The X Button - Ring of Terror

by Todd Ciolek,

This year's Halloween contest brought in a bunch of great entries. No one wrote about my scariest game-related experience, the sixth-stage boss in Super C, so I had a hard time picking a winner. After much deliberation and some conferring with outside judges, I decided on Paul Soth's vision of someone else's nightmare.

In a way, mediocrity stands as horror in and of itself.

Back in the summer of 2000, I was working at the distribution warehouse of Micro Center. My job at the time was sorting the various product that came down the line and putting it on the conveyer for whatever store said product was marked for. One store would get a dozen or so copies of one game, another would get several mice and so on.

One day, a large number of copies of Daikatana came down the line, well over 200 units. Now keep in mind that this was a few months after its release, so it was well established in gaming circles that the whole thing was a complete disaster. Now, seeing a bunch of copies of a bad game come down the line was one thing, but it gets more bizarre. As it turned out, every single copy that came down the line that day was marked for one store and one store alone. Tote after tote of the tired punchline kept coming down, all set for the same place. In the end, that poor store (I think it was in a university somewhere) had over 230 copies of one of the industry's biggest flops to clog its shelves.

As I was perhaps the only PC gamer working the floor that day, I was the only one who realized that something horribly wrong happened. My only suspicion is that the whole thing was a deliberate prank of the highest order, perhaps carried out by a disgruntled employee or former employee of that branch. Whatever the case, I know that I'll never get an answer as to why this happened. But I do know I wish I was at that store's loading dock the day the shipment came in.

That's the first-placer, but it wasn't the only entry! We'll get to the rest of them in a little while.

NEWS

FINAL FANTASY VII'S G-BIKE COMES TO PHONES, LOOKS PRETTIER
I played Final Fantasy VII's G-Bike attraction at embarrassing length. It first emerged as a mini-game during an escape sequence, a momentary diversion where Cloud commandeered a primitive motorbike and fended off pursuers left and right. It was Road Rash in Final Fantasy trappings, but at the time I enjoyed the diversion so much that I kept a spare save file right before G-Bike's arrival, just so I could play it whenever I wanted a basic action game to break up the random battles and awkwardly translated psychodrama of Final Fantasy VII. And then I discovered that you could play it as much as you wanted at the game's casino. I felt foolish.

Final Fantasy VII: G-Bike is a complete recast of that little mini-game. It finds Cloud, now updated to his Advent Children look, racing down gray city highways and facing Final Fantasy foes that range from behemoths and bombs to sleek mechanized hunters. Aside from his slashing attacks, Cloud can cast damaging spells and summon his party members (Cid and Tifa are pictured so far) for momentary help. G-Bike is a free-to-play deal with in-game purchases, and the involvement of developer CyberConnect2 should keep it above the smartphone standard. Due out in Japan this Thursday, it seems likely to come to North America. With luck it'll settle those arguments with that one kid at school who insisted it was pronounced “G'bike.”

SWORD ART ONLINE LOST SONG GETS TRANSLATED, PERHAPS WELL
Sword Art Online, that online game within an offline game within a glorified dating simulator, found a home on the Vita and PlayStation 3. Hollow Fragment and Infinity Moment did well enough in making action-RPGs out of Sword Art Online's anime and novels, so Namco Bandai signed up for a third game, Lost Song. It heads to a floating continent (there's always a floating continent), and characters can fight either terrestrial battles or, with the aid of fairy-like Alfheim Online wings, take to the air in free-flying combat. Players can control recurring hero and perpetual fantasy-fulfillment vehicle Kirito as well as other Sword Art Online characters, though the game doesn't yet allow for the creation of all-new avatars.

Bandai Namco plans an English translation of Sword Art Online: Lost Song for the Asian edition, and that bodes well for a North American release. Of course, the dialogue in the Asian version of Hollow Fragment is baffling and hilarious. Bandai Namco cleaned it up for the official U.S. release (for example, the above line became “So I'll leave the fun of visiting your rooms for next time!”), but some fans still weren't happy. The Japanese version of Lost Song arrives March 26, and the Asian one won't be far behind.

SPIKE CHUNSOFT PLAYS WITH RONIN, PATRIOTS, AND THE VITA
Plenty of games straddle the Vita and the PlayStation 3, and the majority of them do the same thing on both systems. Spike Chunsoft isn't having that with Patriot of Ukiyo and Ronin of Ukiyo. The samurai action titles share their looks and battle systems and elaborate weapon assortments, but they tell two different stories about the upheavals of the Bakumatsu.

Patriot of Ukiyo, the PlayStation 3 game, follows noted revolutionary Ryoma Sakamoto. In real life he played a major role in forging a rebellion against the Tokugawa shogunate, but Spike Chunsoft's game introduces him as a naked amnesiac who meets up with some mysterious strangers and anti-shogun firebrands. Ronin of Ukiyo for the Vita follows Yoshijiro Okita, a member of the Shinsengumi secret police, as he investigates murders that may circle back to his fellow officers. When the games arrive in January, will they romanticize the revolution or portray it as the ruthless, chaotic bloodbath it most likely was? I hope they opt for the latter. More games should.

