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.
If Above the Law, the third episode in The Walking Dead: A New Frontier series, left you feeling a little underwhelmed, then prepare to be totally blown away. Above the Law continued the story fine, but left me (the player) let down. I thought the story arc was fine and I did like how it had me questioning Clementine’s view of David, but it lacked any emotional punch or consequence to your choices and the action sequences were boiled down to repetitive button mashing. I’m not saying it was bad, I didn’t dislike it or anything. Thicker Than Water, the fourth episode, makes up for all of that. Maybe not necessarily make up, because I get the sneaky feeling Telltale planned on you letting your guard down, because there was nothing that could have prepared me for what happens.
Like all episodes, this one also starts with a flashback from Javi’s past, this time he’s with David at the batting cages shortly after the incident that got Javi kicked out from professional baseball. It’s never fully explored, but hinted at which I think is for the better and to be honest, it’s irrelevant to the main plot. The idea behind this little sequence is to allow you the opportunity to shape David and Javi’s relationship, but I have to tell you that not matter what you do, David is always gonna respond like an asshole, so I have no idea if I did good or bad. After that little trip down memory lane, we catch back up with the two in jail who bicker until Joan comes and takes David away and as Javi you get to explore the area to find a way to escape until Kate shows up and helps you escape where you meet back up with the group. Tripp and Eleanor are having a little spat and the weirdest of all things happened, at least in my game; Conrad showed up being all buddy buddy. This is weird, because back in the second episode I shot him in the head to save Clementine. Now, I’m not doctor or anything, but he looked pretty dead. Maybe I just shot him good enough to erase his memory of what happened… and apparently mine. Actually, I did research this and this is a glitch that was pretty common and the only way to fix it was to start over. Since I’m not doing that, I guess we will be seeing more of Conrad, although I feel like I missed out on his arch, so him being here really has no impact on me.
There are some really good bonding moments between Gabe and Javi as they set out to rescue David. Javi’s can lend Gabe some good advice on how to be a better person during a zombie apocalypse as you make your way inside a medical bay where you meet back up with Ava, who is happy or not happy to see you depending on whether or not you bailed on her in the previous episodes and if you did, don’t sweat. You can calm her down. Javi’s injured in a fight, but luckily the good, stoned Doctor is close by as if our pal, Clementine. Clem offers to patch up Javi and has to have an awkward conversation becoming how her bleeding means she’s becoming a woman. Ever think you’d get to be a part of that in a video game? Well, wonder no more. Of course, there’s another Clementine flashback, but this one is used to flesh out the relationship between Ava and Clem, so choose wisely. Me, I decided to be friendly, so I hope that works out. However, much more critical choices lie ahead, as well as some insight on what a good person David actually is.
n style=”font-weight: 400;”>Doctor Lingard awakens from his drugged state and spills the beans about Joan’s plan and that he doesn’t want to live anymore. He offers Clem and Javi the location of AJ if they give him an overdose or you can choose not to, well, that’s yet to be see. I was unsure of this decision when it happened. Seeing as I wasn’t expecting it, it totally threw me off guard and I had to think fast. I wanted to help Clem and get the location of AJ, but killing someone to do so seems like it was going against everything I was shaping Javi to be, so I opted not to. Looking back, I’m still not sure if I made the right decision.
Everyone’s back together and you help to devise a plan, so everything seems like it’s going good. In any incarnation of The Walking Dead, you know that’s not a good thing seeing as things go to shit equally as planned. You’re almost expecting what happens in the finale to come, but for the most part, I wasn’t prepared to deal with it. Sure, I knew this plan was going to go sour and it was sweet to see Javi and Kate decide they were gonna tell David about them and be happily ever after, but you know The Walking Dead can’t let things be like they are in fairy tales. I don’t want to say that these games don’t have happy endings, but rather end on a slight positive note. Unfortunately for the characters, that’s not how things go this time around. Let’s just say that ‘the shit hits the fan’ is putting it lightly.
There’s some minor action scenes here and there, enough to keep you entertained until the finale when all hell breaks loose. With David about to be publically executed, Javi attempts to talk their way out of it, to prove that people need to use words, not violence. Actually, he has a very strong, valid point, but Joan doesn’t see it that way. With two of Javi’s friends captured, you must decide who gets to live and which one gets to die and things only get far, far worse from there. David doesn’t keep his cool and makes matters worse and everything literally explodes out of a control. Then the episode just drops the mic right there.
I was entertained throughout the whole episode. I felt like a lot of things were coming together and we learned more about the all the characters, no matter how big or small their roles are. It made everything and everyone seem to come together and to watch it all quickly fall apart at the end was a sucker punch to face. You knew this was coming, but not to the extent of it. Things go out of control faster than you will be able to make a fully thought decision and you will undoubtedly be regretting the choice you made and second guessing yourself.
Thicker Than Water is a powerful episode, requiring you to think and act faster than you ever have. The consequences to your decisions and actions pack quite a wallop and at times even if you think you made the right call, something bad will happen. Just be emotionally prepared for it. With how great this episode was, I am both anticipating and fearing the next and final episode. I know there are going to be some tough calls to make and there are going to be some serious repercussions, but I can’t wait to see how it ends. Hopefully happy.
