Tag Archives: Video Games

Geek Squad Continues Its Favorite “Zelda” Games

Geek Squad’s back from Spring Break with even more Zelda-mania! Last issue I talked about two of my favorite underrated Zelda games (The Minish Cap and Spirit Tracks) with the promise of one more on the way. Well, I may have stretched the truth a bit, because this week I’m doing it like Billy Mays and doubling that offer! Why? Because it’s almost impossible to talk about just one of these two games without mentioning the other, so let’s get down to it!

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages (GBC)
First, a little behind-the-scenes information: these two games stand out from most other Zelda games in that they weren’t actually developed by Nintendo. No, the Oracle games were instead created by Flagship, a subdivision of Capcom, who also went on to make The Minish Cap. Because of this, these three games are the only ones in the series to have not been developed by Nintendo (there’s also the three games that appeared on the Philips CD-i, but I try to forget those ever existed). Another fun little tidbit is that Flagship intended on making a third game along with Seasons and Ages, but the linking system (which I’ll get into later) proved too difficult. But enough about all that, let’s jump into these two awesome games!

Both games start the same because the idea is that they’re supposed to happen at the same time in two parallel universes – weird, I know. Link goes to check out the resting place of the Triforce, approaches it, and gets magically whisked away to some far-off land where surely something sinister is afoot that he has to take care of.

If you’re playing Oracle of Seasons (my personal favorite of the two), you get dropped off in the land of Holodrum, where you meet Din, the titular Oracle of Seasons. Enter Onox, the General of Darkness (quite the title), who kidnaps Din and sinks the Temple of Seasons underground, causing all of Holodrum’s seasons to go out of whack. It’s your job to retrieve the Rod of Seasons (which allows Link to change the seasons at will), traverse eight dungeons to collect “Essences of Nature,” save Din and kick Onox’s dark booty.

If you’re playing Oracle of Ages, you get dropped off in the land of Labrynna, where you meet Nayru, the once-again titular Oracle of Ages. Enter Veran, the Sorceress of Shadows (really now?), who kidnaps/possesses Nayru, causing the time flow of Labrynna to go out of whack. It’s your job to retrieve the Harp of Ages (which allows Link to travel 400 years into the past), traverse eight dungeons to collect “Essences of Time,” save Nayru and kick Veran’s shadowy booty. Seeing a pattern here?

Okay, so the storylines of both games are pretty much the definition of cookie-cutter, but it isn’t really the story you should be looking at. Both of these games struck a brilliant balance of old and new – these were Zelda games through and through, but at the same time they introduced a whole slew of new characters, features, items, game mechanics, and more. There’s a ton of stuff unique to these two games. You’ve got the ability to befriend one of three animal buddies, who you can then ride around on and thoroughly stomp face with. There’s a ring collecting system where you obtain rings from a number of different methods, get them appraised, and wear them to give yourself new abilities. Items like the Roc’s Cape or Switch Hook expanded on old favorites while introducing new challenges.

Point being, these two games are massive. We’re talking a whopping sixteen full-length dungeons between both games.

And while they are indeed two separate games, they were always meant to be played together, as evidenced by a robust linking system via password. On top of using passwords between the two games to unlock new items and quests, beating one game and using its password on the second unlocks the true final boss, a certain villain that usually ends up behind most of these evil plots.

As separate games, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages stand as full-fledged entries to the Zelda series, each with their own merits. But when you take full advantage of the password system and play the two in sequence, you’ve got what’s easily the biggest and most diverse Zelda adventure to date.

Video Games Used as a Training Tool for Athletes

Have you ever thought about playing FIFA as a form of rehab? Or what about playing NBA Live as a warm up? With the current state of video games and electronic entertainment as well as HD television many professional athletes play video games as a way of preparing for their matches. It sounds crazy, but video games are now so realistic that character’s movements in the games mimic their movements in real life. An article in the New York Times by Joe Brescia asked USF alum and professional soccer player Connor Chinn, NHL player Rob Schremp and NASCAR racer Joey Logano about how video games improve their game.

Connor Chinn, a player for the professional soccer team New York Red Bulls said, “ It gets your soccer brain started that day,” about playing the Electronic Arts soccer video game ‘FIFA’ every morning before a match. Because the graphics are so realistic each player “passes, shoots, and moves exactly as they do in real life.”

