“Last night you were, unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me . . . Do it again.” So spewed the beautiful lady/creep Morticia Addams, decades ago. That’s the essence of Halloween today, too: scare me to the point of eroticism. Or, as Marquis De Sade said, “No kind of sensation is keener and more active than that of pain; its impressions are unmistakable.” There’s no better pain than the mental anguish of Halloween terror and horror. With such wisdom in mind, I took on this year’s batch of Halloween games.
It’s the kind of game that Steven Colbert would make. STUBBS is clearly the best game in the genre this year. The Mature-rated game mixes the mechanics of Halo with a twist that recalls bit of Destroy All Humans! another great game, released earlier in the year). Here you’ll attack humans in the futuristic Stepford-like town of Punch Bowl using everything from your severed head to your own zombie gas. The whole game, from the way characters move to the soundtrack to the imaginative story, is full of top notch humor, camp and horror.
Inspired by Sam Raimi’s zombie movies and employing the voice of B-movie icon Bruce Campbell, REGENERATION is full of the movie series’ cheesy humor. Plus, lead character Ash wields one powerful chainsaw to rip through zombies. Yet it suffers from a flawed targeting mechanism and, sadly, truly innovative gameplay and story. However, if you’re a fan of the Evil Dead franchise, you’ll take your hobbling zombie ass to the store and buy this one.
The follow up to one of last year’s creepier games is somewhat disappointing this time around. This time, insane criminal Torque leaves the penitentiary to find a spine-chilling city filled with monsters. While eeriness abounds, the violence and cussing seem cliché. And the graphics aren’t that great, even on the Xbox. It’s scary that TIES THAT BIND didn’t get the time it deserves in development. It needed to be more like Oz meets Hannibal meets The History of Violence.
Fans of the first PlayStation loved this game whose graphics I always thought were inspired by Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. While MEDIEVIL RESURRECTION doesn’t feel that much different from the original, it’s been fattened up. For instance, protagonist Sir Daniel Fortesque has 200 moves with which to whomp the various spirits and creeps that keep him from battling the evil sorcerer Zarok.
Even though it looks like an old school 2D game, this vampire hunting offering starring Soma Cruz, is so full of adventure, varied weapons, RPG elements and canny fiends, DAWN OF SORROW is one of the better additions to the Castlevania series. There’s even a mode where you become all powerful, pretty darn ugly super demon. Plus, you can cast spells with the DS’ touchscreen for a bewitchingly good time.
Publisher: 2KSports Visual
The apocalypse is upon us in the form of a sports game “with beasts so terrible that the ancient symbols of St. John will seem like cooing doves and cupids.” It was German poet Heinrich Heine’s quote that came to mind as I first played NBA 2K6, the basketball game with Shaq on the cover. The game itself is pretty good, if you ignore the players skating across the court instead of running and the announcers whose audio seems out of synch with the video. Yet game wise the game is solid and the cheerleaders and fans are well rendered. Here’s the rub: at certain breaks (halftime, for instance) I get ads for Power Bars, Gatorade or Nike. This is the biggest bull perpetrated upon us by gaming companies thus far, and I’ll tell you why. It’s bad enough that I have to see an ad three or ten times during a 20-minute game, but the ad isn’t creative: it’s more like an annoying, early banner ad on the Internet, and it royally peeves me. And hey, if they’re gonna inject ads into a game, where’s the discount in price for the humble consumer? Therefore, I cannot in any good conscience recommend NBA 2K6 to anyone. If this bland and humorless display of advertisement is the future of gaming, I will quit this gruesome ghetto of reviewing and sanguinely return to reviewing pop music because no matter how cutthroat the business of music and music reviewing is, there isn’t this exasperatingly blatant advertising throughout most songs, even songs by Christina and Kelly. All right, I’ll stay . . . for a while.
NBA Live 06
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Canada
NBA LIVE 06 only has ads on the dorma boards on the ends of the court. They’re small, and when I see them, I don’t feel like I’m being sold out. One of the achievements/gimmicks in this game is the Superstar mode where players like Vince Carter shine like superheroes. It also makes the NBA’s humans seem invincible, and that’s a little scary. Yet it works, and when the superstars shine, your foes will quickly scowl and moan in defeat. One aside: what’s up with announcer Marv Albert? He sounds like he’s on Xanax. Is he paid by the opposing team to lull you into submission?
Lost In Blue
You gotta love LOST IN BLUE for the DS. It’s something like Survivor meets The Blue Lagoon, a game that’s pretty deep and uses the touch screen as it’s never been used before. Sure, there should have been some scary elements of Lost put in the game, but where else are you gonna get to milk a goat?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 11, 2005