Ho-stess’s PS- On a Walking Dead-related note, this happened to me last night at the Saturn Awards. #TeamAbraham4Evah!!! 🙂 xoxoxo
As I read the title for Episode 3 of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, Above the Law, I shouted “LEEEWWWW-AHHHH,” like Armand Asante as Judge Rico from the Judge Dredd movie. Anyone else? No, just me? Anyway, we last left Javi and his group at the mercy of The New Frontier so that Kate, who was just shot in the belly, could get some medical attention and who should come storming out of the gate to meet them? Javi’s brother, David, who they thought to have been dead this whole time and I’m sure he’s thought the same of them. Welp, get ready for an awkward family reunion.
Javi and David are clearly shocked to see each other alive and although David barely notices Gabe, he’s still happy to give him a hug nonetheless and is able to immediately get Kate some medical attention while Javi and the rest of the group get tossed in a cell. Looks like a happy family reunion is gonna have to wait so that the crew can basically recap the story up until this point. I found it odd that this time was just spent rehashing everything we just saw instead of moving it forward, but eventually David shows up to take Javi to meet with the other council members that will determine whether or not Javi’s group can stay and become part of The New Frontier. Hmm, a council of elder like folks that determine the greater good of the people? That never ends with deception and betrayal. I don’t foresee one of them screwing everyone over for personal gain in their own agenda…
But first, it’s time to visit Kate and it plays out about as awkward as you would think. Kate fakes pain to have a moment alone with Javi and of course David walks in at an almost opportune time. I don’t understand why they just don’t talk about it already. Kate’s feelings for Javi and her disdain for David becomes evident when she asks you to bail on this place with her and Gabe. No goodbyes, no explaining anything to David, just up and run. Your response to Kate feels like the first time in this episode that something may shape what happens later. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode feels void of this feeling.
Now that you are finally in front of the council, it’s time to see if you will fit in, but first the leaders; There’s a drug addicted doctor named Paul Lingard who is seemingly spineless, Clint the farmer who also seems spineless, then you have David (who we know) and that leaves us with Joan who is like if Roseanne Barr wanted hair like Rogue from X-Men. She’s a total ball buster and seems to have a power over the others. This becomes more predictable as this scene plays out and identifying the puppet master becomes quite easy, but Max appears to throw a monkey wrench in the situation and your rivalry comes forward. It doesn’t seem like no matter what answers you choose, the outcome is going to be the same; you aren’t allowed to stay… except for Kate and Gabe who are more than welcome, so David sends you packing and the dude doesn’t even seem to care. It was at this point I was starting to notice that there wasn’t any dire choices this episode, the choices I made don’t seem to have any weight, but we’re only about halfway through the episode, so there’s plenty of time for things to completely flip around. David isn’t completely without feeling and sends Ava out to give you a care package complete with a baseball bat and a map that has a location marked on it, so the group agrees to head there.
Along the way you run into someone who’s been missing throughout half the episode, Clementine. En route to this mystery location, Clementine explains to Javi why she hates David so much, via flashback in which you learn the fate of baby AJ as well as a council members drug abuse. Although I can see from Clementine’s point of view and understand why she hates David, you can also see that why David made the decision he made and was only looking for what was in the best interest of the group. This is something I picked up at this point is that David may not be the awful person Clementine has led us to believe. He genuinely seems to care about the people in his group and although his anger leads him to make brash decisions, he doesn’t seem deceitful. This episode rightfully focuses on David’s character and exploring it and even though at times you aren’t sure of ‘did he’ or ‘didn’t he,’ you get the feeling there is a greater evil out there, which we are about to find out.
Seeing as this episode has lacked an action sequence, one get tossed at you that is primarily just button mashing while trying to get a shudder door open. There is a bit of puzzle solving, but I wouldn’t even call it a challenge, but instead a race against a time. It’s supposed to get your heart rate moving, but by this point it’s kind of stale. Once inside the shelter after that close call, David arrives and you have a choice to open the door or not. Regardless of what you choose, it will open and once again, doesn’t seem to have any real effect. Javi and the group notice that the supplies in the shelter are from the Prescott Airfield, where you were previously attacked by The New Frontier, along with other places. David is pressed about the matter, but swears he has no knowledge of this and that’s confirmed once Max, Badger and some other thug arrive and exposition dump the hell out the plot, revealing the true culprit. Wanting some revenge for Mariana’s death, the group attacks. This is another Quick Time Event that requires a quick response seeing that even a split second too late results in your death. But if you die, no big deal, you just start right back where you left off.
The finale of the confrontation leaves you with a wounded Badger who you have the option to kill, let Conrad kill (if you didn’t kill Conrad in the previous chapter) or left him turn. I chose the latter, because fuck that scumbag. I get a feeling this may come back to bite me in the ass later, but I feel at this point, Javi really needs to be showing Gabe that murder isn’t necessary… even though we just shot that guy in the gut in self defense. Again, even though I still felt like this decision may come back around to me, at the moment it feels like it bears no weight and that’s something this episode truly lacks; the intense split decision making and the consequences. Even though the QTE’s were somewhat panic inducing, there was never a feeling if I did something incorrectly or my timing was off, it would affect the outcome of the game. In fact, it just resulted in my death in which case I was allowed to try again.
