Tag Archives: scary clown

FGC #234 House of the Dead Overkill

BangThere are two genres that I feel, for better or worse, never made it out of the arcade. There’s the beat ‘em up, which was responsible for sucking down more quarters than a laundromat back in the halcyon days when Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, and The X-Men were popular (What? They’re all still popular? You sure?). That genre, in a way, became the God of War-alike of today, but the simple left-to-right, beat up the same four dudes gameplay seems to be gone forever (or at least a “forever” that excuses the occasional River City Ransom remake). And, similarly, there is the “shooting gallery” game, which seemed to come earlier and last longer than its beat ‘em up contemporaries (I still remember you, Police 911 cabinet), but is currently woefully underrepresented on the home consoles. We might see the occasional Duck Hunt rerelease or crossbow training, but, by and large, the only time you see a decent shooting game is when a system is trying to demo some random peripheral, or, God help us all, during a console launch. Despite being one of those genres that practically defined gaming for some years (see Back to the Future for shooting through the generations), the noble shooting gallery game is now resigned to the ever-shrinking arcade scene and a tech demo or two.

And it’s easy to guess why that happened. There’s something visceral about holding a plastic gun in your hands and capping some ducks/criminals/zombies that is difficult to replicate on the home consoles. It’s fun an’ all to pretend, but you just don’t get that same heft from the Playstation Lollipop as you do when holding a proper Deer Hunter rifle. And then… what’s the point? It’s a point and click adventure. I’m using a mouse right now, and it’s not exactly thrilling to edit this article and click on my more overt mistakes. Ugh, I’m probably goint go give up from the boredom. I… guess I could pretend my typos are encroaching Cobra soldiers, but… meh. “Point and aim” needs that essential gun component to feel right, and, without it, the fun is gone.

So House of the Dead Overkill figured, hey, if we can’t get that authentic arcade gun experience, could we maybe find the fun somewhere else?

Get 'emHouse of the Dead Overkill is a House of the Dead game: your character is fairly anonymous during the gameplay, and “you” are basically a disembodied gun exploring various zombie-infested locales. Some House of the Dead games stick exclusively to the titular house, but other adventures eventually see other locations, like “generic swamp” or “generic building”. But that’s not important! What’s important is that zombies are bearing down on you at all times, and you’ve got to turn those zombies into a fine, bloody mist before they throw a seemingly unlimited number of axes into your face. By and large, this is very simple gameplay, with only the occasional boss to interrupt “keep shooting at everything”. And, for the record, those bosses are still the same “keep shooting at everything”, but now you aim exclusively at the head and a collection of random flying objects. It’s totally worth all your quarters to see the end of that one screeching mutant thingy!

And the challenge in House of the Dead is that, yes, it’s a shooting game. It’s not just about surviving, or gunning down the right zombies to guarantee a potential victim’s escape, or carefully pegging that one powerup on the bookshelf over there; no, it’s about the all-important score, and proving that you’re some kind of zombie sniper savant. What’s your accuracy percentage? How many headshots did you rack up? How long did it take you to complete each mission? It’s all about the score, baby, and if you’re just lumbering through the stages, well then, what’s the point? Gather up the points for that combo meter, and show off your fabulous goregasm tally with trophies of all sizes. Be the best zombie slayer you can be!

Except… well, I can’t be the only person that doesn’t really care about the score. For a number of action games, I’m kind of a “beat it” player, and I’m not in this to get the most achievements or points or whatever. I play videogames to relax, not to practice like a sport. Ugh, sports. Can I just be rewarded for, ya know, playing the game at my skill level?

House of the Dead Overkill answers this with, “Yeah. Sure.”

