Resident Evil 4 – 15 Years Later

The Game

Resident Evil 4 was the end result of a lengthy development process that began in 1999 and with the intention of being a direct sequel to Resident Evil 2, released the prior year for the Playstation. The development team at Capcom included Resident Evil 2 director Hideki Kamiya as well as series creator Shinji Mikami. Resident Evil 4 underwent many changes in concept and gameplay over the course of its development; one of the earliest versions of the game Hideki Kamiya had for the project would emphasize stylized action over the established horror elements of previous RE games. He envisioned a “cool” main character with superhuman intelligence and abilities in a game with a unique style and attitude. Shinji Mikami felt this strayed too far from the established nature of RE games and persuaded Capcom to set it aside as a new IP on the Playstation 2. While Mikami took over as director of the Resident Evil project for the upcoming Playstation 2, Kamiya took on the task of directing another project that began as a gaiden or “side story” to Resident Evil 2. The result of this was what we know today as Resident Evil 3(the highly-anticipated remake releases April 3, 2020). Kamiya also went on to see his original concept for Resident Evil “3” come to fruition on the Playstation 2 in 2001 with his cool protagonist – Dante, starring in the first of the successful(and very stylish) Devil May Cry series.

Meanwhile Shinji Mikami worked through mulitple versions of what would now be billed as Resident Evil 4. The development team felt a change was in order for the series and the project suffered numerous changes in setting and gameplay with Mikami admitting in an interview that they were occurring nearly every day. The team wanted to expand on the story of Leon S. Kennedy, the protagonist of Resident Evil 2 and went through mulitple settings in which he would make his way through fighting anything from traditional zombies to spirits and otherworldly monsters. Perhaps the biggest change to the upcoming RE title would be a change in camera perspective from the fixed camera angles of the first entries to an “over the shoulder” camera, this allowed players a greater range of movement than the traditional infamous “tank controls” and would make for greater action sequences within the game. The setting was also moved to an unnamed village in Spain where Leon has traveled in search of the President of the United States’ daughter Ashley and would encounter villagers infected not by the T-Virus but by a parasite known as Las Plagas.

In late 2002 Capcom announced five separate titles that would be released as exclusives for the Nintendo Gamecube. These games came to be known as the “Capcom Five” and included Killer7, P.N.03, Dead Phoenix, Viewtiful Joe, and Resident Evil 4. Shinji Mikami had previously stated his intention of creating exclusive titles for the Gamecube previously as the remake of the first Resident Evil game was released for the Nintendo’s diminuitive console and as the series prequel Resident Evil 0 released as an exclusive in November 2002. The 3rd person shoot ’em up Dead Phoenix would eventually be scrapped and all other games would be ported to other consoles, with the exception of P.N.03. Despite the fact two of the Gamecube (then)exclusives – Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil 4 garnered rave critical reviews, but still could not Nintendo strengthen its third-party support among publishers; a problem going back to Nintendo’s release of the Nintendo 64 and it’s reluctance to embrace disc-based software and choosing to stick with cartridge format for its games.

Resident Evil 4 was released after many changes and delays for the Gamecube on January 11 2005. It received rave reviews from gaming outlets, praising the updated camera angles and controls as well as its sleek combination of action and horror. RE4 was held up as “the reason to own a Gamecube”, but despite its critical success as a Nintendo exclusive, it was subsequently released on the far more successful Playstation 2 in October 2005 and went on to sell more copies as a PS2 title than Gamecube.

Memories

My first knowledge of the game came through various gaming magazines like EGM or Nintendo Power, I was instantly intrigued at the amount of buzz the upcoming Resident Evil game was getting. I had known of the series since its early days on the Playstation and had played a little bit of Resident Evil 2 at a neighbor’s place, but it wasn’t until the Gamecube remake of the first Resident Evil that I was completely engrossed in the acclaimed zombie series. I played the REmake and a few months later played Resident Evil 0 and loved the setting and atmosphere within the eerie confines of the Spencer Mansion and Umbrella Research Facility; I was very eager to see how Capcom could possibly follow these up.

I had just turned 19 and was working at a local Kmart store when Resident Evil 4 first released in January 2005. I was still living at home at the time, but with even a part-time job I had a bit of extra income to pick up the ocassional game here and there. RE4 was initially slated for a Q4 2004 release but was delayed until the following January, this worked out well enough for me as the final months of 2004 were jam-packed($$$) with great games like Metroid Prime 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas AND the world-stopping event that was Halo 2. I remember working back in the electronics department the day that RE4 was set to release, but my shift ended before any new product was brought up from the store room in back. I arrived at work the next day and saw it had been placed behind the sliding plexiglass doors with all the other games. I then anxiously made it through my shift before hurrying back to the game case to grab my copy of RE4 and hurry on home to pop the tiny Disc 1 of 2 into my platinum silver Gamecube. I spent the next few weeks glued to my tv, completely blown away by what I was playing. I had never played a game that was able to fuse together the adrenaline rush of an action-shooter with the Resident Evil brand of terror I’d come to know. The over the shoulder camera really did allow for a greater sense of your surroundings and mobility, and did you ever need it.

It was evident playing through Resident Evil 4 that the series had ventured more into action-game territory than traditional survival-horror, though the locations and boss battles made for some genuinely scary moments. The first time you attempt to cross the lake before realizing that you’re directly over the gigantic monster known as Del Lago(you’re gonna need a bigger boat) is as terrifying as it is memorable. There’s also the first sequence of the game where Leon finds himself being swarmed by villagers, so he quickly barracades himself inside a nearby house before hearing the upstairs windows crash as the ganados have started raising ladders all around the building. An already tense moment was made even more horrifying(and instantly memorable) the second you hear a chainsaw revving and have to fight off this Jason Voorhees wannabe wearing a burlap sack over his face alongside the horde of villagers with an instant death(and gruesome death animation) awaiting you if you let Chainsaw Man get too close; this has since become the most vivid memory of Resident Evil 4 for many players. One of my favorite things to do in the game is quickly shooting a stick of dynamite while still in an enemy’s hand, taking them out, along with anyone nearby…that never gets old.

Legacy

Since first playing Resident Evil 4 back in 2005, it has been one of my all-time favorites and a game that I’ve been countless times on…many different consoles; I can start it up anytime and still be completely lost in the game. RE4 went on to win many Game of the Year awards and is regarded among the greatest games of all time, becoming as recognized as the original Playstation game.