With this new information, the group forms a plan and splits up while Jesus leaves the group in what is the saddest moment thus far. He was such an interesting character and a lot about who he is or what he knows, what a damaged soul he is, is merely hinted at, but my guess is Telltale wanted to save him for a spinoff on a rainy day. Javi and David eventually confront Joan who in classic vaudeville villain style pours herself a drink and sips from it as she reveals herself to be the mastermind and her plan! I know it was supposed to be a shocking moment, but with how predictable it was mixed with how classically evil the display was, I couldn’t help but laugh.
Above the Law is so far the weakest of the episodes with no feeling of dire consequences and boring, button mashing QTE action sequences that are few and far in between. It does however pull a few punches with David’s character, making him somewhat of a believable good guy who is trying to do the right thing. This does make siding with Clementine against David this episode a little difficult, but ultimately the looming baddie Joan is about as a subtle as a Disney villain and regardless of your choices, you know you’re going to end up in the same position. That position, however, looks like it’s going to be leading to some really difficult choices. Consider this the calm before the storm.
(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.
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.
The first Contra game released on the NES in 1987 was a huge hit and defined what we now know as side-scrolling shooting. Other games came along and tried to copy what it did, but they never got right what Contra did. It seems they could never get the simple controls, great imagery giving nod to action films of the Schwarzenegger and Stallone flicks, as well as HR Giger’s art and kick ass soundtrack that made the game so amazing. Sequels came and occasionally they would try something different, but always remained true to outstanding gameplay and soundtracks.
Mondo, who has been releasing some great video game soundtracks, like the Castlevania series and previous Contra titles, has just released Contra III: The Alien Wars to vinyl, moving up to the 16-bit era now and it is just as glorious as I remember it. And for some reason, 16-bit music sounds so fitting on vinyl to me. It must be that it brings me back to playing through this game during a summer when I was a young kid in Kansas. I remember it being around midnight and the aliens always creeped me out, but the music kept me going. It’s somewhat unlike the original game’s score, being a little more atmospheric, but at the same time it remains true to the fast drums, stinging synth military/action sound we’ve grown to love.
You can always count on Mondo to deliver some seriously talented art. Paul Mann depicts the classic red and blue clad Contra heroes, one looking concerned, the other with his war face is full on mad dog mode, in front of an explosion with a skull with beady eyes looming over it all. The bright and neon colors not only represent the ‘90s, but also how colorful the game is. When you open it to reveal the inside artwork, the war rages on with a full out action collage featuring aliens, robots, flying demons, helicopters, a city on fire… holy hell, this thing has a lot going on and with this single image, represents everything you love about this game.
The orchestrated score by Konami Kukeiha Club sounds magnificent on this 180 Gram Red & Blue Half & Half Camouflage, which I think is a nice tough as it represents the classic colors of Player 1 and Player 2. There is a blood splattered variant on white, so keep your eye out for that one. The tracks loop seamlessly, so it doesn’t feel like a short amount of notes being repeated tirelessly. If anything, the music is chaotic and full of energy that it’s sure to make your blood rush. The composers were taking full advantage of the Super Nintendo’s 16-bit capabilities and making it a much more dynamic score while remaining true to what the original started.
Aside from the first game, Contra III: The Alien Wars is my favorite soundtrack in the series and I’m so happy that Mondo has done it such great justice. Whether you’re a fan of the game or a fan of action/sci-fi soundtracks, I would highly recommend grabbing this one. It’s only $25 and can be picked up from Mondo’s store.
(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…I love the crap out of the RE series, generally speaking, but have been hesitant to give this a shot after the mediocrity of the last couple games. Super appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this, Ho-rror Ho-mie…Sounds like I’m gonna have to give it a go after all!! 🙂 xoxo)
When Resident Evil hit the scene in 1996 on the Playstation, little did we know how much it would essentially change our lives. It didn’t give birth to the survival horror genre (in fact, it took the game play and camera placements right out of 1992’s Alone in the Dark), it absolutely changed and popularized it. Never again would we look at the genre the same way again. Resident Evil brought the genre into the spotlight forever and the game itself has spawned over a dozen sequels across many different platforms, some great and others not so great. Resident Evil 6 was by far one of the most disappointing sequels to the fans, focusing heavily on action elements rather than horror and being overloaded with dull, button mashing quick time events. The plot was contrived and, well, stupid, for lack of a better word. The original idea had been so diluted at this point that it barely resembled what it once did and people were sick and tired of being excited for a new Resident Evil game only to be let down harder and harder.