SCENE MISSING

House of the Dead Overkill eschews the tone of the previous House of the Dead games to be… funny. As ever with humor, it’s objective, and the game straight-up lampshades this during the finale (when it’s noted that this adventure has more hyper, toxic masculinity than a friggin’ Trump rally), but the majority of HoD:O is built to be, at least, amusing. G and Isaac Washington are hard-traveling heroes that can’t get along to save their lives (well, sorta), and their diametrically opposed hijinks fuel the adventure. Then there’s a villain that appears to be a version of Burt Reynolds that is unusually obsessed with Chinese food, a hooker with a heart of gold (and a motorcycle), and the fiendish mastermind that has an Oedipus complex that is literally suicidal. And the bosses, the crown of each level, are a delightful mix of grotesque and goofy, so right about when Kuato shows up to menace the protagonists at the circus, you won’t bat an eye. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I gunned down that woman from The Ring, too.

HA HAAnd, while I’d love to say that I played this game to improve my wiimote firearm abilities, this “funny” plot is absolutely the only reason I played past the first level. From the eponymous House of the Dead to a nightmare hospital to a hell carnival, this game grabbed me right from the get-go. It’s not about the score, it’s not about the shooting, it’s about seeing what crazy thing comes next, and what ridiculous, possibly exploitative creature is going to cap the next stage. Giant malevolent mantis? Yes! Bulbous, pulsating swamp creature? Why not! And then it’s all capped off with the mother of all monsters that literally births mutants for your rail gunning pleasure. It’s an appropriate ending for an outrageous game.

And here’s the moral for other videogames: learn from House of the Dead Overkill. Yes, humor is objective, and, yes, the “exploitation flick” motif of the game isn’t for everybody, but when you’re dealing with a genre that is already very limited in popularity, why not give people another reason to play your game? High score is fun, but how about something for us nerds that can ream thousands of words out of some space robot plot? Give your audience more, not less, and suddenly your generic shooter is something some nerd on the internet is fawning over almost a decade later.

Videogames can be more than their genre, and it only makes those games better.

FGC #234 House of the Dead Overkill

  • System: Nintendo Wii initially, and then eventually Playstation 3 (via the Move), and iphone/android (via your finger). Also, there’s the Windows version for…
  • Port-o-Call: Typing of the Dead returns! A “typing” version of House of the Dead Overkill exists for Windows platforms, so if you’re not so much for the aiming, go for the keyboard. Also, apparently the mobile version of this game was extremely limited and withdrawn from mobile stores due to massive suckage.
  • Number of players: The other reason to play a shooting game is to have fun with your friends, so two players. On the other hand, I can name like six other local multiplayer uses for my Wii.
  • YowchLevel Up: My one major complaint about this game is the whole upgrade system/extra guns. Conceptually, I like the idea of upgrading, and, practically, I enjoy purchasing the rail gun and basically turning the difficulty off… but isn’t that a problem? It seems like your firearm options are either way too overpowered or “will get you killed during every reload” weak. And I want to say the later stages are not balanced for the standard pistol at all. In other words, despite how much I love bringing an AK to a shambling fight, I’d rather the whole game be built around one kind of gun with set parameters, and not continually being Goldilocked into too hot or too cold.
  • Favorite stage: It made murder clowns a persistent problem, so I’m going to say that the third stage, Carny, gets my vote. It also has the best zombie set pieces, with a football field, (literal) shooting gallery, arcade (with After Burner!), and a ride through a funhouse. Which reminds me…
  • Skeleton Corner: This is one of the few games that earns the “skeletons” tag, but does not feature skeletons that are actively attacking the player. They’re just… hanging around. NOTE: I am aware that most people/monsters/zombies have skeletons, but that doesn’t count.
  • They’re not Zombies: Oh, right, they’re mutants. Thank you, G.
  • Dang bonesDid you know? Varla Guns and Candi Stryper, a new character, are both available as playable characters in their own adventure on the Playstation 3 version. They fight mutant zombie strippers and a lady minotaur named Meat Katie. On a side note, I’m not completely certain there can be a lady minotaur. Cowotaur?
  • Would I play again: I just might, particularly considering I’m not certain what I’m going to do with my (backwards compatible) WiiU in a few months. Might be fun to play through all the “good” Wii/WiiU games before they get locked away in the “oldies” bin.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Metroid Zero Mission for the Gameboy Advance. Good pick, ROB! Always happy to play a Metroid game. And this one has unexplained stripping! Please look forward to it!