For as many fans like me that absolutely love the game, there are those who have grown to resent RE4 for representing such a shift in tone and gameplay as the Resident Evil series would soon grow further and further from the atmospheric survival horror in which the series began. The game proved almost TOO successful for Capcom as its sequels inevitably became more and more action-oriented to the point of being near unrecognizable to longtime fans, save for a few consistent names – Chris, Leon, Wesker, Umbrella. Capcom did successfully shift the series back to its horror roots with the release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in 2017. Another element of Resident Evil 4 that was fresh and innovative at the time, but quickly became a tired gimmick was the use of Quick Time Events which consisted of sudden button commands to coincide with specific cutscene sequences. A memorable moment in RE4 is the knife duel cutscene between Leon and Krauser which players would have to quickly press the A or B buttons at particular moments as to assist in Leon’s movement and keep just out of harm’s way. This was a gameplay element only otherwise seen in Sega’s Shenmue games, but due to the copycat nature of successful series, quickly became just another tired gimmick.

Resident Evil 4’s influence cannot be overstated however, when it comes to modern gaming. Take a look at any third-person action game released since 2005 and it will undoubtedly utilize the very same over the shoulder camera angle that made RE4 so fresh at the time. 2018’s immaculate God of War utilized a similar camera setup and added a dash of exploration to the mix, the result was a breath of fresh air to the popular franchise that mirrors RE4 in many ways. Director Cory Barlog has stated as much that the game served as a huge inspiration and the 2018 Game of the Year winner wouldn’t exist without it.

Resident Evil 4 was released as a “system-seller” exclusive for the Gamecube, but has since been ported onto nearly every console since then with perhaps only Skyrim rivaling it for the most ported game of the past few console generations. I, myself am guilty of purchasing this game numerous times and play it at least once every year. The game after 15 years has started to show its age in places, but the game at its core still showcases greatness. If only I had bought one of those chainsaw controllers….

Gaming Thoughts – Death Stranding

So last night…after 60 hours of gameplay I finished my playthrough of Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s first game since parting ways with Konami back in 2015. The umm…discourse surrounding the game have been fairly mixed as the game itself is showing to be quite divisive, as Kojima games tend to be in general. I’ll admit I have been fairly reticent to chime in(much) on the discussion surrounding the game as so much tends to be completely subjective, and also the fact that there are so many facets and aspects of the game that I find myself quickly spiraling into a semi-coherent ramble(just ask my wife…). For today’s post, I’m not going to delve too much into the general reception of the game but have decided to focus primarily on my three main takeaways from the unique experience presented by this game. For the sake of spoilers and the overall Kojima-ness of the game’s near bewildering storyline and the many, many metaphors contained within I have also decided not to tackle too much of the story other than just the basics.

Death Stranding takes place in an America that has been nearly destroyed by a cataclysmic event known as the Death Stranding in which the worlds of the living and the dead have converged with the remnants of humanity hidden below the surface in fortified bunkers as otherworldly creatures known as BTs or Beached Things which are unable to be seen by the naked eye and plague the land above ground. With the country fractured(METAPHOR ALERT) and in disarray Sam Porter Bridges, played by Norman Reedus is employed in reuniting the country via the Chiral Network, a sort of internet. To complicate matters any type of precipitation, known as Timefall causes any organic material to rapidly age and decay, including humans. This brings into the game an element of item deterioration, including the very boots you wear.

Sam is equipped with an Odradek a spider-like apparatus that sits over his shoulder used as a scanner along with the most-memed aspect of Death Stranding – the BB or Bridge Baby, which is carried in a glass “womb” that Sam carries on his chest as BBs are able to detect the invisible BTs. One of the central themes of the game is death and the afterlife along with the space, or beaches as they’re referred to in the game serving as the space that separates the living and dead.

The World

I love the rugged terrain and moody atmosphere

The America that Kojima Productions has created is nothing short of astounding, the rugged rocky terrain with stretches of grassy expanse is simply breathtaking. There’s also the snowy beauty of mountain ranges with marshy lowlands in the valleys below. Several areas feature a barren, rusty, Mars-like landscape you must traverse. One order may ask you to transport supplies to a settlement on the very edge of the map, while the next may direct you to retrieve items that had been lost in an ambush. Upon completing the deliveries, Sam is then able to connect the location to the larger country via the Chiral Network forming another “strand” along the way. You can also undertake additional deliveries which upon completion assist in strengthening your connection level up to 5 stars.

The key word in describing the gameplay is traversal, the game has been labeled as “just a walking simulator” by some; the central gameplay element sounds anything but complex, Sam takes on orders(missions) at different terminals across the country and sets out to transport a myriad of items to the corresponding locations scattered about the area. “The game is just a glorified Amazon delivery person-simulator” is among the most common criticisms of the game…..I understand I may just be weird, but that’s part of the game that I find endearing – would anyone other than Hideo Kojima be crazy enough to pull something like this off? The fact that traversal is the primary gameplay element along with a generous amount of inventory management and stealth with just a sprinkling of combat into the mix. One order may ask you to transport supplies to a settlement on the very edge of the map, while the next may direct you to retrieve items that had been lost in an ambush. Upon completing the deliveries, Sam is then able to connect the location to the larger country via the Chiral Network forming another “strand” along the way. You can also undertake additional orders to build your “connection” with the settlement along your journey across the country.

From the moment I began playing the game and was placed in this gorgeous, expansive world I was compelled to keep going and to see just what lay over the next horizon. I kept thinking to myself while playing, “Ok…I’m supposed to be bored now right?”. The bulk of your travels will by made by foot, with the eventual ability to fabricate additional tools and even some vehicles. The traversal through the game across the desolate landscape has such a haunting otherworldly vibe I found myself in near disbelief at the quality of visuals in Death Stranding. While traveling there isn’t a whole lot in the way of soundtrack outside of a few ambient sounds until encountering a point in your journey which triggers one of the many licensed songs from the Icelandic band Low Roar. This generally occurs just as you venture to the top of a hill and see your destination finally lays ahead of you. The feeling of relief in just the fact that you’re completing a mission and reaching your destination became such a weird, almost intoxicating feeling. The feeling of satisfaction as you think “I’ve finally made it” is unlike anything else I’ve played in a game, with the closest example being the moment of finally defeating that giant boss in a Dark Souls game. Another aspect of the game I have also seen many others reference is the contemplative, zen-like feeling in your travels as you will spend a great deal of the game all alone. I found the game downright relaxing at times.

