Category Archives: Little Bits of Gaming Main Menu

The Xbox Series X

So the new Xbox console has finally been revealed. There’s really very, very little to go on other than pure cosmetic appearance at the moment, so this article isn’t going to be in-depth or anything, just me offering my very first impressions on Microsoft’s new console.

I don’t like it. Told you this wasn’t going to be in-depth.

Xbox Series X Console

Honestly, I think it’s lazy and ugly. For me, when a new generation of console is released, I want it to be new. Just sticking with Microsoft for this rant, take a look at all their machines up to this point. The Xbox 360 looked radically different to the previous Xbox and the same could be said about the Xbox One/X over the 360. They all had their own unique look, style and identity, they represented a whole new generation of gaming. But this Xbox Series X just looks like an overweight Xbox One X. All they have done it take the previous console and make it look like a fridge…

Xbox Fridge

Given the fact that the Xbox One has suffered relatively poor sales, The PlayStation 4 has sold around 91 million units this generation with the Xbox One selling closer to 43 million… oh dear. Things have been pretty bleak for Microsoft this generation and I’m a proud owner of an Xbox One X. I think they came up with the design for the Series X because they had loads of left over plastic from the One/X they had to use up. It’s just ugly.

Then there is the name itself. The Xbox Series X? It just does not sound right. Remember when Nintendo released the Wii U after the success of the Wii and it sold poorly? A lot of that was because the name made the new console sound like a slight upgrade to the old one and it seems to me that Microsoft are just repeating Nintendo’s fatal mistake. This does not look or sound like a whole new console and I think people will assume it’s just another upgrade to the Xbox One X.

Project Scarlet was the name for this console while it was being developed and that sounded pretty great, just drop the Project bit and call it the Xbox Scarlet, sounds much better and like a whole new machine.

There really is very little shown of the new console other than a few pics and this video…

No games are shown other than some pre-rendered videos. A bit of what may be a Forza game, a spot of footie (so either FIFA or PES) and a taste of Halo. Again, these are not actual games or gameplay footage, just videos. So until we see what this console can actually do, there’s really not much to talk about. But at least one game was shown with Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 which was said to have been running in real-time on the new Series X. But to me, it still just looked like video and not actual gameplay.

But I do want to say how the Xbox One launch was a total disaster, what with Microsoft forcing the useless peripheral no one wanted with the Kinect onto people, the talk of having to always being connected to the internet, DRM and all the other gubbins they mentioned. It made a lot of people angry and this was where Microsoft lost the sales. Then after launch and the exclusive games were just not there and are still lacking now. If Microsoft really want to get the upper hand this new generation, they really need to have much better 3rd party support, better exclusives and a better launch price over Sony’s PlayStation 5. We can only wait and see what both Microsoft and Sony have planned for the full launches of their new consoles next year (more to see at E3), but for me just looking at this Xbox Series X… I’ll not be rushing out to buy one.

But this whole thing does remind me that I need a new fridge…

Black Fridge

Berzerk: The Killer Arcade Game?

So apparently, the classic 80s arcade game, Berzerk can kill people. It’s an urban legend that has been going on for a good few years now. It’s one of many urban legends related to gaming, a bit like the whole Polybius thing, the main difference being that there is no proof that Polybius even existed (it didn’t, it really didn’t). But Berzerk? Yeah it most definitely existed, people played it, lots of people, me included. But has it ever really killed anyone or been the basis for any deaths? Well that is the aim of this article, to explore the urban legend and get to the truth. But before I do get to that, perhaps an explanation as to what Berzerk is and the killer urban legend behind it.

The Game & Urban Legend

Released in 1980, designed and published by Stern Electronics and Atari. Berzerk has you playing as an unnamed human fighting his way though randomly generated mazes overrun with killer robots. The aim is to destroy all robots and move onto the next maze. It was simple enough gameplay, they all were back then. You can’t touch the walls of the maze or you’ll die you can’t touch the robots or you’ll die, you can’t get shot by the robots or you’ll die. The game featured early examples of synthesizer speech during gameplay… oh and it also featured Evil Otto, the source of the urban myth that the game could kill you.

Berzerk Screen

So here we go. Evil Otto is a character in Berzerk who appears when you spend too much time on one maze, deigned to keep you the player moving and the pace of the game high. Evil Otto is the only character in the game who is invincible, so you can’t kill him. He can also move through the walls of the maze, making avoiding him difficult. If you touch him, or more accurately, him you… you die. I mean you die in the game, not in real life. Now the thing about Evil Otto is how cheerful he is. He’s a bright yellow smiley face that bounces around the screen. He’s not scary, he’s a happy chappy. Yet the whole urban legend of Berzerk centres around him. It had been suggested that if you get a high enough score and then get killed in-game by Evil Otto, then you die in real life.

Evil Otto

But is it true? No, of course it’s not. It’s an arcade game, it can’t kill you. But researching this subject has led me down a very interesting path and one I aim to take you down too. I think I’ll need to cover this in three sub-chapters. So here we go, the birth of the Berzerk urban legend and first, it’s most (in)famous kill…

Jeff Daily

Now it has been said that Jeff was the first victim of Berzerk. Often called the ‘666 death’ (here’s a Reddit that covers the death along with mentioning another I’ll cover next). Aged 19, Jeff of Virginia is said to have played the game in his local arcade for many hours where he achieved the high score of 16,660 on the 12th of January of 1981. After playing and getting his high score, it has been reported that Jeff suffered a major heart attack and died right there in the arcade. Several places reported on the Jeff’s now infamous Berzerk death at the time and still mention it today as the first video game known to have been involved in the death of someone. It’s a story that has spread over the years and had been reported on several times by many, many people.

Berzerk Screen 2

But there’s a few things that just don’t add up here. A high score of 16,660 is possible in the game… but it’s not really that high to be honest. Even an average gamer could get a score close to that, a better one could easily obliterate it. So for Jeff Daily to get that score after playing Berzerk (as reported) for many hours and on only one credit too seems unlikely as you could get that kind of score in a few minutes. Plus the 666 in the middle of the score is awfully convenient, not impossible as each robot destroyed in the game gives you 50 points with a bonus of 10 points per robot if all are destroyed in one maze. So with a scoring system like that, a nice round score of 16,660 is mathematically possible, but it’s just very convenient and unlikely to have 666 in the middle when talking about a death related to it.

Then there is another thing I uncovered while researching this story. A Jeff Daily from Virginia did indeed die aged 19 in 1981, that’s true I even looked into it. Using familysearch.org (you need a membership) I found this information…

First Name: Jeffrey
Middle Name: NA
Last Name: Dailey
Name Suffix: NA
Birth Date: 16 January 1962
Social Security Number: 225-94-5973
Place Of Issuance: Virginia
Last Residence: NA
Zip Code Of Last Residence: NA
Death Date: May 1981
Estimated Age At Death: 19

So yeah, there was a Jeff Daily or at least a Jeffrey Dailey aged 19 who died in Virginia just as the urban legend has said for decades now.  But the death date doesn’t match up as Berzerk Jeff Daily was said to have died on the 12th of January, 1981. This Jeffrey Dailey died in May 1981… and this is the only Jeff/Jeffrey Daily/ Dailey from Virginia to die in 1981, I checked and double checked. Oh and Jeffrey Dailey was nowhere near an arcade or Berzerk when he died either, he died in a car crash and is buried in Holly Lawn Cemetery in Suffolk City, Virginia. Again, I checked.

So there is zero evidence to suggest that anyone called Jeff Daily, aged 19 from Virginia died after playing Berzerk. Zero, zilch, nadda, nowt, nothing. I can find nothing to prove the story is true, not even a mention in a local newspaper. So that’s it then, the end of the urban legend with it’s most famous story shot down… only it’s not because at least two people did actually die after playing Berzerk, not fictional made up people with similar names to someone else who died. But real people.