Then comes Resident Evil VII (switching to roman numerals now), which promised to be a whole other experience. The plot was unfamiliar with the series, the game is in a first person perspective to immerse us into the world of survival horror (which is a real treat for you Playstation VR users) and it did away with all those pesky quick time events. Already, it had won fans over and Kitchen Demo that was released blew our socks off. Now that the full game has been out for a little while and we’ve had a chance to play it, we can fully assess Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, the game that may save the franchise. Up front, I have to say it was kind of a rollercoaster, meaning that it has its ups and downs, but the downs aren’t too steep, they just seem like retreaded territory that should have been improved. I know I’m making it sound like it was a disappointment (believe me, it’s not), but it did take away from the overall experience of my playthrough and I couldn’t help but to think about how it could have been improved on. I’m getting way ahead of myself and we haven’t even made proper introductions yet.
The game centers around an average joe, Ethan Winters, whose wife disappeared three years ago and that’s all we know about the guy. We don’t know his day job, we don’t know what kind of survival background he has nor do we know what the dude looks like since it’s all from his perspective and there seems to be a lack of reflections in the game. Suddenly, he receives a video from his wife begging him to stay away from the Baker Estate out in Dulvey, Louisiana. That’s right, we are moving away from Raccoon City or wherever the hell the other games took place. You almost immediately arrive at the Baker Estate, a rather large, old Southern styled mansion, and quickly explore the property to find a back way in seeing as how the front gates are locked and the place doesn’t seem very inviting. This part of the game acclimates you with the basic controls so you are able to get a feel of what you are doing. It controls pretty much like every first person shooter you are familiar with; click the left thumbstick to run, click the right thumbstick to duck, yada yada yada. Along the way, you’ll see some Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspired artwork – things made from bones and animal parts – that act as an omen, but before shortly you’re once again entering the world of survival horror. The door behind you slams shut and you’re on your own. A sense of dread washes over overwhelms you. You can’t but feel as if you made a mistake, but there is no turning back now. And THIS is the feeling Resident Evil had long lost, but has finally recaptured.
Things only intensify as you begin exploring the Baker estate. The beginning hour or so acts as a tutorial of such, further getting you familiar with controls and items and what they can do as you’ll learn in one of the most stomach punching, gut wrenching scenes of dismemberment. You quickly find your wife and if you think escape this early on in the game is the end, then you are sadly mistaken. This only acts to raise some questions that need to be answered and, of course, introduce you the Baker family, who you officially meet over a dinner table scene very reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You may be noticing that this game is somewhere between the first Resident Evil game and TCM, which I honestly have to say is a pretty cool crossover. Imagine the Spencer estate from the first game all run down and dirty, filled with mold and rotting food and furniture.
Since I just brought up the Spencer estate and the first Resident Evil game, as the game progresses, you may start to notice that Resident Evil VII not only has the same feel as the original game, but also starts to hit the same beats. Not that this is a bad thing, in fact it’s welcomed. The atmosphere and surroundings are starting to get under your skin and you feel like you’re in constant danger… which you are. One big difference about REVII is the lack of zombies or infected throughout the game. Rather than the game throwing dozens of varied enemies at you, it instead has a lurking, hunting boogeyman in the form of one of the Bakers. As you explore and search the house, looking for answers and trying to solve the puzzles, one of the family members will be stalking you, pacing around the area, kinda like how Scissorman could appear at any moment in Clock Tower or to keep it within the same series, Mr. X in Resident Evil 2, only constant and random. It does add a sense of urgency on your part and makes for some seriously panicked gameplay, but at times I was getting very frustrated. For example, all I was trying to do was open a locked door and Jack, Papa Baker, kept grabbing me and tossing me, because the goddamn door unlocks and opens so slow (because, ya know, tension).
It’s not just being hunted down like a dog as you try and find your wife or an exit. There are puzzle solving elements, some that feel very familiar to those you solved at the Spencer estate in the first game while others feel a bit toned down. That’s actually for the best and helps the Baker estate feel more grounded to reality, as you wouldn’t expect an actual house to have these extravagant puzzles, which it sorta does, but hey… it’s a Resident Evil game. Unfortunately, the puzzles seem few and far inbetween and far too easy for any gamer. In fact, sometimes it feels like they are just giving you the solution. There were a few times with a certain puzzle that requires you to move an object to cast a shadow on the wall, where I swear it’s like the game said, “eh, close enough!” and just gave me the solution.
I had mentioned earlier that the game controls much like a first person shooter, which isn’t a bad thing. Considering we, as gamers, have been conditioned to these controls, it actually makes playing it very easy. The controls also have a classic Resident Evil style going on to them, so it also feels familiar in an old way. Keeping with the old style, you have a limited amount of item space, but unlike the original game, it’s pretty easy to manage and predict what you’re going to need or get to an item box, especially seeing as all the areas seem to loop around, making it easier to find one or even avoid whoever is chasing you. The number of items you carry can be expanded by finding backpacks and you can even combine items, mixing them together to make a single item, like herbs, only this time only green herbs are available. Those herbs can be taken on their own to refill a little bit of health or you can mix them with a chemical pack to make a stronger First Aid formula that heals much more. You can use those same chemical packs to make ammo or stimulants which can be used to find better items. The game also offers permanent health items that carry over into new games once you have beaten it.