IN BRIEF: UEMATSU DREAMS OF OLD GAMES, VALKYRIA EYES THE PC
Square Enix still makes games in the style of their old Super NES titles—check out Final Fantasy Dimensions or Final Fantasy IV: The After Years for fitting examples. Yet composer Nobuo Uematsu, who crafted the music for the first ten Final Fantasies, has something more elaborate in mind. In an interview from a recent Lapis Dream Orchestra pamphlet, Uematsu mentions that he'd like to make another 2-D game with the same team that made Final Fantasy VI. That team would include series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, who left Square and founded Mistwalker ten years ago. Such a game exists only in Uematsu and Sakaguchi's conversations for now, but the hint of it remains enough to stir up gossip.

Sega's Valkyria Chronicles was an early hit on the PlayStation 3, and its half-grim, half-cartoony vision of an alternate-history wartime Europe inspired sequels as well as an anime series. Sega can't afford to forget it, either. The original game will see a PC port in the near future, though the exact release plan is under wraps at the moment. I suspect some fans would prefer a PC version of the never-officially-translated Valkyria Chronicles 3, but Sega is evidently starting from scratch.

IMPORT ROUNDUP: OCTOBER

CHAOS RINGS III: PREQUEL TRILOGY
Developer: Media.Vision
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PS Vita

The Chaos Rings titles always seemed too ambitious for smartphones. They felt like the natural descendants of PlayStation-era Final Fantasies: baroque decor, turn-based battles, detailed monsters, lavish scores, and art from the generally underrated Yusuke Naora. The original game plucked five couples from various realms and dropped them into a cruel kill-or-die contest for immortality, dabbing the standing fantasy narrative with some darker blotches. Subsequent Chaos Rings were just as ornate, almost as grim, and just as relatively expensive as far as mobile games go. So it fits that Chaos Rings III appears on the Vita as well as hitting its usual Android and iOS haunts.

Seemingly unconnected to its predecessors, Chaos Rings III finds thrill-seekers and opportunists flocking to a floating continent where modestly advanced technologies make for easy pastoral living. Yet this isn't good enough for much of the populace, who want to reach an even comfier (and possibly fictional) utopia called Marble Blue. The mystery drives Nasca, a teenage shepherd and amateur mythologist, to take one of those official adventurers' exams that all youthful RPG heroes must face. His fellow applicant is Leary, a city girl in search of her abducted father, and so the two of them seek Marble Blue together.

Chaos Rings III seldom looks like a smartphone RPG. Its scope is elaborate, its scenery is impressive, and Square Enix suggests a 50-hour playtime (which translates to about 30 real hours). It may be the best-looking Chaos Rings title, yet there's a pervasive sense of cliché about everything from Naora's art to the underlying themes. The twisted games and amoral undertones of the original Chaos Rings are long gone, and in their place there's just a squad of teenage heroes who could step into Kingdom Hearts without a single beat missed. Yet Chaos Rings III isn't alone. The Vita edition includes the three previous games as a “prequel trilogy,” so there's time to catch up with the more interesting side of Chaos Rings.

Import Barrier: Being an RPG, there's ample chatter among characters. Still, the Vita's region-free.

Domestic Release: Fairly good, considering how its predecessors ended up on Android and iOS in North America. Yet Square Enix hasn't announced anything at the moment.

Scary: It's not a survival-horror deal, but there's a nasty little fake-out at the opening of the original Chaos Rings.

SUPER HERO GENERATION
Developer: Tom Create
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: PlayStation 3/PS Vita

The Compati Hero Series is a proud name among shameless crossovers. Well before The King of Fighters, Super Smash Bros., or even the Super Robot Wars series, Bandai crafted a score of games starring squat versions of Gundams, Kamen Riders, and Ultramen…er, Ultraman characters. During the 1990s, the little moneymakers raced carts, became sumo wrestlers, played dodgeball, held soccer matches, banged around virtual pinball tables, and starred in several side-scrolling action games. Rumor has it that Bandai even toyed with localizing SD The Great Battle on the Super NES, but that idea vanished into the same abyss that swallowed Doozybots and the NES version of Zeta Gundam.

Compati Hero games petered out after the 1990s, but Bandai revived the name with Great Battle Full Blast in 2012, and now the Ultra-Kamen-Gundam axis gets a new strategy game in the tradition of Super Robot Wars. Under the name Super Hero Generation, the crossover picks handfuls of characters from several shows. The Ultraman side covers Seven, Tiga, Moebius, Zero, Ginga, and the original series. Kamen Rider has Forze, Wizard, Den-O, OOO, Black RX, and W. Gundam starts with its general Universal Century series and adds Seed, Age: Memory of Eden, Unicorn, 00, Char's Counterattack, and, for reasons unclear, F91. I guess some people like that one.

This assortment of mecha and superheroes tackles enemies in typical battle grids, and special attacks usually involve some dramatic footage of characters imitating their TV show incarnations. Yet the whole thing looks primitive compared to a Super Robot Wars smorgasbord; the battle maps are cheap, and whatever appeal the closeups might possess fades after a few turns. And those familiar sights are the real attraction of a game like this, aren't they?

Import Barrier: You can figure out the basics with little trouble, but the dialogue remains in Japanese.

Domestic Release: Not much chance there. Gundam still merits the occasional game localization from Bandai, but Kamen Rider and Ultraman are dead weight, domestically speaking.

Scary: Not really, unless the game stirs up memories of unexpectedly gruesome Ultraman battles.