Peter Bukowski

The 3rd of April, 1982, Peter Bukowski aged 18 of South Holland, Illinois went into Friar Tuck’s Game Room to play some video games. Just like most teens caught up in those early days of video games, Peter quickly became a fan. He was instantly drawn to Berzerk and dropped a few coins into the machine. He played a couple of games and got himself a high score too, he put his initials into the game and decided to play another game. Once more, he got a high score and once more he put his initials in. Proud of his gaming achievement, he stepped away from the game, turned around and took a few more steps before collapsing. One of the workers at the arcade rushed over and began to preform CPR while an ambulance was called. Peter was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. It was later revealed that Peter Bukowski suffered from a previously undiagnosed heart condition called Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia and he had even suffered a mild, unnoticed heart attack a few weeks previously.

Peter had walked to the arcade after visiting both a couple friends and his girlfriend, a round trip of just over four miles. It had also been snowing which made the walk more difficult. All this excursion is thought to have aggravated his then unknown heart condition. Even friends he was with at the time noticed he was short of breath by the time they all arrived at the arcade. So yeah, that is one death after paying Berzerk, but it wasn’t Evil Otto that killed Peter, it was his unknown heart condition.

Here are a few clippings from various sources who, at time, reported on Peter’s death…

Berzerk Death

Berzerk Death 2

Gaming mag

Edward Clark Jr

Then six years later another Berzerk linked death occurred with a very strange coincidence. It was the 20th of March, 1988 when Edward Clark Jr aged 17 walked into Friar Tuck’s Game Room… the very same arcade that Peter Bukowski was in when he died in 1982. Edward and his friends walked around the arcade looking to find some games to play. They spotted the Berzerk arcade machine… the exact same one that Peter Bukowski played just before he died. Sitting on the cabinet were a few coins that someone seemingly had left there. So Edward took one of the coins and put it into the Berzerk game and played. This was when Pedro Roberts, 16 stepped forward and claimed that the money was his and that Edward now owed him for the coin he had just spent.

Threats were made between the two teens and an argument began before a fight broke out. A staff member had to separate the brawling teenagers and decided to kick them both out to avoid any more trouble. Knowing kicking them both out at the same time would be a bad idea, the staff member told Pedro Roberts to leave first and then waited around ten minuted or so before ordering Edward Clark to leave and telling him to walk the opposite way that Pedro had gone earlier… advice Edward didn’t take.

Edward and his friends walked along the street and though a car park, but they didn’t know that Pedro had been hiding in an alley waiting. As Edward and his friends strolled past, Pedro jumped out from his hiding spot rushed toward his victim and plunged a knife into his chest. Edward Clark was bundled into the back of his friend’s car and driven to the hospital but he died shorty after arrival. Pedro Roberts was convicted of the murder in 1990 and was sentenced to an eleven year prison sentence. I apologise in advance for the poor quality image coming up, it’s the best I could find…

Clark Murder.jpg


Berzerk TShirt

So there you have it, the truth about Berzerk: The Killer Arcade Game. Truth is the game never killed anyone directly. The most famous related death, the one that kick started the whole urban legend didn’t even happen. The other two indirect deaths were linked to a heart condition and a petty fight over a coin. It’s more than safe to play Berzerk, I have many times.

Next in my Halloween special. A look at a supposed film curse

The Ghosts ‘n Goblins Saga

I’ve not done any big articles this year as I’ve been busy writing my books. But it’s Halloween time again and I do love me some Halloween. I’m a big horror fan so this time of year is a great excuse to sit around and watch some classic horror films or play some scary games… oh and write some Halloween special articles.

I’ve done some belting Halloween articles over the years, even if I do say so myself. Normally I tend to stick with horror movies for my Halloween specials and rarely give games a mention. This year I’m doing both, I originally had four articles planned, two gaming ones and two film ones (though the same film)… but then something Halloween related came to my attention a few weeks back and so I wrote another one, which ended up becoming very large and I had to split it into two. Anyway, that means I have six Halloween articles coming over the next few days.

So all being told, I have several other Halloween articles coming this week, both film and gaming too but before I get to them, I’m going to kick off my Halloween celebration by covering every game in Capcom’s and Sir Arthur’s ghoulish adventures spanning twenty five years…

Ghosts ‘n Goblins

Released in the arcade in 1985 before being ported to every popular gaming machine at the time. The original Ghosts ‘n Goblins features a simple and classic story. Girl (Princess Prin Prin) get’s kidnapped (by a flying demon) and you (Sir Arthur) have to save her. It’s story is simple, however, Ghosts ‘n Goblins gameplay is anything but. This game’s difficulty is legendary, but before I get to that, a quick look at it’s gameplay.

Ghost N Goblins Poster.jpg

So Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a scrolling action/platformer/shooter. Playing as Sir Arthur, you make your way through graveyards, forests, ghost towns, an underground demon realm and a multi-level castle. All you have to do is make your way from the graveyard at the start and reach the castle at the end. Taking on various enemies like zombies, ravens, mini-devils, skeletons and other spooky foes. Along the way you’ll find various pick-ups from treasure to boost your score and even weapons that can help or even hinder your progress.

Sir Arthur has no health bar, this was the days of real gaming. No health, no save states, no checkpoints. You payed the game from start to end (if you could) with limited lives, lose all your lives and it was game over. Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a legendarily tough challenge, while there is no health bar, Arthur could take two hits before dying. One hit removes his armour and leaves him running around in his undercrackers but another hit after that and you were brown bread.

Ghost N Goblins Death

But the lack of health and limited lives are the least of your worries. This game is old school hard, but one of those where the more you play, the more you learn, so you make little advancements each time you play. But it gets worse… see, even if you do manage to get to the castle at the end and battle you way to the top and come face to face with the mastermind behind the kidnapping of your lass… even  if you do manage to beat the big boss man, Astaroth. You have to go back to the start and finish the whole game again and on a harder difficulty setting too. Ghosts ‘n Goblins is legendarily cruel but also one of the most playable games of the 80s and still is today too. Got it on my Xbox, play it quite often when I feel like punishing myself.

Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

After the success of Ghosts ‘n Goblins, of course there was a sequel. Released in 1988 for the arcades before (again) being ported to every popular system at the time. This time around, Princess Prin Prin isn’t kidnapped, she’s killed and her soul taken, along with all the souls of the citizens of the kingdom by Lucifer himself. Arthur sets out once more to take on the big red bastard and get back all those stolen souls.

Ghouls N Ghosts Magic.jpg

The baisc gameplay for the original is back with a few tweaks. Arthur can now shoot in more directions, up and down instead of just left and right. The levels themselves are much more varied and exploreable. The weapons have been improved and there is now the addition of golden armour which adds another power level to your weapon and magic attacks. Then there are the hidden secrets when you jump is specific spots and uncover a hidden chest that could contain a nice bonus or a not so nice booby prize. You still have to make your way through various spooky levels battling demons and the undead. It’s essentially the same basic game, but with many, many refinements.

Oh and there is something else carried over for the original too, the difficulty. Now I personally didn’t find Ghouls ‘n Ghosts as hard as the first game, but it’s still bloody hard. And yes, that damn fake ending and having to back to the beginning and play through the entire game again on a harder difficulty setting. A fine sequel to a classic game but for me, it just doesn’t hold that same ‘classic’ status as the original.

Gargoyle’s Quest

Next up in the franchise wasn’t a direct sequel, but a spin off. Gargoyle’s Quest was released in 1990 for the Nintendo Game Boy. This time you play as the gargoyle Firebrand, who was actually an enemy in Ghosts ‘n Goblins. You have to battle King Breager in order to bring piece to the Demon Realm, the world the first game takes place in.