Besides providing a way to relax before a big match, athletes also use video games as a form of rehab. National Hockey League professional Rob Schremp of the New York Islanders plays the E.A. game N.H.L. as a way to stay focused and involved with hockey after a terrible knee injury.

Many athletes here at USF play games like FIFA soccer or NBA Live basketball, even in their locker rooms on match days. It is a perfect way for team members to relax and bond before a big game. Because coaches usually encourage rest before a game, video games are a perfect way for a team to interact without using any physical energy. It can create camaraderie and good team chemistry especially when teammates play with or against each other.

One of the most amazing games around is on the website iRacing.com where professional racecar drivers like Joey Logano can go and practice racing just before the real thing. Because the site uses real NASCAR tracks, and because the tracks are so realistic, drivers can practice the turns at home. Every turn and every bump in the simulation is modeled exactly as the track in real life.

However, video gaming can become detrimental especially when athletes would rather play games than do actual training. As with anything gaming is good only in moderation. It can’t help an athlete’s actual skill, fitness, or mental strength and can actually distract a player from being mentally prepared right before a game.

In fact teams like the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball have banned video games from the locker room saying that athletes should either be thinking about the match, working out, or working with the trainer: not gaming.

In any case, video games are a great equalizer. No matter what their effects on the skills or abilities of an actual player are they act as a way for teammates to bond. Videogames are a universal language and provide an outlet for teammates to get to know each other that is fun, convenient and relaxing.

Geek Squad: Gifts for Your Gamer

Season’s greetings! The holidays are in full force and, as previous years have shown, it’s a great time to be a gamer. Developers have been known to save many of their top titles for the end-of-the-year shopping splurges brought on thanks to holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever else you happen to celebrate, and this year is no exception. So for this final edition of Geek Squad for the year, let’s delve into five games that have come out in the past few months that will act as the perfect stocking stuffers for any gamer you give them to.

Borderlands (360, PS3, PC)

If you’re a fan of the “Diablo” series or any other dungeon crawler for that matter, “Borderlands” is right up your alley. A hybrid of sorts, “Borderlands” is a first-person shooter that incorporates many role-playing game elements, which should already get you interested. You take control of one of four different characters, each with his or her own unique abilities and strengths to aid you as you explore the barren planet of Pandora, completing quests, shooting down enemies, collecting loot, and searching for a cache of valuable alien artifacts known as “The Vault.” Completing quests and defeating enemies reward you experience to level up, which makes your character stronger and gives you skill points to allocate between three different skill trees, augmenting the abilities of your character and specializing them even further. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the game are the items you can acquire – “Borderlands” contains a system that procedurally generates the attributes of all obtainable weapons, resulting in a total of over 17 million possible weapon variations. And with a level cap of 50 that will span you through roughly two playthroughs, “Borderlands” has enough going for it to keep you glued to the screen this holiday season.

Assassin’s Creed 2 (360, PS3, PC)

The original “Assassin’s Creed” made splashes when it hit the scene in November of 2007, and its sequel is seemingly doing the same two years later. I won’t go too deep into the story for the sake of spoiling the original, but “Assassin’s Creed 2” primarily puts you in the role of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Italian man in the 15th century who resorts to the ways of the assassin in order to get revenge on those who sent his family to their death. While the original was a great game, various flaws held it back from realizing its full potential. “Assassin’s Creed 2” pretty much takes all these flaws and does away with them while adding on enough to make the game more than a worthy successor. Remember how falling into water used to be instant death? Well, this time around you can swim. Repetitive combat? New moves and new weapons. Same old boring missions? Much more variety in missions, and a whole lot of them to go through. An upgradeable villa that serves as your base of operations, hidden locations to explore, a fame system, and so much more – “Assassin’s Creed 2” is sure to give you your fill of raw, unfiltered stealth action.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

It’s been more than just a while since we’ve seen the last 2D “Mario” platformer grace a home console, and “New Super Mario Bros. Wii” serves as a welcome reminder to what we’ve been missing out on. The sequel to “New Super Mario Bros.” on the DS, “New Super Mario Bros. Wii” represents a return to form for the series and stands as a testament to the fact that the same old formula is just as captivating as it used to be since the days of the NES. Nintendo has spiced things up, however, with a few new additions. First-time powerups include an ice suit that lets Mario shoot ice balls to freeze enemies, a propeller suit that launches Mario into the sky when you shake the Wii remote, and a penguin suit that allows you to slide on surfaces, shoot ice balls, and maneuver effortlessly through the water. Collecting star coins hidden within each level gives you the option of unlocking videos that reveal secrets, teach tricks, or show off some serious skills. Oh, and then there’s the best part of the game – multiplayer. For the first time ever, up to four players can go through the game either cooperatively or competitively. I personally prefer the latter due to how frantic it gets, but both options are brilliant additions. Bottom line, if you’ve got a Wii, “New Super Mario Bros. Wii” is the way to go.

