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Grim's Game Reviews

Grim

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Grim's Game Reviews
As some of you know, I'm a huge gamer. I can't get enough of them, and as such, I've taken the chance to decide to review some of my favorite (and least favorite) games of yesteryear. Here you will find my reviews of several of these games with an archive included. Ratings will be included for those who prefer the TL/DR versions of the reviews. My rankings of these games goes off four subjects: Story, Gameplay, Audio, and Visuals. Let the fun begin!

ARCHIVE:

- CastleVania [1986] (7.5/10)

TL/DR Summary: If you're into classic horror cinema or a fan of NES games, CastleVania is an absolutely must buy. For more casual gamers, one could very well steer clear of the early CastleVania games for the Metroid-Vania style games that come later on in the years following. CastleVania is still considered a classic and one of the most important games of all time, even in 2019.

- CastleVania 2: Simon's Quest [1987] (7/10)

TL/DR Summary: Simon's Quest isn't a perfect game by any means, nor is it all that great in the grand scheme of things. However, it was a unique attempt by the developers to try something new. After all, Nintendo tried something different with Zelda 2, and we all know how that worked out! This game is a classic despite it wasn't so flawed, and it's a fun romp of experimentation that would later go on to be perfected in Dracula's Curse and games like Symphony of the Night and onwards.

- CastleVania III: Dracula's Curse [1989] (9.5/10)

TL/DR Summary: Akumajou Densetsu or Dracula's Curse, the choice is yours. If you want a balls to the wall hard game that will take up most of your time, you most definitely want to try this. The game is very high on my list as personal favorites, however, this is by no means a perfect game. With it's frustrating mess of stairs, neutered difficulty in the Japanese version, Alucard being incredibly weak as a partner, it falls just shy of the "Perfect Score". However, it's most certainly worth playing and is easily the best of the original CastleVania trilogy.

- Clock Tower [1995] (9/10)

TL/DR Summary:
This game is a cult classic. Sadly, while it never was released out of Japan, it gained recognition thanks to an anonymous English patch of the ROM. This game is a must play for the Survival Horror fans. This game encompasses everything that works in a Survival Horror game without going overboard and sticking to the basics of great storytelling, great game play, great visuals, and great audio, great replayability, and a great experience overall. Clock Tower is worth getting a reproduction cartridge of.

- Clock Tower [1996] (7/10)

TL/DR Summary: Clock Tower for the PSX is a worthy sequel, no doubt, however it's simply not as good as the original masterpiece is. The story continuation is done well, and the gameplay is there, however the visuals and audio fails. This game is worth $15~ dollars if you can find it on Amazon or any other site. Simply put, this game is an above average horror game with several problems; if you can look past them, you're in for a great time.

- Clock Tower 2: The Struggle Within [1998] (5/10)

TL/DR Summary: Clock Tower II is a goofy game, but not as great as it's predecessors. With that in mind, you can skip this, and go play the other two only. But if you want to have a good laugh at the expense of this game, It's perhaps worth about a $5~ dollar range. Sadly, this game would all but be the demise of Human Entertainment (closing in 2000), who's Fire Pro Wrestling Series (you may have heard of it), would go to Spike Chunsoft, and the Clock Tower series becoming owned by Sunsoft and finally abandoned in 2008.

- Ib [2012] (8/10)

TL/DR Summary: Ib is really a very underrated game that doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. It's a classic psychological horror story with a gorgeous look and an interesting cast of characters and environments. It's also completely free making it even more worth your time if you are into deeply analytical horror.

- Metal Gear [1987] (8/10)

TL/DR Summary:
Metal Gear is a really damn good game, although overshadowed by its sequels, but it has some very smart level design and as a progenitor of the series, it is incredible. This game is actually on Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and on the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, so it is highly recommended you purchase them instead of going out of your way to buy the original MSX cartridge.

- Metal Gear [1987] (6/10)

TL/DR Summary: Good God. When going from the MSX version the NES version, it's a stark contrast in quality and in general fun, to the original Metal Gear. It's a classic, yes, but unlike Simon's Quest, there is little reason to actually own it other than to say, "I own the NES version of Metal Gear!" At most it should be $15~ if even that. If you've never played the original game, I'm sure you'll have a higher opinion of this than I did.

- Metal Gear: Snake's Revenge [1990] (6.5/10)

TL/DR Summary: Snake's Revenge is a hilarious mess of broken gameplay, great set design, and wonderful music all wrapped up in a cheesy 80's action movie plot. If you really want to actually play this, pay at most $5~ for it, if anything. It's ironic that as messy as this game was, it's singlehandily responsible for the Metal Gear franchise becoming what it is, as Hideo Kojima had no knowledge of a sequel being in the works until a developer told him. What we'd get from Kojima is a gaming masterpiece and genuinely one of the best 8-bit games of all time.

- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake [1990] (10/10)

TL/DR Summary: Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake is such a criminally underrated masterpiece that I can't believe is not talked about more. To me, it is the single greatest 8-bit game of all time. It is included with Metal Gear on MSG3: Subsistence AND the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, and it is HIGHLY recommended for anyone who is a fan of the series, and not only that, anyone that wants to play one of the greatest games ever made.

