Thirty Thirty-two Worst Horror Games, Ever, Part Two
Hail bucks and does, this is Mark B welcoming you to the second volume of The Top Thirty-two Worst Horror Games, Ever. As last time, I am joined by my esteemed colleague, Matt Yeager…
Bucks and does?
… and we’re all sorts of excited about what’s coming up today. Last week we covered the dishonorable mentions, but this week, we get to the meat of the column: the list. We’re covering numbers 32-29 today, with some real stinkers that, while nowhere near the top, suck just the same. Right, Matt?
I mean, I get it, but that’s just really stupid, man. Male and female deer?
Are you done?
Good! Anyway, let’s take a look at our first four terrible titles, as I’ve nothing else to contribute for an opening statement. Take it away, Matt!
#32: BLUE STINGER:
People who play horror games have to be the most forgiving gaming fans out there. We deal with shoddy translations, bad voice acting, horrid controls and storylines so insipid that you want to beat whoever developed it for assuming someone would pay for that garbage. All of that just to chase down those few moments when a really good horror games gets under your skin and makes you jump a little. Blue Stinger has a pretty decent control set up and the voice acting isn’t horrible by comparison to other games in the genre. What is the most insulting thing about the game is its story.
An island appears out of the ocean with some dinosaurs on it, so they call it Dinosaur Island. I’m guessing this was named by the same people who thought of the movie title Snakes on a Plane. A company quickly takes advantage of this and sets up shop on the island to make some dough. The main character, who is part of some Special Forces unit, just happens to be taking a vacation nearby when the brown stuff…
Shit, dude. You can say it, it’s okay.
… do you mind?
I’m just saying, no need to hold back now.
… hits the fan, the area is sealed off by some magical force field and everything goes out of control. It’s his lucky day, however because a magical fairy shows up to help guide him around the island. You’ve gotta wonder just how high they were when they thought of this game.
Just in case the story wasn’t bad enough, the combat is pretty mediocre as well. Still, the game tries something new by giving you money every time you kill an enemy, and lets you use that money to buy health and ammo… which sorta kills the survival horror aspect of the game and turns it into just an average action game.
Oh, and the water looks horrible. Like blue wallpaper.
Almost as painful as: What the future has in store for Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s child. That poor bastard.
Well, aside from the fact that half of the copies of Blue Stinger hit store shelves BROKEN… BS (hey, how appropriate) is a thoroughly mediocre experience from the word go that proves my belief that Sega has no idea how to make good monsters. Plus, hey, bad dialogue. You’ll be seeing THAT complaint a lot. No more survival horror guys, please.
#31: DEEP FEAR:
Y’ever wonder what makes people say things? I mean, really? Sometimes people say things that hurt our feelings, and even though we know they don’t mean it, we still have to wonder WHY they would say these things. Other times, people say things that make no sense, and we have to question why such things came from people that, under other circumstances, are not prone to such acts.
Today is an occasion like that.
That reminds me. You’re ugly and that mask looks stupid.
Back in the day there was a magazine known as Diehard Gamefan. While they were prone to the occasional fits of fanboyism, as some magazines are, they were one of the most objective mags on the market and frequently gave video games a fair shake, even when they might not have otherwise deserved it. They were an honest voice in an otherwise descending void of deceit and madness, and I mourn their passing as much as I would mourn the passing of anything I liked in the video game world.
Back in the days of Resident Evil (the first one), GF was quite good about giving solid coverage to the import market, and every issue was always a cavalcade of awesome games we just KNEW we were never going to see stateside. In one of these articles, a little known Saturn game by the name of Deep Fear was reviewed, and the review of the game interested me quite a bit, as not only did the GF staff find the game incredibly fun and interesting, but hey, the game was pretty much import friendly, since it was IN ENGLISH. I was interested, but as time went on, I kind of forgot about it and went on with my life, as I forget about most things.
Flash forward to a month ago. A friend of mine, when I mentioned this article, suggested Deep Fear, and noted the same GF article as a surprise considering how bad the game ended up being. I was curious, and a little skeptical, but figuring I had plenty of games in reserve for the column, I borrowed it from him and booted it up just to see.
The first thing you need to know is that about half of the game is in English. All of the voice acting is in English, but the in-game text is in Japanese. This is not entirely a deterrent to playing the game, however; I was able to make quite a bit of progress in the game with little difficulty. However, the English voice acting is flat-out awful and makes one wish one were deaf by sheer existence. In other games from this time period, the voice acting is usually cheesy, B-movie grade voice acting that, while crappy, can be amusing in its own right. Here, the voices are grating and aurally unpleasant, especially the French submarine designer who quite distinctly sounds like he’s supposed to be gay. I just don’t understand the joke there at all… interior decorator, maybe… fashion designer, okay… submarine designer? Um… that’s a stretch…
The second thing one needs to know is that this game takes place on a submarine. This is theoretically cool, and the dynamic associated with it (having to pressurize the various compartments in the sub to keep breathing) isn’t bad. Compartments will occasionally flood, and when there IS open air, it bears noting that firing weapons actually burns more oxygen, which shows at least some attention to detail. However, other than this simple concession, the game has severe RE-itis, which ultimately makes the game less of an interesting take on the genre and more of a gimmicky ripoff.
