We all now know Sonic and Mario exist in the same universe. I mean, they compete in the Olympics together. But does Po and the Kung Fu Panda universe also share the same space? The answer…..is no. Of course they don’t. That’s a shame as this article would be better if it did.
I’ll leave my fantasy aside for now and explain the connection. So in the Mario Kart 8 level Ribbon Road, the racetrack takes place in a kids room. As in, Mario and crew are racing on a child’s toy race track in a room that suspiciously looks like Andy’s room from Toy Story. There’s a lot I could write about here, like where are these giant humans who built this? Are they even humans? Calm your brains. Today, none of that matters. What we’re after, is a poster. A poster with a very similar image to a real Kung Fu Panda poster.
Instead of the titular panda demonstrating his moves, we are treated to a Lakitu striking a fighters’ stance. More than likely the design team decided to do a joke poster on a film they like but I prefer a different idea. I like to imagine that in this universe, the Kung Fu Panda series exists and that Lakitu is like the Wayan’s brothers of the film industry and is the star of spoof films. Other classics include The Incredible Lakitu, Lakitu by the Sea and my personal favourite, 12 Angry Lakitus. Lakitu’s one man film, it’s like The Nutty Professor but, you know, good.
So to end my Halloween Trivia Time marathon, I thought I’d end on a high note. And what better high note than Deadly Premonition. I will be talking spoilers in this article so read on at your own peril. This game is a masterpiece. Not in gameplay or graphics, you’d have to pay me a lot to say that, Swery. Swery being the creator of the wonderful world of Deadly Premonition. The game centres around Detective Francis York Morgan. Although he prefers to be called York, everyone calls him that apparently. He is a film loving detective who has been assigned a case in the middle of nowhere. A little town called Greenvale, where a local woman has been found murdered.
Mystery and intrigue ensue and York must uncover the mysteries of this town in order to try and put a stop to a string of gruesome murders. It is a very strange game filled to the brim with quirky characters. There in lies the beauty of this game. It is unbelievably rough around the edges and a slog to play at times but the world and its absurdity are unlike anything I’ve played since. The town is full of weird people and you’ll get to know these people very well. As you play through the game, you’ll see different characters going about their own lives. Each character has a daily routine that you can follow and keep track of. You’ll see them in a diner or at a shop, perhaps at a bar or more commonly you’ll see them whizzing down the road and full on driving into your car. Remember, I said this game was janky. But as your fellow neighbour drives off your bonnet you might notice a strange combination of letters and numbers. The license plates of these residents not only form words, but also a trait synonymous to them or even a clue or two about their involvement in the murder mystery.
The basic patrol cars around Greenvale have the license plate ‘VIDGMES’, which considering you’re reading a video game article, I believe I don’t need to solve this riddle for you. Nick Cormack, the local diner chef has ‘GR8COOK’, which is very boastful and also a plate that made me do a double take because of my filthy mind. Perhaps the most on the nose plate though and the most damning in a game about finding a murderer is George Woodman’s license plate. George Woodman, for those who haven’t played the game, is the local rugged cop who helps York in his investigation into the murders. But, this whole time George wasn’t who he seemed and in the end, we find out that George was involved in the killings. Not only that, George likes to flaunt his murderous ways to the whole town for all to see. Not only is George revealed to be a late game bad guy, but his license plate was laughing in our faces about it. His license plate reads ‘HESTHE1’, which in case you’re struggling, reads as He Is The One. You smug so and so, George.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is a game based on the short story of the same name by Harlan Elison. It is a point and click adventure game by Cyberdreams and was released in 1995. The game is takes place in a post apocalyptic world where humanity has been wiped out by a diabolical computer called AM. The story of the game revolves around the last five people in existence. These people exist because AM wishes them to exist. For the past 109 years, AM has been subjected these individuals to pain and torture for its own amusement. These people cannot die as AM doesn’t allow it and so to save of its own boredom it cruelly tortures them and plays mind games on them.
