Goon Review: The Walking Dead – A New Frontier Episode 5 – From the Gallows

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

Well, it’s been a long journey, but it’s finally come to end. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier wraps up in its final episode, From The Gallows, and along the way we’ve gotten to know the new protagonist, Javi, quite well. We’ve watched his relationships take shape with all the characters and if you’re like me, I chose for Javi to be caring and thoughtful towards others, especially those in his group. He’s been guiding Gabe on the right path as a father figure, even though for the most part, Gabe has been the prototypical angsty, brooding teenager with daddy issues. By this point, Gabe has actually matured past the point of annoying and is making some wise decisions and most importantly, sticking up for himself against David. I gotta hand it to my parenting skills.

From The Gallows is probably the most emotional and strongest episode of the game or at the very least on par with the first episode, including a moment that could be more emotional than Mariana’s death back in the first episode. Being the conclusion to A New Frontier, while not having the strongest plot in the series, does wrap things up in a more positive light (at least in my playthrough). Yes, no matter how bad things seemed to get in the faces of his adversaries, I never allowed Javi to walk down a dark path or allowed him to take revenge or act out of violence or become selfish no matter how hard he was pushed. In the event of an apocalypse, there needs to be some kind of hope, regardless of how far fetched or negative the situation may be and it was actually heart warming to see everything come together in a positive way. Usually, The Walking Dead games end on grim, depressing notes, but with A New Frontier there was a lot of hope and happiness. This episode isn’t without its choices, those moments you know aren’t going to end well or even having to make a decision between one thing or another, but for the most part, you’ll get the ending you that you set out to get.

For me, I just wanted to stop seeing cartoonishly portrayed power struggles, people versus people in a zombie apocalypse. It’s like all of a sudden during a catastrophe, people degrade to being brainless cavemen and begin hitting each other over the head with clubs for ownership of food and women. I dunno, maybe that’s accurate once they don’t have access to their Twitter accounts. Anyway, shit had really hit the fan in the previous episode if you recall. Tripp (or Ava depending on your decision) just got executed, Kate ran the truck into the wall which then caused Richmond to become overrun with zombies and Joan’s crew were in a firefight with Javi and his people. This makes an excellent way to open the episode, right in the middle of the action. Unfortunately, it’s about the only action in From The Gallows, but it’s memorable and manages to still be intense. Hell, it even manages to do an ol’ swaperoo. Remember how Kate ran that truck into the wall, as I just mentioned? Well, David and Javi spot a walker in the same clothes and are in total disbelief when all of a sudden, Kate comes out of nowhere and kills it. Gotcha! I was actually glad to see Kate alive, because even though they had finally admitted their feelings for each other and to tell David, they hadn’t yet and so I didn’t feel like that situation was yet a closed book.

The opportunity to tell David comes later, but for now our characters have to deal with Richmond being completely overrun with zombies. Sadly, that’s also the weakest part of this episode; whether or not to save Richmond or to bail. That’s primarily the focus here and the reason it doesn’t really work on an emotional level is because we don’t give a rat’s fuzzy ass (that’s something I heard my dad say when I was a kid when he was yelling at me and I started laughing) about anyone from Richmond. Everyone who we’ve encountered from there has been a total dickhead or a murderous sumbitch, so the actually feeling of wanting to save those people just isn’t there, but you know Javi. He’s the beacon of light in this mess or whatever, so of course my purpose is going to help these people. David, however, feels that they should all leave and I actually agreed with his reasoning. He has his family back, he’s now amended things with Clem, so why keep everyone at risk and just move on?

This also comes after Ava (if she’s still alive in your game) supposedly meets her end. They brush past it likes it’s nothing that I thought I should bring it up, because I’m not sure what I’m supposed to feel or what the game wanted me to take from it. After trying to cross a chasm and helping Javi, she’s pulled down by a zombie, but we never see her fall all the way or hit bottom. Everyone just goes, “aw, man… oh, well,” and moves on. She was such a cool character and for her to exit in such an underwhelming way, I realized she was really a missed opportunity. Something could’ve really been developed with her character, but I’ll never know.

 

This is where the game’s only real, but big choice comes in. This is where the big divide in your ending will be and we see who you’ve really become. You can flee with David or stay with Kate. Kate believes they should stay and help everyone, help clear out the zombies and seeing that I’ve been shaping Javi to be a decent person and to guide others to do the same, I agreed with her and the time finally came; the time to tell David about their feelings.Seeing as how he’s a brash and angry man, he didn’t take the news to well and begins to beat the shit out of Javi, but I, as Javi, made a promise that I would be the best man and take care of people. This is arguably the most emotional scene ever since we saw Mariana get shot in the head as you can continuously tell David that you love him no matter what as he continues to pummel you. Or you can fight back. Your choice. At the end, he takes off with Gabe and Clementine agrees to chase after them while you head back with Kate to save Richmond. That involves a bulldozer and pressing a random button to shoot zombies. It’s not very exciting.