The music used in the game is phenomenal, with Ludvig Forssell’s original soundtrack evoking waves of emotion throughout the game, particularly in BBs Theme which is a melody patterned as a lullaby one might hum as they cradle a newborn. Just hearing BBs Theme since beating the game is enough to bring back the rush of emotions I experienced through the game. There is an impressive amount of licensed songs used in the game as well; nearly twenty songs alone from the band Low Roar, with nearly a dozen other songs used by other artists. Similar to the range of 80’s music that was placed throughout Metal Gear Solid 5. Among my favorite licensed songs are Pop Virus by Gen Hoshino which I listed in last week’s game music post and the song Death Stranding by Chvrches which essentially acts as the title track of the game. I liked Chvrches prior to playing the game, but I really have fallen in love with this song. Kojima certainly understands how effective audio is in conveying emotions and moods in any piece of art, and it is no more evident than while playing Death Stranding.

A Helping Hand

Another gameplay element central to Death Stranding in asynchronous online play that lets players leave ladders or ropes in various places not only to assist you in traversing the rugged landscape, but also to leave behind you a hand of assistance to others making their way through the game. Once an area has been connected to the Chiral Network you can begun to rebuild the country decimated by the Death Stranding. You can use gathered materials towards building paved roads or eventually zip lines(awesome!) to provide greater ease in traveling from place to place. You can build additional structures like watchtowers to survey the surrounding area or Timefall shelters to offer a brief respite from the container-ravaging rain or snow. You may find the battery of your reverse trike is running low on battery and find a generator standing just up ahead; the satisfying reward of knowing you’ve helped someone else in the lengthy journey through the world is one of the biggest achievements of the game. One any of the several boss fights, you can see the specter of other players fighting and will assist you by tossing weapons and health in your direction. This isn’t a completely new gameplay facet as this was also used in From Software’s Souls series where players could leave messages of warning or encouragement for others. The idea of “connections” and “strands” were meant to be central to the game experience as Kojima himself has stated. The landscape of America is vast and barren and has been a criticism of the game from some publications as the experience was found to be an empty and lonely, that’s precisely the point. The pervasive feelings of loneliness and detachment are at the heart of Death Stranding as Kojima stated the game was a result of the loneliness he himself feels from time to time in our current world. More than ever before we are able to communicate and connect with others around the globe, but for many there is still a missing feeling of being “connected” to those around us. Something as simple as a sign of encouragement from others can help remind us that even though we may feel all alone in this giant empty space, we aren’t. Metaphors like this aren’t hard to see, particularly given how NOT subtle many tend to be in Kojima games.

The Journey

It’s only been about 24 hours since completing the game, but I can already feel the game has been an experience that will stick with me a long time. After finishing the game, there’s a feeling not of being exhausted, but more that you know you have climbed the mountain and have seen a long journey through from start to finish. While playing Death Stranding I have mentioned multiple times how it felt similar to making my way through the even lengthier storyline of Red Dead Redemption 2 in that it wasn’t the hyper-stimulating gameplay experience like playing through Doom or any number of action or FPS games, but there’s a feeling of satisfaction in seeing the resolution to your emotional investment.

It wasn’t as much of a surprise that the voice and motion capture performances in Death Stranding are nothing short of phenomenal. Norman Reedus is probably the most surprising as initially most of his lines were delivered in a low gravely tone that it sounded as if he was trying to play Solid Snake, but as the game progressed you see Sam open up a little more and displays a greater range of emotions and feel like you’re not JUST controlling Daryl from The Walking Dead. I can’t go without professing my love for Mads Mikkelsen, who I was beyond excited when I first heard he would be starring in a Hideo Kojima game. I love his movies and especially his portrayal as the evil Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the NBC show Hannibal(gone WAY too soon…); the quiet intensity he brings to the story as Cliff was excellent. Troy Baker and Lea Seydoux were great as usual as the terrorist Higgs and as Fragile. Tommie Earl Jenkins who plays Die-Hard Man was one of the best performances I have seen recently as he begins the game as seemingly just another Col. Campbell/Major Tom type to give you advice or directions or is he? By the end of the game I was nearly as attached to these wonderful characters with way-too-on-the-nose namesakes as I did to Arthur while playing Red Dead Redemption 2, but what surprised me the most was attachment to my BB. I have no nurturing instinct whatsoever but I got quite attached to the little guy. It was such a heavy “feels” moment to see Sam and BBs journey come to a close and in a way felt similar to that of Kratos and Atreus’ in God of War.

But…is Death Stranding a fun game? I personally didn’t find myself ever bored or frustrated when playing the game, I felt so enamored with this gorgeous world and the truly unique story it tells. I absolutely love this game, but I have no problem with the fact someone else may find it boring and hate it even after “actually playing the game”. My biggest critique of the game would be that the controls aren’t completely perfect, but not enough to put me off playing the game, the pacing of the game I totally understand may detract others from enjoying the game as much. I found it interesting that the game begins with you being nearly helpless and had to progress to make connections and fabricate weapons, being able to create the different powered skeletons made it immensely easier to keep Sam upright. By the final chapters of the game you feel a sense of progression in both the storyline and your abilities. I had to laugh that after the final credits you are shown your stats from your time in the game and there’s a category for Tumbles Taken which tracks just how many times you fell over due to unstable terrain or losing your balance. The OCD part of me also enjoyed how the game will force you to prepare for potential situations that may arise during your mission and will not think twice about punishing you for being careless.

Death Stranding is a game that was never intended to be a conventional experience, and that’s the two key words I will use to describe the game, experience and investment. If you’re looking for something simply to hold your attention as you zone out in front of the tv, you may be utterly disappointed. In a gaming industry being more and more dominated by sequels and remakes as they provide the safest return on a publisher’s investment, one cannot deny how impressive it is that a big-budget game with such an abstract story and more non-conventional gameplay features exists. Despite there being those still insisting the contrary, video games can be art, and any artistic medium is mostly subjective. Editor-in-Chief of Game Informer Andy McNamara has stated the interesting thing about Death Stranding would be as a discussion piece and likened it to something you would see in an art gallery. I have also sadly noticed those out there defending the game and claiming that those who were critical of the same simply hadn’t played it or “just don’t get it”. Now that I’ve finished the game I will mostly likely attempt to wrap up some other games on my plate as I want to get a decent sampling of games released in 2019 before I start with my game of the year talk, which is obligatory for anyone blogging about video game it seems. I will most definitely come back to Death Stranding as I’d like to go for the platinum trophy. At this point, I would have to say Death Stranding is definitely Top Three of my favorite games of 2019. I do find it amusing however, that Kojima’s game about connecting others has proven so divine already…

Has anyone out there taken a gamble and picked up Death Stranding? If so, what did you think? Did you love it or hate it, what did you like/dislike about it? I’ve been looking for others to actually discuss the game in more nuance than simply “It’s the best game ever!” or “it’s a pretentious walking simulator!”. Feel free to leave a comment or you we can discuss on Twitter @gamingomnivore. I also included a couple tracks from the game that I’m currently in love with! Thanks for reading!