TALES OF THE WORLD: REVE UNITIA
Developer: Bandai Namco Games
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: Nintendo 3DS

The Tales series goes many places with its spin-offs: to fighting games, to web browser board games, to battlefield brawlers, to casino games, to quiz games, to “fan disk” compilations of skits and side attractions, and even to short-lived online RPGs. And so Tales went to strategy-RPGs. That path led to Tales of Tactics back in 2004 and to Tales of the World: Tactics Union in 2012, but those were mere mobile titles. The latest Tales of the World strategy game comes to the 3DS. Having exhausted conventional names like Tactics, it flips through the inexhaustible dictionary of Tales fantasy portmanteaus and pulls out Reve Unitia. “Reve” is French for “dream,” and “Unitia” is probably a fancy version of “unity.”

Reve Unitia makes a little more sense within context. It unfolds in Revaria, a realm that naturally relies on the dreams of humanity to sustain itself. Just like in The Neverending Story, a monstrous force is swallowing up the dreamworld, and little sprites called Lufres seek out warriors to help them. They find characters from all sorts of Tales games: Yuri and Flynn from Vesperia, Lloyd from Symphonia, Meredy from Eternia, Cress from Phantasia, Asbel and Sophie from Graces, Milla from Xillia, Ludger and Julius from Xillia 2, a whole bunch from The Abyss, and…well, just about all of the reasonably popular Tales characters. Even Tales of the Tempest contributes.

Crossover games need original characters here and there, so Reve Unitia gets Lufres spirits named Terun and Nahato. Each has a humanoid form as well as a glowing pixie incarnation, and each provides a different perspective on the throng of Tales guests dumped into an unfamiliar land. Crossover games also need ample in-jokes and conversations, and Reve Unitia has plenty of both. Battles play out on grids where characters pull off combination attacks and become more proficient as they fight side-by-side. That's where heroes and heroines argue, flirt, trade barbs, and ultimately set aside their differences. It's as much a fan-disk deal as a strategy game.

Import Barrier: You'll need Japanese proficiency to get the most out of the conversations—and the game, for that matter. And is the 3DS still region-locked? Why yes, it is.

Domestic Release: Namco grows more generous with Tales localizations each year, but Reve Unitia seems an unlikely localization. It's a mere spin-off, and the immense voice cast makes a translation more trouble than it may be worth.

Scary: Not particularly, but maybe it springs a creepy conversation with a wolf toward the end.

ALSO AVAILABLE:
Onechambara Z2 Chaos made a name for itself at the Tokyo Game Show with its demo station: two monitors mounted on the bikini top of a giant standup of series heroine Aya. And that's not too far from the actual game's content. As the first PlayStation 4 outing for the series, Z2 Chaos offers undead monsters to be diced up by women who wear ridiculous almost-nothing outfits and transform into equally ridiculous hyper-powered forms. It's a big platter of gore and exploitation, so I expect it'll see a North American release before long.

Those who enjoyed the recent Dramatical Murder anime series may notice Dramatical Murder: re: code for the Vita this month. It's a port of the original visual novel that follows psychic Aoba Seragaki through the mysteries of an island controlled by a single unpleasant high-tech corporation. His investigations uncover dark secrets as well as relationships with other handsome young men. As with most naughty visual novels that visit handhelds, re:code removes some of the original game's adults-only imagery, though I expect it still goes further than the Dramatical Murder TV series.

NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES

HARVEST MOON 3D: THE LOST VALLEY
Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Natsume
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: November 4
Still Waiting For: Wild Guns 2
MSRP: $29.99 $39.99 (special edition)

Shameless instigators like me imagine a rivalry between XSEED Games and Natsume as they struggle over Harvest Moon. Marvelous Inc., makers of Harvest Moon for nearly two decades, let XSEED Games publish the next game in the series under the title Story of Seasons. Natsume, which owns the rights to the name of Harvest Moon, stormed off and internally developed a game without Marvelous, and that game is Harvest Moon 3D: The Lost Valley. Yet there appears to be a truce. XSEED won't release Story of Seasons until next year, so Natsume and The Lost Valley get this winter all to themselves. And so the Harvest Moon Wars are over before they even start.

Natsume sticks to series standards with their own private Harvest Moon. The player's avatar, male or female, takes charge of a farm in a valley where the seasons have all given way to nonstop winter. To dispel this Game of Thrones climate, the hero or heroine raises animals, tends crops, and helps out fellow villagers. It's all built around day-to-day affairs, whether it's brushing a cow or fishing in the river. The Lost Valley streamlines this with a teleport whistle and a toolbox that automatically picks the right implement, but it's the landscape that provides the major innovation. Players can dig up the ground and rearrange it to create hills, fork rivers, elevate crops, and alter the scenery like a small-scale Minecraft playground.

The Lost Valley also continues the Harvest Moon tradition of starting a family. Male protagonists can romance the vivacious chef Emily, the bashful florist April, or the haughty, wealthy Catherine. Female protagonists can court the enigmatic bard Gilbert, the conflicted blacksmith Tony, or the down-to-earth animal lover Hunter. The town has host of other characters, a self-promoting witch and a distant wizard among them, and most of the populace needs help in some way.

Natsume's beaten XSEED to the Harvest Moon market this year, but it hasn't necessarily won over fans. While Story of Seasons uses artwork for its conversations, The Lost Valley employs big-headed characters for all of the dialogue, and it looks cheaper for it. That's a minor point, but such things indeed matter in the minutia of a Harvest Moon. At least it has the usual series extras: reserving the game gets you a stuffed dog, and Natsume's website sells a special set with a bigger Premium Bunny.

