2010 Halloween Spooktacular (Part III)
October 31, 2010


Day 1: Vampire Killer (MSX2)
Released only a month after the original Famicom Disk game and sharing the same Japanese title of Akumajou Dracula, this MSX2 cartridge features nearly identical (but noticeably sharper) graphics, monsters, and music as its iconic console sibling. At a cursory glance it might even resemble a simple port, but this impression couldn't be more incorrect Vampire Killer immediately stands out as a dramatic departure from the rest of the franchise even as its influence can be felt in Simon's Quest, Dracula X, and Symphony of the Night.



Day 2: SplatterHouse 2 (Genesis)
The controls are stiffer than one of its endless supply of corpses, and the average level is a short, uninspired advance from left to right punching identical hordes of muck-encrusted undead while occasionally hopping over a hole in the floor. But since our hero can only withstand a few hits before collapsing in a lumpy heap, it's all but required that you perfectly memorize all the enemy patterns through painstaking repetition until reaching the boss with full health. There's only one reason this cartridge wasn't totally lost to the shadows of mediocrity it has enough gore to fill a swimming pool.



Day 3: Haunted Casino (Saturn)
A typical match with one of the seven available dealers is divided into three separate rounds wherein she starts out in corsets and colorful gowns before being reduced to filmy, silken underthings that leave nothing to the imagination until they too are cast aside to reveal naught but cold, creamy flesh for the final battle. These garments are handed over to the very approving imp in exchange for heaving stacks of chips nearly as abundant as those newly revealed pleasure globes until at last your bankrupt beauty goes down with a hilariously inept video of the poor lass being sucked into a black hole, presumably in search of some pants.



Day 4: Sins of the Fathers (PC)
Whether in the role of silver-tongued conman or paranormal investigator, Gabriel Knight is definitely someone you'll want to know; his career might have begun just as the entire adventure genre was taking those first, faltering steps on its slow descent into irrelevance, but Sins of the Fathers masterfully demonstrates why Sierra On-Line once drove the computer industry.



Day 5: Shin Megami Tensei (Super NES)
For Kazuya, a perfectly ordinary Japanese youth, it had been a perfectly ordinary beginning to a perfectly ordinary day: having roused himself from slightly sticky dreams of men that are hung (from crucifixes) and sapphire-haired devil ladies proclaiming their eternal love, our hero spends his morning downloading the hottest apps off the local BBS (look it up) before heading out on an adventuresome quest for fresh milk. Then his mom gets eviscerated by a demon from the rather similarly torn bowels of the underworld, he accidentally transmogrifies the faithful family hound into Cerberus, and the world ends. It's at around that point that the day really starts to go downhill.



Day 6: Vampire: Bloodlines (PC)
It's seemingly impossible to so much as turn over a rock in Bloodlines without encountering more pasty-faced neck biters that you can shake a sharpened stake at, but there's otherwise very little about this game that sucks. These aren't the sorts of vampires who constantly whine about their lost humanity or take annoying teenage princesses to the prom, either; we're talking about hard-drinking and even harder-dying undead anarchists packing UZIs who'd just as soon rip your head off and use it to shoot hoops in the dirty, haunted streets of downtown Los Angeles, except that kind of thing always gets the elders' velvety cloaks in a bunch. Keeping up appearances in front of the cattle and all that; they have nuclear missiles instead of holy water and boomerangs these days.



Day 7: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PlayStation)
Whether as a loving tribute to the series' glorious past or a striking declaration of its subsequent revival, Symphony of the Night will make any 2D enthusiast shed bloody tears of joy. Thematically a sequel to the equally legendary Rondo of Blood, this nocturne in the moonlight takes its predecessor's newfound emphasis on nonlinearity to an entirely new level a seemingly preordained marriage to Super Metroid, now laden with haunting gothic atmosphere and a ridiculous amount of character growth for protagonist Alucard, the outwardly delicate but incredibly potent dhampir prince first introduced in Akumajou Densetsu.

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