My Friend Pedro

My Friend Pedro was developed by Dead Toast Entertainment and published by Devolver Digital and was released on June 20 for the Nintendo Switch and PC. I played through the game on my Switch, being an indie title I was eager to play after it was announced. The tagline for the game is – Blood. Bullets. Bananas; even with my highly refined tasted in video games(pinky fingers up!) I was sold on this pretty quickly and it has provided some of the most exciting, enjoyable moments of gaming in 2019.

The game begins with our unnamed protagonist regaining consciousness in the depths of an abandoned warehouse and hearing a voice emanating from a sentient banana named Pedro, who then guides him in escaping the warehouse. Any narrative aside from the opening moments of the game quickly take a backseat to gameplay elements.

My Friend Pedro is first and foremost an action game, requiring our nameless gunman to shoot his way through five different levels – Old Town, District Null, Pedros World, The Sewer, The Internet. Each level consists of roughly 6-10 individual stages which you will attempt to not only reach the end successfully, but also do so with the most stylish badassery as you will be graded for each stage. At front and center of the gameplay is the time-slowing effect which allows you to dive, roll, and swing your way across the 2D levels while gunning down waves of enemies.

The game has clearly taken inspiration from the Gun-fu style of films which were popularized in the later 80’s and into the 90’s in Hong Kong Cinema by directors like John Woo. This style of action within games and movies wherein the character performs very stylized maneuvers, usually in slow motion, such as diving through windows and doorways and unloading a barrage of gunfire; this has also been referred to as a “gun-ballet”. Another prominent example of this within recent years would be the term “bullet-time” which was famously used in homage of Hong Kong Cinema by the Wachowski siblings in The Matrix. The effect was used and parodied in many movies and games since The Matrix introduced Western audiences to the filming style. Bullet-time has also been (over)used in countless video games which allow the player to momentarily slow down time during gunfights, which for the most part didn’t necessarily add anything to the game other than look cool or to make you say, “whoa”<see what I did there?>. The biggest example of bullet-time within games would be the Max Payne series, which is heavily inspired by John Woo’s film Hardboiled. Indeed it is near impossible to play My Friend Pedro and not think of the Max Payne games, though the former eschews the film noir aesthetic and narrative for the most part.

The more you combine stylized, flowing gun acrobatics the greater score multiplier you will receive, similar to other action or fighting games which reward you for your hit count or combo multiplier. Throughout the game you will acquire a range of weapons, from the action movie staple of dual handguns and Uzis to shotguns and assault rifle and sniper rifle. If dual weapons are equipped you are able to dual-target enemies which will allow you to dive into an adjacent room filled with enemies and begin mowing them down, or many sequences feature a long passage straddled by enemies on each side in which you can ascend or descend the area in style with guns blazing from your akimbo weapons. In several stages you will come across a spare skateboard lying around(why not?) which you can hop aboard and roll down various floors as you can utilize the time slowdown ability to dodge incoming fire as you jump over obstacles while returning fire; just think Max Payne mixed with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater….that’s right, pretty awesome. The game itself never moves along at too fast of a pace as the movement overall feels little slower than other action shoot ’em up games, but it’s taking advantage of the slower movement and pulling off all sorts of dramatic maneuvers that make the game such a blast to play. The excitement of diving through a glass window and then tuck and roll before spring up and emptying a couple clips of bullets into the unsuspecting enemies has been hard to match in nearly all of the games I’ve played this year.

The gunplay works impeccably well in My Friend Pedro, but the game also displays some impressive physics at work. In many stages you will come across explosive barrels that you can jump on and roll them along a walkway and drop them onto the baddies below you. You can also line up more than one to before shooting one to set off a chain reaction sure to boost your combo multiplier. You will come across hanging metal…signs(?) that you can use to your advantage as any bullets will ricochet off the metal surface and deflect in the direction of enemies above or below you. Along with the metal signs are a few odd iron frying pans that you can kick up in the air and allow a few well-placed bullets to deflect at anything from enemies to switches restricting your access to the next room or floor. One of my favorite moments of the game was shooting a switch which dropped a frying pan from an elevated area which required you to quickly shoot the pan in mid-air to hit another switch, opening the passage below the pan as it is still falling and shooting the pan once again to take our the enemy guarding the exit.

The levels themselves are nearly all 2D or more as you may describe as 2.5D as they are not completely viewed from the side by will take on slightly different angles to provide you the best vantage point to traverse the stage, and look badass doing it. A few of levels find you fighting a level boss which show you from more of a top-down angle as you speed across a bridge in a gunfight with Mac the Butcher in his food truck equipped with mounted machine guns, as if out of a Twisted Metal game. It will take roughly 4-5 hours to complete all five levels, but there is a fair amount of replay value as the game was enjoyable enough I found myself replaying stages to go for a better ranking and unlockables. You wanna feel like a badass? My Friend Pedro’s combination of gunplay, physics, a few light puzzles within the levels and some goofy humor really made for some of the coolest gaming moments I’ve had this year. 2019 is coming to a close and My Friend Pedro is already on my short list of favorites I’ve gotten to play. Thanks for reading!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 – First Impressions

The long wait is over and Luigi’s Mansion 3 has finally arrived! Fans of the oft-forgotten Mario brother(aren’t we all?) will join in celebrating the release of Nintendo’s premier ghost-busting title. I’ve been playing the game since it released a couple days ago and was excited to share some of my initial impressions of the game.