And then literally like a knight in shining armor on a horse, Jesus reappears with his crew, cutting off the heads of zombies and helping the people of Richmond. A guy with long hair and a beard that sounds like Christian Slater doing an impression of Jack Nicholson coming back to save the people… seems like a pretty thin allegory. Not much really happens after that. Not that the episode wanders off or dwindles away, but at this point I guess everything that needed to said has been said. Final respects are paid, we catch up with the survivors in your group (including Conrad, who regardless of being shot in the head during the second episode seems to have made peace with the loss of his loved one). For me, it was nice to see Kate and Javi as a family with Gabe and plans to have another. They are finally feeling at home for the first time in a long time and are able to move on, because of your guidance. While not the strongest episode, it has very strong moments and seeing everything pay off was totally worth it. I thought the second season of The Walking Dead was alright, but I felt it fell into the the trap of pandering to the audience, aping the TV show and giving its audience exactly what they want and Michonne was just pointless and boring, so to have A New Frontier be entertaining, pretty emotional and have characters you cared about for the first time since the first season makes the game totally worth playing.

With Clem riding off into the sunset on her own mission, I can only hope she finds what she’s been looking for, but more importantly is able to finally able to settle down someplace and feel at home. I think we’ve seen the last of Javi, I feel like his story has already been told and things wrapped up rather nicely for him (well, as nice as they can in this situation). Another season (and I believe final) has been announced and I really, really hope that everything works out for poor Clementine. But I guess that’s up to me.

Goon Review: Contra Soundtrack

(Submitted by His Goon-y Greatness, Mr. Andrew Peters…Much obliged, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxox)

Contra has the honor of being the first video game that left it’s opening screen impressed in my head. Everyone remembers the title card coming in from the right to the left as those few notes jingled and finally exploded when you pressed start (after frantically trying to enter the thirty lives code, of course). Immediately, you’re dropped into a jungle warzone, one that might remind you of Predator with the beat of the music synced perfectly with the action as you worked your way through HR Giger inspired levels and enemies.

Mondo’s recent release of Contra is one for the collection, without a doubt. There’s no considering it, if you’ve played the game or know anything about Nintendo, you need to grab this iconic soundtrack. Side A is the classic NES soundtrack you’ve come to know and love, starting with the aforementioned Title Card track and then creating a creepy mood with the Introduction before setting the action pace with the Area 1: Jungle track (I know, catchy track titles). This is the one we all know and love the most, I think, because of how many times you dropped into that beginning level when starting the game. Not only that, it also rocks more than most other NES tracks out there. My favorite track was always Area 6: Energy Zone which combines both the run and gun action and the creeping terror. Plus, that name is just perfectly ‘80s, it should have been a club somewhere.

 

I have to admit… I totally forgot this was an arcade game, but for a very good reason; not many people played it once the Nintendo version was out there. To be honest, the reason I don’t recall the arcade version is because I found the NES version to be superior in every way, especially with the music. This is one exceptionally rare cases where the Nintendo soundtrack is better than the arcade version. Yes, Contra’s NES music is better than its arcade counterpart. I know it’s hard to believe, but when you listen to Side B of the vinyl, which is the same tracks in the same order with the exception of Track 2: Introduction missing and Track 12: Ranking as a new addition, you will hear the difference. Now, one of these will work better for you and I’m sure for most of you it will be the Nintendo version. The arcade version is actually something more of a cleaner, perhaps a bit more clear Genesis version, what with a very metallic sound and tin clanks. You could argue that better represents the game, but for me, nothing will compare to the NES version.

With Mondo, the artwork is just as important as the actual soundtrack itself. Afterall, it’s all about presentation and Mondo usually always nails it. Usually. Eric Powell’s artwork on the cover is cool and kinda has a comic book style to it, showcasing the two heroes, Lance and Bill, albeit muted colors and to be honest, that’s the start of my disappointment with it. Contra is bright and colorful, full of Alien-esque creature designs and very little of that is present on the cover. Sure, the background behind the two muscle clad, gun toting protagonists shows a little bit of that, but there’s more negative space to be filled that should have been used with HR Giger imagery. It seems like halfway through creating an awesome cover, the artist ran out of time or just called it quits. Again, I’m not complaining about the quality, because I think it’s quite phenomenal, but underwhelming when you consider the source material.

The inside of the jacket is something that would jump at you out of your nightmares. Fold it open and the mother or queen, whatever it was called, dominates both sides and looking to be ready to jump out at you. I really like being able to see the sketchy pencil marks underneath the finished product, giving it a grittier look, but again, it’s just muted colors. Maybe I’m misremembering Contra, but the back cover shows maybe I’m not. That is more in line of what I’m talking about.

San Diego Comic Con goers had the option of getting an exclusive tri-color vinyl with red, orange and yellow, but personally I prefer the pressing that is available which is the classic blue and red. It represents the Player One and Player Two colors that dominated Nintendo games. It’s bright, vibrant and basic. It works so well.

I could go on forever about the Contra soundtrack, but then I would just be going in circles. For most of us that grew up with the arcade and Nintendo, this is one of the most definitive soundtracks to your childhood. I think it goes beyond playing into nostalgia… it’s just a kick-ass soundtrack that every collection needs.

Goon Review: Super Castlevania IV OST

(Submitted by our Happenin’ Ho-rror Ho-mie, Mr. Andrew J. Peters…Thanks, Music Manster! 🙂 xoxo)

Mondo continues the Castlevania soundtrack bloodline with Super Castlevania IV, which marks the game’s soundtrack first foray into the 16-bit era. While music on the Sega Genesis had a tin, metallic clink sound to it, the Super Nintendo was much more bombastic, energetic and honestly, more clear and able to emulate a more orchestral score. Aside from Symphony of the Night, Super Castlevania IV is my favorite game and coming off the 8-bit games, I remember this soundtrack very well and couldn’t wait to listen to it again.

