Day 1: SplatterHouse 3 (Genesis)
From the day it first oozed forth into unsuspecting arcades, the SplatterHouse franchise has been synonymous with outrageous violence, undying horrors from beyond the grave . . . and equally musty gameplay. Yet where its predecessors may have been stiff, simplistic side-scrollers, this third installment chucks out the old formula like so many decapitated heads in favor of brutal beat 'em up action featuring a few novel twists.
Day 2: The Colonel's Bequest (PC)
Greed. Sex. Murder. Yes, The Colonel's Bequest has all the good things in life. It's even set in the heart of the Roaring Twenties, but unfortunately for the lovely Laura Bow there won't be any time for bootleg hooch or the devil's jazz. Our spunky flame haired sleuth instead finds herself surrounded by an ever dwindling cast of shifty suspects on Colonel Henri Dijon's crumbling bayou plantation, because nothing livens up a creepy old house quite like death.
Day 3: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
There's the worn signage and crumbling brick of villages that tower over intricate catwalks of staircases, a setting so vividly recreated when it was put to the torch in Dracula X. There are the nocturnal treks through thick forestry in pursuit of bouncing werewolves and suspicious ferrymen who'll take you "someplace good," or the skeletons forlornly hanging in chains beneath the bowels of haunted mansions. And of course, a classic compilation of music that was even enhanced over the original disk release: the now legendary chords of "Bloody Tears" that accompany your travels, the less celebrated but similarly excellent "Silence of Daylight" in town, and that spine-tingling tune upon finally stepping into the ruined halls of Castlevania itself.
Day 4: Tecmo's Deception (PlayStation)
This is the story of Henry the merchant, a loveless miser who nonetheless ventures to the darkest depths of distant Zemekia in search of the fabled Castle of the Damned and handsome profits. After all, even the sadistic blackguard reputed to dwell there must surely appreciate those little niceties like silken bat wings, eyes of newt, and the carefully bottled tears of heartbroken virgins. Unfortunately this portly peddler's greed comes to an ignoble end when he finds himself impaled upon poisoned steel spikes that suddenly shriek forth from a nearby wall.
Day 5: Demon's Crest (Super NES)
The abyssal awesomeness of Demon's Crest should have made it a darkly glittering jewel in Capcom's crown rather than a jester's cap of bells. Not only can you expect a stylish showcase of the macabre, but an unconventional formula that's best described as "Mega Man from Hell."
Day 6: Resident Evil: Director's Cut (PlayStation)
The game that put Shinji Mikami on the map may owe an obvious debt to the creepy Cthulhu-conjuring madness of Alone in the Dark, but there's a reason that his own franchise went on to become an unstoppable money-making juggernaut while its predecessor slipped away into obscurity. Infogrames had already defined the concept of cobbling together inventory puzzles from the graphic adventure genre alongside combat with deformed monstrosities that refused to rest in peace, but now you had to carefully conserve a limited resource of weapons and healing items, nor could you carry more than a few objects at any given time. Was it better to clear out a room that you'd need to access frequently, or risk dashing in and out around them? Take another herb with you just in case or save room for newly discovered keys? Each subsequent sequel greatly expanded upon the formula introduced here, even reinventing it from the ground up with considerable success after the series began to stagnate – and that original formula was rock solid to begin with.
Day 7: Bloody Bride: Imadoki no Vampire (PlayStation)
As you'd expect from any Atlus release, the concept is nothing short of unique: thrust into the billowing cape of Phaid, teenaged vampire prince of the netherworld, you've been temporarily exiled to the mysterious human realm known as "Japan" in search of a virgin bride, not for tawdry thrills but in order to sup upon her sweet, innocent blood.
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