I’m in the Halloween Spirit! It could be that I’m in Washington State right now taking in the beautiful foliage and the cool, grey air; or maybe it’s Graves’ excellent series of posts about horror films! While I’m not entirely sure, my specialty is video games, so I sat and thought about the best possible games to play this time of year. Most of them are quite frightening, but some will just get you in the mood for a costume.
6. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
Luigi’s Mansion for the Gamecube was quite the divisive game back when the console launched in 2001. Many fans were upset that the Gamecube didn’t launch with a Mario title. They weren’t completely incorrect, but Luigi’s Mansion was a fun little game that took a totally different approach to the “Mario” genre. Luigi wins a mansion that turns out to be haunted. You spend the entirety of the game ridding his mansion of Ghosts and saving Mario who has been captured by the King Boo. It’s a delightful game. It’s sequel, for 3DS is even more delightful. This time around Luigi is asked to save an area called Evershade Valley for the Dark Moon relic has been shattered by the King Boo. Luigi must venture to each mansion in the valley to gather up the six pieces of the relic to make sure the Ghosts of Evershade Valley are no longer hostile. You also have to save Mario…AGAIN! It’s a great and fun experience for the 3DS and is a wonderful handheld title, perfect for those who don’t want a big scare.
5. Dead Space
Dead Space feels like the video game representation of Alien. The player takes control of Issac Clarke, a ship systems expert who is sent on a mission to find an alternative form of transport after his ship is disabled. Issac searches the remains of a ship called the Ishimura, who’s crew has been reanimated by aliens called necromorphs. Dead Space is just plain frightening. It finds a way to take some of the great gameplay elements from Resident Evil 4 and combine them with the dark corridors and brilliant sound effects of Doom 3. Dead Space was one of the few games that has actually scared me in my life. I’m normally ok with fear and video games, but this series almost forces me to play with the lights on…almost. The grotesque enemy designs will haunt you as your survival instincts kick it. It also allows you to realize just how terrifying space is. It’s not a perfect game, as many sequences feel terribly repetitive, but it’s a great sci-fi horror gaming that has the potential to scare the pants off of you.
4. Kingdom Hearts (Ps2)
This one is light on the scare but just so chock-full of fun that I had include it. Firstly, Traverse Town is the main hub of Kingdom Hearts. It’s where you meet NPCs, buy weapons, and “refuel” between adventures on the Gummi Ship. Traverse Town has ALWAYS had a sense of Autumnal wonder to it. It’s a town of perpetual darkness and bright shop lights it just feels like a quaint Disney village in the fall. It also has a terrific song that just reminds me of October.
If that wasn’t enough for you, there’s always Halloween Town. So popular that it actually shows up in BOTH Kingdom Hearts games, Halloween Town is ripped right out of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. Sora and his crew get to dress up for the part, and even get to fight alongside Jack Skellington. As you march through the town, head through the graveyard, and fight Oogie Boogie you hear the soundtrack blaring behind you at all times, reminding you that This IS Halloween. Not everything about Halloween needs to be scary, some of it just needs to feel mischievous and fun.
3. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a perfect game. It is built of a perfect game, Super Metroid, and takes place during the gothic horror period. By the time Symphony of the Night was released in 1997 Castlevania was a gaming mainstay. At this time it was in need of a rebirth, enter Super Metriod. By substituting aliens and space pirates with vampires and werewolves, SOTN has established itself as the quintessential vampire slaying game. As Alucard (get over the backwards Dracula) you return to your father’s castle to destroy him. The story is fairly simple, gather artifacts to revive Dracula, then kill Dracula. Don’t let the simplicity confuse you though, this game is deep. It’s a great “metroid-vania” game with rpg flair, and a great soundtrack. Feel free to pop the psx disk into your CD player, oh wait those don’t exist anymore. SOTN was one of the shining moments of the early 32-bit era, and has more than held up well today. I tend to pop SOTN in my Playstation every halloween, just to hear this wonderful opening.
I don’t know what a man is in Dracula’s sense, I just know never to mess with a guy named Richter, or Alucard.
2. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (Gamecube)
The opening screen to Eternal Darkness is a creepy quote from The Raven. As soon as you pop the disc in you know you’re in for a horror treat. Eternal Darkness was released in 2002 towards the end of the first generation of Survival Horror games. While few people owned the Gamecube at the time, this was a must-have game for any horror gamer. It starts as a fairly regular horror game, after Alexandra’s grandfather dies he leaves her his mansion. Overcome with grief she chooses to stay inside most of the time. She finds an ancient book called the Tome of Eternal Darkness. You play the game as four primary protagonists throughout history all whom have come into contact with the Tome. For 2002 it was such an original and fun experience. What makes Eternal Darkness even more compelling is that it involves a sanity meter, and your sanity depletes the game gets stranger and stranger: the camera shifts, colors turn black and white, you can explode. It was such a nice flourish that turned the genre on its head. Eternal Darkness can easily sit up there with games like Resident Evil and Castlevania, it’s that good.
1. Resident Evil (Gamecube)
The king of all horror games, Resident Evil. When I was in high school a group of my friends and I would gather and sit in my basement with the lights out. We would play Resident Evil for hours. We’d scream, jump, and curse the game as zombies crept across our screen. Sometimes the ambiance of Resident Evil was so great that it felt that the zombies were in the room with you. What made this game so great at horror is that you never got a complete full picture. Due to graphical and technological limitations, Capcom was forced to use a fixed-camera view so you could only see each room from one angle at a time. This allowed for a great deal of detail to be put on each static camera view. The game was creepier than anything else; as you could often hear things going bump in the night, but you could not always see them. The original Resident Evil on PSX was a benchmark moment for both video games and horror. It’s creepy take on virus-style zombies was eeire and made you hate every major corporation on Earth. The Gamecube remake just upped the ante and displayed the game in beautiful 128-bit graphcis, full voice-over and some extra features that added just a bit more survival to the horror. To this day I still get a little sheepish when I put RE into my Gamecube. The main purpose of Resident Evil is to survive, not destroy everything in front of you. That’s what makes this game so great, you don’t have to kill all the bad guys! It may be in your benefit to save those five bullets and run past a zombie or two. The real fear is in learning to survive. Also the load screens and very light soundtrack don’t help your sanity at all.
Sadly, Resident Evil brought in waves of mediocre survival horror games, but nothing beats the original and it’s excellent remake.
I hope all of you go and play these games, and have a great and safe Halloween.