FGC #231 Scooby-Doo Mystery

Now you're hearing that stupid musicI have never met a human being that actually liked Scooby-Doo.

I find this… odd.

I’ve privately referred to this phenomenon as the “Wendy’s Effect”. I’ve never met anyone that really loved Wendy’s. Yes, I’ve known people that eat there, and even possibly people that eat there quite often. But, aside from “it’s 2 am, what’s open?” I’ve never met anyone that genuinely stated, “Oh man, I’m hungry, let’s go get some Wendy’s!” I’ve seen endless debates about McDonalds vs. Burger King, and I’ve seen, firsthand, the casualties of the Taco Bell vs. KFC wars, but Wendy’s? It’s dog food for people. You open up a can of that stuff, slurp it down, and move on to licking your own genitals. I’ve seen people go crazy for White Castle sliders. I’ve seen people brag excitedly about how many Taco Bell newspaper-based tacos they can consume. I’ve seen people that openly believe Big Macs are made from edible materials. I’ve never seen a human being sincerely excited about Wendy’s.

Yet Wendy’s is everywhere.

Scooby-Doo seems to occupy that exact same space, as, despite the fact that I’ve never heard a human being say “let’s sit down and watch Scooby-Doo”, it’s been on the air in various forms since before I was born, and I’m convinced they’ll employ cyborg technology just to guarantee Frank Welker will be voicing Fred until the end of time. Is it because it’s cheap? I remember when Scooby-Doo headlined the USA Cartoon Express. I remember when A Pup Named Scooby-Doo kicked off Saturday morning cartoons. I remember when Scooby-Doo practically defined Cartoon Network, and, later, Boomerang. Scooby-Doo is big business! And the show has always been awful!

WeeeeAnd, before anyone says it, dude, I know it’s for kids. Think you I would forget such a thing? The only time I could even tolerate Scooby-Doo was when I was a kid, and even then I was desperately fumbling to find something else on the boob tube. Never mind the fact that there might be mutant reptiles or space lions on other channels, I’d be content with some alternative Hannah Barbara offering, like Flintstones or Jonny Quest. Josie and the Pussycats (IN SPACE!) or Dynomutt shouldn’t be too much to ask for, but I’ll even settle for Shirt Tales over yet another “let’s split up, gang.” Go ahead and drive yourself nuts and look up how many episodes of Scooby-Doo are out there. There are 26 episodes of The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show alone! That’s thirteen hours of pure animated crap beamed directly into children’s eyeballs. The Geneva Conventions do nothing to protect us from this!

It’s also not hard to analyze Scooby-Doo. Here’s a fun fact: every damn episode is the same. It doesn’t matter if the Globetrotters or Batman show up, it’s always the same plot with the same running animations in slightly different locales. In a weird way, I can’t even rely on my memory to recall exactly whether there were an overabundance of haunted theme parks in the general Mystery Machine area, or if that was simply the same episode over and over again. How often did Shaggy ‘n Scoob wind up on a rollercoaster? Was that part of (one of) the opening credits, or was that just an easy bit of animation to reuse? Who cares? I’m not watching an episode of Scooby-Doo to make sure. That nonsense is boring.

So, in a way, Scooby-Doo Mystery for your favorite 16-bit platforms is completely true to its source material.

Really?SDM is, basically, an adventure game. To be clear, this isn’t an adventure game like Zelda, this is much more in the King’s Quest vein. Here’s another fun fact: want to know why the adventure game genre languished in failure for so long? It’s not because developers became convinced no one wanted to play adventure games or whatever Double Fine is claiming this week, it’s because it’s really hard to wholesale steal a good adventure game. You can make Mario-alikes, GTA-alikes, or Final Fantasy-alikes until the cows come home, and people are likely going to identify those clones as, if not good games, at least passable experiences. There are men out there that will die on the “Aero the Acro-Bat is good” hill, and it’s because it barely takes two thumbs to make a remotely enjoyable game where “jump” and “attack or something” are the only ways to interact with the world. On the other hand, adventure games are naturally boring, and live or die on their writing. The writing doesn’t have to be funny (though that really helps), but it absolutely has to be compelling enough to trick the player into searching a beach for a damn feather or whatever stupid doodad is going to advance the plot. As such, an adventure game absolutely needs good writing, which is difficult! Writing good is harder than… something… that is… particularly hard. Uh… a rock?

