Trick or Treat: Video game classics for Halloween
All Hallow’s Eve: the day when kids and adults alike can dress up as monsters, celebrities, or just about any character from popculture fandom. As an annual event, this occasion is a rare moment to witness creepy or spectacular things.
It’s also an opportunity to scare yourself witless, and there are a couple of good games out there to consider playing for your fright fest inclinations. There are some really creepy titles out there that get the job done of sending jolts down your spine, but here’s a worthy list of horror-themed game franchises that I’ve encountered through the years that will hopefully give you more tricks and treats to consider for Halloween.
The progenitor of “Survival Horror” as we know it and known as BioHazard in Japan, Capcom’s “Resident Evil” franchise began under the direction of Shinji Mikami, releasing the game on an unsuspecting gaming populace during the early years of the original Sony Playstation. Its isolated mansion setting is very Alone in the Dark inspired, coupled with the tension and horror of facing zombies and other monstrosities with limited ammo forced gamers to reconsider their options in fighting threats head-on. A B-Movie plot loomed over solving numerous puzzles to progress through the plot, but it’s George A. Romero inspired setup made the game a runaway success, inspiring numerous sequels and spin-offs that carry on to this day. A film franchise by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Milla Jovovich is loosely based on the games, with the latest one “Resident Evil: Retribution” seeing release this past September.
Following the success and release of Resident Evil, other video game companies tried to break into the “Survival Horror” genre, with Konami being successful in their attempt. Released in 1999 for the Playstation, “Silent Hill” proved to be more than just a Resident Evil clone, and proved without a shadow of a doubt that it was more terrifying than Capcom’s own monster franchise. Set in a fictional midwestern town that gives the game its title, themes of psychological horror and cult worship were adapted into the plot, circling around a man trying to find his daughter in a seemingly haunted ghost town. Multiple endings and a score composed by one Akira Yamaoka certified Silent Hill as another horrific classic, and that in turn warranted more sequels, which were subsequently released for later console generations. Recent installments did not fair well as of late, but Konami’s horror franchise has spawned two film adaptations, with the latest one being released this year – “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D”.
Anyone who’s grown up with a NES by their side knows Castlevania, and Konami’s vampire hunting franchise has seen the light of day on several occasions thanks to different innovations over the years. Starting out with a classic tale of good vs evil that drives a stake through the hearts of nostalgic gamers everywhere, most Castlevania games see the player controlling a vampire hunter traversing through Dracula’s Castle to get to the Lord of Darkness himself and banish him back to the gates of hell. Subsequent installments see changes in the formula, with one renowned entry being the PS1 classic “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night”. Utilizing action RPG elements and placing players in the role of Dracula’s son Alucard, it was an instantaneous hit the put the franchise back on the map. Later installments in different platforms met similar success, and a recent 3D entry in the form of 2010’s “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” saw a new turn for the new generation of console platforming. A sequel, Lords of Shadow 2, is currently in development and awaiting release.
If Resident Evil 4 redefined the franchise by replacing Survival Horror with Survival Action, the Dead Space franchise trumps that call by placing the fear back with the same manner of gameplay in the scariest setting ever – deep cold space. First released in 2008 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows, players take control of an engineer named Isaac Clarke, who joins a rescue team responding to a distress call from the interstellar mining ship called the U.S.S Ishimura. Taking a page from the Alien film franchise and Event Horizon, what Isaac finds there is more dead than alive, as dead bodies are resurrected as monstrous creatures called Necromorphs by a powerful artifact known as “The Marker”. The game was a runaway success, and spawned spin-off animated movies and a 2011 sequel in the form of Dead Space 2. The third installment, Dead Space 3, is expected to be released this coming February.
A shooter that helped redefine the first-person shooting genre when it was released back in 1993, id Software’s Doom is a monster hit that’s seen several rereleases and sequels over the years. Focusing on a fictional character popularly known as “Doomguy”, this science-fiction horror game has the protagonist battling the demons of hell while trying to survive and escape from a military base on Mars alive. It’s a genuine classic, and the game even saw a sequel/ remake of sorts in the form of Doom III in 2004, which is a retelling of the original game’s story with better visuals and graphics for the new age. That game recently saw a rerelease this month with Doom III: BFG for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. A movie adaptation was released in 2005, starring Karl Urban and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in it. A new game sequel, Doom 4, is currently in production
If Horror, action, and RPG combined to form a winning combination, then Square-Enix’s Parasite Eve probably comes out as a grand example of that formula and beyond. Originally released for the Playstation on March 1998, this unique hybrid of a game had a lovely protagonist in the form of Aya Brea, who battled monstrosities born of the power of Mitochondria. The primary antagonist, Eve, served to mature and deliver more mayhem that required Aya to upgrade and unlock abilities necessary to combat the various monstrosities and beings unleashed by her nemesis. The series spawned two more sequels; Parasite Eve II which abandons the active-time RPG formula and takes a more action game oriented approach ala Resident Evil, and a spin-off title called The 3rd Birthday for the PSP that’s more cinematic and shooter oriented.
Japanese horror has a place in video game fandom, and Fatal Frame proves that the formula is not all about guns and action to make a video game really scary. Known originally as Zero in Japan, the franchise deals with players as they traverse through haunted locations to solve mysteries and search for missing loved ones, all the while facing ghosts and “defeating them” by taking photographs with a camera. The first game was released for the PS2, with a port later coming to the Xbox with enhanced visuals and gameplay features. Subsequent installments also saw release for the Wii and Nintendo 3DS, adding a layer of horror that required more bravery and interaction that spelled more frightening encounters with the paranormal.
— TJD, GMA News