- Metal Gear Solid [1998] (9/10)

TL/DR Summary: Metal Gear Solid is a critically acclaimed game, no doubt, but it does have its fair share of problems that would be addressed in later games down the road. It's definitely a classic, and totally worth getting if you ask me. It's one of the best cinematic games ever and the story is one of the most interesting and complex for its time.

- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2001) [10/10]

TL/DR Summary: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is one of the few games that fully gets me grasping the story being told and thirsty for more. The whole lore behind the series is also extremely complex, making it a lot to digest! This game is worth the buy in the Trilogy version soon coming out for Switch and already on 3DS. In my opinion, the series starts off on a high and only gradually declines in time, but they are still an amazing series of games worth playing.

- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All (2002) [9.5/10]

TL/DR Summary: For some people, Justice For All is a weak-point in the series. For me, it's one of the best in the series with some of the best cases. It's another stellar entry to the Ace Attorney series, and its inclusion in the Phoenix Wright Trilogy coming to Switch makes it even more worthy of a purchase. It's probably my second favorite game in the series.

- Resident Evil [1996] (*/10)

TL/DR Summary: Resident Evil is still a classic and worth re-playing every once in a while! However, if you want my advice, any one of these versions are not the ones you want. At most, you'd find the most enjoyment out of either the Director's Cut, Sega Saturn, or Windows version of this classic. However, the best version is yet to come... in the next review, of course.

- Resident Evil [2002] (10/10)

TL/DR Summary: In comparison to a lot of the survival horror games of the time (Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, etc), Resident Evil was a cut above the rest of them. It was the swan-song of traditional survival horror in a lot of ways and it was a masterpiece that showed Resident Evil could for once be stylish and classy. A must-buy for the survival horror, Resident Evil, or just in general a fan of gaming.

- Resident Evil: Deadly Silence [2006] (8/10)

TL/DR Summary: As I've said before, this is the version of the original Resident Evil to buy, thanks in part to the updated gameplay mechanics. Not only that, so much extra material throughout is some of the best bonuses I've ever seen in a game. The sheer amount of stuff they got into this is pretty damn impressive. Well worth a purchase if you're into classic Resident Evil games.

- Resident Evil: Survivor [2000] (5.5/10)

TL/DR Summary: So while Resident Evil: Survivor isn't the worst attempt at the first person Resident Evil, there was a lot more that Capcom should have done to guarantee its success. It's at this point in the series, after four years and 5 games, that Resident Evil games failed to further the series more after NEMESIS proved that a more action-oriented Resident Evil can be resoundingly successful if given proper care. Survivor is just one of those "So Bad It's Good" kind of games.

- Resident Evil - Code: Veronica [2000] (8/10)

TL/DR Summary: Resident Evil - Code: Veronica is a perfectly fine Resident Evil game, even a top 10 game in the series. However, they are several problems that keep it from being the masterpiece it should have been. It's unfortunate that after two incredible games in the series, that Code: Veronica would be the one to fail to impress as much as people said it would. It's a fan favorite for a lot of reasons, and I can totally see where they're coming from. I just don't agree with their arguments. For me, it's a fun Resident Evil game, but nowhere near as good as it's two predecessors.

- Resident Evil 2 [1998] (10/10)

TL/DR Summary: For a 21-year old game, it's still incredibly impressive. It plays well, has very good voice acting, and some fantastic environments. The gameplay, depending on the version you get, is incredibly varied and has so much replay value, not to mention four campaigns and extra modes for extra fun. It's perhaps the best out of the original Resident Evil trilogy. That doesn't mean the third game is any slouch either though...

- Resident Evil 3 [1999] (10/10)

TL/DR Summary: In regards to the original Resident Evil trilogy, Resident Evil 3 is perhaps one that gets less of a reputation than 1 and 2. However, it's easily the most user-friendly, with many features that allow for ease of access and fun. I dare say, if you've never played a Resident Evil game in your life, 3 is the easiest one to pick up, play, and understand what Resident Evil is all about. It does not have the reputation that the original has, nor the multi-faceted campaign that 2 has; based on gameplay, however, Resident Evil 3 far outstrips its predecessors in every conceivable way.

- Resident Evil Zero [2002] (9/10)

TL/DR Summary: Overall, while it's not the longest of Resident Evil games (in fact it's on the shorter side), it has enough positives to make it worth playing if you're willing to overlook the one glaring flaw (item pickups) of it. With some fantastic visuals and incredible audio to boot, this is perhaps one of the more unheralded games in the series that is finally getting the respect it deserves since coming out on the newer systems.

- SplatterHouse [1989] (7.5/10)

TL/DR Summary: SplatterHouse isn't the best game by any means, any fan of the series will tell you that. But the game delivers enough of the goods to make it more than mediocre. It's worth the time to play, but not worth replaying thousands of times if you've already beaten it, I'd leave that to Clock Tower: First Fear.

- SplatterHouse 2 [1992] (8/10)

TL/DR Summary: A big improvement over the original SplatterHouse while also adding to the story. Rick's one of the ultimate heroes, to me. He goes through hell and high water (literally) to save his girlfriend because he cares, dammit. Adorable, I says. This game is a good addition to anyone's Genesis collection if ever there was one.