Immediately, it did not disappoint. The memory of running home from school on a Friday night and heading to the video store, picking this game up and playing it with the step-father late at night (we were big into playing the right games at the right times). I remember the eerie music droning over a black screen, keeping you anticipating what you are about to experience, followed by the opening text crawl over fog to the opening of the game. Not only did the visuals set the mood for a very ominous playthrough, but the music really brings it altogether. Combined with the graphics, you know that this is going to be a spooky experience with some action and right from the start when the Theme of Simon Belmont slowly starts as you make your way inside the castle and upon entering, the game brightens and the music kicks into full gear. You get a rush and feel like the ultimate vampire killer.

I just wanted to illustrate a picture in your head about how impactful soundtracks are to a game, especially something like Castlevania. Now that it’s on the Super Nintendo, it’s much more grandiose, allowing it pack much more of a punch. This is a soundtrack that really showed off the SNES’ musical capabilities and was just as much of an experience as the gameplay, because honestly, I don’t think this game would have totally worked if the soundtrack, well, sucked. When there are cooldown moments in the game, The Cave stage’s song is very relaxed, but something about it says that danger could still be lurking around the corner. The Waterfall has a very dooming and ominous tone to it, like you’re already at your funeral. The boss fight tunes are incredibly hair raising and nearly give me an anxiety attacking, making it harder to control the game. It adds a certain panic to the already difficult boss fight. Even Bloody Tears makes a return with much more gothic organ vibe with electronic drums, making it an interesting combination and although it’s not my favorite iteration of the track, it’s still pretty cool. Overall, I would say that this soundtrack has a very Fabio Frizzi vibe going on, making it feel like if Fulci had made the game in his prime.

Moving down the bloodline, so to speak, Mondo has been slaying (okay, okay, I’ll stop with the vampire puns) their video game soundtrack releases with the Contra series, Silent Hill and, of course, Castlevania and since we are moving on down the line with the sequels in this particular series, we finally get what is arguably the best Castlevania game’s soundtrack, Super Castlevania IV. The artwork is very, erm, eye catching, but not in the sense that you would think. Now I don’t dislike the artwork, in fact I think it’s fantastic and has a very Metalocalypse aesthetic to it, but it doesn’t look or feel like something of Mondo’s caliber… or Castlevania. Going to box art of the game, it’s very action oriented and features creatures as well as some of the castle in the game. It screams what a Castlevania game should represent. I’m not really sure what to feel here. The image on the back is lot more in the direction of what you would expect from a Castlevania game and the inside of the jacket is the map (keeping with that tradition as with all the Castlevania soundtrack releases), but I feel like this artwork misses the point. Even had said all of that, keep in mind I do like it, but I just don’t feel it properly represents the game.

The record itself is more representative of the game, with a flat grey that reminds of the rocks the castle would be built from or the oppressive nature of the game, splattered with blood red. It’s simple and maybe some would say dull, but I like the simplicity of it. It says more without saying too much and by that I mean it doesn’t need loud or wild colors to look attractive. As I look at it, I can’t help but think of the violent Gothic Hammer horror clicks and the old black and white monster movies with spider-webs and bats. Mondo really did their job here or perhaps I’m just overthinking it.

Super Castlevania IV’s soundtrack is one prime example of just how important a soundtrack can be. It walks a fine line between chilling and action oriented, appealing to both the horror and action genres. Fans will be pleased with this two 12” 180 gram LP set, featuring all 29 tracks from the game. It’s exciting, it’s haunting and I can see folks playing it at Halloween parties instead of spooky noises soundtracks. Artwork aside, I feel like this one is a masterpiece that is needed for every horror or video game aficionado’s vinyl collection.

So, what’s next? Rondo of Blood (always loved that title)? Symphony of the Night? Fans are clamoring for what should be next and the series seems to be getting released in order, so I guess we will have to lay in our coffins and wait.

#SupernaturalSaturday: Castlevania Season 1 Review

(Submitted by Birhday Boy Prince Adam…Hope your born week has been beyond a blast, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“A vampire hunter fights to save a besieged city from an army of otherworldly creatures controlled by Dracula.” (Netflix)

This animated series is based off of a third part in a video game series I have never played. I have no preconceived notions or expectations of what it’s SUPPOSED to be like. All I can say, is that the series that Netflix produced is something I really enjoyed and I’d like to see further explored. Thankfully, Castlevania has already been renewed for a second season. So my recommendation is to definitely get in on this before that eventual second season. The good news is, the first season consists of only 4 episodes, so it’s not a huge overwhelming time commitment. Surprisingly, in that 4 episode time we see Dracula fall in love, and get married. His wife is then burned at the stake by the Bishop and the people of Wallachia, for the accusation of being a witch. Dracula, when he discovers what happened to his wife, gives the people and the church a year to make peace with what they’ve done, before he wipes them off the face of the Earth. The story jumps forward a year, and we see the beginning of Dracula’s genocide on the humans. We also see the arrival of Trevor Belmont, which brings plenty of exposition about the fact that he is the last surviving member of the Belmont family, a disgraced clan of monster hunters, who have been excommunicated by the church, due to claims of being connected to dark magic. Speaking of magic, Trevor Belmont rescues a member of the Seekers, an ancient sect that uses magic to assist and help the people of Wallachia. Guess what, even they have been excommunicated from the church because of their magic. After fighting off some of the demons Dracula has unleashed on Earth, Trevor Belmont then rescues the granddaughter of the Elder of the Speakers, who is trapped in the catacombs of a cathedral. After rescuing the granddaughter, she and Belmont track down Dracula’s castle only to find a sleeping vampire Adrian Tepes. He awakens, a misunderstanding occurs and a fight ensues between the three. When Adrian revels that they fulfill a prophecy that says a vampire, hunter and a scientist will kill Dracula, they band together and hunt for Dracula.