HALLOWEEN CONTEST: THE REST

I'd like to thank everyone who entered the Halloween contest, and I'll do that by running all of your entries! Read on for tales of terror, haiku, and hidden characters!

Don't worry, Nicholas Petcosky. In the future, all games will attack you in your sleep.

I suppose the scariest story I have involving a game is a weird dream which lead to a killer headache I had. I have this condition called Cluster Headaches, which are basically very bad migraines caused by a vein hitting a nerve behind the eye. They typically wake me up in excruciating pain right behind one of my eyes when I'm in a cluster period. Anyway, some one night I had just wrapped up a late night replay of Final Fantasy 7 and was calling it a night. I feel asleep with no problem and unsurprisingly, I had a dream involving the game. It was the final battle and instead of Cloud, it was my nerdy ass with the big sword pointed at the shirtless man. The battle went rather poorly but I was managing to hold on.

That was until one poorly timed parry, bounced Sephiroth's long sword up and right through my eye. It was at this moment I began to feel excruciating pain that suddenly shot through my eye socket, waking me up. Except the pain didn't stop because I was having one of my headaches that felt very much like something had just lodged itself behind my eye. While I know better now, I was a little dazed and convinced that my dream fight had carried back into reality.

So in short, I got Freddy Kruegered by Sephiroth.

I know exactly what Phillip Myers means. Even the Minus World in Super Mario Bros. rattled me.
"Deep Blue Fears"

My biggest video game fear has always been underwater levels. Bear with me.

I think this stemmed from the original Ecco the Dolphin. Barring the whole nightmare fuel of the end boss, the entire atmosphere of the game had this tight sense of claustrophobia. A lone dolphin swimming around in the deepest, darkest recesses of the ocean…it's unsettling! There's a moment where you're in the middle of absolute nowhere and the ocean is pitch blackish blue, and you just go tense because you don't know what the hell is gonna happen at the edge of the screen.

And that's the scariest part: it could come from any part of the screen. Monsters have free reign in water, so you don't know where they're coming from.

And it didn't help later on. As graphics got better, you got to swim in more directions, as did the killer shark or other undersea dweller ready to eat you. Didn't help that the camera was always right behind you, so you couldn't see what might sneak up, and as soon as they do…boom! Your screen is suddenly filled with an image of teeth and clipped polygons.

This made games like Tomb Raider, Soul Reaver, and even Super Mario 64 trialing endeavors.

But the biggest offender was Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. That one sewer level made the game virtually unplayable. The end boss, you had to fight under murky water against a giant Dianoga. What if Cthulhu and the Kraken had a baby and flushed it down the toilet? There it was! An Eldritch abortion ready to wrap its filthy trash tentacles around you and perform unknown horrific afflictions upon your supple flesh. And you HAD to fight it underwater!

Hell no. I'll just shoot zombies and Tuskens.

Maybe it's a good thing you didn't get past the opening scene, Asher Fischell. It only got scarier from that point.

Part 1:

The car had been parked
A Blockbuster Video
I was nine years old

A grin on my face
A new game for me to play
I opened the door

Looking at the shelves
The Playstation game section
“What to play,” thought I

The answer was clear
'Twas Resident Evil Two
Evil eye staring

I approach the clerk
Thankfully, Mom is with me
It can be rented

Part II:

Television on
Inserted into console
Controller in hand

Opening movie
It was very frightening
“I must be cautious”

Fire surrounding me
Menacing zombies shamble
I try to fight back

I attempt to move
The controls are very strange
Too slow; became food

I die, but restart
Pistol equipped, I must shoot
Can't figure it out

How to use the gun?
Failure. I don't understand
Zombies fall on me

'Twas impossible
Stuck on the very first screen
The moans haunting me

Part 3:

I return the game
I could not figure it out
Controls were too hard

I could not have known
Shoulder button raised weapon
Press button to shoot

Game was too scary
The moaning had stuck with me
The Night had fallen

It was time for bed
I got under the covers
And I closed my eyes

Could not sleep for days
Smelled the smoke, heard the moaning
I could feel their teeth

A lot of Sega fans died a little inside on one fateful day, and Charles DeYoe remembers that day. Or night.

A cold wind blew on that fateful night, so many years ago...

'twas the influence of the dark and wretched time of adolescence that inspired me to pass my miserable time with some light reading. I had on hand a new periodical that did arrive for me with news regarding certain gaming developments.

I gazed in wonder at strange tales of imported games from far-off land of Japan whence games like Sakura Wars were more popular than Sonic the Hedgehog, familiar titles where known by strange monikers such as "Akumajo Dracula," and Pocky was the snack that was adored by all.

It would have been a normal evening 'till I did turn the page in that accursed issue of "Official Dreamcast Magazine" and what I saw sent a shiver down my spine and made my blood run cold. I felt a weakness in my knees compelling my collapse. The words on the page seemed to call out from across time, bidding my very sanity to disperse. What had once seemed impossible suddenly had become reality. No vengeful cult could have described the horror I beheld on that page...

Sega had announced that they would end support for the Dreamcast and would nary make any new console!

Jayant Ravindra has played System Shock 2 and knows that true terror is capitalized.

SHODAN.