Though I suppose it is possible that a rock wrote Scooby-Doo Mystery. I call this an adventure game because you have to explore a (mostly) nonthreatening (though spooooooky) environment to find the right items to pass the right obstacles, but a number of the objects are just “clues” that are to be delivered to Velma, and… that’s it. Velma comments, “Oh, this clue is really going to help the case,” but the majority of this game is laid out in a manner no more mysterious than your typical Mega Man stage, and, here’s a tip, I think Magnet Man is going to be responsible for the caper that takes place in Magnet Man’s stage. So, without clever writing or even the remotest reason to explore beyond “gotta find stuff”, the only challenge in this game lies on the shoulders of random traps and animals that BANG“scare” Shaggy and Scooby. But, assuming you can master Shaggy’s anemic jump, there isn’t even a challenge there, and the player is just left with… boredom.

So, congratulations Scooby-Doo Mystery, you captured the very essence of Scooby-Doo. This game is boring, rote, and repetitive to the point of parody. The only saving grace of this adventure is that, thanks to the fact that nobody really likes Scooby-Doo, it probably sold all of six copies before haunting EB used bins for the next decade.

Scooby doobie do, where are you? Hopefully nowhere near a controller.

FGC #231 Scooby-Doo Mystery

  • System: Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. The Super Nintendo version has the occasional platforming area, while the Sega Genesis version is just the adventure game elements. Pick your poison.
  • Number of players: Even though “control both Shaggy and Scooby” would have been a no-brainer for two controllers, it’s one player.
  • Just play the gig, man: Oh, and the music is that one stupid Scooby-Doo song that was probably composed in all of seven seconds by farting in the general direction of an oboe with the slightest amount of rhythm. That’s pretty much the entire soundtrack. Come to think of it, if this article comes off as mean-spirited, it’s likely because of that damn song.
  • And such small portions: The Genesis version is two stages, and the SNES boasts a total of four. That’s it. Even for a licensed cash grab, that seems particularly short.
  • SPOOKY!For the record: I am aware there are likely people that distinctly like Wendy’s and Scooby-Doo. I’m just assuming they are such a small subset of the population so as to be statistically insignificant.
  • Minigame Mania: There are two (seemingly random) minigames that involve Scooby gathering sandwich materials and Shaggy playing whack-a-mole with rubber-mask monsters. Both games have the possibility of awarding extra lives… and probably the only reason this game has “lives” at all is to justify the minigames. It’s an endless cycle of terrible.
  • Say something nice: Okay, Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. is actually a worthwhile Scooby-Doo experience. It doesn’t justify decades of absolute crap, but it at least makes an unlikely heroine out of a woman named “Hot Dog Water”. I can get behind that.
  • Did you know? Shaggy is just a nickname. His real name is Norville Rogers.
  • Would I play again: You know what? I did not care for this game.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… War Gods for the N64! ROB, you’re on a real roll with “fun” games here. Is a “3-D” fighting game featuring magical neon gods any better than finding clues with a cowardly dog? Let’s find out! Please look forward to it!

Get 'em

FGC #211 Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS

SMAAAAAASHSuper Smash Bros For 3DS is the most confusing, straightforward game I have ever played.

The Super Smash Bros. series is not at all complicated. Like Mario Kart, I’ve found that even videogame luddites can identify this series, and you can usually get a flash of recognition from “it’s that game where Mario punches Pikachu”. And it’s not hard to see why the game is popular among gamers and muggles alike: it’s a simple, fun experience for everybody. Here’s jump, here’s punch, here’s “special”, now go to work on blasting Jigglypuff into the stratosphere. Anybody can pick up and play Smash Bros, and that’s probably the main reason anyone bought a second (or fourth) controller for the Gamecube.