Our hero Luigi and ghostly best boy Polterpup

Luigi’s Mansion 3 begins with the entire gang of Mario, Peach, Luigi, and Toad(s) traveling by bus to the Last Resort – a towering hotel complex nestled amid an idyllic green mountain valley, evoking images of the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s The Shining(which was inspired by the Stanley Hotel in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado). After arriving and being overwhelmed by the magnificent hotel and amenities(except our skeptical protagonist Luigi) and retires to their rooms for the evening. Before attempt to settle in for a luxurious night’s sleep we see Luigi’s room appearing to have almost a gold encrusted sheen from light beaming in from outside(the opening title reflects also reflects this ruse). Shortly thereafter, a loud crash awakens Luigi as he springs from his bed and not so bravely decides to investigate. Luigi finds the entirety of the hotel shrouded in darkness and fog, beginning his trek across the Last Resort to uncover the whereabouts of his friends, facing all matter of ghostly foes along the way.

m-m-Mario?

I’m just under five hours into the game, but already I can tell this is going to be an enjoyable experience. I’ve sorted my early thought of the game into three categories that have impressed my the most so far….

Visuals – The very first thing that stood out to me about Luigi’s Mansion 3 was the absolutely beautiful visuals! Everything has a silky smooth polish to it, while still being able to detect various textures within the game, such as a wooden wardrobe or the fabric of Luigi’s hat. I was very impressed with the game animations right from the very beginning as the transitions from cutscene to gameplay are nearly seamless. The visuals quality looks strikingly similar to that of Illumination, the studio behind the Despicable Me and Minions movies…the very same studio who IS currently working on a Mario movie. The lighting effects within the game may just be the best I’ve seen in a game this year. The light emitted from Luigi’s flashlight or the glowing of a solitary desk lamp provide the lone source of illumination in a seemingly empty room, suddenly accompanied by the colorful glow of ghostly foes.

Controls – The controls for the game feel excellent and offer an evolution from the first Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube in 2001 and an improvement from Dark Moon on the 3DS. Having the second joystick to assist in your directional movement and aim was sorely missed in the 3DS sequel, which only added to what I felt was a slightly disappointing second outing. Another thing that impressed me while playing is the wonderful physics at play within the game as you notice the subtle swaying of curtains in a breeze or a dress hanging in the closest reacting to nearby movement. There’s also chairs being casually knocked on their side or the stretching of cobwebs as you devour them with your Poltergust G-00. There’s something weirdly satisfying in this game about being able to suck up bedsheets and couch cushions or a dozen or so golf balls randomly strewn across a vacant room…unless it’s just me?

Gameplay – Luigi’s Mansion 3 features the same central mechanics as the previous games as our scaredy-cat hero ventures throughout the haunted hotel in search of the elevator buttons to allow access to the corresponding floor. This time around Luigi and Professor E. Gadd have a few new additions to the repertoire; the slam attack lets Luigi fling a trapped ghost against the floor as if cracking a whip which deals greater damage to the ghost. This makes catching ghosts a bit easier than in previous games where you would simply have to hang on to the ghost as it tries to flee, the act of catching a ghost feels now like another skill at your disposal rather than seeming like the result of winning a mini-game. Another new weapon in your arsenal is the suction shot which fires a suction cup at nearby items and enemies allowing you to then grab hold with the Poltergust. The suction shot grants you access to areas and items you wouldn’t otherwise; for example, a large suitcase blocking access to a ventilation shaft can be hit by the suction shot as Luigi then grabs it with his trusty Poltergust and cast it in the opposite direction. This has already proven quite helpful if one wishes to accrue as much treasure as possible or collect every one of the many gems located on each floor. One early ghost encounter finds the specter of a housekeeping maid swallowing Professor E. Gadd’s briefcase which you were tasked to recover. The ghost then has a flat bulge protruding from its midsection making for a prime target for Luigi to attach a suction cup and crack the pilfering fiend upon the floor before being captured by the Poltergust and relinquishing the briefcase. Of course, I am unable to go without mentioning the newest star of the game series, the wonderful(coffee-flavored?) abomination of science known simply as Gooigi. A gelatinous doppelganger created by Professor E. Gadd stored in a reserve slime tank of your Poltergust. By clicking the right joystick Luigi expels this gooey ally from the Poltergust allowing you to control him in order to slip through barred doors and vents unaccessible to Luigi. You can also click the right joystick again to switch back and forth between controlling Luigi and Gooigi as some puzzles with require an extra set of hands to complete. Though Gooigi may represent another skill at your disposal, keep in mind that even the slightest drops of water will render him back to a liquid state.

In the limited hours I have spent playing the game, the variety of enemies as well as puzzles has been most enjoyable. A highlight early on in the game has been an encounter with several ghosts in the buffet area of the hotel in which the ensuing battle results to something closer to a Three Stooges-style food fight in a hurricane of baguettes, puddings, and cheese wedges. Another humorous moment of the game comes as Professor E. Gadd introduces you to his most recent communication device – the Virtual Boo. Luigi has been in contact with the professor in previous entries by using the Game Boy Horror or the Dual Scream(DS). Professor E. Gadd also comments how this newest invention will be a huge success, a self-deprecating joke about Nintendo’s biggest failure the Virtual Boy.

So far I am really loving my time with Luigi’s Mansion 3. I was rather puzzled for the longest time what exactly it was about Dark Moon that made me feel like I should enjoy the game more than I did. It may have been the fact it seemed less of one big cohesive experience as the game was broken up into different locations to investigate and each one having multiple missions to be completed or the simple fact that I’ve never been as much of a fan of playing on handheld versus home consoles where I can hold a traditional controller(as I seldom venture outside ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). I already have no doubt the game will end the year as one of my favorite games of 2019. The gameplay and presentation(up to this point) have been top-notch, with the tone and humor of the game being what we’ve come to expect from a core Nintendo franchise, but the spooky ghosts and haunted house setting of Luigi’s Mansion 3 it plays along the lines of an Abbot & Costello movie, which I am more than fine with…

Have you played any Luigi’s Mansion games? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Halloween Blogtober – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

One of my goals for a gaming blog site was to document my experiences with games I had never known as well as catching up on some older games that I’ve never gotten around to playing despite knowing full well of their existence. For my final Blogtober gaming entry I’ve chosen one Konami’s Playstation masterworks – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I wasn’t going to go through the entire Halloween season without at least one Castlevania game, and given how much I love Metroidvanias it’s downright embarrassing I hadn’t played through this before.