Controlling a small ship pales in comparison to the lofty dreams of a megalomaniac. Leading me on for hours and hours, fighting for survival against The Many, with an unwieldy wrench and sparse ammunition. Hours and hours, only to realize it was always SHODAN. Dr. Polito had never been; "The Polito form is dead," SHODAN cast, almost mockingly. I had no choice. SHODAN had become my alpha and omega; I was created by her, and seemed fated to be destroyed as well.

The Many provided time. Time I needed to escape from this damned fate. The time to think, research, and become something greater than originally planned. As I fought through the thoughtless swarms, SHODAN failed to realize my growth through combat and exploration; all the skills necessary for my ultimate goal. I realized that I was not chained to SHODAN as originally intended. I could fight her, and maybe, just maybe, destroy her. She intended to escape on a another vessel as her soon as The Many, and my time, expired.

Maybe I had too much hubris. Maybe I hadn't trained enough. Maybe I did not realize the scope of my opponent.

SHODAN did not dwell in reality, but rather in cyberspace controlling every action I had ever taken. The enemy, the hive mind of The Many, had fallen at my hand. It was my last chance to fight the insanity she planned to birth. I chased her into another world, her world of cyberspace.

Her defeat was swift, and I celebrated promptly, contacting two acquaintances who had fled from The Many.

Defeat did not come for SHODAN.

She transcended any abilities I could have gained, and any plan I could have made, and any hopes I once had.

She simply asked, "Do you like my new looks?"

In summary, no video game since has had fear quite like System Shock 2. An enemy that planned for every contingency, that utilized any and every resource to advance itself. An enemy that was victorious in defeat. If I need to point to any particular moment, the moment Polito was found dead my fear addiction to System Shock 2 began. Every enemy had weight, but moreover, the realization that I had no control over my fate, was more frightening than any game I have played in my life.

I wonder if Insaneben knows that, according to co-creator Ed Boon, the original Mortal Kombat still has secrets undiscovered by players.

Dateline: Mid-November, 1993

I was playing Mortal Kombat on the SNES, facing off against the computer, when suddenly, just as the match was about to begin, I hear a dark, ominous laugh, followed by a green ninja appearing on screen underneath text that looked like gibberish. Startled, I shut off the system and hid in the bathroom, thinking that my SNES was possessed. It wasn't until a week or two later that I'd discover (via Gamepro magazine) that Reptile was a hidden character in MK1 and that you had to perform certain tasks in order to fight him. With that, I overcame my fear (made all the easier by learning that Reptile would be a regular character in the upcoming Mortal Kombat II). To this day, it remains my #1 gaming fear (runner-up would be fighting El Oscuro for the first time in Rise Of The Triad).

Fear of failure or fear of grabby little meat-goblins? Kurt Wagner must decide!

When I was young my parents would take my older brother and me to our local video store to rent a video game over the weekend. If we could only get one game, my brother usually had final say in what we would rent. I remember the one time he picked Silent Hill with his ruling vote.

I used to love watching my older brother play through single player games but this one I avoided. We shared a room, so I would glance every now and then and immediately turn away. I was fine though, I would just get next week's rental and that would be the end of it.

The problem, however arose when my brother threw the controller into my hands. He said he was running late for work and told me to get him to the next save point so he didn't lose his progress. He knew I was capable, I played games like Armored Core and Megaman Legends, but he didn't count on my fear of horror games.

So, he left for work and I was left in some underground or basement level. I remember walking around with some sort of weapon, like a lead pipe. Creatures started to crawl around me. I killed a few, but more kept coming. Soon I was near death and running aimlessly, hoping to escape or find health, or the save point. The fear of the creatures and death rapidly gave way to the real corporeal threat from my brother when he came home from work.

I eventually gave up, paused the game, and cut the TV off. To this day I haven't really given the Silent Hill series a fair shot.

But Bob665 gave it a fair shot! And here's how that went!

Silent Hill, this looks good. It looks like Resident Evil. I like that one except for all the diaries. I hate reading. That was the bad thing about final fantasy seven, you had to read everything and it gave me a headache after a while. It's $20, I can afford it. Mom never asked about the games I buy so no need to tell her it's a horror game… I think. Wish I was better at reading.

Insert the game, gloriously no reading all talking. Car accident and a foggy night, have to find your daughter. This probably won't end well. The game kinda looks like it's outside now. Wet and dark. This game is really good. It's getting dark outside so I won't turn on the light. The siren in the game sounds a lot like the one the fire station sets off at five o'clock. The game reminds me of some of the foggy day around here, when things look different. I love the transitions from the different worlds. This game is great. It's creepy but doesn't try to startle you.

Cut scene time to sit back and enjoy. The old lady is kind of creepy, she reminds me of my teacher. I feel fingers creeping up my spine. It's like there's someone standing behind me. I quickly turn around and no once there but it feels like they were. It's like they were able to move faster than I was able to look. Shut the game off and go downstairs. “Hi Mom. Need help with anything?”

Okay stupid to be afraid of a videogame I know. I will play it again… Tomorrow… With the lights on.

Ian Eddy's story may make a symbolic connection between the game's title and the subject of terror, but I am too imperceptive to figure it out. I thought The Great Gatsby was just about a stoplight that never changed.

Meeting a friend at GameShop for the midnight release of Dead and Alive 5 sounded like fun. I hadn't expected to ever see another game from the series. By then, I'd resigned myself to playing the Xtreme Beach Lacrosse spin-off, but now the new game was almost out. I was excited, and nothing, not even the rain, could ruin that night.