- SplatterHouse 3 [1993] (8.5/10)

TL/DR Summary:
SplatterHouse 3 is an oft-forgotten hidden gem of the SEGA Genesis, but it's one of the better games in the SplatterHouse series and one of the best looking games on the console, period. An incredible rarity, the game fetches upwards of nearly $500~ for a full set. Reproduction cartridges however are like $12~ if you're into the Repro scene. My advice would be to purchase SplatterHouse (2010), since that game legitimately has the original trilogy as bonuses for playing the game proper.

GRIM'S PERFECT GAMES

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake
Resident Evil
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 3
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
 
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Clock Tower
(The First Fear [PS1])



Original Console:
Super Famicom

Original Release Date:
1995

Developer:
Human Entertainment

Plot:
Jennifer Simpson and her friends were raised inside the Granite Orphanage. Jennifer's mother died during childbirth, and her father, who was a doctor, disappeared without a trace in the late 1980's. In September of 1995, she and three others, Laura, Ann, and Lotte, were adopted by Mr. Barrows, a close associate of one of the workers at Granite Orphanage, Ms. Mary. After bringing them to the Barrows Manor in rural Norway, Ms. Mary leaves them in the foyer to go find Mr. Barrows. However, Ms. Mary is gone for a long time, and Jennifer volunteers to look for her. This is where everything goes wrong... 8/10



Gameplay:
Clock Tower is somewhat similar to a point and click adventure game. Your cursor moves the character to wherever you click and instead of most games like Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, The cursor also incorporates actions simply by highlighting items and secrets by creating a box. There are three different styles of play, investigation mode, run and chase mode, and panic mode. During run and chase mode, your only option of escape is to run or hide from the killer, named Bobby Barrows, or better known as Scissorman.



Scissorman is immortal, and extremely persistent. He will continue to chase down Jennifer until she is either dead, or she has managed to evade him. Unlike many survival horror games that happen to be more prominent than Clock Tower, you can't use weapons, it plays a more realistic tone in that you're only a 14 year old girl, scared out of her wits in this huge mansion, being chased by a 9 year old boy that wants to stab a pair of scissors through your neck. The game does damn well of building on that premise, and creating a genuinely unsettling experience, and mind you, this came out several months before Resident Evil.

Panic mode is perhaps one you'll run into a lot during this game. This is when Jennifer's portrait, that thing down below:


(For reference, yes, Jennifer is based off Jennifer Connelly; specifically from Dario Argento's 1985 Giallo film Phenomena)

starts to flash Red and Blue, at that point, it's best to button mash the B button as fast as possible. Just saying, you'd probably die in this game if you don't. The investigation mode is the main mode in the game, which sees Jennifer mostly walking around, looking for items to pick up, ways to progress the game, and clues as to what's going on. It's advised to keep Jennifer at a slow pace with walking, as running depletes her health, which is represented in the portrait as blue for fine, and red for panicking. The only way to replete health is to have Jennifer rest, by stopping whatever she is doing. There are a few puzzles to solve, but really nothing to sweat over.

The big draw to this game is its multiple ending system. There are a total of 9 endings in the game, all occurring when certain prerequisites are met. Mind you, most of them aren't necessarily "Good" endings. Another draw is its randomness. Nothing is exactly the same every time you play the game. Rooms swap about, items either appear or disappear, and Scissorman can spawn in random areas as well.



The game does not come without it's flaws, as minor as they may be. During investigation mode Jennifer simply walks way too slow for some. Even worse, when Jennifer is recovering her health, it takes a while to get back to full health, several minutes in fact, from Red (near death) to Blue (Calm state) [Addendum: This problem has been duly fixed in the PSX port of Clock Tower, in which is recovers much faster, but you lose health faster as a caveat]. The game is grinded mostly to a halt when healing Jen, and there is NO music when in this mode.

However, the lack of music actually makes the game more intense and just flat out creepy. The rarity of Scissorman appearances also creates the feeling of fear, not quite knowing when he's to pop out to chase Jennifer. Frankly, the negatives are outweighed by all the positives that this game encompasses, which also happen to be in the form of the Audio and Visuals. 9/10



Visuals:
This game is a masterpiece when it comes to the visuals and the atmosphere. The dark, dank, and lonely place the Mansion appears to be is just as eye popping to me as most of CastleVania III is. The backgrounds are spectacular, the character designs are wonderful, and the whole feeling is just insanely well done. From the photos that are shown, it's easy to say they look great! Now now, this is SNES, so set your standards accordingly. 10/10



Audio:
The music is beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best feature this game provides. Yes, while the music is limited and only appears usually in Chase and Panic mode, it's so pulse pounding and Goblin-esque that it's hard NOT to love it.



This is the chase theme, and the prominent piece throughout the game. I believe I shouldn't have to go into detail when it's plain to see the score to the game is every bit as great as the game itself. When the music ISN'T playing, the silence tends to get to the psyche as unsettling, when most of the time you're hearing Jennifer's footsteps, and weird and just creepy noises in certain rooms. 9/10



TL/DR Summary: This game is a cult classic. Sadly, while it never was released out of Japan, it gained recognition thanks to an anonymous English patch of the ROM. This game is a must play for the Survival Horror fans. This game encompasses everything that works in a Survival Horror game without going overboard and sticking to the basics of great storytelling, great game play, great visuals, and great audio, great replayability, and a great experience overall. Clock Tower is worth getting a reproduction cartridge of.