What I loved about this series is that it respects several incarnations of the Dracula character. We have nods to the historical Vlad the Impaler, in the character’s name and the fact that he impaled his victims and skewered their head on a lance. He was also suave debonair, tall, dark and handsome. I loved that this show also highlighted that Dracula was at the forefront of science and technology, in the time period. Thus, in this story, Dr. Lisa Tepes comes to Dracula’s castle, despite knowing the myths about him, in search of his knowledge and science prowess to put into practice with her medicine. Initially, he is cold and distant, but quickly warms up to her, and witty banter kicks into high gear. Before you know it, she encourages him to start living and travelling like a human being. The series then jumps forward 20 years, they are married and Lisa is being burned at the stake as a witch for her interest in science. I wish the season had more episodes, so that we could’ve seen the development of their relationship and the change in Dracula. That way, when he snaps after her murder, it’s even more powerful and painful. I also liked the mythologies set up for both Trevor Belmont and the Belmont family. Trevor Belmont reminds me of a cross between Peter Quill aka Star Lord and Van Helsing. However, the mythology is glossed over because of the season’s short episode order. This is also true of the Speakers but we get an even more truncated version of their backstory. This seasons really needed 10-13 episodes to effectively flesh out all these storylines and backstories. Clearly though, the producers knew they were getting a second season, clearly saving plot threads for the follow up installment. While Dracula has a horrible endgame for Wallachia and its people. the true villain of this season is not Dracula, or the demons he unleashes. The villain is really The Bishop. He is going on a killing spree, taking out people who are suspected of having anything to do with magic. It is his decision to burn Lisa Tepes at the stake, which sets Dracula off on a vengeful murderous rampage. While Dracula’s ultimate endgame can’t be condoned, I can sympathize with his pain. The Bishop is doing all this, so he can be the one to defeat Dracula seen as the ultimate saviour of the Church and the people of Wallachia, ultimately ascending to the rank of Pope. The Catholic Church was full of corrupt leaders, who took part in burning witches at the stake, and using this true to life scenario because the story is set in mid-1400’s is smart. That little bit of reality set in this fantasy world, almost makes you forget this is an animated project.


Speaking of animation and the action, both were great. The art has a mix of Manga art, infused with traditional comic book art, by the likes of Michael Turner and John Romita Jr. I love the Roman/Gothic architecture of the cathedrals and Dracula’s Castle. The castle in particular looked pristine and beautiful when the lights are turned on. It’s hard to believe a vampire and demons live in such an abode. In terms of look, Dracula reminded me of a more rugged version of Luke Wilson from Dracula Untold. The gargoyle type creatures and the devil wolf dogs looked like Man-Bat mixed with Golam and direwolves mixed with Hulk Dogs, from Ang Lee’s movies. I loved that every so often, the skyline would be seen as the sun was setting. The orange/red color was more foreboding then it was beautiful, putting the viewer on notice that blood was about to be spilled. Speaking of blood being spilled, this show is damn bloody and violent and that’s great. It doesn’t shy away from showing blood and there is plenty of dismemberment that takes place. When Trevor Belmont starts kicking ass, corrupt priests lose fingers, an eyeball and even their head. In this series, Dracula can appear as a disembodied head engulfed in fire. I don’t know that this is one of his typical abilities, but it looks cool. The traditional traveling and forming from a swarm of bats is present and made this long time Dracula happy. There’s a scene at the beginning before the title card, where the bats swarm the screen. It reminded me of a more visceral, violent version of the moment in Batman Begins, where the bats swarm the screen, forming the Batman logo at the beginning of the film.


This first season of Castlevania is short, sweet, extremely dark and beautifully violent. Having said that, the four episodes feel like a combined episode of a typical live action pilot. The four episodes are all setup, for what’s to come next season. Thankfully, there’s enough mythology and demon fighting to make this an exciting thrill ride of an appetizer. Castlevania along with American Vampire, are the two best additions to vampire mythology in quite some time. The ending promises an even more satisfying and succulent experience, so definitely take a bite out of Castlevania Season 1, you won’t regret it!

Goon Review: Friday the 13th – The Game

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters, so yell at him about it!! 😉 xoxox)

As a bad omen, to quote Crazy Ralph, “You’re all doomed!”

It may not be Friday the 13th, but the day is finally here. Friday the 13th: The Game has launched on PS4, Xbox One and Steam and needless to say, Jason fans are going rabid. By that, I mean they are bloodthirsty to massacre their friends online and also due to the serious issues the game has been having since the moment it was released, but we can talk about that later. I know the start of this seems like a bad omen for the game and while it’s not perfect nor is it the Friday the 13th game we hoped it would shape up to be, it’s still a tremendous amount of fun despite all of the launch problems along with the other bugs and glitches that are present in the game.