Except for the dead cat outside. We'd sidestepped it on our way in. It didn't look like a car had hit it, so it had probably starved or frozen to death. Lying there, it was an image you couldn't just put from your mind.

So I cringed when my friend suddenly asked, “What happened to the cat?”

All conversation stopped. Looking outside, I couldn't see what he was talking about, which was precisely the problem. The cat that had been motionless on the ground wasn't there anymore.

“Maybe it was just sleeping?” someone offered to a mixture of nervous laughter and disgusted groans.

A few minutes after people had resumed talking amongst themselves, a man said, probably louder than he'd intended to, “There it is!”

Again, silence. He was right. The cat was back again, now lying just under the shop's awning. The conversations didn't start up again this time. Everyone was watching, expecting something to happen.

Something did.

A kid in a yellow raincoat came out of nowhere and picked up the cat. Her mouth moved as she said something, but no one could hear from inside the store. What everyone did hear, though, was when she burst out laughing.

Then, without another sound, she took the cat and walked back into the rain. A lot of people left immediately afterward. I couldn't blame them.

The sound of falling rain was exactly like a child's laughter.

Here's another Silent Hill story, this one from Ben Redshaw! That game is the Jaws of an entire generation.

Silent Hill
I remember borrowing the game from Funcoland while I was working there. We were allowed to take the games home overnight as long as we brought them back the next day, so I knew I only had a single night to beat the game (in case someone purchased our copy the next day and I couldn't take it home again). It was the first scary game I had played, and maybe it was just because my young age but that game drilled a sense of terror into. I decided to play it with all the lights off which of course only intensified the atmosphere the game had created. None of the control problems that I recognized in later play-throughs bothered me, I was so enthralled that things like that didn't seem to matter. My palms were sweating, and noises outside were making me jump as much as the game itself. Other games have had me jumping at jump scares but Silent Hill is the only game that really got me on a deeper level. I have never been scared like that because of a game since. . Maybe I have grown jaded or maybe playing Silent Hill back then just ruined it for other games, but that is my simple scariest game experience.

How did you play Resident Evil when you were just ten years old, Divine Edwards? It's rated M for Mature!

The time I cannot remember but the room it was dark and the glowing luminescent screen shouted Resident Evil!! It was then I knew I was not going to last long in this Video Game , the age I was when I first played resident evil was probably 10 years old.

Now at this age the only horror I knew of was from a movie called “The Gate” seeing that film game me a funny side of horror where playing a record backwards summons demons and distorts your surroundings , yet the video game Resident Evil gave a twist on the classic play on haunted houses and what lurks behind every corner .

Yet this same play on the “Haunted House” game play gave me chills back then I remember being bitten by the zombies and the music to and from dead silence, to the footsteps almost enchanting that I completely forgot I was in a room just staring at a television!

The moment you found something new something else happens and yet as inviting as this house of horror was I was sadly not able to finish this game at that time it would be years later when I finished resident evil 2 that I would get a chance to play the re mastered version of resident evil on the Nintendo Game cube that I would fall in love with the series all over again.

In conclusion to this residential horror I have to say that the horror genre has a very diorama approach to deliverance (of course just from the third person perspective) the titles in that regard for example are resident evil 4 , the silent hill series and the dead space 1 2 3 series . All in all I find the survival horror gaming genre as a child very hard to bear I guess the fear of the unknown got the best of me and as an adult I Yearn for the fun and wonders around every corner well the sun is coming up. Farewell.........

Donatas Kiznis was too young for Resident Evil as well, though I think it imparted a valuable lesson.

My first horror video game was Resident evil 4 and I'm going to be honest and say I wasn't old enough to play that game but it was one of the first games on PlayStation 2 for me, so how could I resist. So I played it for several days destroying my enemies easily, without much scare, until I met them, the regenerators.

To put it simply they were immortal. I tried to defeat them again and again just throwing everything I had at them and after dying for god knows how many times something happened. Before telling what exactly happened let's talk about what doesn't make a game scary. The answer is of course power and game gave me a lot of it. Until meeting my nemesis I was wiping out enemies whatever the way I liked. So when I lost all means of fighting you can probably guess what happened next, I become terrified of them. It was like going from power crazy gunman to a little child pushed into dirt. You can imagine that my will was pretty much broken. I was easily destroyed many times after that, until I just accepted my defeat and went on disgracefully avoiding every opponent like that until I got means to fight back. What I learned from this? Is it courage? No, I am just as easily scared as back then. Maybe cunning? No, I still try to win impossible fights a bunch of times before admitting defeat. What I learned was to enjoy horror games, enjoy that felling when all your plans crumble before you and your mind fills with strategies you can't wait to try out next and most importantly I learned to enjoy the terror it brings and almighty feeling of conquering it.

It's not the breaths you take, Kerry Saulters. It's the moments you take when you breathe…wait, hang on.

his took some thinking to figure my scariest time with a video game. However, I'd have to say it's recently. I'm all into the new Super Smash Bros. game for the 3DS. Yet I didn't realize during one of the games I actually quit breathing until I gave a huge gasp for air while playing! It scared me to death thinking I did that…and I normally never do! Yet the second scariest was with my boyfriend, since he has this fishing game for the Wii. I had been asleep and he was playing it and when it started up, the music got so loud it shook me out of a sound sleep. But I have to say stopping breathing while playing a game was the scariest. I almost needed Pikachu to jump start me had I not given the gasp.