Final Grade: 9/10

Next Monday:

He's back for Round Two!
 
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Keith

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Wow! Really impressive review. You really know your stuff and how you describe things. Its great that they based on the character from that game off Connolly's from Phenomena:mark: I will have to re-watch that film soon. I'm not really a gamer but I will follow your reviews and comment for sure.
 
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Grim

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Wow! Really impressive review. You really know your stuff and how you describe things. Its great that they based on the character from that game off Connolly's from Phenomena:mark: I will have to re-watch that film soon. I'm not really a gamer but I will follow your reviews and comment for sure.
Thank you! I really appreciate the support coming from you guys. Phenomena is legit my favorite movie of all time just for how insane the last 20 minutes are, and Argento is probably my favorite director. Human Entertainment borrowed a lot from Argento and Western horror in general.

You'll love the next review, I hope. :)
 
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Clock Tower
[Clock Tower 2 (JAP)]



Original Console: PlayStation

Original Release Date: December 13, 1996

Developer: Human Entertainment

Plot: It has been 1 year since Jennifer Simpson survived the events of Clock Tower: The First Fear, however, the events proved too traumatic, and as such, she is suffering from Dissociative Amnesia. Her caretaker, Helen Maxwell, works at Oslo University, under Psychiatric Professor Samuel Barton. Barton is attempting to place some truth in the brutal Murders, by hypnotizing Jennifer, much to Helen's dismay, after the both of them leave, Barton is interviewed about his personal investigation, saying that Scissorman couldn't possibly exist and that while the murders were real, an immortal monster couldn't have done it. All that changes, when Helen or Jennifer come into a close encounter with Scissorman, whom Jennifer thought she killed... 8/10



Gameplay: Clock Tower's Point and Click gameplay is back in full force, this time even more simplified. Now instead of pressing a button to open the item screen, you now just have to move the cursor to the top of the screen. Frankly, there's really nothing that can be expanded upon when the gameplay is already as good as it can be, however, the game has finally gone full 3D, meaning there is more room to explore, plus the edition of 4 places to explore: the College Science Building, Rick's House, The Library, and the Barrow's Castle in England. However, the choices you make only allow you to be in three of those four places. Also new, is the chance to play as multiple characters! You can play as either Helen or Jennifer as the main character, and Stan Gotts (The assistant-inspector), or Nolan Campbell (A reporter, and Jennifer's love interest... who happens to be 23... while Jennifer is 15... Yeah... don't ask...) as side characters.



Another big change is Scissorman himself!



This time, Scissorman appears at random, and is much much smarter, to the point where he can kill the player when they're in their hiding spot. In fact, one of the creepiest things Scissorman does in the game is WATCH CARTOONS! I mean, come on, that's fucking creepy. Other than that, he's just the same as he was in Clock Tower: First Fear.

Also back is the Multiple Endings. This time, there are twelve combined endings. 6 for both Jennifer any Helen, and depending on what items you pick up at what time, and what things you do, they all end up becoming different every time you play. This adds so much replayability in this game, that it really feels like a worthy sequel to the masterpiece that was Clock Tower: The First Fear.



Now, your health this time is reflected on your cursor instead of a portrait. The colors are white, orange, and red. The only way to heal is to find a first aid kid, which sadly happens to be extremely rare, so prepare to die... a lot. The puzzles have also made a step up from simple but enjoyable, to convoluted and just plain ridiculous at times. The fact that to get the best ending in Jennifer's campaign is to pick up an item in the very first level is outright strange, but actually a good incentive to explore EVERYTHING. Overall, the experience just feels a bit more complete from it's SNES original, but the parts are greater then the sum. 8/10

Visuals:
Now this is where the game really drops the ball. Clock Tower simply fails in the visual department simply because of what it tried to be. It played with 3D, but sadly while it may have looked good at the time it released, the visuals have aged very poorly. With that in mind, it simply fails to be scary and creepy like First Fear succeeded in. It's really a shame... 6/10



Audio:
The music that really made the game is back, however, in terms of audio? Resident Evil level voice-acting ruined any momentum this game had (Fun fact, the man who played Barry Burton in the original Resident Evil also plays a character, Rick, here). This is where the game fails a second time. While I find no fault with the music, as they are actually fairly great pulse-pounding and tense snippets. It's the sound effects and the voice-acting that simply don't work whatsoever. I'm sorry to say this, but in terms of sound effects for Clock Tower: First Fear and its sequels, the original SNES game will always win. 7/10


TL/DR Summary: Clock Tower for the PS1 is a worthy sequel, no doubt, however it's simply not as good as the original masterpiece is. The story continuation is done well, and the gameplay is there, however the visuals and audio fails. This game is worth $15~ dollars if you can find it on Amazon or any other site. Simply put, this game is an above average horror game with several problems; if you can look past them, you're in for a great time.