Symphony of the Night was first released in 1997 for the Playstation and Sega Saturn. It is the result Konami project starting in 1994 to create a sequel to Castlevania: Rondo of Blood(the 1995 SNES port in North America was known as Dracula X) for the Sega 32x…oh the alternate history that could have been. The 32x project was abruptly scrapped and thus plans to create a brand new Castlevania title for the Playstation were created. Koji Igarashi, the writer and eventual assistant director for the project implemented some new gameplay elements to reinvigorate the beloved franchise. Symphony of the Night presents a departure from the formula in previous Castlevania games by eschewing the entirely linear side-scrolling action and incorporating non-linear exploration, with some RPG elements added in as well. This evolution in gameplay soon became one of the series’ defining features and in the process is responsible for all other entries within the sub-genre of action/adventure games with heavy emphasis on exploration and upgrades being known simply as a “Metroidvania”; a word used somewhat regularly on this site as it is among my favorite types of games to play.

Symphony of the Night begins with a prologue in which you play the finale of Rondo of Blood. Players control Richter Belmont and ascend the steps to the uppermost tower of Dracula’s castle to confront the Prince of Darkness himself. The battle with Dracula is similar to many older games in which you begin at the end of the previous game and play through a boss battle(usually fixed) to serve as a summary of the events leading up to the game you’re currently playing. The story then shifts to four years later – Richter Belmont has disappeared just as the foreboding Castle Dracula reappears from mist. Enter Alucard – the half-human son of Count Dracula we first met in Castlevania 3, who awakens from his slumber and is drawn to his father’s castle to investigate its sudden re-appearance. While traversing the castle he meets Maria Renard who is searching the castle for Richter. He happens upon the lone descendant of Simon Belmont, proclaiming himself to be the ruling of Castle Dracula before dispatching two monster henchman to destroy Alucard. After further searching the expansive fortress, Alucard once again meets up with Maria who begs him not to kill Richter as she hands over a pair of Holy Glasses(Batman!), allowing the user to see “beyond illusions”. He confronts the vampire hunter in Dracula’s tower as he sits upon the throne of his vanquished nemesis. Wearing the newly acquired spectacles allow Alucard to see the floating green orb above Richter and destroy it, releasing him from the control he was subject to. After the orb is destroyed the dark priest Shaft(you’re damn right…), a servant of Dracula affirms that he was the one to lure Richter to the castle and was controlling him while he works to resurrect the Dark Lord himself. Shaft then retreats as Alucard follows him upward to a phantom of Castle Dracula that sits inverted, directly above the former. He then proceeds through the inverted castle, fighting many familiar minions to gather the five body parts of Dracula before battling Shaft in the ritual room where he is preparing to resurrect his master. After Shaft is defeated he informs Alucard that he is too late and there is no way to stop Dracula from returning to this world once again. Count Dracula emerges from the darkness as he is confronted by his half-human son, who swears to his father that he will not seek revenge against the humans that killed his mother and he has no other choice but to stop him. After defeating his father and dispelling him back into the darkness, Alucard then meets up with Richter and Maria who await his return outside the castle as he bids them farewell, stating his blood is cursed and he intends to disappear from this world as Castle Dracula fades away behind him.

Symphony of the Night is unique in the fact you are not controlling a vampire hunter descendant of the house of Belmont, but rather the immortal half-vampire Alucard. The game bestows a sense of freedom to explore and discover every corner of the castle, all while upgrading your health and equipment in order to survive the nightmarish creatures that dwell within its confines. Rather than the ultra linear “point A to B” levels of previous Castlevania games, Symphony of the Night emphasizes the adventure element of Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. You are not pointed which direction to go, but simply to explore every inch of the castle and uncover its secrets along the way. This is one of the aspects of Metroidvania games that have always appealed to me: being able to chart your own course throughout and allow your own curiosity and sense of adventure to guide you.

Another addition to the formula is some lighter RPG elements such as a character progression system that upgrades Alucard’s health and magic as he continually gains xp by defeating enemies. You have your four standard character attributes: strength, defense, intelligence, and luck which can be upgraded by consumable items or by finding better equipment. Your equipment can also have elemental damage or resistance as you encounter enemies later in the game that deal fire or lightning-type damage. As with nearly any Castlevania game you have a number of hearts allowing you to use familiar sub-weapons like axes, holy water, and knives; these can be upgraded by finding heart icons in the same way you would find missile expansions in Metroid games.

The visuals have held up reasonably well for a game released in 1997, especially in comparison to other games of the era showcasing the groundbreaking(at the time) 3D graphics that consoles were capable of. The 2D graphics provide a nice complement to the dark gothic setting inside the castle. The soundtrack of the game is an amalgam of moody goth rock, classical, and just a touch of new age and is a perfect accompaniment to exploring the castle, where the mood and feeling can shift within the next screen. Symphony of the Night provides the eerie ambience one has come to expect of the series and I love it.

The levels are well designed without many areas that may serve as a source of irritation for WHEN, not if you will need to make your way through a particular section multiple times. I even enjoyed scaling the bell and clock towers of Castle Dracula, something I can’t always say when discussing Castlevania games; the enemies awaiting you(to no surprise) will test your patience and determination. There are many sections within the castle that feature long corridors or large spacious areas, this didn’t seem all that impressive at first, but make for a unique experience once you reach the Inverted Castle as nearly every inch of the castle inverted or not is accessible. Symphony of the Night has a plethora of boss fights that through the first few hours of the game didn’t seem to pose much in terms of difficulty, but the boss fights found in the Inverted Castle provide a greater challenge, especially if you’re not optimally equipped to face them. The Inverted Castle certainly ups the difficulty and sheer number of enemies thrown at your every direction. It also contains a gauntlet of familiar Castlevania bosses: Mummies, Frankenstein monsters, Medusa, and Death make appearances in opposition to Alucard…flying scythes and all. One of the more memorable encounters was Granfaloon – a giant mass composed of decaying bodies. The bodies are continuously dropped to the ground and require you to fend off the hordes of mindless husks as you attack the main…blob.

What will probably be my most memorable moment of my playthrough of Symphony of the Night will probably be the moment it dawned on me I had to make my way through the entire castle a second time, only mirrored. I had spent the previous 5 hours combing every room of the castle and my game file showed that I was 76% of the way through…only to discover if you truly have completed everything in the game your progress will show 200.6%. This reminded me of my first time playing through Resident Evil 4 – you make your way from the village to the castle, only to be informed that in order to rescue Ashley, you need to make your way through another entire island where she has been taken. You’ve probably had a similar experience in a game where you’re thinking the end must be soon only to realize it was merely the halfway mark…right?