The gameplay in this one shifts slightly from the classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins template. That side scrolling action is still there with the platforming and so on. But there is the addition of overhead Zelda-like exploration and light RPG elements. Firebrand had a basic skill set that can improve over time, jump higher, stronger firepower, hover, etc. Each side scrolling level ends with a boss fight, classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins style.

Gargoyle's Quest Screen.jpg

Overall, Gargoyle’s Quest is really good. It’s heart is still Ghosts ‘n Goblins but it manages to do it’s own thing at the same time too. A nice little action/adventure game that stands out as one of the better ones of it’s time.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

Now and again, a sequel game comes along that is just sublime. They don’t happen often, but when they do, they’re pure genius. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is one of those very few. Released in 1991 for the SNES, this is the third ‘proper’ game in the series. With you playing as Arthur once more and having to save a kidnapped Princess Prin Prin again, this time from Emperor Sardius. Arthur also has to find the Goddess’s Bracelet, the only weapon capable of destroying the evil Emperor.

Super Ghouls N Ghosts Title.jpg

There’s a very good reason why this is called Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts… aside from it being on the Super Nintendo and a lot of the console’s games had the prefix of ‘super’. The main reason is the fact the game is exactly that, it’s super. It takes everything great about the first two games, then fine tunes and refines everything. The multiple directional shooting is back, as is the golden armour and magic, etc from the last sequel all return. But then there is the truly amazing level design, the shifting land of The Dead Place level, the Mode-7 twisting and turning of The Ghoul’s Stomach stage and the general creepiness of The Rotting Sea ghost ship area. The whole game oozes atmosphere and a beautifully dark and scary art style. The levels in this game are some of the finest ever seen on the SNES and definitely the best in the entire franchise. One of the finest action/platformers ever made and still highly playable today.

Super Ghouls N Ghosts Screen

Oh yes, that punishing difficulty is also back… and yes, so is all that being forced to play through the game twice, the second time on a harder difficulty too. Yeah this is classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins and for me, the best game in the series.

Gargoyle’s Quest II

Next up is the sequel to the spin off with Gargoyle’s Quest II. Released for the NES in 1992, you play as Firebrand again with a basic plot of having to save the Ghoul Realm once more. I guess I should point out that this sequel is actually a prequel set before the events of the first game.

Gargoyle's Quest II Screen

Gargoyle’s Quest II is pretty much more of the same, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all as the first game was pretty good. It once more brings back that overhead action/light RPG thing and mixes it with more traditional side scrolling, Ghosts ‘n Goblins platforming action. A more refined version of the first game and one that is still very playable today.

Demon’s Crest

The main games in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise took a bit of a break for a while as next up was Demon’s Crest. This was the third game in the Gargoyle’s Quest spin off series released in 1994 for the SNES. Yup, Firebrand is back as he has to find six magical stones… or crests which he uses to rule the Demon Realm, only for a rival demon, Phalanx who tires to stop our anti-hero from finishing his task.

Demon's Crest Screen.png

Yup, this is again, pretty much more of the same. Basic RPG, exploration with side scrolling action. But this time around, the game features more depth and variety. Firebrand’s skills set has been improved, the world map is much bigger with more places to visit and explore and the game even feature multiple endings plus a secret final ending. With each crest you find, Firebrand earns a new skill that will allow him to explore an area even more, so the levels have some replayability. The graphics are wonderfully bleak and very Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts-like, giving off a very nice and spooky horror vibe.

Demon’s Crest is a great title and one that is often overlooked, the best of the Gargoyle’s Quest spin off series. If you have a SNES (or emulator) you really should play this one.

Makaimura for WonderSwan

So this one is a bit of an oddity. First I think I’d better quickly cover what the title means. So the WonderSwan was a black & white handheld console from Bandai that was meant to rival Nintendo’s Game Boy… it didn’t, it pretty much failed. As for Makaimura? Well that was the original Japanese title for the very first Ghosts ‘n Goblins game, with Makaimura basically translating to Demon World Village… which does pretty much sum up the first game. Oh and by the way, I didn’t add the name of the game console to the title of the game… that is the official title. Anyway, on with the game itself.

So you play as Arthur again as he battles the evil Azrael who has gone and kidnapped Princess Prin Prin (of course and why not, everyone else has). So Arthur sets out to battle hordes of demons and the undead to get his girl back.

As I said before, this is a bit of an oddity. I believe it was only ever released in Japan and in 1999. Now as far as I can tell, it’s not a sequel or a prequel, but more of a reimagining of the first game. There’s no multi-directional shooting here, this is pure Ghosts ‘n Goblins simplicity, left to right shooting only. But it does seem to borrow from the sequels in terms of it’s graphics. Much more simplified for the handheld limitations and black & white graphics, but the game definitely uses assets from the earlier sequels. Plus there’s a branching paths idea on some of the levels where you chose different ways to go. Then some levels require you to turn the console itself 90 degrees as the gameplay shifts from horizontal play to vertical.

Makaimura for WonderSwan Screen.jpg

You know what? Makaimura for WonderSwan (full title) is a great little title. It’s plays more like the original game with is simplicity, but it also throws in some Ghouls ‘n Ghosts/Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts tweaks to keep things fresh and exciting. Oh and yes like previous games in the series, you have to finish it twice to see the proper ending. If you get chance, give this one a go.

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory

So I guess this is the start of the second spin off series within the main franchise. Released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2, this one has you playing as King Maximo who has to save the kidnapped (of course he does) Queen Sophia from the evil Achille, who uses the power if the undead to try and take over the world… with the help from the Grim Reaper himself.

Maximo Ghosts to Glory Screen.png

So this one is not a direct sequel to the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise but more of it’s close cousin. It does play pretty much the same but with some big changes. The biggest departure from the main series is the viewpoint. Gone are the 2D, sprite based graphics and gone too is the side scrolling action. Maximo: Ghosts to Glory is fully 3D and set in a semi-open world environment. It’s also more ‘hack ‘n slash’ style gameplay over the arcade shooting and platforming of the previous games. The game is split into five main worlds with each world made up from four levels and a boss fight. You can go and explore each level at will as you hack down numerous ghoulish enemies. Find weapons and power ups, end Achille’s evil plans and rescue Queen Sophia, job’s a good ‘un.

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory’s roots are most definitely in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise, but it’s also it’s own thing. Even the loss of your armour and running around in your boxer shorts from the main games in the series makes it’s way into this one, along with other nods and references to the original games. It’s a cracking action game and a nice addition and evolution of the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise.

Maximo vs. Army of Zin

Yup, Maximo is back in this 2003 sequel to the second Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise spin off. Picking up directly after the events of the previous game, (SPOILERS) Maximo didn’t quite save Sophia and has to team up with the Grim Reaper again to save the love of his life. Only this time, the village is attacked by the titular Army of Zin who are powered by lost souls under the direction of Lord Bane. So yeah, Maximo sets out to try and save Queen Sophia (again) and stop Lord Bane.

Maximo vs. Army of Zin Screen.jpg

Still maintaining that hack ‘n slash gameplay from the previous title, the levels are bigger and more varied but still have that semi-open world concept that you can explore at will. There’s also interaction with the villagers and other NPCs who offer advice and even various bonuses in a very lose RPG style. Maximo vs. Army of Zin is another solid title. Nothing too taxing gameplay wise, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s simple but fun hack ‘n slash, with a bit of platforming action game. Both Maximo games are worth checking out.

There hadn’t been a ‘proper’ Ghosts ‘n Goblins game since the release of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts back in 1991. Spin offs and interesting oddities yes, but not a real Ghosts ‘n Goblins game for over a decade, until…

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins

Finally, after fifteen years and released in 2006 for the PlayStation Portable, Arthur is back. Guess what? He has to rescue the kidnapped Princess Prin Prin. I’ll not bother with the predicable and banal story. Arthur has to battle the undead to rescue princess.. again. That’s it. It’s the gameplay that’s worth looking at here.

Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins Screen

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is a wonderful melding of classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins with more than a generous pinch of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts/Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts thrown in. Using that basic but effective 2D scrolling that the franchise is famed for, only with lovely 3D graphics. The game features three different play modes, Novice, Standard and Ultimate. Novice is pretty self-explanatory, it’s an easy mode. Standard is the intermediate setting and with both of these modes, you get a much easier go at the game with fewer enemies, more generous bonuses and overall simpler gameplay. But it is the Ultimate mode where the game really comes to life. This is old school Ghosts ‘n Goblins level of difficulty. Fewer lives, two hit deaths, no checkpoints, etc.

The older weapons are back as well as a few new ones, golden armour and magic from the sequels also returns along with a slew of bells and whistles. Unlike previous games in the franchise, you can go back and replay levels at will, which you will have to do if you want to finish the game proper. Gong back on previously completed levels can uncover various secrets. It’s actually impossible to see the true ending unless you do go back and explore previously competed levels.

Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins Screen 2.png

Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins is amazing. I still have a major weak spot for Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts which, for me is still the best in the franchise. But this one is a very close second and a very welcome return to form for Sir Arthur. The graphics are very moody, atmospheric and really bring back memories of playing the original games. The levels are wonderfully designed and feature some classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins enemies as well as a slew of new ones. Then there are the huge and impressive end of level bosses. Plus playing it the hardest setting is the only real why to enjoy Ultimate Ghosts ‘n Goblins.

And that is pretty much it for the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise. Arthur himself has had a few notable appearances outside of the games. There was a manga series called Hisshō Tekunikku Kan Peki-ban in which he appeared. He also showed up in a crossover Archie Comics series called Worlds Unite where he crossed paths with other gaming icons like Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. Arthur has also showed up in other games such as Cannon Spike, Namco x Capcom and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes to name a few. His famous costume can even be found in We Love Golf, Dead Rising 2 and Monster Hunter Generations.

Okay, okay. So there’s a handful of other oddities I guess I should look at before I bring this one to an end. There were ‘technically’ two other Ghosts ‘n Goblins games. I’ll cover both of these as one because, well there not really worth going into in depth and they’re pretty much the same game anyway.

Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Gold Knights I & II

So Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Gold Knights are two ‘games’ released on iOS in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Yes that’s right iOS, mobile games. They’re okay at best. Not really true Ghosts ‘n Goblins games though. Full of the cancer of gaming, the microtransaction, so you can pay your way to win.

Video game image #98184

The gameplay is pretty much what you’d expect. Run around shooting enemies, Ghosts ‘n Goblins style… but it all feels very ’empty’. The controls were very ‘woolly’ and felt unresponsive for the most part. You could play as characters other than Arthur for the first time in the (main) franchise, that was an interesting addition as each character had their own strengths and weaknesses. The gameplay itself was just okay. I guess they are not terrible games, but they’re not really worth shouting about either. Not that it really matters as both games were pulled from the Apple App store in 2016.

So there is one final thing I just want to quickly look at, an unofficial ‘sequel’ to Ghosts ‘n Goblins.

Beyond the Ice Palace

So this tit-bit is slightly lesser known I guess. A quick bit of gaming history to explain the backstory to this one I feel. The home computer versions of the original Ghosts ‘n Goblins were published by British gaming studio, Elite Systems. Now the home ports of Ghosts ‘n Goblins were a big hit. So understandably, Elite wanted to capitalise on this, they wanted a sequel and fast. Not wanting to wait for Capcom to make their next game, Elite decided to make their own unofficial ‘sequel’.

They took the idea to Capcom who told them to stop work on the game because they were already working on Ghouls ‘N Ghosts at the time. Elite had all this work done in the game, it was even originally called Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Beyond the Ice Palace too and also featured Sir Arthur. So Elite had this sequel made, but couldn’t sell it as Capcom wouldn’t allow it. Eventually, Elite just dropped the Ghosts ‘n Goblins prefix, gave the main character a makeover, tweaked the plot and released the game as Beyond the Ice Palace for home computers in 1988 instead.

Beyond the Ice Palace Screen.png

Now if you play Beyond the Ice Palace, you will see a lot of  similarities in the gameplay between it and Ghosts ‘n Goblins. The platforming/shooting action is there, many of the enemies are variants on those found in Ghosts ‘n Goblins, a lot of the weapon pick ups are also the same. In fact, the entire setting for this game is based on stages 4 and 5 (Entrance of the Demon Realm Castle and the castle itself) of Ghosts ‘n Goblins.

So yeah, the little known Beyond the Ice Palace was originally a sequel to the home computer ports of Ghosts ‘n Goblins. Another little tit-bit about this game is that when Elite lost the rights to use the Ghosts ‘n Goblins name, they tried to sell the game as a Thundercats tie-in. The deal also fell through so just released the game as is… also note how the main character looks a bit like Lion-O from Thundercats but with a different colour scheme?


 

There have been some heavy rumours that Capcom are looking at reviving some of their older IPs after the success of the Resident Evil II remake and Devil May Cry V from earlier this year. Fingers crossed they are looking at Ghosts ‘n Goblins. I’d love to see a complete  Ghosts ‘n Goblins collection with all the games in the main series and spin offs remastered with new features. But an all new Ghosts ‘n Goblins game for the modern audience still using that classic gameplay would be amazing. Some kind of remake/reboot.

Well that’s finally it for my look at the Ghosts ‘n Goblins franchise for Halloween. But I have several more articles coming up this week to celebrate Halloween. Next up, the story of an arcade game that is said to have killed people in real life… or did it?

Red Dead Redemption II, A Year Later…

It’s been a year since the release of Red Dead Redemption II and what a fine game it was. But now the dust has settled and it has had more time to resonate with me, I thought I’d take a look at just how great it was and ask if it still is? Now, there will be quite a few comparisons to the original RDR in this one… and just for the record, when I refer to ‘the original RDR‘ or ‘first’ I do mean Redemption not Revolver. Just thought I’d throw that in there to appease all those pedantic people.

So for me, the big question I aim to answer is how RDR II has held up? But before I got to that, I need to paint a picture of just how excited I was for the release of Red Dead Redemption II. Quick pre-warning, there will be SPOILERS ahead if you’ve not finished the game.

Back in 2010, Rockstar Games (when they were releasing top quality titles consistently instead of milking online modes and microtransactions and then releasing one game every ten years) released the first Red Dead Redemption. This was a coming together of a few of my favourite things. It was Rockstar Games when they were at the top of their game, mixed with a Wild West setting. RDR was heavily inspired by classic Western cinema, especially the Spaghetti Western sub-genre. If Sergio Leone had ever gotten in to making games, he would’ve made Red Dead Redemption.

RDR Title.jpg

For me, RDR was/is one of the most perfect games ever created. It had a great story, fantastic characters and of course, tip-top gameplay. Since it’s original release up to today, I’ve lost count of how many times I have played and finished RDR. I remember first finishing the game and then as soon as the credits finished rolling, I started a new game. I know I must have completed the game at least five times in the first twelve months of it’s release. I’ve also played through it a few more times over the years since then too. When it was made backward compatible for the Xbox One a couple of years back, I played through RDR again. Then it was given a 4K update… and yes, I played though it once more before the release of RDR II. And you know what? I played though it again fairly recently just a handful of months back. All told, I’ve lost count of how many times I played and finished RDR over the last nine years, but I’ve got to be in double figures easily. RDR is like an all time classic movie that you just never get bored of watching, it’s the gaming equivalent of Die Hard, The Terminator, The Blues Brothers, Goodfellas, The Breakfast Club, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2

For me, Red Dead Redemption is the greatest game I’ve ever played to date. So when the sequel (prequel) was announced, of course I was excited. Us RDR fans had been waiting almost a decade since the first game was released. The year long delay from it’s original reveal to it’s release was like waiting a lifetime and as soon as a concrete release date for Red Dead Redemption II was announced, I booked two weeks off work. It took me less than three minutes from when the release date was announced for me to reel off an email to work putting in a holiday request, an email I had already pre-written and just needed to put in the dates. The girlfriend suggested we go away somewhere nice and warm, get some sun. Me? Nah, I’m playing Red Dead Redemption II.