The THIRD thing you need to know, however, is that the very first monster you meet in the beginning of the game looks like blatant direct copy of the Tyrant design from the first Resident Evil. Now, I can’t say for certain that this was the intention, but the similarities are quite striking. The thing is, every other monster you meet from here on is of abnormal coloration (IE green, purple, ugh), which I suppose was to make them more frightening, but they just end up looking like ugly lumps of polygons, and don’t really look all that scary.
Now, Resident Evil, when it’s trying to be horrific, goes the route of cheap scares and making you fight giant spiders and such. It’s not overly scary per say, but it has its moments depending on the sort of person you are. Deep Fear lacks even this basic amount of shock value; when monsters burst out to attack you, they look so ridiculous that it’s hard to even take their potential threat seriously. One would assume this is partially due to the horrible 3D engine in the Saturn itself, but since the Saturn version of RE looked acceptable, I can’t entirely reconcile this. I must conclude, therefore, that this game suffers the same problems Blue Stinger did: it’s ugly because, House of the Dead notwithstanding, Sega has no idea how to make horrific looking monsters.
There’s nothing really amusing or entertaining going on in the game, either; no one’s plight is interesting, and most of the characters are unlikable simply by existing. The story isn’t terribly great either; sub crashes into an underwater military installation, your character is dispatched to take care of it. Strange monsters abound, you must kill them and do your job. The presentation of THE GAME WE MUST CONTINUALLY MAKE COMPARISONS TWOARDS FOR THIS IS THE THING TO DO was pretty solid while being B-movie hokey; Deep Fear seems like a project Roger Corman wouldn’t even touch.
Oh yeah, staring at the inside of a military submarine for hours is also really uninteresting. With minor exceptions, the color palette is very utilitarian. While this is probably correct, it’s not terribly interesting. And for the record, the camera sucks here too. This appears to be a trend, sadly. The game TRIES to do interesting things (moving around underwater in a “Big Jim” suit… o-kay…), but is largely hampered by the fact that, for all of the interesting LITTLE things it does, the BIG things it does are boring.
Deep Fear would probably rank higher, save for the fact that 1.) it’s Japanese only, thus showing Sega had SOME common sense, and 2.) bland and lame though it may be, it’s not so offensive as to make one question their faith in God. It’s simply boring, and while it’s worse than the many titles that I didn’t include on the list, boring doesn’t really equal bad; if the game were truly bad, at least I’d be busy throwing up, which would probably be an improvement. Or not.
Almost as painful as: Listening to a War and Peace audio book read by Fran Drescher… on repeat.
Neither deep or scary. Pass.
#30: VAMPIRE HUNTER D:
Based on one of the most well known Anime movies in America at the time, Vampire Hunter D had one major issue; it wasn’t sure what type of game it really wanted to be. Trying to be a mix of survival-horror and action didn’t work since it didn’t do either part well. The main problem with the action is how poorly the game controlled. Now, this is an issue with several horror themed games, but in VH:D it was made even worse by the fact that a large portion of the game centered around fighting enemies. Jumping sucked since it was hard to tell the distance that you needed to jump and the was made even worse with flying enemies and the fact that sometimes when you thought you were jumping forward you’d end up jumping backwards, targeting enemies was a pain since sometimes you’d be trying to move in the opposite direction but somehow end up running right towards them.
And ohhhhhh the camera. I hate the camera for this game. Whenever it wasn’t choosing the worst possible angle to display the action from, it was moving back and forth rapidly enough to make you sick and completely confuse you as to which direction you were facing. This wasn’t helped by the fact that, due to some extremely bland graphics, almost every room and wall looked the same.
In the end it was trying to be Resident Evil meets Tomb Raider but mostly ended up as the worst of both games.
Almost as painful as: A colonoscopy performed using a brillo pad.
Once, about ten or fifteen years ago, I saw Vampire Hunter D on cable. It was horribly edited and terribly dubbed, and I couldn’t stomach watching it save for the fact that, at the time, this was the only anime I could really SEE, as there weren’t many outlets for such things.
Watching THAT was better than playing this game. I think that about sums it up.
#29: DEATH CRIMSON OX/2:
Ah, Sammy. Does anyone remember when they made good games? DID they ever make good games?
