It’s been a hectic and/or stressful time around here and I didn’t get to post this before Halloween. However, I believe that to have a decent blog, one must post with some regularity.
I was subbing for a Graphic Design class with a room full of computers. About a quarter of the class was entranced by Parsec Production’s Slender: the eight pages. The whole Slenderman phenomenon has really captured the attention of young people. The game (based on an internet meme) is minimalistic and wonderfully creepy. If you have time, check it out. During the class, I decided to write a quickie list of games that have made me check behind my back.
In no particular order.
1.)Faxanadu (1988, NES)
A title from a broader series of games from Japan, Faxanadu was the only one that was exported to the U.S. When I was twelve, this left me feeling like this game was a one-shot, and under-publicized outing for the NES. I was fortunate to have it in my library. The game was a unique side-scrolling action/adventure game similar to Zelda 2: the adventure of Link. One of the standout aspects of Faxanadu is the soundtrack. This is also integral to one of the creepiest parts of the game: the Land of Mist. In the second quarter of the game, you find your character in a land shrouded in fog. The soundtrack captures the isolation, mystery and just plain weirdness of your location. This was also the toughest part of the game for my older brother and I. We spent hours trying to progress and was easy to get lost.
2.) Super Mario Bros. Advance/Super Mario Bros. 2 (2001, Game Boy Advance)
As one of the GBA’s launch titles, SMB Advance had to showcase the capabilities of the handheld. Super Mario Advance was a remake of Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES). This time around, the game had enhanced sound, graphics and some new game elements. It also enhanced the creep factor of one of the game’s many enemies: Phanto. Phanto is a haunted mask that relentlessly pursues your character after you pick up a special key. The only way to shake Phanto loose is to drop the key, which is counterproductive as you need the key to move on. Getting ahead of Phanto was a pretty stressful situation, but the updated version made it creepy.
3.) Silent Hill 4: the room
Although this is considered the beginning of the downward slope in this survival-horror series, it still manages to have some unsettling moments. Your character wakes up in his apartment and finds that he is trapped from the inside. In order to escape, he must discover the gristly secret of his apartment building. *SPOILER* When you get a specific item from the game’s antagonist, it makes your room (which up to that point, is a safe haven) a den of horrors.
4.) Aliens: the computer game (1986, Commodore 64)
This Commodore 64 adaptation of the Cameron film was the best 27 dollars I ever spent (Thanks to my Tata for the Crown Royal bag of coins!). Each stage is based on a key scene in the film. The second part of the game may look like an action shoot-fest, but it’s not! You have to guide four marines to the safety of the APC vehicle before they are overwhelmed by the Aliens. There is no soundtrack and the sound effects only add to the tension of the situation. The worst part about this is that if your marines are dead, they stay dead. That’s tough news considering that you need as many as possible for a later stage.
5.) Bioshock (2007, PC)
I’m aware a lot of dissection and dissemination has taken place in regards to 2K Games’ storytelling masterpiece. Heck, I based part of my Masters exam on this game! There are also many articles that place Bioshock on their list of frightening games. That’s cool, I dig it. So I will just focus on a moment that really unnerved me. Was it the first appearance of the Big Daddy? No. It was the first scripted encounter with the “Houdini” splicer in the Arcadia (Rapture, not California) area of the game. At first it seems that you may have to help a fellow human being, but it turns out it was just a lure to ambush you. How? The crazed Houdini splicer can teleport behind you! Did I know something was up? Yes, I was suspicious. Did I go anyway? Yep, I did.
Honorable Mention: Space Fury (1983, Colecovision)
This game gets on the list not because it scared me, but the one-eyed alien at the beginning used the scare the crap out of my little sister. For a big brother, that’s all the fun I could ever ask for in a game.