That day my pre-ordered copy came though my letter box at 9:17 am on the 26th of October, 2018, I tore through the package like an excited 6 year old on Christmas Day. The two greatest days of my life up to that point were the birth of our daughter and RDR II release day. The cellophane was cleaved and mutilated from box which was quickly opened and the disc removed to be installed within seconds, as my Xbox One X waited for it’s food. Two discs, two Blurays? This was going to be gargantuan. The install time felt longer than that one year delay of the game as I sat there watching that instillation bar slowly fill. And then, it was ready to play, finally after eight years… RDR II was here. I got the cervezas ready, sat back and began to play. Seriously…

RDR II Me And Beer

I played thorough Red Dead Redemption II and had a lot of praise for it. But that was a year ago and the way I measure a great game is if it’s still great after a decent period of time. As I’ve already covered, I’ve played through the first RDR many times since it’s release in 2010 (at least five times in it’s first year) and you know what? I’m sure I’ll play though it again too. But how does RDR II stand after twelve months? In short, it doesn’t, at least not for me personally.

I’m not saying that RDR II is not a great game, it is, it’s amazing. But looking at it now as apposed to my initial reaction last year. It’s problems and issues are much clearer to me. I think most of RDR II‘s problems come from one simple fact, the game was overproduced. The lack of Leslie Benzies and his direction is painfully apparent in the game. If you look back on previous Rockstar games overseen by Leslie, including the first RDR, they are sleeker, tidier, much more refined. The main problem I have with RDR II is that it contains a lot of unnecessary filler. No one at Rockstar was there to stop and think ‘do we really need this?’. So everything was thrown in even when it was not needed. Case in point… the hunting.

I’ll be honest, I think the hunting mechanics in RDR II are amazing. You have to track the animals, you can use binoculars, or a scoped weapon to spot them from a distance. Then there are the different quality pelts. You can have low quality, one star skins or much higher quality three star ones. And adding to that, the weapon you use to kill the animals can damage the pelts, so if you want to maintain the quality, you need to use the right weapon and even ammo. Different quality skins can will fetch different prices when you sell them, plus the quality is also important for upgrades, etc. To know which weapon to use, you have to study the animals, maybe even kill a few to better understand them. Then there is the fact you give of an odour the animals can smell, so best to hunt downwind.

RDR II Hunting

Seriously, the hunting in the game has so much crammed into it, you can’t help but adore the attention to detail. Some dedicated hunting games don’t have this level of detail and mechanics in them… which is the problem. I’m not playing a dedicated hunting game, I’m playing RDR II. In order to upgrade your camp in the game, you have to hunt and most of the time, you need pristine skins. Now because of the random nature of the spawning of the animals, there is no guarantee you’ll get a perfect pelt to use. Adding on the that, some animals are rare and only spawn in one or two spots on the map… if they spawn at all that is. There’s an upgrade that requires two perfect cougar pelts. Now cougars only spawn in two places on the map. To get this upgrade I had to hunt cougars and only cougars for five days to get perfect pelts. Often the cougars that would spawn had lesser skins, often they just didn’t appear at all. Five bloody days and I wasn’t doing other things then a bit of hunting on the side, I was just hinting cougars… five days, real world days too not in-game days.

Remember the hunting in the first RDR? See the animal, kill it, skin it, get pelt… job done. No studying animals, no worrying about using the right weapon and ammo. It worked and worked well, so why add all this added guff? I’m not saying the hunting didn’t need to be improved or that it shouldn’t have been, but more a case of it doesn’t need all the crap thrown in that it now has. It’s too much. Again, I think the hunting mechanics in RDR II are great, if I was paying a hunting game.

RDR II Fast Travel

Now let’s look at fast travel… which you need to hunt to get an upgrade for your camp to do in the first place. With a big, open world game like RDR, you need fast travel. Even if you don’t use it, it’s just a nice thing to have just in case. So let’s assume you’ve gone though the tedium of hunting to get the fast travel upgrade in RDR II. Now it’s time to use it. So you can only fast travel from your camp and only to the towns on the map, which is massively restrictive as you have to go back to your camp each time you want to fast travel elsewhere and then, your options are very limited. Now, you can get trains to go from train station to train station, you can also get stage coaches to go from town to town. The options are there, but still restrictive. The boundaries forced into the fast travel make it pointless most of the time. Look at the fast travel in RDR. Set up a camp anywhere (as long as it wasn’t too close to a town) and fast travel anywhere on the map, to any town, even your own placed way-points. That’s it and you could get to any part of the map with ease. Bearing in mind the the map is RDR was smaller that the map in RDR II, meaning fast travel is far more important in the sequel… so why make it far more restrictive? That’s not an advancement, it’s several steps backwards. Just like the hunting, it’s adding obstacles that simply don’t need to be there.

Carrying weapons. In RDR you could hold and carry any of the weapons you find and chose from any of them whenever you wanted. You can’t do that in RDR II. Once more, it restricts you to one main weapon and one pistol. Your horse now holds all your weapons, so if you ever want to change things up, you have to get to your horse and go through the pain of fiddling around with the awkward weapon wheel (more on this next) to change a gun. So you’re in the middle of a gunfight and the shotgun you have just does not have the range to take out the bad guys, need to swap to a rifle? Tough. You now have to find your horse or call it into the middle of a gun fight to change your guns. This was never a problem in the first game. You just swapped the weapon whenever you wanted cos you could hold whatever you wanted.

These few examples are a big issue for me, the restrictions the game put on you or the over complications of things like hunting. It slows the game down it makes things a lot more awkward then they needed to be.

Now for that awkward weapon wheel thing I mentioned. Just as with the hunting, it’s overloaded with options and, if I recall, there are actually three inventory wheel things to navigate. You have one for your weapons, one for your inventory and then another for your horse items. Again, look at the first game, it’s just so much more streamlined and easy to use. But with RDR II, everything is overtly complicated just to do something so simple.

Red Dead Redemption 2_20181031134628

So you have the weapon wheel where you keep your weapons (surprise!). Using it seems pretty natural to be honest, but it’s not without it’s issues. I’ve already covered the whole carrying weapons thing and that is the main issue with it. But then there are the other wheels added into the mix and using them requires so many button presses and varying combos, it just gets awkward. There are so many multiple button presses within other button presses that you end up playing a mini game of Twister with your fingers and game controller. Look at using the fishing rod as an instance. After you awkwardly select it, you have to use the same button to bait the thing as you do to put it away. One you do by just pressing the button and the other by holding it. Of course, you’ll often forget which us which so end up putting the rod away when you mean to bait it and visa versa.

This is an issue with pretty much everything in the game, because there are so many options and variables, there are just not enough buttons on the controller. So many buttons end up doing double or even triple duty while you have to hold or press another button, making the controls a lot more finicky then they need to be. Just doing something as simple as talking to an NPC can prove tricky as you first have to lock onto the person to bring up yet another set of new button presses and if you do that while forgetting you have your gun out… well you’re in trouble. The amount of gun fights I have gotten into when I didn’t mean to is ridiculous. I think one of my biggest gripes with RDR II is the overall controls, everything is just too convoluted and counter-intuitive. Don’t even get me started on the crafting in the game with it’s numerous menus, items, button presses and so on. Everything is so damn slow.