The Beatles: Rock Band (360, PS3, Wii)

I’m not going to bother reciting the same sappy speech that’s been heard a million times about how great The Beatles are and how their music transcends generations – I’m simply going to say that “The Beatles: Rock Band” is the perfect purchase for any fan of their music. The game features 45 playable tracks by The Beatles featured in a story mode that takes you through their career, stopping at all the big venues along the way. High scores unlock pictures and videos from the band’s past, adding into the historical aspect of the game. Unlike other games in the series, “The Beatles: Rock Band” features the ability to have three separate inputs for vocalists as opposed to the usual one, allowing for three-part harmonies. And with downloadable songs to expand on the game’s already hefty library, “The Beatles: Rock Band” is both a worthwhile party game and an exemplary chronicle to one of the historic bands of our time.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (360, PS3, PC)

Once upon a time, Infinity Ward created a game within the “Call of Duty” series known as “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.” Little did they know just how popular the game would become, and it was soon decided a sequel would be made, cutting the game off from the original series and setting it up as the first of a new spin-off series. Now, after much anticipation, the sequel is out and it seems to have lived up to the hype. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” is divided into three sections: Special Ops, Campaign, and Multiplayer. As you would expect, Campaign is the game’s single-player story mode, which definitely kicks things up a notch compared to the original. New to this version is Special Ops, which contains 23 independent missions that can be completed by yourself or with a friend, each with three varying difficulty levels. But the mode that most people have their eyes on is Multiplayer – going online, gunning down other players, and gaining upgrades. “Modern Warfare 2’s” multiplayer mode features more game types than the original, more perks, more weapons, more levels, more everything. A new system is in place that rewards players for getting certain kinds of kills – headshots, revenge kills, and more. Players are also now able to edit what kinds of rewards they can get through kill streaks, leading up end-all-be-all: a nuclear missile that ends the game and awards your team a victory, obtainable at 25 consecutive kills. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” is the game that everyone is talking about, and for good reason.

No matter what kind of game you’re into, there’s sure to be something that will tickle your fancy this holiday season. In closing, happy holidays, have a great winter break, and game on!

Wii Want Change

It doesn’t take an expert analyst, or even a hardcore gamer, to see that Nintendo’s latest system, the Wii, has been selling like hotcakes. But as we all know, popularity doesn’t always directly correlate to quality. Wii basically turned the gaming world upside down by integrating motion sensing as a core component to a system, but it has missed the mark in a few regards. This begged the question – if I could design Nintendo’s next system, what would I change? Well, here’s a few things that I believe would make the Wii’s successor a dream machine.

High-definition output (or, “Please make your system more powerful!”)

Gotta start off with what is quite possibly the biggest complaint with the Wii – its graphics. Take a look at any screenshot from a Wii game and compare it to its 360/PS3 counterpart and you’ll find that there’s a world of difference. The Wii isn’t powerful enough to compete on the same level. And while the technical specifications show that the Wii is about 1.5x as powerful as the GameCube, a good portion of this processing power is devoted to the system’s motion-sensing technology and its overarching operating system (the main menu and the little menu that pops up when you hit the ‘Home’ button on your Wii remote). When all is said and done, developers aren’t left with much to work with. In order to ensure that a game runs smoothly, the visuals department takes the biggest hit. The Wii is only capable of outputting a maximum resolution of 480p, which is only a minor step up from standard definition. With its competitors able to output at full 1080p, Wii doesn’t cut it, especially in the next generation. There are examples of great-looking games with beautiful art on the Wii, but there are just as many titles that fell short due to the Wii’s lack of processing power.