For now, the game is strictly online only, pitting seven players (eight if you manage to radio Tommy Jarvis for help… more on that later) against another player who will be controlling Jason. Guess who everyone wants to play as? During the pre-game cinematic, the counselors sit around a campfire as Jason approaches, dispatching one of them and the other seven are left to scramble. There’s a feeling of anticipation and excitement of whether or not you will be playing Jason. Then once you discover it’s not you, panic and dread start to settle in as you quickly scramble as a counselor to the nearest cabin, searching drawers and shelves for weapons or important vehicle parts that will aid you in your escape. That’s the name of the game here: survival. Players have a set amount of time to survive and they can choose to run from Jason or hide which can be far more difficult that it sounds. You could also find a fuse to repair the phone box to call the police who take a few minutes to arrive, or find missing pieces for one of the two cars or a boat and escape that way. However, once they are fixed and you are fleeing, that doesn’t ensure safety. Jason can appear and halt the car by slamming the hood or yanking the driver of the boat into the water and drowning them. Yes, death truly awaits around nearly every turn here at one of the three maps of Camp Crystal Lake.

Being an online multiplayer, communication is essential for survival (instead of slinging homophobic remarks at one another). Having a headset is a key item the gamer will need before you even start. It’s not mandatory, of course, but it helps to keep in contact with the other players that are in proximity to you. That’s right, you can’t just shout over your headset hoping others will hear you, because that creates noise and makes it easier for Jason to spot you. Only counselors that happen to be nearby can hear one another, unless you have a walkie in which case others with walkies can hear you. I really liked this aspect of the game, because like a horror film, if you walk out into the woods screaming for help, the killer is gonna find you. However, you need to chatter back and forth, so if Jason is close by, he can hear all your little scheming. It’s a real dilemma the game puts you in. To be fair, if Jason is creeping close by, you’ll start to hear that iconic Harry Manfredini score (although one of Jason’s abilities allows him to mute it). My first time playing as Jason, I heard one of the players reveal to another player where he laid a bear trap down and what he planned to do. Needless to say, I sort of crushed that plan by crushing his head.

Each counselor has their own set of skills. Some are better at sneaking or repairs, while others have better stamina or are stronger. Not one counselor is necessarily better than the other, but it’s up to the player on how they use that specific counselors set of skills. I prefer better stamina and health since killing Jason requires a laundry list of shit to do, so I find it better to sneak around. Even if your counselor doesn’t have stats you prefer, there are perks as well only these are chosen at random and cost you experience points. Every match you play earns you points and these points can be spent on improving your character. As I said, for the counselors, it’s totally at random, so you could get something really good like start with a map or a radio or even increase your stamina regeneration that you could then equip to a counselor with lower stamina to even them out. You can also unlock different variations of their outfits, but these can take a while seeing as it takes about ten level ups to get them each time… and there’s 100 levels.

Jason has his own set of unlockables as well that you can purchase using the same points. Seeing as how Jason is overpowered (OP as the kids call it), increasing his stats isn’t necessary and he does have his limitations. Each Jason – represented by different incarnations from various entries in the Friday the 13th series – has their own strengths and weaknesses. Jason from Part 2 can run while his Part 7 counterpart cannot, however he is much stronger and has a faster swim. Different kills can be purchased that Jason can perform with either his hand or the specific weapon that particular Jason is given. Most of the kills are interchangeable between Jasons, but each has three weapons specific kills that only that Jason can use. These kills are brutal the first time you watch them, but even after that initial time, you start to see how poor the animation in this game truly is.

Yes, even though I happen to think most of the character models look decent, especially each Jason, the animations on them are quite awful. Hair seems to unevenly flow in chunks, the mouths don’t open when the speak half the time and I don’t know if this is part of glitching or the animations are incomplete, but often during a kill it’s like whole animations weren’t there. Their expression didn’t morph, it was just like gore appeared on their face suddenly. The best way I can explain it is to ask you think about an exploitation movie’s graphic scene, for example, someone gets shot in the face. Now say you were to cut out all the frames between when the actor gets shot and it immediately picks up afterwards. It looks awkward and really poor. One of the more massive glitches is the constant glitching and hit detection. I can’t tell you how many times characters fell through things or appeared to be floating in air. Hell, a couple times I found characters floating in mid air or sinking into the ground. There were also times when you would swing your weapon at Jason or vice versa and no damage would occur. This is a serious issue that needs to be resolved. Actually seeing as it’s so bad, I’m surprised it was released in this state. One gamer commented that it feels like we paid full price for a BETA and in this sense, I kind of agree with him.

After about logging in around 12 hours of gameplay (note that I am saying “gameplay,” this does not factor in the time spent sitting around waiting for the game to connect), I played as Jason twice which totaled about 15 minutes. 15 minutes out of 12 hours. Are you fucking kidding me? You can set your preference to spawn as Jason more, but I found this didn’t help. There were even instances where one player would play as Jason several times during the duration where others wouldn’t play as him at all. I don’t know how this randomizer works, but it’s one of the many problems that needs to be fixed.