It’s a very dark story. Each of the five characters has a character flaw or weakness that AM continuously and methodically exploits and tortures them with. For instance Benny, a handsome man turned into an ape like human by AM’s doings, is a starving man but AM has constructed a reality where he struggles to eat food. Ellen was a woman who was a rape victim and associated her harrowing experience with the colour yellow. So AM sets her in an Egyptian setting where the colour yellow is very prominent. Nimdok is the character that I want to talk about today. Nimdok’s story has Nazi themes and takes place in the confines of a concentration camp. Understandably this setting is a rough subject matter. All 5 stories are but some more than others. Due to this storyline the entire Nimdok section of the game was completely removed from the French and German releases of the game. The section wasn’t replaced with a different story or setting and so Nimdok was a character that the player never played as.
This caused an issue with the best ending of the game. And by issue I mean, it was unobtainable. The French and German version’s exclusion of Nimdok’s chapter means that you can’t do the certain actions required to activate the best ending. And this was in 1995. If these situations happen today we can just go to YouTube and watch the ending but back then there wasn’t much you could do. For those intrigued by the story, I highly the game. I didn’t play it but I watched an LP of it and it is a wonderfully bleak setting. Fun little side note to end on, the author Harlan Elison helped on the development of the game. He wrote most of the dialogue and even voiced the evil computer AM. He did a great job too, giving AM’s voice that contempt for mankind that was ever present in its actions.
F.E.A.R stands for First Encounter Assault Recon. Firstly, is Assault Recon an oxymoron? Assault in this context, means to go into the establishments with guns drawn and ready to take on the foes. Recon though. Recon to me means scouting the location and if finding a foe, keeping distance and reporting the intelligence to headquarters. F.E.A makes sense but that doesn’t make for a snappy title, does it?
Now that I’ve got that thought out of the way, lets talk trivia. F.E.A.R is a horror FPS developed by Monolith Productions and released in 2005. During production a few members of staff maybe got too engrossed in their work. Lead level designer John Mulkey had a toilet fright (bathroom for those outside the UK, I’m not just talking about an incident confined to a toilet. This isn’t The Grudge but through the toilet bowl instead of TV screen) that left him and a few co-workers a bit rattled. Apparently, while John was using the toilets, he believes he saw a dark shadow in a mirror. This toilet prowler wasn’t just seen by John though. A fellow team member also explained to John that he found the toilet’s atmosphere eerie.
The fact that the toilets were described as having only one working light and one light that flickers, does paint a creepy scene. A bit that I’m sure is in F.E.A.R. A trick of the mind or ghastly toilet voyeur? Perhaps too much work and not enough sleep. We’ll never know. Most of the production crew claim they didn’t believe John’s mirror buddy and that he was merely seeing things. Funny though that after the sighting was spotted, that particular toilets usage dropped drastically. ‘What a load of nonsense! I’m just going to take the lift up two floors to use the other toilet’.
Until Dawn is a game developed by SuperMassive, released in 2015. It is a horror game with a big emphasis on choices and the butterfly effect. The game is basically a B horror film and focuses on a bunch of friends staying in a cabin on some snowy mountain. You control each character at different segments and as you play you will be given choices and the choices you make will have a reaction with the story. Some are mild, a character won’t like another character because of a decision you made, or a character could die because of your choice. Every character you control can live or die, at the end of the game you could have no survivors left or all of them. It’s a fun game and one I highly recommend being played with a partner or friends.
The game is full of scares, over it’s 8+ hour story you will feel your heart in your throat at times and the game does a good job of building suspense but also delivery jump scares. SuperMassive knew they would put the fear into people and so they devised a way to capture that fear for future viewings. If you go into the options of Until Dawn, you can enable your PS4 camera, if you have one, to record all the frightening bits. These will be recorded as little snippets and saved for you to re-watch in self humiliation. A great feature to encapsulate the look of horror on your face at a cheap jump scare.