Final Grade: 7/10

Next Wednesday:

"I don't even know how this is even the same series-"

 
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Clock Tower 2: The Struggle Within
[Clock Tower: Ghost Head (JAP)]



Original Console: PlayStation

Original Release Date: March 12, 1998

Developer: Human Entertainment

Plot: Alyssa Hale is a schoolgirl who has been having dark visions of murdering people ever since she received her father's amulet. She wakes up only to discover that those dreams have come true. There is a cold-blooded, immoral male personality inside her named "Bates" who makes her do things. However, when she has her amulet, it keeps her safe from his invasions. Due to her multiple personality disorder, she has been incarcerated in a mental hospital. She leaves the hospital, with Philip and Kathryn Tate, her uncle and aunt, waiting for her to arrive. Philip comforts Kathryn by reminding her that their daughter Ashley is also coming home. They hear a noise at the door, and Kathryn goes to see if it is Ashley. Philip says something about the "Maxwell Curse", before Kathryn screams and he rushes over to see what is happening. Later that night, Alyssa arrives to find the house abandoned, however, it's not as it seems... 6/10



Gameplay: The gameplay in Clock Tower II is the same as its predecessors, however, it plays just different enough to make it its own standalone game. One example is the Personality System. There are two playable personalities inside one body, Alyssa, and Bates. Alyssa is shy and quiet, and usually hides from the stalkers in the game, she also happens to be nice; in contrast, Bates is cold, calculating, immoral, and straight up an awesome asshole. Bates can actually use weapons like guns in this game, which appears to be a good system of balancing and creating unique situations, on the surface.



The only way to possibly switch between characters all lies in the Amulet that Alyssa carries. If Alyssa gets spooked and isn't wearing the amulet, Bates usually becomes the predominant character.

Back from Clock Tower are the multiple location points! You can go from Tate's house, to the Hospital, to a Research Facility. Again returning is the multiple ending system, and while it's not nearly as much as Clock Tower, it's still plenty. You have a total of 8 endings this time, each being procured via the same way as before. Honestly, Clock Tower II is simply keeping the same basic gameplay, but with the added Personality System that allows for a neat dynamic (on paper, at least, as will be discussed later). If you wish to look at how the rest of the game works, go look at the First Fear and Clock Tower reviews.

Now, the albatross regarding this game is 3 simple facts: The game has nothing to do with the first two games (though I figure you figured that out already). Secondly, the Personality System isn't implemented all that well. I said earlier it's a neat idea on paper, but put into practice, it's way too shoehorned in. It becomes a major annoyance and in fact a hindrance at times when the game can end suddenly because you were not the right personality. That's right, if you were not a certain personality in a certain moment in the game, you get one of the many bad endings. That is just ridiculous, truthfully. Finally, the game is flat out not scary. Unlike First Fear and Clock Tower, Clock Tower II has nothing in it that can be construed as tense or creepy of the sort. It is mostly a mindless camp-filled romp of the worst tropes of horror cinema. If that's your thing, go for it, but my opinions on the game have definitely changed over the last 6 years since I last reviewed this on another site. 5/10



Visuals: The look and feel of the characters definitely made a huge improvement over the previous game, however, some of the things in this game are outright just RIDICULOUS. Yellow Blood and Green Body Parts? What. The. Fuck? The locations are somewhat wishy-washy and they aren't necessarily creepy in any way. I remember digging the sets 6 years ago, but now I'm not that big a fan anymore. They just feel "generic"; it's like they were copy-and-pasted from a horror setting playbook. Overall, while the graphics have surely improved, the silliness of this game leaves quite a lot to be desired, not to mention it has (in my humble opinion) aged the worst of all the Clock Tower games, which is no small feat considering the last game looks awful today too (however, the theme and gameplay more than made up for the visuals). 5/10



Audio: This game failed in the audio department big time. All the voice actors are hamming it up in the worst way, and unlike Clock Tower, it isn't "so bad it's good", it's just... bad, the one great voice actor being Roger L. Jackson as Bates (fun fact, he's the voice of Ghostface from Scream (This one's for you, Smark!!! :swamps) and Mojo Jojo from Powerpuff Girls). The chase themes... are probably the only good thing about the game. They're not exactly tense or creepy, they're just rocking and in your face.


This is the very first chase theme, and there are four others that you'll hear throughout the game. The music, being the saving grace of this game, isn't enough unfortunately. The voice acting is flat out awful, and it kills this game dead in its tracks. 5/10

TL/DR Summary:
Clock Tower II is a goofy game, but not as great as it's predecessors. With that in mind, you can skip this, and go play the other two only. But if you want to have a good laugh at the expense of this game, It's perhaps worth about a $5~ dollar range. Sadly, this game would all but be the demise of Human Entertainment (closing in 2000), who's Fire Pro Wrestling Series (you may have heard of it), would go to Spike Chunsoft, and the Clock Tower series becoming owned by Sunsoft and finally abandoned in 2008.

Final Grade: 5/10




Next Friday:

 

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SplatterHouse



Original Platform:
Arcade

Original Release Date:
November, 1988

Developer: Namco


(GIF taken from the TurboGrafx-16 Port of SplatterHouse)

Plot: It's a dark and stormy night... Rick Taylor and his girlfriend Jennifer must seek shelter in the controversial West Mansion, as they are a long ways away from their college, Miskatonic University, on an assignment to watch the experiments of Dr. West. As they enter, CRASH, BOOM, they are suddenly attacked, and Rick is left for dead... mortally wounded, Rick is thrown in the basement of the cabin next to West Mansion. He then meets an ancient mask, known as The Terror Mask, who combines with Rick to revive him, and now back from the dead, Rick is on a rampage and wants to find his girlfriend to save her from the house of horrors. 8/10



Gameplay:
SplatterHouse is one of the earlier violent games around. It's a 2D Beat 'Em Up game that runs along on one solitary plane, though it doesn't detract from the game. It's very basic and monotonous, but it never stops being fun! Throughout the game, Rick will have to fight all sorts of monsters, while also dealing with pitfalls, spikes along water, tricks and traps as well, along with maaaaaybe a few doppelgangers along the way. In the arcade version, forward is key, you have to keep moving forward, otherwise this mist will kill you instantly. Yeah, bullshit I know, but it keeps the tension perfectly.

One thing this game really does in stripes is the bosses. Sure, the first two bosses aren't anything to sweat over, but Biggy Man in stage three holds no prisoners and from there the bosses are pretty unrelenting. There's strategies to use when actually fighting the bosses that make them easier and help extend your life for the most part. I think my favorite is Stage 4's boss, which in the Arcade version is an upside down crucifix. YOU FIGHT A GOD DAMN INVERTED CROSS! SIGN ME UP BITCHES!



Perhaps the best part of this game is its (albeit not even explained in the TG-16 Version) story. The story is for the most part left up to the player's imagination until stage 5... where it takes an incredibly dark and twisted turn. Hell, the ending of the game is perhaps the most depressing ending to a video game on the planet.

There's very distinct differences in the Japanese Arcade version and the American Turbo-Grafx version. One major difference is the color of the mask, which was changed from a hockey mask white, to a Mayan mask red (For obvious reasons, you Jason fans.), and the general tone-down of the gore and violence, though that may actually have less to do with censorship, and more on hardware limitations (After all, they were going from a fully 16-bit Arcade machine to a partially 16-bit console with 8-bit CPU.). The second difference is the music used. Yeah, some of the music from the Arcade music was cut from the TG16 version or rehashed in a different way, and the overall quality was degraded, but hey, Stage 4's first level music was much better than the original's, so it's a mixed bag for me.



Overall, SplatterHouse is a finely tuned game, play wise. The game doesn't get boring whether you're on the Arcade or TG16 version. You should expect to be pumping quarters into that f-ing machine if you ever play, because you'll be addicted until the very end. However, there is nothing entirely outstanding about the game in particular, unless you enjoy the blood and gore. 7/10



Visuals:
For the most part, as you can see with the pictures, the game looks very solid for a 16-bit game. SplatterHouse is very much appealing with it's gory display, and vibrant, yet dark contrasts all throughout. All I can fairly say is that for a 16-bit game, there has been a hell of a lot better, but for damn sure there's miles upon miles of worse looking games than this. 7/10


(A look at the TurboGrafx-16 version)

Audio:
Jesus, you wanna talk about some decent music? SplatterHouse has it and then some. The Arcade version is expertly crafted and addicting to listen to. I'm not sure whether I like "I Will Find You" or "This Story is Happy End?" more. So here's a rare treat, two themes for the quality of one!


From pulse pounding and discordantly destructive, to hauntingly beautiful and extremely melancholic, SplatterHouse offers all facets of music to please the ears. 9/10



TL/DR Summary:
SplatterHouse isn't the best game by any means, any fan of the series will tell you that. But the game delivers enough of the goods to make it more than mediocre. It's worth the time to play, but not worth replaying thousands of times if you've already beaten it, I'd leave that to Clock Tower: First Fear.

Final Grade: 7.5/10

Next Sunday:

"Three Months Have Passed Since..."
 
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SplatterHouse 2



Original Console: Genesis

Original Release Date: August 3, 1992

Developer: Namco

Plot: Three months have passed since Rick survived the onslaught at the West Mansion. Suffering from nightmares of the events, Rick searches desperately the mask that helped him escape before. He receives a notice from the thing in his sleep one night. "She doesn't have to die, Rick. We can save her. Go back to the house, I'll find you there; only I can give you the power. You need me." When arriving at the ruins of the house, he finds the mask, but discovers another terrible truth. There is a house much larger than the West Mansion, where Jennifer could truly be. Rick is back, and now is more determined than ever to save his girlfriend. 8/10



Gameplay: SplatterHouse 2 plays identically to the original, though harder. The enemies are a lot more disfigured than the last, and they all are looking finer on a superior machine, and with better concept art. With it being harder, means there is a higher skill curve. The better you are at the wonky jumping, the longer your game will be, and trust me, the jumping is not very good, but hey, it's better than the jumping in SplatterHouse.

The bosses are all different (No inverted cross or Biggy Man this time) and they've all got little niches that can lead them to be defeated fairly quickly. The enemies are pretty standard but fun to punch the hell out of and got some decent challenge to them, also with some little quirk to them. For example, Screaming Mimis are one of the most common enemy types found in the game (coming in green, purple, and flesh pink), and the purple types pause before they throw punches, giving a tell to the player to quickly duck.