There are some downsides to Resident Evil VII, however. I mentioned that it can be frustrating at times when you are trying to accomplish a single goal and a member of the Baker family is preventing you from doing so. It’s especially frustrating when it forces you to backtrack and linger around, waiting for them to move, just so you can do something, like advance through a door. I know the Baker’s are the only enemies I talked about, but there is more. To be exact, ONE more. An enemy called the molded will spawn from these moldy looking spots and they bob and weave, making them difficult to hit and can pack quite a punch. What else? That’s it. Seriously. Just the Baker’s and the molded. To be fair, you get three variations of the molded; the normal, crawling on the ground and quick and fat, but tough. It’s your average variety of the villain and as you run through the game, you will start to feel nostalgic for the zombies, especially in this setting, but then again, they don’t fit into this story. Believe it or not, the enemies that spawn have a reason for being there. The biggest offender about the game is that it uses the same stale, tiring survival horror setup.
Ok, so, the game starts being generous, giving you lots of ammo and health items. Then, it shoves you into corridors and lashes wave and wave of overpowered enemies at you, thus depleting you of the items you just collected. This makes no logical sense to do to a player and to think it’s still being done in games is just ridiculous. The game will also stock you back up on those items and you’ll wander into a room that looks an awful lot like some kind of arena, usually with explosive stuff around, indicating a boss fight. Again, why is this still being done? This completely removes the gamer from any heightened sense of fear they may be experiencing, because you can see it coming a mile away. It’s seriously disappointing to see this still being used. Resident Evil VII lacks some of the actual tense moments, often telegraphing ahead of what is to come and this removes any chance of a legit scare.
Is it the perfect Resident Evil game we all hoped for and thought it would be? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a damn fine game. It’s a step in the right direction, even if it wasn’t perfect. It was the breath of fresh air that the series needed. I was glad to see the series dump all of that stupid, nonsense and cartoonishly over the top action and character stories that built up to nothing and went absolutely nowhere (I’m looking at you Ada and Leon). Resident Evil VII does a great job at not leaving plot holes or feeling convoluted and actually raises enough questions to answer, but also leaving a few unanswered so you want more. It was great to see all the homages to the first game, but ultimately that’s all they were. Luckily, the series is headed in the right direction and needs to continue on this path if it wants to make a full comeback. Still, I highly enjoyed Resident Evil VII and I would like to see what comes next.
(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thank you, Ho-rror Ho-mie! xoxox)
Part One of Ties That Bind, the first episode of Telltale’s newest season of The Walking Dead, introduced us to a new character named Javi, an ex-baseball player that was trying to reconnect with his family when the outbreak happened and is now on the road with his brother David’s wife, Kate, and her stepchildren Gabe and Mariana. Along the way, shit happens as they tend to do in post apocalyptic zombie stories (how else would you get the plot moving?) and Javi is separated from his group and meets up with Clementine. The two get into all sorts of trouble that ends with Mariana, Javi’s ten year old niece, getting shot in the head by a group of assailants. The first episode tried to play against your senses and against what you would expect, but The Walking Dead has been pulling that trick for so long, you come to expect any happen moment to end in bloodshed. Still, it was great episode and we’re happy to see Clem back and the story is really taking shape.
The second episode, Ties That Bind Part 2, picks up immediately where you left off depending on the choice you made. Since I decided to stick with Clementine and bail on my family, Javi awoke after the explosion, the attackers have ran away in defeat, Clem thanks you for sticking with her, so that leaves only one thing left to do; bury your dead niece. Yes, that’s a part of the game and I have to say that I never thought I’d be attending a child’s funeral in a videogame, but here we are. It actually works for some emotional impact and it’s heartbreaking to see Javi breaking down, but luckily with Clem at his side, he keeps it together and the two head back to Prescott to check on Javi’s family. Gabe is still being an annoying brat and Kate is… well, Kate has had better days. Doesn’t look like she’s going to be making it much longer by the sound of things, but at the moment that’s the least of their worries as those jerks who attacked them, the ones who call themselves The New Frontier, are rolling up to the gates and demanding justice! Having Conrad’s girlfriend, Francine, as a prisoner, they snip off one of her fingers to get Javi to come down, but an untrusting Clem opens fire and everything goes to shit once again.
Seriously, The Walking Dead, enough with the finger cutting offing.
It was during this action sequence, I started to realize how much button mashing was in the particular episode. More specially, the Q button on my keyboard. It seems like every action scene that follows requires you to mash the shit out of the Q key and it grows stale pretty quick. Anyway, the group makes it out alive, well except for Francine, to which Conrad has some choice words to say to Javi. Gabe will raise his gun at Conrad and you have the choice to either talk him down or talk down to him. You might be noticing that this is the case most of the time when dealing with Gabe and I’m just realizing the game is wanting us to shape him into the man he will become. Will he becomes good natured like Javi (if you are playing him that way) or will he become hot headed and dangerous like David, his father? It’s an interesting way to take this character development, similar to what you could do with Clem in the previous Walking Dead seasons. The group decides to head to Richmond, VA, assuming that nothing but good things await them there.