This feature has some downsides though when used. Or positives depending on the player. You see, when you activate this feature, the little light on the PS4 camera will light up when recording. So, when a jump scare is about to happen, the owner of the camera will see that the PS4 camera has started recording. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that a jump scare is about to happen. This can be remedied by covering the light with a bit of a sticky note or anything similar. However, if you’re a big scared-ey cat but want to play Until Dawn then this might be a good downside for you. You’ll still have the jump scare but you’ll get a little warning before it happens. Enough time to brace yourself or cover your eyes behind a pillow. I won’t judge, I promise.
Doom 3 was released in August 2004 after a long production cycle, work on Doom 3 started back in mid 2000. The game was well received for its graphics and lighting but not so much for its gameplay, which was very different to the classic run ‘n’ gun formulae of previous Doom games. Clearly the team had spent a long time designing the game and its world and clearly it shows. The research facility on Mars, where the game is set, feels lived in and worn. When you enter rooms there is blood, remnants from fights, damaged surfaces and misplaced objects. But the rooms were like that originally.
When the levels for Doom 3 were created, they were created immaculate. Brand new rooms! Like a newly built office. As if the Mars research facility was a brand new, vacant building. Developers were then given the task of going through each level and giving it that tattered, lived in feel. How they did that you ask? Well, the developers created special weapons to do the work. Details of these weapons are very scarce but I like to imagine they made guns that put dents into walls, smudges on surfaces, smeared blood upon the tiles and a variety of effects to make the world of Doom 3 a damaged one. Once they had gone through each level with these weapons, the levels were then used in the game.
It’s a clever idea. It helps give the research facility that authentic feel that helps our ability to believe in this universe. Also, how fun would that be, to be one of those developers? To create something and after months of hard work and detailing the levels, you get to go round and smash up the place. I bet it’s very therapeutic, especially wrecking certain rooms that were more difficult than others to design. I would love that job. Professional level wrecker!
The Silent Hill series is known for its isolation and monstrous creatures. The series has been persistent with these themes, especially in the early games. One other big element ties the early releases together, and that is the endings. Yes, when you finish Silent Hill 1, 2 or 3 you are treated to one of several endings. Nothing peculiar about that, a lot of games have a good or bad ending. But Silent Hill has gone one step further and added UFO ending to the list.
In this ending, which I might add is a cartoon ending similar to a comic book slideshow, the protagonist Heather, returns home to be greeted by an odd scene. Her father (Silent Hill 1 protagonist), Harry is at a dinner table with an alien. The grey classic alien look. There is also a man hiding behind a curtain which is James Sunderland, Silent Hill 2’s protagonist. Heather explains to her father the strange events that have been happening to her. Her dad flips out and does a sick kick to a piece of wood that James was holding.
Harry proclaims, in a warbled voice, that he is sick of Silent Hill’s shenanigans and that he’s going to destroy Silent Hill. Cut to a bunch of Alien spaceships laser beaming Silent Hill into dust and then flying off into the night sky. The credits then roll and the happy Silent Hill song starts playing, lyrics included. The beginning of the songs is this:
Come on, kiddies! Gather around!
Now, tell me, everyone,
Aren’t you sick and tired of that ol’ UFO ending?
That’s right! Be honest!
Honesty helps you grow big and strong!
Okay, you fine youngsters, let’s sing the Silent Hill song!
And it continues from there, singing about the characters from Silent Hill 3. It’s a surreal ending to a bleak game but this is a grand tradition in Silent Hill games. The UFO ending is a fan favourite easter egg. Usually the ending has to be unlocked by performing certain actions in the games. For example, in Silent Hill 3, the player has to unlock a weapon called the Heather Beam. To do this, the player needs to kill 333 monsters in several playthrough’s of the game. Then when you start a new playthrough, you need to kill at least 30 monsters with the Heather Beam before entering Harry’s flat. If done correctly you will be treated to the absurd UFO ending. Here is the ending for your viewing pleasure: