jennifer Simpson, the survivor of the first game, is adopted by Helen Maxwell, an assistant professor of criminal psychology in Oslo, Norway. Jennifer begins undergoing treatment at a university research building in order to learn more about the Scissorman murder case at Barrows Mansion and help her cope with her trauma. Over a year later, reports of the Scissorman returning to his rampage prompts Helen to investigate and find a way to put an end to the killer.

Whereas the original game took place in the Barrows Mansion, Clock Tower has players guiding either Helen or Jennifer through three out of four possible scenarios using the same point-and-click interface. The game is therefore slower than the action-oriented affair many gamers expected at the time. That doesn’t stop the game from being scary, as Scissorman can appear at any time, keeping you on your toes. There are moments where you can fight back to temporarily cause Scissorman to go away. But for the most part, you’re left to resort to hiding, hoping he won’t find you, or running. Running will cause your stamina to decrease, however, so you you’ve got to be smart about it.

For whatever reason, the voice-acting is worse than Resident Evil. Oddly enough, the Japanese version also features English voice-acting (much better voice-acting, mind you), but this was re-recorded for the North American release. The switch to 3D does away with the detailed sprites, but does allow for more dynamic camera angles. While on the short side, the game is still enjoyable, and allows for replays due to the multiple scenarios and endings. It garners a hefty price from collectors, so keep that in mind.

Hellboy: Asylum Seeker (Dreamcatcher Interactive, 2003) –

Originally released as Hellboy: Dogs of the Night for PC, Asylum Seeker casts you as Hellboy, a half-demon summoned by Nazi occultists during World War II. Hellboy and his partner Sarah from the B.P.R.D. receive a distress call that leads them to an asylum where bad things have gone down. The two are promptly separated, and Hellboy must now find Sarah while also dealing with what’s gone down at the asylum.

You’ll never guess what Asylum Seeker tries to emulate. Unfortunately, it does it poorly, along with everything else. The terrible tank controls are made all the more frustrating thanks to the awful camera, making things like shooting a nightmare. It’s far more effective to punch enemies, although for some reason, Hellboy resorts to only using his stone hand for the finality of a three hit combo, rather than using it right off the bat. The graphics are dated for a 2003 release (yes, you read that right), though there is some variation in the environments to some extent. The puzzles are a chore to solve, since unlike Resident Evil, you receive no hints whatsoever for solutions. There’s also no map, so have fun trying to navigate the sewer maze.

Original developer Cryo Interactive went under after the original PC release, leaving Dreamcatcher Interactive to put this one out just in time for Hellboy’s film debut. And yes, the PlayStation 2 was already out by this time. Avoid.

Alien Resurrection (Fox Interactive, 2000) –

Based on the film, Resurrection takes place years after the events of Alien 3, and follows a cloned Lt. Ellen Ripley waking aboard the USM Auriga, only to find it infected with xenomorphs. Together with a group of three mercenaries – Call, DiStephano and Christie – the team must wipe out the Xenomorphs, and return the ship safely to Earth.

Don’t let the fact that Alien Resurrection (the film) was “questionable” sway you from this one. Nor the fact that this game came out three years after the film’s release. Developer Argonaut Studios not only crafted an atmospheric and scary shooter, but also created the now-standard twin-stick control scheme for first-person shooters. Oddly, upon release, the game was criticized for using this control method, but when Halo came around, critics went ga-ga for the exact same control setup. Resurrection drips with atmosphere in both visuals and audio, again belying the PlayStation hardware that was supposedly on its way out by this point. The game is punishing in the difficulty and scarcity of ammo, but it’s also about learning to deal with enemies through experience, rather than going in guns blazing. Between this game and the equally-hard but extremely fun Alien Trilogy, Alien fans were covered on the PlayStation.

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (Crystal Dynamics, 1996) –

In the land of Nosgoth, a nobleman named Kane is betrayed and murdered. Offered a chance of revenge by Mortanius the Necromancer, Kane agrees and is turned into a vampire and sets about his quest for vengeance. His quest leads him to the Pillars of Nosgoth, where he is instructed to destroy the Circle of Nine, the guardians responsible for maintaining order in the land, before he can realize peace.