After the situation diffuses the group finds themselves at a jam, literally. A couple of wrecked cars block their path and now is where you get to do some puzzle solving, kinda like what you did in Telltale’s Batman, only this is much more straightforward, almost like it’s on a rail. That does suck the fun and exploration out of it and makes it feel like a time consuming chore. Wouldn’t you know it, zombies await behind the wreckage and the group has once again fudged things up, but thanks to their new friend Jesus, they are able to find a way through the sewers and breaks the sour news to the group that The New Frontier has overtaken Richmond. Uh-oh, probably shouldn’t have sent Kate and Eleanor ahead. Jesus is by far the best thing about the game so far. Nicknamed after the lord and savior, this simultaneously trustworthy and untrustworthy dude talks like Christian Slater doing an impression of Jack Nicholson and does some near Matrix level martial arts, as he demonstrates once the group yet again makes the worst decision possible and makes the situation worse. But it does get worse for them. Clem reveals to Javi her true connection between herself and The New Frontier to which Conrad overhears and once separated from the others, threatens her with a gun and tries to convince Javi to side with him, using Clem as a bargaining chip once they reach Richmond. To further convince Javi, he puts a gun to Gabe’s head and you have a choice to either shoot Conrad or side with him. Wasn’t a hard decision for me.
Having reached Richmond, the group quickly finds the car with Kate inside and Eleanor missing, they also quickly find the gate to The New Frontier’s headquarters and Javi has a new plan; beg. Yup, walk right up to the gate and beg them to let you in for medical attention for Kate. A familiar face greets you at the gate and has reservations about letting you in, so you are given the choice of acting like a dick to him or trying to appeal to senses. No matter which path you take, it ends with a group of Frontier-ers coming down to take you in when you are greeted by their leader. Someone you know, someone you thought was dead and all the cliched, predictable storytelling moments in this episode lead up to this and I gotta say, I really can’t wait to see where it’s gonna go.
Clearly with the reintroduction to the familiar face at the end, Javi is going to have to make some hard choices, especially if you want to keep Clem as your friend. I think there are also going to be challenges with convincing Gabe to do the right thing, which is gonna make for a cool light side or dark side of the force kind of story arc with him. Although Ties That Bind Part 2 was full of stupid people making stupid decisions to move the story along, once the story got to where it wanted (which was at the end), it kinda made up for it, although I can’t forgive the repetitive button mashing action sequences that quickly wore thin. Nethertheless, episode 3, Above The Law (no, not the Steven Segal movie… although, that would be an awesome tie-in), should be out in about a week – February 7th-ish – and you know things are only going to get a hell of a lot uglier.
(Thanks so much to Mr. Andrew Peters for this radass review…I love all of TT’s TWD tit-les, and I shall be checking this one mout posthaste!! 🙂 xoxo)
Before we get started on the review, doesn’t that episode sound familiar? Like we’ve heard it before. Was this a title for another Walking Dead game or a superhero game of some kind? Anyway, it’s irrelevant. So, the third season of The Walking Dead subtitled A New Frontier debuted not only it’s first episode, but its second one as well, although for now we will only be talking about the first which is called Ties That Bind Part 1 and it does have some relevance into what happens. Personally, I would love a second season of The Wolf Among Us or Tales From the Borderlands, but I do want to see some closure with Clementine’s character, if done justice.
Being the fourth Walking Dead series from Telltale, I was worried about this season coming off as stale, seeing as how TWD: Michonne was so milquetoast, it may as well not have existed. Not only that, any incarnation of TWD seems to pander to an audience that only wants to see gore and zombies, shaping itself after the television show. Michonne really suffered from having too many characters that had no substance and you didn’t care about them, which was extremely disappointing seeing as that’s what these games are known for. However, we’ve grown with TWD’s main character Clementine over two seasons. We’ve watched the decaying world – both the state of humanity and the physical form of them – tear away at her as she has resisted to become anything less, but the end of the second season saw her and Jane being pushed to the limit by an old friend.
However, A New Frontier doesn’t throw us right into Clementine’s situation yet. We’re introduced to a new character, Javi. The game opens right as the outbreak is taking place, but people aren’t really aware of it, as we see Javi running to his brother David’s home and explains that he’s late because the highway was congested. His brother insults him, even hits him, because their father died and Javi, being the favorite son, should have been there, but we learn that Javi was never really around. We’re also introduced to other family members, like David’s son Gabe, David’s wife Kate, which the two seem to have a mutual interest in one another and there are various other family members, but the only other one that really matters is Mariana, Javi’s younger niece. Suddenly, Mariana is bringing her grandfather’s favorite drinking cup to him as the others tell her that he’s sleeping, to which she tells them he isn’t… dun dun DUN! Not the strongest opening the series has had, but it was really decent, maybe even a little chilling. Javi’s got some potential to be a good character, so let’s see what’s in store.