Never mind. So, with the mainstream success of House of the Dead, Sammy opted to try their hand at the on-rails light gun shooter with Death Crimson OX. This, surprisingly enough, is the SECOND time a DC title had seen a console release; there was originally a Saturn title, named simply “Death Crimson” which saw Saturn release prior to the DC release of DCOX. However, what a lot of people don’t know is that there was a SEQUEL. Yes, Sammy, beyond all rational logic, made enough money on this pile of crap to make a SECOND one. This was, of course, Japan only, largely because the Dreamcast was on its way out by the time the FIRST one hit stateside, but it can also be assumed that the second one wouldn’t have done very well financially anyway.
This is largely because it was a pile of crap.
Now, the FIRST Death Crimson game had one of those “ooh” covers… face of a young woman, screwed up eye, generally an interest garnering cover. The SECOND game… has a 3D rendered guy on the cover. That’s it. Not even an INTERESTING 3D rendered guy either; just a random dude, looking around. So… what am I supposed to get from this, exactly? Even now, I’ve no idea. It basically just says the art designer just kind of thought “eh, whatever” and slapped something on the cover to get it done with. Way to inspire confidence in your product guys.
Oh, by the way, the guy on the cover is a character from the story. His name is in the manual and everything. But I’m not going to bother looking it up because I don’t care, and I doubt you do either. Kay? Kay.
Now, logically, one would imagine that, as Sega had done with each of their HOTD games, Sammy would attempt to CHANGE and IMPROVE the Death Crimson sequel, to draw interest in an otherwise rehashed title. Hah, logic, like that factors into video game design. Nonono, DC2 was essentially an also-ran sequel to DC, only it was LESS interesting and MORE convoluted. DCOX, for those not keeping up, was actually a remake of sorts of DC2, in that 1.) DCOX removed the voice acting and storyline elements almost entirely, and 2.) it turned the game into a HOTD clone almost completely.
See, DC2 was an on-rails shooter with actual storyline progression and plot developments and such. So, instead of HOTD, where you saw fifteen seconds of cutscenes, then shot things for ten minutes, in DC2, you sat down and watched/listened to half an hour of dialogue before shooting monsters for THREE MINUTES.
Half an hour of talking, three minutes of shooting. What is this, Metal Gear Solid 2?
Not only that, but the enemies were completely recycled between titles, as were the game levels, so if you played one game, you’ve effectively played the other. This is compounded by the fact the enemies in both titles are ugly as sin, poorly designed, and generally not terribly fear inspiring. Do you want to run away from “Sword of Stink”? I thought not. The few enemies in the game that AREN’T stupid looking look like blatant HOTD rip-offs. Indeed, this entire GAME seems like it’s trying to plagiarize Sega’s title, and not even in a “well that seems familiar” kind of way; most times, DC2 feels like THE EXACT SAME GAME, only not as good.
Perhaps the worst thing about DC2, however, is the “adventure” element. Basically, you’ll be given a character and asked to have them walk around inspecting things, ALA Resident Evil or Alone in the Dark. Now, depending on how you’re playing the game, this results in one of two things:
1.) You don’t feel so bad for playing a light gun game with the control pad, which is a fairly shitty thing in and of itself, or
2.) You have to fight with the control pad on the side of your DC Light Gun to make the character you’re playing with walk ANYWHERE, let alone where you need them to go.
A good idea, this was not.
And the sad thing is, DC2 feels an awful lot like it’s trying to be something like Resident Evil: Survivor. Way too much talking, not nearly enough shooting things, bland gameplay, poor graphics, all wrapped around a surprisingly interesting CONCEPT that a developer with some actual DRIVE (or in this case, talent) might have been able to do something with. Instead, we’re given this, yet another terrible Sammy game in a long list of terrible Sammy games. About the only positive thing I can say about DC2 is that hey, odds are you’ll never have to play it, and be thankful for that.
Almost as painful as: Swallowing a porcupine.
Goddamn, ripping this one apart was supposed to be a dual effort, but when Mark attacks a game he doesn’t leave anything except for scraps.
In fairness, I really hated this game.
No argument. Mark’s got it nailed, this game was a House of the Dead rip-off, almost as far as to include what suspiciously looks like some of the same backgrounds. But it’s also nowhere near as good, which is why we still have House of the Dead games but not Death Crimson games.
That and Sammy kind of completely owns Sega now.
That too, yes.
And that wraps up the second volume of The Top Thirty-two Worst Horror Games, Ever. Join us next week when we crap all over a bunch of games you’ve never played, as well as drop trou over a not-so-classic Square effort. Until then, I’m Mark B,
And I’m Matt Yeager, signing off.