RDR II Crafting

I think the controls in recent Rockstar games have begun to feel a little dated, I thought as much back with GTA V and RDR II has not improved anything, it’s gotten worse. I don’t know but it seems to me (and others) that the controls in RDR II want to do their own thing when you want to do something else entirely, it just feels like a continual fight. It all goes against your muscle memory and instead of pressing buttons on an instant that feels natural, you have to check and double check the button prompts that not only are you holding down the correct button to bring up specific options/menu, but that you also press the right button while ensuring you are holding down the correct button… and then check to see you have the right button prompt on screen to press.

There there is the inclusion of RPG/survival elements. The cores to your health, etc. They just didn’t need to be there. I’d love to play a hardcore survival game set in the Wild West era and RDR II incorporated minimal elements of such a game… but it didn’t go far enough with them to make them effective, so they came across as pointless. Instead, you get this kind if limbo game caught between an action/adventure title and a survival game, and it doesn’t quite gel. Overall, Red Dead Redemption II felt very confused to me as if it wasn’t sure exactly what it wanted to be. Is it trying to be a hardcore Wild West sim with strict rules and overtly complicated menus RPG style or is it trying to be an action packed sequel to the first game?

I also need to address the very slow pace of the game. I had no issues with the storytelling, I thoroughly enjoyed it in fact. But man, this game is so damn slow. Things like the fast travel I’ve already covered. But just doing something as simple, as going to the start of a mission can be a chore, especially when it’s over the other side of the big map. The game is gorgeous to look at, especially in 4K and all the very slow horse travelling is great at first because you can take in the beautiful scenery the game offers. But after a while, it all begins to grate and you just want to get to the place you need to be at and crack on. The very limited fast travel does not help (unlike the first game), so you have little choice other than to just sit on your horse and get slowly bored. Occasionally, you might come across a random encounter to make your journey a little less boring, but how may times can you shoot the chains off a fleeing prisoner before you get bored? About three is the answer to that, but it happens dozens and dozens of times. This isn’t like GTA where you are in a car travelling at speed and having to weave in and out of traffic as you make your way to your location, that’s pretty exciting and holds your interest. RDR II is about slowly trotting along on a horse and not doing much of anything. I suppose you could stop off and do some hunting… if it wasn’t so damn tedious.

RDR II Scenery

But speaking of the slow pace, I do need to bring up the epilogue of the game. Man, this was boring. I wrote an article on how the most boring part of RDR was my favourite and explained why too. I still stand by that. I loved the ending where you play as John Marston trying to make a name for himself as a farmer, the slower pace was a welcome change after everything that came before it and the slow building of tension was amazing. A very similar thing happens in RDR II after the main story finishes and Arthur dies… but it’s just horrible. Playing as John again was a nice surprise, but the whole thing is tedious and drags on for way too long. Teaching a ranch owner’s son how to ride a horse, having to go into town to buy materials to build a house… and then having to build said house, having a date with your wife and getting a photo done, etc. It was all utterly pointless. It worked in the first game as there was a sense on unease, foreboding that something was going to go wrong now John was a free man (and it did)… but we already know the story of John as RDR II is a prequel, so we know he’s not in any real danger. There was nothing to fear or be concerned about at all. Just a really long winded and tenuous epilogue leading to the exact point we knew it would.

RDR II Epilogue

As I said at the start, I think Red Dead Redemption II has been over produced. Just because you come up with an idea to include something, doesn’t mean you should include it. The whole game just needed ‘editing’ down a bit and no one was there to do such a thing. I’ve already mentioned how I have played and re-played the first game a lot over the years including at least five times in it’s first year. I played and finished RDR II and yes, I started a new game… but I’ve never really played it much since then. It’s only while writing this just now that I realised that I’ve not bothered to go through the game a second time because everything felt like a chore and I got bored quickly.

RDR II, while more advanced, feels like several steps backward from the original game. It’s over cluttered with filler where it didn’t need to be, it’s slow and gets boring several times . I’ll happily agree that RDR II is better written with a stronger story. I’ll even say that Arthur Morgan was a better realised character than John Marston… but the first game just played much better and John felt like a more fun character to play as too. It didn’t have all the unnecessary filler, it didn’t feel like it needed trimming. But RDR II does.

RDR is a slender and stream-lined athlete, it was the Muhammad Ali of video games, cocky and arrogant but utterly charming and had the talent to back up it’s reputation. But RDR II is Eric ‘Butterbean’ Esch, it’s big, brash, overweight and while it packs a punch to get the job done… you can’t help but think how great it could be if it lost some weight. Watching a Butterbean fight is entertaining, but you really want to be watching the legendary Rumble In The Jungle instead.

RDR II Fist Fight

I liked playing Red Dead Redemption II, it has more than a few moments of greatness. Elements of the game are pure genius, but also felt underwhelmed and disappointed by it at the same time. I feel that that is what the game is, a collection of great moments and not a great game as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back and finish my second play through of the game, even a year later, but I do know I’ll most definitely be going back to Red Dead Redemption again in the future. It’s just a far better and leaner game.

Now that is out of the way, I can start my Halloween specials for this year…

Halloween Is Coming…

I’ve not done much writing for my blog this year as I’ve been busy working on my books and short stories. I’ve done a handful of smaller articles and write ups, but nothing big. No retrospectives, no big celebrations. I love doing more in depth articles but just haven’t had the time this year.

But Halloween is a time of year I really enjoy. I have to do something to help celebrate. So I ceased work on my book(s) for a while to do a big Halloween blow-out spectacular! Coming Halloween week will be four articles, two gaming and two movie ones. There are retrospectives as well as spine tinging topics related to Halloween, scary games and films. My two movie articles actually cover the same film, but different topics relating to it. I even have a fifth Halloween article planned and if the timing works out, it’ll be published too.

Either way, there are most definitely at least four Halloween specials coming this year. So it all you regular readers, those if you following my blog (thanks). I know I’ve been a tad lax with this blog this year as my attention is focused on my books… but there’s a hefty Halloween special coming soon. Stay tuned…

Blair Witch (The Game Not The Film)

So there’s a new Blair Witch game out. It’s from Polish developers Bloober Team. Not their first foray into the horror game genre as they also had a pretty decent hit with Layers of Fear in 2016 and it’s sequel earlier this year. They were also the same team behind the very overlooked Observer from 2017.

There is one thing all of the above games share in common, the emphasis on psychological horror. So Bloober Team seem to be the perfect developers to make a game set in the Blair Witch universe. Now I’ve never been a fan of the franchise, I thought the first film was utter crap. I was aware of it’s sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and I watched it… it too was utter crap. I thought that was it for the franchise. Then after playing the game, I thought I’d look into everything Blair Witch and bloody hell, there’s even more utter crap. There are comic books, novels, real and faux documentaries and even other video games that I didn’t know exited other than this one. Even more so… there was another official Blair Witch flick released in 2016 that is a direct sequel to the original and only after playing the game and researching the franchise did I learn that the game is set between the original and the 2016 films. Oh and yes I thought I’d best sit down to watch the film just so I have seen all three of them… and yes, it’s utter crap too. There’s even a T.V. show in the works. I just don’t understand how something so utter crap can be so popular. Mind you, Justin Bieber exists…

Anywhoo, the point is that I really fail to see the appeal of the franchise as everything I’ve experienced with it has been utter crap. Still, I do love me some horror gaming. I enjoyed Bloober Team’s Layers of Fear for what it was and I did start playing Observer and really bloody enjoyed it too, then I got distracted by another thing I’m doing and forgot to get back into it, will do that sometime and see the game through to the end. There’s a lot to appreciate with Team Bloober’s games, they do handle the horror sub-genre really well. Which leads me to Blair Witch (the game not the film). I did approach this one with some trepidation, as I said, I’m not a fan of the films nor the franchise as a whole. But I have enjoyed other titles from the same developers, so I went into this one with an open mind and hoping to really enjoy it.