And speaking of the Gamecube, Smash Bros. has been practically unchanged from its original incarnation. Alright, yes, I know there have been all sorts of changes to the formula over the years, from wavedashing to tripping to some alternate universe where Donkey Kong is actually viable, but the core of the gameplay, and the basic, amazing concept (let’s you and him fight) has been unchanged through the console generations. Mario games are astounding, but if you’re somehow buying a new one blind, it’s impossible to know if you’ll be running around in 2-D or 3-D, or whether or not this will be a Mario that acknowledges powerups at all or is stuck gobbling coins to replenish a lifemeter. Smash Bros has been Smash Bros for four console generations, and there hasn’t been a Smash Bros: Spirit Tracks or Smash Bros: Federation Force anywhere in that lineup. From the moment a Smash Bros. game is announced, you know what you’re going to get.

DRILLAnd before Smash Bros. 4 (For?) was released, there was quite a bit of glee regarding what we were going to get. Mega Man! Little Mac! Pac-Man! On a personal level, the Super Smash Bros. 4 roster seemed practically made for me. I still remember when Super Smash Bros. Brawl (3) was released, and my greatest lament about the title was that it and Super Mario Galaxy were released too close together, so we were denied any references to Rosalina, Luma, or any of the pure joy that was emblematic of Super Mario Galaxy. And now here’s Rosalina and Luma! And a Galaxy stage with that amazing Galaxy music! Why more could I ask for? The Koopa Kids? The return of Ike? A Mega smash that featured multiple generations of fighting robots? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Super Smash Bros. 4 seems like it was made for me, practically from its first preview.

And Nintendo knew this. And Nintendo did its best to trick me.

Super Smash Bros For the Nintendo 3DS sounds like a wonderful idea. It’s a Smash Bros. game, and it’s portable. That should be all it takes! I want to say I committed roughly eleventy billion hours to Super Smash Bros. Melee. I didn’t play Super Smash Bros. Brawl nearly as much, but I did unlock the trophy that only appears after playing some ludicrous number of hours, so it certainly saw some usage. Even if Smash 4 3DS was just going to be Brawl again, I’d get it for that all important portability factor. But with the full roster we’d find on the console version, Smash 4 3DS was a no-brainer. I love Smash Bros! I’ll love it just as much on the terlet.

I want oneExcept…

I said I devoted hours and hours to Melee, but my own Melee save doesn’t reflect the “real” number of hours I’ve played the game. Why? Well, because a lot of hours I remember playing Melee took place at a friend’s house (and on a friend’s system). I had the “base” Gamecube when I went away to college, but in the local neighborhood, most of the playtime was spent on my buddy Sean’s ‘cube, because he had parents that were cool with us abusing his den until 2 AM. And, in thinking about it, I probably would have played Brawl as much as Melee, but even by Brawl’s release, I had gradually aged out of the “let’s play videogames until the sun comes up” demographic. Brawl saw a lot of play with my friends, but it was generally during previously unthinkable daylight hours, and before someone had to get back to feed the dog/kids/other walking responsibilities. Make no mistake, I did personally complete all one player challenges in previous Smash Bros. games, but that wasn’t what kept me coming back after breaking a few analog sticks; that would be the friends breaking my analog sticks.

So, when I really thought about it, I realized I didn’t need Super Smash Bros For 3DS. It’s a party game on a system that is party-adverse. Yes, there’s online play, but that was never the scene for Smash Bros; Smash is all about hopping on the couch and pummeling your friends until they start pummeling back in reality. Get there!“Quiet” Pokémon may easily be played with friends across the internet, but Smash deserves the big screen and few friendships broken through excessive shouting. I’m sure this is fairly old fashioned thinking, but Smash isn’t Smash to me unless I can see my opponent sweat those final thirty seconds. That is impossible on the 3DS.

So, naturally, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. For 3DS about a month before Super Smash Bros. for WiiU. And, yes, I’m weak. I probably would have purchased six copies if Nintendo gave me a remotely valid reason.