One of the most difficult things about reviewing the game is that you can’t review it if you can’t play it. Sure, I did get to play it, but I spent an equal amount of time, if not more, waiting for the game to find a session I could join or waiting around in lobbies. Not to mention that if you did find a game, staying connected to it was pure luck of its own. At first I thought that maybe it was my internet, so I scrambled around the house shutting off everything that was connected to the wi-fi and once I was in a lobby, it was there that I noticed the incredibly high ping all of the other players had and everyone was having the same connection troubles.

Jason’s biggest adversary wasn’t the players as the counselors or even Tommy Jarvis… it’s the unfortunate developer that miscalculated how many gamers wanted to play, thus not having enough dedicated servers. This plays into why for hours – or for some days – of not being able to find a session to join and play the game. Gun Media took to social media to comment that the players “Jasoned” the servers, meaning that we overwhelmed them and that’s why the game was laggy, slow or you couldn’t connect. I don’t think they meant to make it sound like they were laying blame on us, but they commented that they tripled the numbers of all the pre-orders and so on, only preparing the servers to handle about 30,000 players. When nearly 100,000 players logged on to play during launch, it crashed their servers. I realize they are a small, independent developer and weren’t expecting Call of Duty numbers here, but c’mon… it’s Friday the 13th! This game has been hyped since it was called Summer Camp and changing it to an official Friday the 13th game only made it more popular, so how could you not expect or prepare for this to be monstrous?

I really, really wanted to love this game, I really did. Friday the 13th is my favorite horror franchise and needless to say that Jason is my favorite slasher villain, but even as an extremely die hard Friday the 13th fan, I couldn’t love this game. This is a game only a mother could love. I’m more like, the second stepfather. Even though I didn’t love it, we connected a few times, had a bonding moment here and there and it’s alright. Friday the 13th feels like an unfinished game that was released. I get the feeling the developers felt as if they couldn’t keep on delaying it, having filled the gamer population full of promises and feared the worst if they did. Being launched with a handful of issues, like the glitches, incomplete animations and major, crippling problems like the server downtime, the terrible lag and ping coupled with repetitive gameplay, keeps it from being the perfect horror game it should have been. Nowadays, gamers unfortunately have shorter attention spans and unless it’s the most recent incarnation of Call of Duty, they won’t play long. Seeing as how there are only a handful of things to do, I get the feeling many will find it stale and unfortunately a majority of player will stop playing after several weeks. Maybe the developer should have focused on the single player mode and adding a story during all these delays.

I know I picked the game apart, but I did have a tremendous amount of fun with this game. It was so nostalgic to be running around Higgins Haven from Part 3, Packanack Lodge from Part 2 and even the original Camp Crystal Lake area itself from the first movie. It was almost like being there and it overjoyed both my film and gaming senses as well as it warmed my heart and that’s something this game has a lot of that people seem to be overlooking; heart’ Friday the 13th: The Game was created by fans who cared about this franchise and cared about bringing you the best experience possible. It’s like they wanted you to feel like a counselor at Crystal Lake and it does feel like you are there. It was a blast to creep around cabins looking for items and hoping that I wasn’t making too much noise and working with others to try and survive the night. After all, surviving together is how you make new friends! Seriously, I’m still playing and chatting with a few folks I met playing this game as well as playing with old friends for the first time in what seems like ages. Even when playing as Jason, you can feel everyone working against you, but there’s no greater feeling when you foil their plan which sends them scattering like cockroaches when you flick on the light. You slowly dwindle their numbers and they panic more, becoming more desperate, but it’s all in good fun. Being able to be Jason do some of his iconic kills felt like an accomplishment and playing as Tommy helping others to survive felt like a real heroic feat.

It’s been a real long time since I sat down and played a game online or even wanted to play a game online. Gun Media has captured the true essence of Friday the 13th in a game and I hope all of the bugs and other issues are fixed and maybe a few more skins, added levels and characters. Maybe we’ll see Crazy Ralph in there somewhere? Or how about Steven from Jason Goes to Hell or Tina from Part 7 and she could have telekinetic abilities! Well, let’s just stick with fixing the current issues first.

Goon Game Review: What Remains of Edith Finch

(Submited by Andrew Peters…Thanks, ho-mie. I’m totally checking this sucka out! 🙂 xoxo)

How a video game is defined or is played has certainly changed since its existence. In the beginning, you had a dial-type controller and a paddle and ball would appear on screen. You used these color overlays that would go over your TV set and it would be up to you, the gamer, to change the type of game it was. Then we moved on into side scrolling, RPG, racing, sports, whatever it may be and that changed from 8-bit to 16-bit and so on until it eventually became 3D. Worlds opened up and became more interactive and story became so structured and integral to the plot, it nearly takes over (not that it’s a bad thing). Some games are so cinematic, you’re virtually watching a movie and that’s kind of how I would describe Developer Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch. It’s like watching a movie that you in essence control to some extent.

The game may not be considered what is defined as a game in the traditional sense by some gamers, but more of an interactive story. I want to say there isn’t much to do in the game or there isn’t much to explore, but that’s painting it too broad, but what I mean those in a more global sense. It’s not an open world exploration and it’s not about really interacting with things in the environment (although there are items that allows you to do so). This is the game’s strongest point; it’s extremely interesting and the stories are well told that you don’t mind and you want to continue. The aesthetic of the game and the house you explore is something that would be an amalgamation between the works of Tim Burton and Wes Anderson. While I personally am not a fan of either of most of their works, I do appreciate their aesthetics and it really works for this game.

It’s a simple premise, but the imagination behind it is not. Players assume the role of a seventeen year old girl named Edith Finch who is chronicling the lives and untimely – and horrible – deaths of her relatives after inheriting the family house and revisiting it after a decade. I know to some of our readers, pretending you’re a seventeen year old girl isn’t out of the norm for you, but this isn’t that, you creeps. The opening of the game reminded me of Resident Evil VII, making your way up a path to an old, dilapidated house and although moments of the game may have horror elements, this isn’t a horror game. This becomes more clear once you enter the home and make your way about, noticing that each family member’s room has a particular theme that will play into how the story is told. For the most part, you don’t have much option in what order you play the stories, since the game is very linear.

However, being linear doesn’t stop the game from keeping you anticipated. Sure, you know the outcome to each story and you can’t exactly go off the beaten path and explore, but it’s how the story takes shape that will make you eager to participate in it. Being that the game revolves around the demise of these family members, some gamers would be excited about the violence and gore, but What Remains of Edith Finch isn’t about that. It’s not about the deaths of these family members per say, but about their journey and how it came to an end. It’s about telling their tragic end in a magical and beautiful way while giving the gamer a unique spectrum of variety in storytelling, even if you don’t have much in the way of control.

The game does allow you to move the character about freely, for the most part, but you are limited to where you can go and what you can do. Aside from being able to zoom in, allowing you to look at objects around the house in finer detail, there’s nothing else you can do unless you are prompted to hold down a button to open a door or one of the bumper buttons to move an object, but the game tries to get creative with its limitations. For example, during young Walter’s story, while being really short, you are confined to a swing. Normally, you would just push down and up on the thumbstick, but here you push the left bumper to kick out his left leg and right bumper to kick out his right leg. Embarrassingly enough, it took me several minutes to figure that out, because it’s something as a gamer I’m not used to. It’s little things like that that will keep you involved in each story.

As I’ve mentioned before, the stories themselves offer a variety of refreshing ways to tell them. The first story you play as young girl who went to bed without dinner. She notices a bird outside her window and upon opening the window, you transform into a cat, then into an owl and then an octopus monster, gobbling up bigger prey each time. It’s a fantastic way to introduce you into the magical element of the game and by magical, I don’t mean there is mystic powers or something like that. I mean that rather than tell you something horrible happened to these people, leaving you feeling empty and hopeless, it gives them a witty and exciting way to be involved with on this journey. Sure, there are some shorter, more simple stories, like the aforementioned Walter, but another story has an 8-bit Legend of Zelda style to it and another one is telling its story through the viewfinder of a camera. My personal favorite is that of Barbara Finch, an ex-child star who was known for her scream. It’s told through an old EC Comic, even going from panel to panel being narrated by a Crypt Keeper type of character. It even uses the Halloween theme for added effect.
The whole experience of What Remains of Edith Finch won’t take you more than two hours and there isn’t much in the way of replay, unless you want to experience a particular story, the game does allow you to skip right to a family member’s tale. It may be a short game, but it’s an experience that’s going to stick with you for a while. I can’t foresee forgetting playing through the stylish segment of Barbara Finch in the near future, but it’s not just about the style. It was also about how well we got to know these characters in a short amount of time. Hell, games that have a much larger playing time can’t even develop characters this good. You’ll get to know these characters in a brief amount of time that it’ll break your heart knowing their fate. You know their gonna die, but you don’t want them to and the entire game foreshadows the ending, but I didn’t want to admit that to myself. You care about these characters, you care about what’s going on. What Remains of Edith Finch, while short, is absolutely beautiful and unique.

#FBF: The “Custer? I Hardly Know Her!” Edition

Ho-wdy, Kinky Ho-mies! I think we can all agree that Atari games are just about the seXXXiest thing in the cosmos, right? No? Well, the folks at Mystique certainly thought they were! You see, Mystique was a company that specialized in, um, “erotic” games. Their games included such classics as Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em, Bachelor Party, and, the subject of today’s article, Custer’s Revenge.

Custer’s Revenge is a game in which  General George Armstrong Custer rises from the grave to maneuver through a barrage  of arrows in order to hump an Indian girl tied to a cactus. And that’s the entire game! Custer wears nothing but a hat, boots and cavalry scarf, so his enormous 8-bit pecker is on display the entire time! It’s like watching a Lego sexually assaulting another Lego!

As you can imagine, this game didn’t go over well with… anyone. Women’s rights groups, Women Against Pornography (WAP), Native American spokespersons, and critics of the video game industry all (understandably) ripped this game apart for its wildly offensive content. Video game players hated it for being repetitive and often cite it as being one of the worst video games ever made.
The game is nothing more than a crude joke, but it’s pretty wild that a game like this ever got made…especially on Atari! Custer’s Revenge is just one of those things that has to be seen to be believed. By far, the most remarkable thing about the game is that it actually exists.

Check out the insanity below:

Goon Review: Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse Soundtrack

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Rock on, Ho-rror Ho-mies! 😉 xo)

Even though Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest wasn’t a hit with the fans, Konami still made a sequel, but decided to bring it back to its original roots and becoming more of the simple side-scrolling game that the first Castlevania was. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse wasn’t just a retread. Not only was it a prequel to the first game, taking place centuries before those events, it also offered the player the ability to switch between playable characters and also take branching paths during certain points in the game. That’s Konami for you. Well, the old Konami. Always thinking outside the box.