First I’ll quickly cover the plot.
Set in 199something (I lost interest), you play as Ellis. An ex-soldier and former cop who unofficially joins the search for a missing boy in the famed Black Hills Forest… and that’s about it. You’re looking for a missing boy. Now, I guess there is a bit more to the plot going on in the background, such as Ellis’ PTSD… which makes up for most of the blindingly obvious scares in the game. Ellis is joined by his trusty dog Bullet, who is both the best and worst thing about the game. So you and Bullet go in search of the missing boy and along the way, that darn PTSD mixed with the strange shenanigans of the titular Blair Witch herself sends poor Ellis down a spiral of insanity. Can you find and save the missing boy before you go bat-shit?

Blair Witch Phone

Overall, I just found the game boring. But before I get into that, there are a few elements I enjoyed. I liked the 199something setting as it lends way to some nice retro restrictions that work. For example, Ellis has an old mobile Nokia-like phone which does come into play through the game from receiving texts and calls to even being able to customise the ring tone and screen saver… oh and you can even play classic games on it too. Remember Snake? Yes you can play it on the in game phone, which is just as well as it’s better than Blair Witch.

For the most part, your trusty canine is fun too. You can send him to look for clues, he will (literally) sniff out a path for you to follow, you can praise or scold him… not that it makes any difference to the game itself mind you. He’s a fun little companion. But remember how I said Bullet is both the best and worst part of the game? Well he is. Yeah he’s cute and yeah he’s helpful… but his AI is atrocious. There’s no real combat in the game, but you do occasionally encounter these spindly woodland monsters that you have to defeat by shining a torch at them. This is where Bullet is supposed to come into power has he sniffs out the hard to spot and super fast meanies and points you in the direction they are coming from for you to zap them with the light before they can hit you. That is what he’s supposed to do, but most of the time he runs around aimlessly and by the time he settles down to point out where the forest monster is, it’s already hit you. I even had one point in the game where Bullet just ran around a signpost while I got slaughtered by the undetectable bastards. Fuck that dog.

Blair Witch Dog

For the most part of the game, you just walk around the woods and get poorly thought out and obvious jump scares… just like the film then. There’s some well integrated use of a camcorder (remember those kids?) as you find special tapes you can play and manipulate your surroundings with if you rewind and pause the tapes at the right time. Example: there’s a locked door you can’t open, you find one of these tapes that shows someone unlocking and opening the door. You go back to where the door was, play the tape to the point the door is opened, pause the tape and the door will be open in your game. It’s a nice idea… but that’s it, it’s one puzzle that keeps popping up over and over in the game. The exact same puzzle solved the exact same way just with a slightly different hat. Oh look a tree has fallen and is blocking your path, oh look a tape that shows said tree falling down. Oh look, some rubble blocking a doorway, oh look a tape showing the rubble fall. Oh look…

Blair Witch also suffers from some serious technical issues too. I played it on my Xbox One X… “the world’s most powerful console” as Microsoft like to brag. Even so, I kept encountering slowdown and terrible pop-up scenery along with numerous other bugs and glitches. I can play Red Dead Redemption II with it’s huge and sprawling open world, gorgeous scenery and dozens of on screen characters going about their daily lives no problem… but Blair Witch with it’s single character (for the most part) and a dog in a very restrictive forest area with little to no variation and mostly in the dark… that’s a struggle to run is it? Yeah, yeah I know that Bloober Team are not as big and don’t have the resources that Rockstar Games have… but Blair Witch is not a big or expansive game in comparison.

Blair Witch Camp

Even outside of the technical issues (I had Bullet trapped in a wall at one point), it’s just not a very good game… it’s dull. The scares are way too obvious and telegraphed leaving no surprise. I mean the main guy has PTSD from his soldering days… I don’t need to carry on here do I? Whatever scares you have in mind right now, they are in the game (flashbacks to his soldier days, check. Suggestion he killed his comrades, check. Jump scareds of being shot at, check…) It’s just too obvious. The continual walking around the forest gets tedious quick as the same jump scares pop up. You’ve seen it all before. The game claims to to track your behaviour in order to learn what scares you and use that to frighten the player… I didn’t experience any of that during my play through, I just kept getting the same and easy to see from a mile off jump scares. It got to a point where it just stopped being scary, that’s if Blair Witch could even be considered ‘scary’ to begin with (it’s not).

You want to see PTSD done well in a game? Go play Spec Ops: The Line. I wasn’t a big fan of the game itself, but the way they depicted PTSD was amazing. Subtlety and creativity are the key, not jump scares.

This could’ve been great, it could’ve been genuinely scary and got into the players head if it had been more cerebral. But it just doesn’t bother. Instead it relies on horror game and movie cliches that you’ve seen over and over and over again.

Now to be fair, the game does get very slightly interesting in the final act when you finally find the house where the not at all scary Blair Witch lives. The game gets really creative with it’s engine and use of the camcorder. Quite honestly, it’s great… but it goes and ruins the whole atmosphere by just needlessly dragging it out for too long. You get the same asinine puzzles again, the same jump scares again, the same shit over and over. At first, it’s like a breath of fresh air after all that traipsing around in a dark forest, it’s nice to see something ‘different’. The finale should have lasted 15 minutes or so, but it goes on and on for an hour, maybe longer. At that point, you just want the damn game to end before you fall asleep.

Blair Witch House

It’s not even a big game with a 4, maybe 5 hour playtime from start to end. There are multiple endings but to be honest, after a single play through, I have no intention of going back to find the other endings. There is little point in multiple endings when the game is so boring the first time.

I really wanted to like this despite not being s fan of the franchise. I really wanted a good and scary horror game. I set the right environment too. Played it alone, in the dark, late at night and wearing headphones. But it’s just too damn dull to be scary. I’m going back to Bloober Team’s Observer.

Tarantino Video Games, Why Aren’t There More?

Still really looking forward to going to see the new QT flick this weekend. After my article looking at my favourite scenes in Tarantino movies, I began to wonder why there haven’t been many games based on his movies. Seriously, some of QT’s pictures would make really interesting games, you’d think there’d be loads of them. Yet name three games based on his flicks… you can’t can you?

Now, there was a game based on one of his movies. Reservoir Dogs, released in 2006. But I wanted to look into why more of his films haven’t had the video game treatment, offer a few suggestions and even uncover some interesting tit-bits. But before all of that, I guess I’d better take a look at that previously mentioned Reservoir Dogs game.

Reservoir Dogs Game

Developed by Volatile Games and published by Eidos Interactive. The game follows the same plot as the film with a rag-tag group of criminals carrying out a diamond heist that goes wrong. The gameplay mixes up third person action with drivings sections. Now, the film didn’t actually show the heist go down, nor did it show most of the aftermath of the heist. But what gaps are in the film are filled in via the game. As an example, Mr Blonde turning psycho and going on a killing spree is mentioned in the film but we never see it. Well in the game, you not only see what was left to our imagination in the film, you get to play it.

There was an interesting mechanic in the game were you could act professional, not kill people and keep damage to a minimum or you could go full psycho and kill anyone you saw. Taking hostages was a key element as you could force the police to drop their weapons so you don’t have to kill them. You get the general idea. Depending on how you played, professional or psycho, the game’s ending would change.

On paper, Reservoir Dogs was a great idea. To take the film’s plot and expand on it, showing events we only hear about in the flick. But to be honest, it was a dog to play. Stiff controls, bland levels and highly repetitive. The game received mostly average reviews at the time and it was hard to argue against them. The game is very, very average. A great idea just poorly executed.

And you know what, that’s just about it for Quentin Tarantino movie based games… well okay, there is one more. Released in 2017 was yet another game based on the same movie. Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days.