Blu-ray playback (or, “Hell, DVD playback will do”)

What year is this? 2009? And a video game system that uses a disc-based medium still can’t play standard DVD movies? For shame, Nintendo. Sony and Microsoft managed to pull off DVD playback last generation. Unlike the first point, this one isn’t a hardware issue – in fact, the Wii uses DVDs as its storage medium. Any gamer knowledgeable in the Wii’s homebrew scene can tell you that the Wii can play DVDs through the proper methods. Wii uses DVD storage at a medium. For the general public, however, this isn’t the case – why? In order to cut costs, Nintendo decided to not obtain the license required to play DVDs on its system. This isn’t actually a problem when you think about how cheap and easy it is to obtain a DVD player of some sort, but next generation I’d like to see Nintendo go the extra mile. Now that the dust has settled from the format war and Blu-ray is the clear winner, why not allow the ability to play Blu-ray movies on the system? And if they were to use Blu-ray discs as the official storage medium for the system, it would also allow more data to be crammed onto a game disc, which goes hand-in-hand with all the extra processing power the system would be getting.

Better online infrastructure (or, “You want me to put in how many numbers?”)

When it comes to online play, Nintendo’s a tad behind the curve. It’s somewhat understandable if you think about how console online play didn’t really pop up until last generation, but Nintendo had a chance to rectify its problems before the Wii. After the release of the Nintendo DS, the company created an online system for it known as “Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection,” allowing you to either play random people online or play with your friends through the use of ‘friend codes’. A friend code is a 12-digit code that your game gives you to give to other people so that they may register you onto their friend list. Having to input a 12-digit code for each of your friends would only be a minor annoyance if not for the fact that every game requires a different code. So let’s say that you have 5 different friends all with the 5 same DS games that you want to play online with – you’d have to input 25 different codes (300 characters) just to do so. That’s only just a basic example, and it only gets worse the more friends and games you have. The Wii could have put a stop to this by instituting either universal friend codes or even a username system, but such is not the case. Next generation, I’d like to see Nintendo utilize a system like Xbox Live, which ties all data to a specific username.

Hard drive for storage (or, “I’d buy more games but I ran out of space”)

This one’s fairly straightforward. The Wii contains 512 megabytes of on-board storage, paltry in comparison to the storage options of its competitors, which top out somewhere around 250 gigabytes. Such storage for the Wii goes to save data and downloadable games, but a greater amount could enable so much more. Combined with a better online infrastructure, more hard drive space would allow players to download and watch trailers, try out new games in the form of downloadable demos, and purchase downloadable content for already-owned games, which is practically nonexistent on the Wii. Taking a page from the 360, a bigger hard drive opens up the possibility of ripping the data from a game’s DVD and placing it on the system, resulting in faster load times and better performance. It’s a simple request, and with the low prices for storage these days, it’s pretty much guaranteed for the next generation.

Less peripherals (or, “I don’t have enough closet or wallet space for all this crap”)

The standard Wii remote is $40. It’s nice, but if you want analog stick functionality and a couple of extra buttons, you’re going to need a nunchuk attachment ($20). But wait, if you want to take advantage of some of the newer games’ more advanced motion-sensing features, you’ll also need a Wii Motion Plus attachment ($25). And if you’re hankering to play some SNES games off the Virtual Console, you’ll need either a GameCube controller or a Classic Controller attachment ($20). The Wii Speak attachment ($30) for voice chat capabilities, the Wii Balance Board (~$50) for foot integration, the Wii Wheel ($15) and Wii Zapper ($25) attachments that merely serve as encasements for the actual controller… and all of these are first-party products created and licensed by Nintendo. All of a sudden the $250 (now $200) price tag of the Wii doesn’t seem so measly. What’s worse is that I didn’t even bother mentioning all the third-party peripherals – the cases, the mats, the plastic instruments and sports equipment look-alikes. It would be wrong to say that Nintendo started this recent peripheral craze, but I’m dead right in saying that they’re not helping. Shouldn’t some of these features be already included with the system itself? The Wii comes with one remote and one nunchuk, but after that you’re on your own. Stuff like Wii Speak and the Classic Controller should have been included from the get-go, and stuff like the Wii Wheel and Wii Zapper shouldn’t even exist. Next generation, I’d like to see more functionality with less extras.

Of course, these are not what I believe to be the steps Nintendo should take to succeed next generation – they seem to be doing well enough with what they’ve got right now. This is all simply what I would like to see out of Nintendo in a perfect world. But alas, profit too often gets in the way of logic, and all a gamer can do in the end is hope for the best.