The music this time around was different, but still in the same spirit, if that makes sense. In Dracula’s Curse, the tone seems to be much darker and it lacks that poppy punch (that’s the best way that I can describe it) that Simon’s Quest had. I guess the idea was to make it seem more gothic horror, having a much more metallic tinge and slower pace. It certainly fits the image that would pop into your head when you think of Dracula; a dark, blue evening with a full moon reflecting on a thick fog that masks danger. However coming off of Simon’s Quest that arguably has the best score in the entire series, Dracula’s Curse seems to lack that action-hearted punch. Not to say that it’s bad or anything, I just enjoy Simon’s Quest more thoroughly. The soundtrack, not the game.

Mondo’s presentation of Dracula’s Curse, however, is not lacking. The original artwork from Sachin Teng is hypnotically eye catching, making your brain try and piece it all together. Another thing you’ll notice right away is that this soundtrack is spread across two 12″ 180 Gram LPs, one Famicom and the other NES. Both versions have the same 28 tracks (which, by the way, is amazing amount of tracks for an NES game), but once again just as with Simon’s Quest, the Famicom version has a much more rustic sound than the NES version and for this soundtrack, I actually prefer the Famicom version. I feel like it has a much more gothic horror and atmospheric sound and it fits what I feel the game was trying to accomplish. Having said that, I do like the NES version of Stage 01, Beginning and Stage 06, Demon Seed better. Both have a higher energy that their Famicom counterparts don’t seem to have and those are some jazzy, energetic tracks. Konami Kukeiha Club once again did a fantastic job capturing a nightmarish batch of tunes perfectly fitting for a Castlevania game.

The records themselves are really beautiful too. The vinyls I received are orange with some black splatter all over them with tinges of white or silver here and there. There is a variant for you collectors out there, disc one is Trevor Bronze and Alucard Black and disc two is Grant Maroon and Sypha Blue. I haven’t seen those for myself, but I can imagine they are quite a sight to behold.

There’s no better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Castlevania series than with these Mondo soundtracks. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse goes for $30 and while the split colored version is sold out, the orange with black splatter is still available, so get it while it’s hot.

 

#TerrorTuesday: The “Horror Noir” Edition

(Submitted by Mr. Dr. Anton Phibes…Thanks for reminding us this lil’ slice o’weirdom eXXXists. I plan to re-open this investigation immediately! 🙂 xoxo)

It was another one of those hot L.A. days. I poured myself another shot of cheap whisky and said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy. You’ve been slapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like watching a made-for-TV monster movie.”

I humored myself and I found it: the, uh, stuff screams are made of…

Cast a Deadly Spell is nifty little number that attempts to fuse Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft into one bizarre creature. Set in alternative 1940s when magic is in vogue and the creatures of the night mingle with average folks, It has all the trappings of a classic film noir (hard-boiled detectives, sleazy clubs, stylized dialogue, femme fatales, etc.), but paints it all with a coat of Cosmic Horror. If that last part wasn’t clear, they drive the point home with their protagonist: Phillip Lovecraft.

This film does for lovers of the grotesque what Who Framed Roger Rabbit does for toon fans. Almost every scene has a zombie, werewolf, or fiend amidst the detective action. The story is decent, but it’s really about seeing noir and nightmare come together in a beautiful way. The monsters are fiendish and Fred Ward as Lovecraft is the perfect jaded gumshoe, bringing enough down-to-Earth wit to ground this peculiar picture.

For those wanting to crack the case, click on the box below:

Ho-stess’s Semi-Related Side Note: I just started playing Blues and Bullets (I was craving a good noir mystery), and so far so rad. I’m only in the first episode, but the first murder scene I investigated is creepy as all heck!! I’ll update you as I get further along, but since it’s been out for a while, maybe you fiends already have some thoughts on this one? Would love to hear what you think if you’ve playing it, too. 🙂 xoxo

UPDATE: I should’ve researched this game a lil’ more before I started playing it. I finished Episode 2 and immediately went to dive into the neXXXt installment, only to discover that IT DOESN’T ExxxIST!!!! 🙁

Chapter One was released in 2015, and apparently Chapter 2 didn’t come out until almost a year later. Although it hasn’t been officially announced as cancelled, it doesn’t look like we’re getting any more installments. Apparently the development company basically ran out of money, so there are currently no plans to finish his tit-le. Such a shame, too, because the story was super intriguing. Would’ve loved to see ho-w it all ended up. (And that little dog murdering piece of shit Bruno needs to feel my wrath!!! ;))

Oh well…It’s still a fun lil’ cocktease. Feel free to check this half-game out if self-torture is your thing. 😉 xoxo

 

NES Friday the 13th: The Movie :)

Ho-wdy, you valiant Voorhees lovers! I’m not sure about you kinky kreeps, but I happen to love the living dead poop out of the NES Friday the 13th game…

…And so does director Michael Ramova! So much so that he directed this nifty short film based on that eXXXcellent 8-bit horror show! 🙂 Funded through Indiegogo (by Friday Fiends like me :)), Mr. Ramoval did what Paramount couldn’t and brought Jason to 2017. You just can’t keep a bad ghoul down. 🙂

Check it out below, Kinky Ho-s! 🙂 xoxo