Where as the previous game was directly based on the film, this one is more ‘inspired by’ the movie and takes a lot of creative license. I’ve not played it so can’t really comment, but it hasn’t had very good reviews. From the trailer, it looks a bit bland to me. A top-down shooter with some kind of rewind feature.

So that’s it, only two games based on his movies and they were both Reservoir Dogs too. Officially anyway, there are several fan-made games that exist based on other QT’s flicks. See, this got me thinking, why have there not been more Tarantino movie based games? Most people seem to think it’s because his flicks are dialogue heavy so wouldn’t translate to a game very well. I’d just like to go back to the first Reservoir Dogs game, based on a movie that is 90% dialogue. But it worked, okay so the gameplay was a little stale, but as I said, on paper it was a great idea. In the hands of a better and more experienced development team the Reservoir Dogs game could’ve been brilliant. Imagine if Rockstar had made it? I mean, look at what they did with The Warriors game from 2005, it was amazing.

Anyway, my point is that with a little effort and imagination, a dialogue heavy movie could work as a game. So with that in mind, I’m going to pitch a few QT movie game ideas. Reservoir Dogs has been done (twice), so I don’t feel the need to cover that one, but what about his other flicks?

Pulp Fiction

I didn’t see this one as an action game but more of a graphic adventure one. I was thinking something along the lines of the now defunct Telltale Games type of titles. Imagine a slower paced adventure where the choices you make change and affect the story. What if Vincent didn’t mange to save Mia from the overdose and Marsellus came after him? What if Jules decided not to leave the life of a hitman? If Butch didn’t go back to stop Marsellus from being raped?

You could play through the game following the plot as in the film, or you could stray from the script and see alternate scenes and dialogue. Make your own Pulp Fiction.

Jackie Brown

Okay so I don’t have much for this one. It’s a tricky one to turn into a game really. The best I could come up with was a prequel telling the story of Ordell Robbie and Louis Gara’s relationship. It is mentioned in the flick that Louis had just gotten out of jail after serving time for armed robbery. There are a few references that he and Ordell use to be close friends and got up to some criminal activities together before Ordell got into gun-running.

Jackie Brown Ordell

So there could be something there. Perhaps a third person cover/shooter game following the criminal lives of a younger Ordell and Louis? Could even be co-op, think something along the lines of Army Of Two or Kane & Lynch… only good.

Kill Bill

Come on, how is Kill Bill not a game already? It’s basically a video game in film format. You controlling ‘The Bride’ going on her rip-roaring rampage of revenge travelling the world as she tracks down those who killed her unborn baby. This is perfect game fodder. A mix of shooter and swordplay, see the Shadow Warrior games as a great example of how to do it.

Well here’s the thing, there very nearly was a Kill Bill game. It was in development but ended up being cancelled around 2005-ish. It was being developed by Black Label Games and an early demo even existed showing some basic moves from the game…

There’s enough material in Kill Bill to make an epic title. You don’t even have to be bound by the movie only. How about a game that follows the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad before the events of the film? An origin story of Bill himself and his falling out with Hattori Hanzō? It could be a huge, expansive game that builds on what is already in the films as well as incorporate the flick’s main story.

Death Proof

A game about driving American muscle cars really fast and killing people? This could be amazing. Again, you don’t have to be bound by the story of the game and could explore Stuntman Mike’s obsession with killing beautiful women with his car, how/why did he began doing it. I was thinking it could even have an online element. An asymmetrical multiplayer game where one person plays as Stuntman Mike with the others as his victims trying to escape. Think Friday the 13th: The Game but with fast cars.

Or how about a game where you play as Stuntman Mike just doing stunts? There already have been stuntman games with Stuntman and Stuntman: Ignition and they were pretty damn good too. So how about playing as Stuntman Mike before he turned homicidal and just worked as a stuntman making T.V. shows and movies?

The film has the greatest car chase caught on film, I’m sure a game could be made based off the last chase alone.

Inglourious Basterds

How a game based on the idea of a bunch of crazy World War II soldiers trying to kill loads of Nazi’s and Hitler does not exist is beyond me. Yeah I know there already are plenty of WW II based games… but none based on QT’s flick.

Inglourious Basterds Aldo

Could be a team based thing where you play alone or with friends controlling the various ‘basterds’ each with differing strengths, weaknesses and skill sets. Doesn’t have to be based solely on the flick either, I’m sure the basterds have been on several other missions through the war. Get some creative licence in here and there could be a great WW II game blending fiction with fact to create an alternate universe where the Inglourious Basterds stopped the war.

Django Unchained

Red Dead Redemption is one of my all time favourite games and it’s definitely my favourite game released in the last decade. Being a cowboy has never been so damn awesome. I want more cowboy games and yet they are pretty thin on the ground.

Why not a game inspired by Django Unchained? I don’t think we need one that follows the plot of the film, but how about a sequel game that tells what Django got up to after the film’s credits rolled? He’s a freed ex-slave turned bounty hunter . Yeah I’d love to play a Western (or Southern as QT calls it) bounty hunter game. Some kind of open world thing where you travel from town to town taking on bounties and having to bring them in dead or alive. Of course the game doesn’t have to be solely about being a bounty hunter and could explore Django’s relationship with his wife and how he becomes a descendant to the black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks… Shaft!… cos QT has said that this is the case.

Django Unchained Django

Throw in other gameplay elements and build the story. Basically what I’m proposing is Red Dead Django.

The Hateful Eight

Okay I admit, I got nothing for this one. Despite the fact The Hateful Eight is basically Reservoir Dogs wearing a cowboy hat with it’s minimal cast and locales. It’s story based on tension and deception… I still have nothing. You can’t really do a retread of the Reservoir Dogs game because that used the idea of the heist as it’s basis, but there is no heist in The Hateful Eight. What you have in this flick is several people taking to each other and no one trusting the next guy… and coffee drinking.

Maybe you could make an action game exploring the Domergue gang before Daisy was captured? I dunno, that’s all I got here.

So this is where I originally ended the article, but as I read through it, I realised I forgot a film that would make an awesome game…

From Dusk Till Dawn

Now I know he didn’t direct this one, but he did write and star in it. As with previous suggestions, there are multiple games that could be made here. A prequel looking at the Gecko brother’s criminal career. One directly based on the events in the film itself with all hell breaking loose at the Titty Twister, an OTT vampire game. But instead of ending like the film does with Seth leaving for El Wray, he stays on and explores the temple under the bar to end the vampires for good. I was thinking something along the lines of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver with a large, expansive locale to explore while killing numerous vampires in all sorts of gruesome and ingenious way, using the scenery, etc.

From Dusk Till Dawn Seth


So that’s it, my suggestions on how Quentin Tarantino movies could be turned into games… but there’s more. See, as I researched this I found something interesting. QT himself has a bit of a history with video games. I’m sure many of you remember the whole CD-ROM revolution of the 90s. There was a period fairly early on in the decade when CDs became the got to format for games when there was an influx of FMV games. These titles were often pretty poor excuses for games that held little to zero gameplay and just showcased full motion video (FMV). Horrendous titles like The Daedalous Encounter, the Make My Video trilogy and of course I can’t help but mention Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties.

Well a certain film writer/director got in on the CD-ROM/FMV video game craze in the 90s and made his own game. No not Tarantino but Steven Spielberg with his effort called: Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair released in 1996. It was a bare basic ‘game’ where you are given a load of film clips and have to edit them together, choose camera angles, etc to make a ‘film’. So what does this have to do with Quentin Tarantino?

Well one of the clips you can edit…

Yup, that’s QT himself ‘acting’ in a clip from a shitty FMV game. The game was released in 1996 but apparently the footage was filmed in the early 90s before Quentin hit it big with Reservoir Dogs. He did this (along with selling film scripts) to help raise funds for his first film.

And yes, that is Jennifer Aniston too.