As they check the room, zombie gramps bites grandma on the face and another on the hand. David takes them to the hospital and Javi looks after Kate, Mariana and Gabe. We cut to someone time later and the four seem to have been traveling in a van not down by the river, but all over looking for food, gas, maybe even a home. Gabe and Mariana are asleep in the back seat, giving us the players some time with Kate and Javi to get to know them as Kate lights up a phatty and your first big choice is to toke with her or not. Okay, TWD, I get it. Weed’s legal now. This wakes up the kids just in time as you find a junkyard and you decide to explore it. Before doing so, you get a little bonding time with Mariana, kinda like how Lee did with Clem back in the first season. It was a nice touch to call back to that subtly, even if it doesn’t seem as strong. It’ll make sense when you play it.
Things go sour quickly after the group finds a cache of food and Javi is jumped by a group that seems to share a similar mark on their body, like they were branded like cattle. Javi lies about the having others with him and is en route to their base when a tree falls in the middle of the road, blocking the way and crashing the truck. Upon exiting, you have the option to shoot the driver or let him go, but that all depends on how cold blooded you are. Turns out that tree falling was no coincidence as the little saboteur reveals themself as… get ready for it… CLEMENTINE! She’s back and she’s a little older and has a potty mouth and an attitude. Oh Clem, what made you this way? Well, this is something you should know if you are playing with saved games from Seasons One and Two. The game shapes her and her past after what choices you made during your gameplay, which is very, very cool. If you don’t have any previous game saves, the games creates her past at random, so on my PS4 playthrough, I saw what happened to Clem and Jane after the events of the second season and although it was predictable, it was very sad because I liked Jane’s character. On my playthrough on PC that you can watch, I had no saves, so one was created for me and it was just uneventful and only led to Clem missing a finger for no reason. Huh, okay then.
Clem and Javi pitstop at a safe town where the people seem friendly and you’re even introduced to a few new characters and get a little insight into Javi’s past. Personally, I liked Tripp who’s basically a loveable oaf. It doesn’t take long before Clem causes some problems and lands you in one of their homemade holding cells, but the most interesting thing is that nobody really seems to care about what happened. You’re given the option of sticking up for Clem or throwing her under the bus and if you do that, then I must believe you have no soul. You’re also given the option of sneaking out at night with one of the characters you met or waiting in the morning for Tripp to take you to the junkyard. Now, believe it or not, your choices will seemingly have a vastly different outcome. First time, I chose to sneak out only to arrive at the junkyard with two of my family members dead, so I went back and played again, waited for Tripp and got a much happier outcome… for the moment.
This is where the game really starts to take off. Seeing as how the truck is destroyed, Javi manages to convince Clem to head back to the junkyard to find his family and depending on how you converse with her, you can build a nice budding friendship, which is what I’m doing. I’ve missed Clem and I can’t be mean to her, seeing as we’ve already been through so much and I know what she’s lost. Once you reach the junkyard, it looks as if it’s been turned over and lit on fire, but you quickly find your family and everything seems like it’s going to be alright… yeah, sure. If there is one thing The Walking Dead tries to do way too much, it’s lull you into a false sense of security. I do have to admit, it kinda worked here. As Javi’s relationship was building with one of the characters, it became more clear what was going to happen, seeing as The Walking Dead just can’t help itself from steering away from this one trope, but it kinda got to me, especially as graphic as it happens. Your final choice is to stay and fight your attackers with Clem or bail with your family.
After a long, overdue wait, Clementine is finally back and it’s great to see her again (especially after the remarkably disappointing Michonne). As gamers, we’ve grown up with Clem and to see her as the teenager she’s grown into is both depressing and you’re proud of her at the same time for making it as far as she has and depending on your choices, you get hints that she’s still the same girl you’ve grown to love. I’m excited to see what else she’s been up to since she’s been gone and at the time I’m scared at what might happen to her. At first, I thought Javi was just gonna be a cliched character with nothing interesting going on and was only going to be a vehicle for Clementine, but he’s actually shaping up into a likeably guy. Even if you decide to be a dick to everyone with him, you’re making the choices, so you still root for him. Javi and Clem make a great pair and luckily it’s not a retread of the father-daughter dynamic Clem and Lee had, but it’s something new altogether. Survivors becoming friends and that’s what The Walking Dead is all about! Part Two of Ties That Bind is looking to be another great episode, so we’ll dive into that one soon.
I’d like to start off by mentioning that if we’re gonna keep talking about this game, I can’t do much to hold back on spoilers that have previously happened. Having said that, we’re gonna be jumping into some major ones right away, so consider that your only warning.
Things are not looking good for Bruce Wayne. After having to resign and hand his company over to Oswald Cobblepot, he’s immediately drugged by Vicki Vale who reveals herself to be the notorious new villain that’s been causing panic all over the city, Lady Arkham. With a high dose of drugs in his veins, Bruce jumps Oswald Cobblepot, which is caught on the news and Harvey has him committed to Arkham Asylum, which is supposed to be ironic seeing as it’s where his father sent many others. Bruce awakens in a cell and is almost immediately jumped by a couple of inmates sent there by his father after they pay off a guard, but a rather unsuspecting… erm, ally comes to his aide. One with a smile and a grin that they call John Doe seeing as they don’t know his real name. I gotta say, at first I was worried about them working this specific character into the story, seeing as he tends to be a show stealer and this story needed to be about Bruce, but his introduction is short, serves a purpose and is really well done. Gotta give the writers major kudos for pulling that off and to the voice actor for not trying to do impressions of the previous actors that have portrayed this character and instead going with something like a James Woods impression that actually really works. Also wanted to point out the cameo by Arnold Wesker, aka the Ventriloquist.