And that’s when the weirdness started.

As you might expect, I happily played Super Smash Bros. For 3DS (again, a game practically made for me). The game contains a host of one-player content, and, more importantly, a reason to play the one-player content (must… unlock… more… characters…). Smash Run could be a mere distraction of a mode, but the promise that you might collect all those rad special moves and extra outfits is enough to keep my attention for hours. It’s been a long time since I felt I had to unlock every last bit of content in a videogame (… when did Lightning Returns come out?), but I knew, with Super Smash Bros For WiiU on the way, I may as well get in all my practice on the 3DS version now. Maybe I’ll even have a super-powered Dark Pit to transfer into the console release!

And that’s about when it hit me: I wasn’t playing Super Smash Bros. For 3DS like a Smash Bros game, I was playing it like a demo.

Complete with batSuper Smash Bros. For 3DS is a real game. It easily features more one-player content than Super Smash Bros. (N64), and I’m pretty sure there’s more to do than in Super Smash Bros. Melee. This is the largest Smash Bros. roster ever (even if you don’t count the “uncombined” characters), and just completing basic “smash mode” with each character takes some time (and skill). There’s a strangely robust final boss, and an innumerable number of minions lurking around Smash Run. And there is multiplayer (even if it’s not couch-based) that only requires the simplest of Wi-Fi connections to get out and smash the world. This is, in every way, a Smash Bros. game, and not even an incomplete one at that.

But… I played it like a demo. I played it thinking “yes, this is a fun technique, I will use this knowledge on the real game”. I played it taking notes on what might be useful when I’m fighting my friends in a month. I played it observing every tactic I could utilize when I tackle Master Hand again, during the actual game. There is barely any practical difference between one-player mode on the 3DS versus WiiU, but I beat the 3DS version’s challenges knowing full well that I’d be doing it again “for real” on the WiiU. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was the appetizer, the WiiU version was the main course, and I never played either game without that (subconsciously) in mind.

chompAnd this causes me to get stuck in an infinite loop of sorts. The game is just as robust as every other Smash Bros! But I haven’t touched it since the WiiU version was released… But that’s just because you don’t play it portably! But I don’t play it portably because I feel like I’m not making progress on the “real” game. But that’s just a fabricated idea, it’s just as robust as any other Smash Bros…

This game should be a forthright, mindless experience.

But it leaves me… jumbled.

And I have no idea why I bought all this DLC for a game I don’t even play…

FGC #211 Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS

  • System: Well, you know what, I’m going to say Nintendo 3DS.
  • Number of players: Technically four! Though I will never see the other three players…
  • Oh, like you don’t have friends with portable systems: You know what? Most of my friends have console systems, but it’s their kids with the portables nowadays. And it just seems weird to ask an eight year old if he wants to play videogames tonight.
  • PLINKFavorite Character (conceptually): The fact that Mega Man gets his biggest showcase in the last decade on a Nintendo game is not lost on me. I can’t play as the character for a damn, but man am I just happy he’s here. Fight for everlasting pieces of that Dragoon, little metal boy.
  • Favorite Characters (for realsies): He might be DLC, but Roy is my boy (and, man, did I think I was never going to see that guy again). Something about beefy, fiery hits just gets my motor revving.
  • So, did you beat it? I collected every damn challenge trophy before Super Smash Bros. For WiiU was released. I’m pretty sure I mastered playing this “demo” while asleep to pull that one off. Though I think I did golden hammer that one challenge about collecting every special move.
  • Feel like anyone is missing from the roster? Nope.
  • Did you know? Including his Black Hole Bomb final smash, Mega Man has a special move from each of his adventures… except Mega Man 10, 5, and V. Though I guess Beat works as a Mega Man 5 rep. Still would have liked to see the Spark Chaser, though.
  • Would I play again: You’d think this would be a yes, but there is evidence to the contrary.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Tick for Sega Genesis. Get ready for a heaping spoonful of justice! Please look forward to it!

Does it count?