Overall, if you liked SplatterHouse, you'll like 2 just a little more. I'd argue gameplay wise, it's the purest fun and most complete of all the SplatterHouse games, despite the lack of great bosses, great settings, or anything that the original SplatterHouse had. With that said, I genuinely prefer playing the original more for its settings. 8/10



Visuals: For the Genesis, it was quite impressive to be able to see some blood and guts for once on the screen (unlike the TG-16's inferior software), everything was detailed very well and admittedly, it's very nice to look at. Just a big improvement from the Arcade and TG-16 version of SplatterHouse. 8/10



Audio: The music was pretty kick-ass, to be honest. Hearing music like this when you're beating the shit out of things was just like the original. Unlike the original, however, SplatterHouse 2 went a more metal route. Thanks to the Genesis, Namco was able to make use of some kick ass drums and bass. I'd say it's just as great as the Original Arcade music. 9/10


TL/DR Summary: A big improvement over the original SplatterHouse while also adding to the story. Rick's one of the ultimate heroes, to me. He goes through hell and high water (literally) to save his girlfriend because he cares, dammit. Adorable, I says. This game is a good addition to anyone's Genesis collection if ever there was one.



Final Grade: 8/10


Next Tuesday:

"Oh shit-"

 

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SplatterHouse 3



Original Console: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive

Original Release Date: March 18, 1993

Developer: Namco

Plot: Five long years have passed since the incidents at the West Mansion. Rick and Jennifer have married and given birth to a child named David. Rick has been able to put the horrors of the past and the memory of the Terror mask behind him, successfully transitioning into a high paying job on Wall Street; he even managed to purchase a lovely mansion in Connecticut. However, the Terror Mask, sensing danger coming to Rick and his family, arrived to Rick once more, forcing him to don it one last time. Rick's family has been made a target of a demonic cult of horrific monsters, looking to revive their God, known as the Evil One. Arriving home late, he finds Jennifer and David missing. Rick must once again save his family with the help of the Terror Mask. 8/10



Gameplay: SplatterHouse 3 is one of the least talked about in the series, mostly for how much it strays from the original formula of the first two SplatterHouse games. For one thing, SplatterHouse 3 is no longer set on a singular plane, but now played like most other beat-em-ups of the 1990's such as Streets of Rage, Final Fight, and Turtles in Time. So instead of going just left and right, you are able to move vertically on a semi-Z Axis. The second difference between 3 and the first two games is a sense of non-linearity in the level design. You're in a mansion with a goal to get to, but how you get there is up to you, as there are many rooms in the game to see and you can choose to screw around at your own peril.



The third biggest difference between SplatterHouse 3 and it's predecessors is the importance of time. In the first SplatterHouse game, if you ran out of time, you would simply lose a life (the second did not have a timer). In the third game, however, the timer legitimately dictates what ending you get (yes, multiple endings in a game, my favorite reason to replay a game). Running out of time gives you the worst possible outcome for the particular level, which is a huge downer because the game in the US version is for some reason hard as ass. The Japanese and US version of SplatterHouse 3 each have differences, such as special attacks being different inputs and doing different things (the spin kick for example), and the Japanese version give you more time and bosses have less health, making for an easier time, though the special attacks don't do much damage there. Another little difference is the location of items such as health and power-ups.

New to the SplatterHouse series is the implementation of a "Power Gauge". During the course of the game, collecting orbs fills your Power Guage, and at any point, you can use all the power you built up to become a super form of Rick. In this form, Rick has more powerful attacks and even a special "Multi-fist" attack that attacks on all sides. It helps when you're fighting either particularly tough enemies or bosses that need to get put down quick.



The biggest gripe with this game, in my opinion, is that it is flat out hard as shit. Some enemies have hits that come at way too long a range and can cause cheap hits. When Rick gets knocked down, he takes forever to get back up, wasting time, and when you lose a life, you're penalized with the loss of nearly 10 seconds. As I said earlier, time is precious, and when enemies hit you with cheap shots several times in a row, it can cause some major frustrations. The bosses also have way too much health and you never really know how much they actually have unless they show they're being damaged, like losing a head or a face, or bleeding.

In all fairness, SplatterHouse 3 succeeded in being different than the other games in the series, but it failed to strike home despite being a fantastic experience. A little more polishing and this game probably could have been the best in the entire series. SplatterHouse 2 still edges it out for me, if we're being honest, but 3 is still great, nonetheless. 7/10



Visuals: The leap in visual fidelity from SplatterHouse 2 to 3 is one of the most astounding things regarding this series, to be honest. This game was released literally seven months after SplatterHouse 2 and somehow they made the game one of the best looking on the Genesis in its entire library. The settings look gorgeous, the enemies detailed and dementedly grotesque, and most of all, it has, in my opinion, the best iteration of the Terror Mask in the entire series, something that would later be used for SplatterHouse (2010). Maybe I might be overrating the game a bit, but for 1993, it's incredibly hard to find a game that looks as fantastic as SplatterHouse 3. 10/10