Bruce’s stay at Arkham isn’t exactly friendly, seeing as everyone from staff to inmates want to kill him, not to mention Lady Arkham and Penguin running amok and starting a war with Harvey, so it’s time to get out of here, but how? Well, you are given the decision to go along with John Doe’s plan when a fight breaks out, so you can stop that. To me, Bruce would always try to do the right thing, so I tried to stop the fight, which was a fun little action scene, but only landed me in a one on one with a doctor. Luckily, Alfred comes to the rescue and has you taken out of that miserable place, but John Doe reminds Bruce about paying a visit to the Vale residence, so off we go! Well, a quick stop by Wayne manor first to have a chat with Selina and Alfred and whether or not you should lose your shit on some bystanders blocking your car. There’s something I haven’t mentioned yet, something that is presented throughout all of Telltale’s games; you do have the option to say nothing at all and there are very rare times, like as I found with the latter, it’s best at times to remain silent.
Onward to the Vale’s home and someone really should have tidied up the place, I mean, Batman is stopping by after all. Yes, someone has torn apart the Vale’s home and killed Mr. and Mrs. Vale, but who it could it be a I wonder? Who on Earth could have done this? It’s no secret who did it, but the why is the real mystery here. Once again, you dive back into detective mode as you piece together the puzzle and it’s much easier this time around and somehow less stale feeling. Either it was really starting to grow on me or maybe it was investigating a murder inside a home that made me feel more like a detective. Nonetheless, that cursed Cobblepot sends a drone to stop you, but Batman vs. a drone? C’mon, who do you think is gonna win? Well, turns out Batman’s gadgets don’t work on the drone, meaning Oswald has upgraded the drones and this Batman is basically defenseless. Note how I said “this Batman”. Throughout this game, I don’t think Batman has much of a presence. You spend a fair amount of time playing as him and, yes I am aware this is more of a Bruce Wayne game, but Batman is really… weak, for the lack of a better word. He doesn’t come off as threatening and you don’t get the impression that bad guys all over Gotham fear him. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I feel like Telltale is making Batman the weakest link in his own game.
Where one problem is solved, there’s always another to be solved, amirite? Harvey has gone totally bonkers at this point and is basically waging a war against the Children of Arkham, which I know sounds like a good thing, except he’s willing to do it at the expense of civilians or whoever just happens to be in the way. You’re presented with the choice of confronting him as Batman or as Bruce and personally, I chose Bruce, because I felt it’s something he would try to do; talk some sense into his friend. Of course, for me, it didn’t go so well and I found myself on the knees in the middle of an alley… hey, THAT’S not what was going to happen. I should backup. Harvey murders a whole bunch of innocent people by blowing up places he thinks Children of Arkham are operating and thinks of the old Tyler Durden saying, “if you wanna make an omelette, you gotta break a few eggs.” Bruce doesn’t agree and Harvey thinks he should die, so he sends a couple of cops to cap Bruce in the back of an alley, but luckily Bruce manages to buy some time with some suave talking and just in time for Gordon to save his neck. There are a lot of coincidental close calls in this game that I am doubting the intelligence and skill of both Bruce Wayne and Batman.
Things were getting pretty intense and they show no signs of slowing down as you’re again thrown into a situation that you must choose between either stopping Harvey who has learned of Bruce’s escape and storming Wayne Manor or heading to Wayne Enterprises to stop Penguin from screwing with all your techy bat-shit. Once again acting as the moral police, I decided to do what I think Batman would really do and I headed back to Wayne Manor to save my buddy Alfred where I was treated to an action sequence that led to a final showdown with Harvey! I feel like this scene would have played out much cooler if I had let Penguin burn half his face off. This was the point where I noticed that all of these choices are playing out like I failed to save Harvey back at the debate and maybe should have never slept with Selina and saved her instead. But that’s what these games do to ya to get you back in saddle for another playthrough. Touche, Telltale.
Since I opted to stop Harvey, Penguin is nearly about to breach the Bat-computer, comprising everything, so Batman himself chucks a bat-a-rang at the biggest wire in site and shuts it all down, because that’s how that works. Now all of his gear is offline, so I’m sure I just made the final episode real enjoyable. Great, no toys. With Harvey now out of the picture, that leaves just Penguin and Lady Arkham herself, but more trouble is sure to get in the way. I have to say that even with all my gripes and nitpicks, I’m still really enjoying this game and I have to hand it to the writers at Telltale for telling a really gripping Batman story. Aside from the titular character himself, I find the characters to be absolutely compelling and really interesting, so hopefully we can see Batman act a little more competent in the final episode!