Machinus either had a bad dream or a vision of the next Michael Bay film.

I believe what caused this horrifying dream was reading a review of the terrible game Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark.

In this dream, a few teenagers and I wandered through a network of canyons and stumbled upon a silvery Optimus Prime. This Optimus Prime was dull, dim, and depressing as hell, essentially a worker drone. Something happened to him that robbed him of his mind and soul. Thankfully, some random bum with a penchant for machinery appointed himself Optimus' caretaker. They spend their days tending to flowers, or pipes, or some shit.

This experience apparently touches the heart of a girl in my group. Unbeknownst to everybody, she had put a mind control spell on a guy so that he would love her. Seeing that such manipulation is wrong and isn't true love, she breaks the spell. This appears in the form of a pink beam, from her hand to his heart, dissipating.

This isn't a jump scare. This isn't a fear of uncertainty. This represent what I just might have to continue "enjoying" the transformers franchise, compromise my heart, my mind, and my soul to force myself into something that isn't real. This is what terrifies me, and reading the review to a bad follow up of two extraordinary Transformers games by Highmoon brought my fears to the forefront.

I don't know if “Kitch the orc” will join Dracula and the Wolfman among classic monsters, Justin Wisniewski, but he sounds scary all the same.

World of Warcraft. 1 am, Duskwood, the haunted woods. I, a Human Paladin, am questing with my brother, a Gnome Warrior; we are newbies.

Walking toward the town of Darkshire, the zone defense chat erupts in a flurry, "Darkshire is under attack!" As we reached the outskirts of the town, a Dwarf ran past us, yelling, "HE'S HERE, KITCH IS HERE, RUN!" Our blood ran cold. Kitch, an Orc hunter with a giant bat for a pet, was a ghostly assassin, so infamous on our server that It was said he had personally killed almost every high level player at some point or another. And now, his hunting ground was Darkshire; everyone near was Kitch's prey.

Knowing we were outmatched, we decided to hide and watch the road instead. Just then, a group of three high level players passed, heading for the presumed battleground. After a few minutes, the attack warnings went away. "That party must have got him", we thought. Inside town, it was eerily quiet; NPC corpses littered the ground. A little farther in, it was to our horror that we discovered the bodies of the three high level players.

"Run!" Turning around I had enough time to see an arrow pierce the fog and strike my brother, killing him instantly. Where had the shot come from!? I couldn't see! I slowly turned and then froze, standing directly in front of me was an Orc, clad in chainmail, wielding a large bow. At his side was a gigantic bat. I tried to back away, but it was too late, the Orc let an arrow fly, stunning me, and in an instant, the jaws of the bat closed upon my flesh. The screen turned black. I was now among those that could say, "I had been ganked by Kitch."

Quinn “Elves” Palmer had perhaps the worst experience of anyone playing Dark Cloud 2, but there's a happy ending!

After completing a higher level dungeon in Dark Cloud 2 I'd synthesized multiple weapons, gotten two new high quality weapons, and leveled up an awesome Spheda (golf) club. I was currently playing Spheda (golf) and the system automatically lands your character next to your ball after each hit. This was my second to last swing. Smack! The ball landed next to the exit door. Bam. I was transported next to the ball behind the unopened exit. Blinded by pixels and trapped inside I finally gave up and blindly took a swing. Amazingly I made the shot. Hooray! The exit opened, but I was still stuck in pixilated-hell. I joggled the analog stick relentlessly and suddenly found myself outside the dungeon looking in. You know those molten metal anthill creations currently seen on the internet? Yeah, the dungeon looked like that. Floating downward, I landed on top of the dungeon-tunnel observing one of the coolest glitches I'd ever been privy enough to see. I jumped off, floated down, watched the dungeon-tunnel cycle 'round. Wash, rinse, repeat. It was kinda of cool. Then reality hit. I hadn't saved for almost two hours. Two. Hours! All that hard work gone if I couldn't actually exit the dungeon! Lost weapon upgrades. Lost experience. Lost loot. Gone, gone, gone! Panic crept in. I threw myself off the tunnels. I lunged into the sides. I ran along the path, found the exit, and jumped into the backside of the door. Anticlimactically floating down each and every time. Nothing. About to give up, reaching for the reset button, I angrily screwed the analog stick in a circle with my thumb and…wait, what the heck? I fell into the tunnel! What. Just. Happened? Whoa. Wait a minute. Nevermind! Frantically I ran towards the exit and out to save-ty.

Kyle Webb joins those scarred by System Shock 2.

For me, I had just started a new game. It was at night, and it was dark, and I was playing System Shock 2. I'd been running around this ship fighting zombie things with a wrench, because I had one gun and had scrounged maybe 12 bullets. I went to a vending machine, looking to buy some more. Now, I'm used to a game world stopping whenever you're in a shopping menu, so I figure I'm safe while I look at all the new stuff. However as I'm reading an item description, I'm ripped from the menu to see a zombie right up in my face, who screams "KILL MEEEEE!" while hitting me with a wrench. I did my best imitation of a scared six year old girl, and emptied all off the ammo I had into it. I then looked around to make sure no one had seen my shame, and promptly went to do something else.

Joseph Reynolds can't pick just one scary moment!

My history of video games has been mostly positive. Fear is one emotion that does not frequently rear its disgusting, wretched head and when it does it is under strange circumstances. I cannot pin it down on one single experience, instead fear and video games often reflect fear in other parts of my life.