Audio: SplatterHouse 3's music is an interesting gift from one "Milky Eiko" Kaneda (who also did the SplatterHouse 2 soundtrack). On one hand, unlike SplatterHouse 2, which is consistently good, this game has both some of the best and worst songs in the series. For the most part, it's a mixed bag, but when the music is good, it is by far better than anything else in the series. When it's not so good, it's droning, loud, and full of headache inducing screeches of noise. There is also bit-crushed voice acting that sounds great in this game, for the few times it appears. The sounds all have an excellent thump and impact to them that allows for great feeling for when you just want to keep beating up monsters. With all that said, I still stand by the opinion this is probably the best soundtrack for the series in spite of some of the crap tracks, just for the sheer quality of the good songs. 9/10


TL/DR Summary: SplatterHouse 3 is an oft-forgotten hidden gem of the SEGA Genesis, but it's one of the better games in the SplatterHouse series and one of the best looking games on the console, period. An incredible rarity, the game fetches upwards of nearly $500~ for a full set. Reproduction cartridges however are like $12~ if you're into the Repro scene. My advice would be to purchase SplatterHouse (2010), since that game legitimately has the original trilogy as bonuses for playing the game proper.

Final Grade: 8.5/10

Next Thursday:

 

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Metal Gear



Original Console: MSX2

Original Release Date: July 7, 1987

Developer: Konami

Plot: The year is 1995, in Africa, news is leaked of a nation state, Outer Heaven, procuring nuclear capabilities. It is revealed they kidnapped nuclear physicist Pettrovich Madnar, who developed a top secret weapon named Metal Gear. U.S. Special Forces FOXHOUND member Grey Fox infiltrates Outer Heaven and subsequently disappears. A rookie by the name of Solid Snake is sent to infiltrate the country, rescue Grey Fox and Dr. Madnar, as well as destroy Metal Gear if possible. 8/10



Gameplay: Here we are, the first of many reviews I will be doing for the Metal Gear franchise. Metal Gear originally was not supposed to be a stealth game, it was originally supposed to be an action shooter. However, Hideo Kojima, the developer of the game, found the MSX2's hardware incapable of producing lots of sprites and characters on the screen, so he changed the game to a stealth action game. Right away, the seeds are planted in the Metal Gear franchise with this installment.

The game begins by giving you three branching paths, indicating that there is going to be a lot of exploration, so get comfortable. Your job is to sneak around enemies, dispatching them quietly at times to progress, while also rescuing hostages, and getting as many items as you can. Surprisingly, unlike many of the other games in the franchise, Metal Gear has a sense of pacing and brevity that allows the player to work as he wants, and the dialogue in the game is brisk and sparse, which is almost unbelievable in today's Metal Gear games.

The enemies are actually not as tough in the beginning, but they can kill you quickly. The niche to these guys is that they have really bad vision. Like, you can dance around them pretty easily, since the only way they can spot you is if you are directly in front of you or you shoot a gun. They also have these really predictable moving patterns. Overall, the enemies aren't that difficult but at the same time, if you're caught off guard, you will get killed pretty easily. It's a nice balance that the game carries.



There's also a leveling up system that Solid Snake goes through in the game. The more people you save, the more stars you gain. At one star, you're weak and pretty pathetic, but by level 3 you're destroying tanks and helicopters and jumping off buildings! The downside is that you NEED those stars to be able to beat Metal Gear, the final boss of the game. You can lose them pretty easily by killing the hostages, so it's best you avoid getting all gun happy.

Also, a LOT of Metal Gear's niches were born from this game, such as having to cycle through keycards just to open a door, which is a major annoyance when you're in a gas room. Not only that, but there is also a lot of backtracking, just like in the other Metal Gear Solid games, this is mostly to keep what is in reality a pretty short game, a lot longer by keeping the player moving (Much like Resident Evil).

Overall, the game has some of the best Level Design in a series you can see. Considering this came out in 1987, this was one of, if not, the best level design of the 1980's, towering over Mega Man, CastleVania, and even The Legend of Zelda. It had very smart design choices that made it stand out among many of the contemporary games of its time. The gameplay is (just like Castle Wolfenstein and the sequel, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein) a progenitor to what would become an incredibly popular genre in the late 1990's and 2000's. 8/10



Visuals: The MSX2's visual capabilities were somewhat superior to the NES, considering it is a computer console. The game does have smart visual choices, ranging from a cramped and claustrophobic military complex to a wide and expansive desert. The game looks very dark and dusty and it helps move the game along by showing a somewhat modernistic military establishment. While not the greatest, it fits the game perfectly and enhances the experience. 7/10



Audio: The music in the game is pretty great, and the audio is limited but fits the game. The music however was not to the MSX2's full potential and thus has something lacking within it, but carries a very military tone and still, once again, fits the game. The tune's also are some of the best tunes in gaming, and even though the Theme of Tara is one you'll hear most of the time, it's a god damn masterpiece of very sneaking music. The other pieces are also fantastic, especially Red Alert. 8/10


TL/DR Summary: Metal Gear is a really damn good game, although overshadowed by its sequels, but it has some very smart level design and as a progenitor of the series, it is incredible. This game is actually on Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and on the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, so it is highly recommended you purchase them instead of going out of your way to buy the original MSX cartridge.

Final Grade: 8/10

Next Saturday:

 
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