Nearly everything about Symphony of the Night is exceptional; the controls are wonderful with the combat having that familiar “crunch” of older Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden games and the jumping has the lightness as though you’re elegantly floating through the air. The visuals are sound are top notch and don’t overtly give the appearance of a 22 year old game. The boss fights are one of the highlights of the game, as in most Castlevania titles. My only gripe about the game is the fact that quite often you will enter an adjacent room or an area above you, a clock tower for example, and you will get hit by an enemy waiting immediately on the other side and because of the knockback damage(as much a part of Castlevania games as anything) you will be pushed backwards into the previous area only to re-enter the room and have to clear out any enemies you may have defeated already as they have respawned….that and Medusa heads in the clock tower ๐Ÿ˜‰

All in all Symphony of the Night is a phenomenal game with exquisite gameplay that in the years since its release it is considered among the elite titles in the Playstation’s impressive library of games. And to think three of the most memorable PS1 titles – SOTN, Silent Hill, and Metal Gear Solid were all from Konami. Its legacy was also carried on in the beloved Game Boy Advance titles – Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, and Aria of Sorrow. What may be the most impressive is the way Symphony of the Night was able to reinvigorate the franchise while still possessing the essence of its esteemed predecessors. This also being the case of other games like Metroid: Prime and God of War(2018) in they were able to breath new life into an established franchise while holding on to what made them special in the first place. The night is still young…

That’s all for now! Have you played Symphony of the Night? How do you compare it to other Castlevania games? Let me know in the comments. Thank you to everyone bothering to read my Blogtober posts, I enjoyed writing about(and playing) all the games over the past month. Now I’m off to go do some ghost busting in Luigi’s Mansion 3 and graze on a box of Boo Berry cereal…Happy Halloween!

Memories of Super Mario Odyssey

Exactly two years ago today, Nintendo released Super Mario Odyssey, the first next-gen Mario title on the Switch. The release also punctuated what may be any console’s best one-two punch in releasing a brand new Mario game only eight months after a new Zelda title – Breath of the Wild; this is further impressive considering it was within the very first year of the Nintendo Switch(spoiling us all…). I have mentioned numerous times in the past how much I absolutely love Super Mario Odyssey, so it seemed like a perfect excuse opportunity to talk about some of my favorite memories of the game and what made it so special to me. <Mario voice> Here we go!!

Gameplay – The most important element of any Mario game is how well it plays and Mario Odyssey is quite possibly the smoothest playing, most well-constructed 3D Mario title. The game takes the foundation of prior entries like Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. The controls are nearly flawless, with the camera being a huge improvement over the aforementioned titles. I have also mentioned frequently how a remaster of Mario Sunshine with the improved camera and controls of Odyssey would be a dream come true(please, Nintendo…). The core gameplay mechanic of throwing your wearable sidekick Cappy at items and enemies also works much better than I had anticipated after first seeing the E3 trailer back in 2017. I have since seen others who have dismissed Odyssey in same way that Sunshine was back in 2003 by stating it’s just simply a gimmick and doesn’t provide “an actual game”. Every 3D Mario game since Mario 64 has involved some sort of “gimmick” to facilitate the central gameplay, combat or even attempting to further any in-game narrative outside of Mario rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser.

Another game design of Odyssey that I loved was the fact that it was laid out as a more open-world, sandbox-type game. I love the fact that you aren’t simply sent back to the beginning of a level after collecting a Power Moon, like in previous games like Sunshine or Mario 64 after collecting a star or Shine Sprite. This also makes it easier for someone like me, who has such ADD(as any blog post would indicate…) when playing most games that in the past I would often get quite sidetracked on one objective only to end up completing another in passing before ever getting where I was intending. Playing through Mario Odyssey reminded me in multiple ways of the older N64-era collect-a-thon games like Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie. The overwhelming number of Power Moons(999 to be precise) available to collect in the game didn’t annoy me as much as others; I simply loved playing the game that much I gladly spent 90+ hours doing everything within the game. The fact the game encouraged you to search every nook and cranny of the game and turn every stone was a fun experience that I enjoyed, yet certainly understand it may not be as enjoyable for everyone. The game also provided a number of puzzle stages similar to Mario Sunshine or Galaxy that would really test your patience and platforming skills, especially to collect the additional moons unlocked upon completing the relatively short main storyline.

Worlds – The level design of Mario Odyssey was another memorable part of my hours upon hours of playing; I would rank the playable worlds in Odyssey second only to the Mario Galaxy games. From the foggy Halloween Town look of Cap Kingdom to the arid expanse of Sand Kingdom to finally reaching the low-gravity Moon Kingdom and everything in between provided a different and unique experience. My personal favorite worlds were the Seaside Kingdom – a scenic beachfront level complete with giant soda-water tower offering many Power Moons to be obtained above or under the sea(ha! it’s stuck in YOUR head now too!). My other favorite and probably most memorable location in Mario Odyssey would have to be the Metro Kingdom – the bustling city of New Donk City where Mayor Pauline is in need of assistance to defend the city from Bowser and then preparing for the annual festival, a true highlight of the game in which you will replay the first stage of Mario’s first foray into video games(though he was known at the time as Jumpman).

The playable 2D section during the New Donk City festival

Nostalgia – I would not be able to write a post about Mario Odyssey without mentioning the numerous nods and references to our favorite plumber’s long and prosperous history. The sheer number of acknowledgements to the many games in which Mario has starred is impressive and could almost be viewed as a Mario History course of sorts. Whether it be little references within the worlds themselves or the crazy amount of old throwback caps and costumes to unlock for Mario throughout the game, the game showcases recent as well as more obscure titles. If the name New Donk City wasn’t conspicuous enough, the fact Nintendo brought back Pauline as the current mayor of the city was a great dash of nostalgia – bringing everything back to the beginning. There’s also unlockable costumes to remind you of previous games such as: Mario’s red white and blue overalls as first seen on NES Open to the medical attire worn in Dr. Mario to other outfits like the construction worker from Mario Maker or the cowboy costume from Mario Part 2. Another nostalgic gameplay element was the ability to travel into the 2D pipes which would then display Mario as a pixelated character as you would make your way through a short 2D platforming section similar to that used in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Possibly the sweetest bit of nostalgia comes from immediately after completing the main story by confronting Bowser in a wedding chapel on the moon(yup…), you are able to travel to the Mushroom Kingdom in a wonderful recreation(kind of…) of the overworld outside of Princess Peach’s castle in Mario 64. You are able to enter the castle, though only to speak with Toad rather than jump through any paintings to enter a level, though there are paintings around the castle depicted the various world you have visited on your odyssey(pun!). Once in the Mushroom Kingdom you even come across Yoshi who is playable in only small section of the world, sadly. Nintendo has since stated they wanted Odyssey to appeal to their longtime Mario fans and casual fans alike; as someone who has spent thirty years of their life playing Mario games, I absolutely loved and thank them for it.