• Silent Hill on PS1 reflected my fear of the dark and the unknown when I was very young.

• Quake on PC reflected my fear of computers when I was in my early teens. Every time the game crashed, I feared I had ruined the computer for the rest of my family.

• Playboy the Game on Xbox reflected being caught playing games that my parents did not approve of. Violence in video games is not judged as harshly as sex in video games. I freaked out when my Xbox died with the game still inside, worrying that that I would not be able to get the game out thus incurring a late fee thus leading to my parents finding out what game I had rented.

• South Park The Stick of Truth reflected the fear you experience when you are about to “make like Linda Blair in the Exorcist”. There was one sequence in the game I had failed over and over again that made me physically ill. I had to stop to get some fresh air and I was actually afraid to play the game again. Eventually, I made it past that section, but I feared that an even more disturbing section would creep up on me.

To me it is these kind kinds of real world fears that seep into games that are the true terrors. It changes casual gameplaying experiences into haunting memories the exist long after the fear has faded.

Jarin Brown was aghast at Silent Hill's abandoning of materialism.

I've been a huge fan of the Silent Hill series before I ever had an opportunity to play any of the games. Once I discovered the series I read everything about all the games available at that point because I didn't have a system that could play them. After playing Shattered Memories because I had a Wii, I borrowed Silent Hill 2 and a PS2 from a friend. I knew the game inside out, so playing it was a breeze.

Until Lakeview Hotel.

In the hotel, in order to use a service elevator to get to the basement, you have to abandon all of your items. No weapons, no healing items, no radio to warn you of monsters nearby. The only item you keep is your map, but it's mostly useless because without your flashlight you can't read it until you find some other light source. In Shattered Memories you can't fight back against the monsters at all, but after going the entire game without any trouble, I was suddenly stripped of what meagre power I had, and I had to fight the urge to run panicked through the basement, because I still had to check every dark corner to find the items I needed to move on, but without any assurance that I could take care of whatever else might be in those corners.

I got through without dying, but only because I went at snail's pace, jumping at every noise. When I finally got back to the floor with my items, I took a mad dash through a hall full of monsters, grabbed my stuff, and prepared to fight. But once I had my weapons again, every enemy in the hallway was gone. So I saved the game and started breathing again.

Lastly, Ricky Larrew summons up a memory of something that just about everyone feared back in 1993.

It was a cold and dark night back in the era before cell phones and high speed internet. I had decided to purchase a game for my handicapped sister to play. Being 10 with a mentality of 4 made this game a perfect choice. Oh for if I could have predicted the horror that awaited me!

I unashamedly purchased the game for the ridiculously scary price of 39.99 at the nearby KB toys. It was such a terrible thing to waste that much money in 1993.

The game was inserted into the genesis cartridge and I could have sworn a soft evil laugh escaped from somewhere in the room. Perhaps it was in my own head? It came on and then I saw it. Oh the horror, the horror and this wasn't the boo hiding under the bed!

A color blind dinosaur appeared on the screen. They called him purple but he was the color of blood! Bright red blood as if he had bathed in the remains of the children he consorted with!

Immediately the color scheme made me shake and tremble with fear and to end it I tried to walk the dinosaur off the platform. Oh I wanted to this miserable existence and vanish to oblivion! It was not to be. Oh I tried so hard but in the end it didn't really matter! The creature refused to walk off. He refused to end his existence to save my sanity!

There was then a vocal emission from the creature about safety and and I am sure he mentioned a anti-suicide stance. How dare that creature lecture me on being safe and not letting me fall off platforms! That creature deserved to die! But no, he mocked me, standing there waving his blood stained hands!

Oh that evil abomination forced me to play the game. They say he was trying to find the 4 kids each level to interact and spread love and joy. He was no Vash the Stampede! He was a stalker. Red as blood dinosaur pulled the kids out of their hiding spots. A hug was given and then they vanished. He murdered them! As if to celebrate, a balloon came down and he touched it and blood came out! Oh wait, it was just confetti! Confetti colored like the blood off different beasts. All colors of the rainbow!

Streamers also appeared and I knew that he had strangled the poor kids. Those poor kids! As if to make the horror even worse, a neon green companion came out and celebrated the merciless killing of the children! They danced and sung around confetti and balloons and streamers! They even had the audacity to call me their very special friend!

The creature then blew blood red kisses and flew around the screen using an umbrella! I bet he stole it when he murdered Mary Poppins too! She had children and this creature loved to hug, sing and choke them with the streamers.

The game never ended. He would stand there and talk and it lasted forever. He wanted me to play and hang with him for 3 more levels. I couldn't do it. It was just too horrifying. The colors, the words, the balloons, the streamers, the extra murdering dinosaurs!

His speed was broken with the verbs and nouns being fractured. This created one second pauses in the game. It made the game even more traumatizing since you had to tense up at each pause before the next line.

I finally turned the game off and the nightmare ended. I vowed to never play it again. I did give it to my handicapped sister because she would never know how truly horrifying it was. She could just play and enjoy the game. Oh how I wish I had her disability but I didn't.

To this day I still cringe at the game that was Barney's Hide and Seek for the Sega Genesis.

And that's it for the Halloween contest! It'll give you a good idea of what to play if you want something scary! My advice: make sure it has an underwater stage.


Todd Ciolek occasionally updates his website, and you can follow him on Twitter if you want.


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