Before Soul Reaver, there was Blood Omen. Sadly, due to the lackluster crop of recent games, this series hasn’t seen a new entry since 2003 (or 2014, if you count the spin-off MMO bomb that was Nosgoth). That’s a shame, since Blood Omen is not only rich in lore and story, but it’s also a damn fine Zelda-esque RPG for the PlayStation. Plus, the game took the then-unusual route of putting the player in the shoes of an anti-hero protagonist, who could either choose to save the world or condemn it. Gameplay-wise, you had to contend with the usual problems of being a vampire (sunlight, rain, etc), but you also had cool powers and weapons at your disposal. Definitely one to seek out if you love your RPGs bursting at the seams with world-building (and you love being the bad guy).

Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (Infogrames, 2001) –

Longtime protagonist Edward Carnby is investigating the death of his best friend and partner, Charles Fiske. Carnby’s investigation leads him to Frederick Johnson, who informs him of Fiske’s search for three ancient tablets with the ability to unlock an incredible and dangerous power. Persuaded to continue Fiske’s investigation, Carnby accepts. Joined by Aline Cedrac, a young university professor, Carnby’s mission takes him to Shadow Island in search of the truth.

The granddaddy of Survival Horror (but not the first), Alone in The Dark was resurrected after seven years for the PlayStation, though it’s separate from the canon of the previous games. Slower-paced than Resident Evil, AiTD is nonetheless still creepy with its environments and ominous music. The game also sports two different storylines with Edward and Aline that are quite solid, while the puzzles are well thought out, and the voice acting is pretty decent. The controls are unfortunately clunkier than RE, and the AI isn’t quite as smart as one would hope. Still, Infrogrames makes up for it with the mood and presentation. Definitely one to hunt down if you love Survival Horror.

Doom (id Software, 1995) –

You know the story here: You are a nameless space marine posted to Mars. The space marines act as security for the Union Aerospace Corporation’s radioactive waste facilities, which are used by the military to perform secret experiments with teleportation by creating gateways between Mars’ two moons, Phobos and Deimos. Something bad goes down, and demons start pouring out of the teleporter gateways, killing or possessing all personnel. You’re the only one left, and it’s up to you to go in guns blazing to clear out the complex.

You would think Doom on the PlayStation would be a no-brainer. Yet, it seems like hardly anyone talks about it, given how for a time, it was the best port of the original. What’s so special about this version, you ask? Well, for starters, it combines Doom and Doom II, as well as a smattering of new levels. The game also sports new music by Aubrey Hodges, who largely did away with the metal influences of the original Bobby Prince soundtrack, and made the game have a totally different tone as a result. There are also some new enhancements to the game’s graphics, notably the sky is now animated as opposed to being static. And Doom for the PlayStation also takes advantage of the system link for multiplayer. While everyone and their grandma can have Doom on their PC nowadays, if you’re looking for a unique experience on consoles, the PlayStation version is the best of the original ports.

Resident Evil Survivor (Capcom, 2000) –

Taking place after the events of Resident Evil 3, the player assumes the role of an unnamed protagonist who was piloting a helicopter that ended up crashing on the outskirts of Umbrella Corporation’s private township, located on Sheena Island. Having lost your memory, you must fight your way through the island’s undead and other monstrosities, as well as discover the terrible secrets of Umbrella’s biological weapons programs.

Come on, it couldn’t be a PlayStation list without a Resident Evil game, could it? And yes, if you’re familiar with the first group of Resident Evil spinoffs, this isn’t that great. While the game originally made use of the Guncon in the Japanese version, the North American version had this feature removed due to the Columbine Massacre. That’s only the start of the game’s problems. Survivor just reeks of low production values, from the graphics and animation to the awful dialogue (it’s not in the fun House of The Dead vein, for sure), and despite having several different paths to take during the game, its overall length is noticeably short. You also cannot save your progress during the game. The replacement controls for the Guncon do ease the pain of not being able to use the Guncon itself, but it’s still not going to make Survivor more than a curious playthrough for fans.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Support Us!
Powered by
Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

The Top 10 Streaming Scary Movies of Today (According to Netflix)

Given that Netflix really is the master of their own data, how many times a viewer streams The Ridiculous 6, or what films don't get watched all the way straight through, or how many times someone watches an episode of Bill Nye Saves the World, it was easy for them to come up with the list based on just one percentage: 70 percent.

Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!

Top 5 Original Horror Movies of 2020 (Even During a Pandemic)

3 Frightening Clowns Not from the Underworld or Magical Hell

3 Viral Videos Proving Spiders Are Still Scary as Hell

Stephen King Adores These 22 Horror Films

3 Super Stories on 'Halloween' and Horror That'll Make You Want to Wear the Mask