Even the Power Moons in the Mushroom Kingdom changed to look like the stars from Mario 64

Memories – Mario Odyssey has provided some memorable gaming moments in its time since release; some of my most memorable moments of the game would be: coming across a T-Rex for the first time and throwing Cappy at it and transforming into a giant Mario T-Rex and destroying nearly everything in my path on the Cascade Kingdom or the first time you reach New Donk City in the Metro Kingdom where you must defeat the giant electrical…caterpillar to restore power to the city after which the gloomy storm clouds clear and give way to a nice sunny day. I can still vividly recall(only two years ago…) much of my time as I would sit in the living room playing as I had my computer sitting next to me auto-playing endless YouTube videos; I think I watched just about every Angry Video Game Nerd episode while hunting down all 999 Power Moons. Since first completing Mario Odyssey I have come back to the game many times as what I usually refer to as one of my “comfort food games”; a game that I have already played for endless hours but still find myself sitting down to play during times of stress, sickness, or simply feeling kind of burned out by other games. Mario Odyssey is currently my favorite Nintendo Switch game, and I still absolutely love playing it two years after its release. I’ve included below a little collection of some of my in-game memories ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for reading!

Halloween Blogtober – Zombies Ate My Neighbors

For today’s Blogtober post we are going to take a trip back to the year 1993. During this wondrous time arcades were still thriving in part to the popularity of fighting-games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Virtua Fighter(released in ’93), Nintendo and Sega were locked in a fierce competition for home console supremacy known as the “Console Wars”, and id Software released a little game called Doom. Also in 1993, Konami and LucasArts teamed up to create an odd game titled – Zombies Ate My Neighbors.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors, or known simply as Zombie in Australia and throughout Europe, is the result of a fruitful partnership of developer LucasArts and publisher Konami. The game was released for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo and has since become a bit of a cult hit with retro gamers.

The game is a top down action/shooter in which players control characters Zeke or Julie as they journey through suburbia and beyond saving their neighbors that have managed to survive an invasion by zombies(of course…) and other outrageous creatures. The player must navigate 48 levels, along with 7 bonus levels consisting of backyards, shopping malls, creepy old cabins, and ancient pyramids; rescuing up to 10 survivors in each level with each level being completed when all survivors are rescued….or they are all killed by monsters. Survivors will be indicated by dots on a map/radar icon located to the side of the screen; I spent WAY too long(entire childhood) hunting for survivors before even noticing this! The core gameplay element is fairly similar to that of the ToeJam&Earl games on Sega Genesis – being tasked to find a set amount of survivors(or rocket ship parts in ToeJam&Earl) before an exit door pops up to allow you access to the next level. Another difference would be the word “funkalicious” is nowhere to be found in Zombies Ate My Neighbors(?).

Zeke and Julie are both brandishing Uzi squirt guns filled with holy water to combat the monster masses awaiting them( Zombies did it first, Robert Rodriguez!), they are also able to pick up various makeshift weapons such as fire extinguishers, soda can grenades, and silverware to battle any werewolves roaming the neighborhood. You will need to evade not only zombies, but also a vast roster of b-movie monsters including: mummies, werewolves, and toxic blobs. Other enemies with exemplary names are Vlad Belmont the Vampire, Tommy the Evil Doll, Dr. Tongue, and perhaps my favorite – Stanley Decker the Chainsaw Maniac.

One of my favorite aspects of the game is the LucasArts style and humor that seems to be sorely missed in today’s games. LucasArts at one time was known for more than simply making Star Wars games, but providing popular games on PC like Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle or the Monkey Island series which showcased a trademark humor and personality. Nearly all of Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a reference or callback to the many b-movie horror films of the past, the 1950’s through the 80’s in particular. Each level has a title referencing many of these films such as “Evening of the Undead”, “Dr. Tongue’s Castle of Terror”, or “The Day the Earth Ran Away”. Zeke wearing 3-D glasses also being a nod to the 3-D horror movies of the 80’s.

Yup…a giant baby

The game itself can prove quite challenging, I recently played through most of the game and it hasn’t gotten much easier over the years. This is made slightly easier by the fact the game incorporates a password system and provides a different password every few levels as to not discourage players by having to play the entire game from the beginning after getting a game over. One of the later levels finds you searching an area strewn with trees, also hindering your progress are the many giant spiders that begin to swarm the level and leave you very little space to maneuver. One of the final levels will require you to search for survivors in a hedge maze, the problem being the maze doesn’t seem to have many openings, essentially trapping you within a confined space forcing you to lure one of the many chainsaw maniacs wandering the level to cut through the greenery allowing you access to additional areas. Of course, there are a few boss monsters throughout the levels that will either take nearly all your ammo or a specific type to defeat. Early on in my playthrough I kept getting flattened by the level boss – A giant baby that can leave you seeing game over screen all to quickly. I played solo in refreshing my memory of the layout of the game, but the game is definitely best experienced with a buddy in co-op mode. Others undoubtedly have the best memories of the game playing couch co-op. My one biggest complaint would have to be the game is somewhat cryptic about what exactly the items you’re picking up actually do, I had no idea what the little clown face on my screen did until I would hit the item button to find Zeke or Julie leaving an inflatable clown dummy that distracts nearby enemies. The enemies themselves can be a bit difficult to defeat as some require a specific type of weapon to defeat, otherwise forcing you to simply run away as soon as they enter the screen.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is a fun and unique experience that in many ways has only gotten better with age…as I’m older and generally more aware of the references and humor of the game. If anyone out there is looking for a fun Halloween-themed retro game that you can play with a friend, Zombies Ate My Neighbors definitely fits the bill. The game is still a favorite for my wife and I to play together.

That’s all for today! I had been wanting to play this again for a while and after playing this I would like to go back and track down some of the older LucasArts games to play and possibly cover in this blog. Have you ever played Zombies Ate My Neighbors? How about its unofficial sequel – Ghoul Patrol? Let me know in the comments, thanks for reading!