Free Play: Cave Story

You’ve most likely heard the old saying that the best things in life are free, right? Well, if you look deep enough, you’ll find that this saying has quite a bit of application in the gaming world as well. This week in Geek Squad, I present to you a game that is not only one of my favorite independently-developed games but one of my absolute favorite games of all time, and what’s best is that you can experience this gem of a game at no cost. I’m talking, of course, about the freeware classic “Cave Story.”

Released in 2004, “Cave Story” was the end product of one man’s labor. Japanese game developer Daisuke Amaya, or Pixel, as he has come to be known, spent five years creating and perfecting everything that went into the game, a fact that shines through all aspects of it.

“Cave Story” starts with the main character waking up in a cave with a case of amnesia. Stumbling upon a village inhabited by rabbit-like creatures known as mimigas, he discovers that the mimigas have slowly been abducted by a man called The Doctor in an attempt to find a specific mimiga named Sue, who is eventually abducted as well. The objective of the game then becomes to rescue Sue, stop The Doctor, and discover your own origins. “Cave Story” is filled with colorful characters, gripping moments and a story so elaborate that you wouldn’t really expect it out of a freeware game.

At the heart of it, “Cave Story” is a 2D shooter with a heavy emphasis on platforming along with some exploration and RPG elements crammed in. Progress through most areas is achieved by blasting your way through, and the game gives you a handful of unique options to do so. Your first gun, the Polar Star, is a standard blaster, not the strongest by any means but easily the most versatile. Over time you attain more situation-appropriate weapons like the Fireball, which shoots out fireballs that bounce low along the ground to take out land-based enemies, or the Snake, which shoots out projectiles in a slithering motion that can go through walls. “Cave Story” features a total of 10 weapons, all with their own different mechanics. One of the more interesting elements of “Cave Story” is the leveling system for these weapons. Killed enemies sometimes drop yellow energy crystals, which collecting will power up your currently equipped weapon to a maximum of three levels. Powering up your weapons generally means bigger and more damaging projectiles, but certain weapons take on new properties as well. These levels aren’t permanent, however, as taking damage will decrease the energy of your weapon, often times even reducing levels. Much like a “Metroid” game, “Cave Story” also features upgradeable health and ammo in the form of collectable expansions, some which are easy to find and others that take some real thinking.

Both visually and aurally, the game is a throwback to old-school side-scrollers but with some extra detail added in. With a stage name like “Pixel,” it’s no surprise that the game is presented through pixelated sprites and backgrounds, but what’s even less surprising is how masterfully crafted these all are. Amaya’s work strikes the perfect balance between detail and minimalism, offering up enough finer points to gawk at during low-key segments while still keeping things simple enough so as to not distract you from where the action is. Characters are drawn stylistically enough to represent their personalities and locations are highly distinct in their variety. The soundtrack is equally impressive, featuring over thirty unique tracks of 8-bit-esque songs that complement and create the characters, plot points and emotions of the story.

Above all this, “Cave Story” is the kind of game that you just keep coming back to. Your first playthrough of “Cave Story” will probably run between the range of five and six hours, with even the most seasoned “Cave Story” veteran taking something around four hours to complete it fully. Chances are that you won’t play the game just once, however, as there’s much you can miss. “Cave Story” features three different endings ranging from bad to good to best, with the best ending requiring you to follow a very intricate sub-plot that is easily missable if you aren’t aware of its presence. The game is also filled to the brim with Easter eggs and some of the weapons are either well-hidden or require trading in other weapons, so multiple playthroughs are necessary to experience all that the game has to offer. Last but not least, you’ll most likely be playing through “Cave Story” more than once because it simply embodies the reason we play video games in the first place: to have fun.

“Cave Story” is a game with fun factor that lasts from start to finish and a difficulty that, while challenging, never borders on tedium. It’s a game that’s jam-packed with enough value to betray its less-than-two-megabyte file size and price tag of zero dollars. Perhaps most importantly, “Cave Story” is the five-year labor of love from one single man, whose dedication and talent are easily apparent to anyone who plays through this masterpiece of a game.

If you’d like to try “Cave Story” out for yourself, visit www.cavestory.org for anything and everything you’ll need to know about the game. Or, if you’d like to learn about the upcoming WiiWare version, visit www.cavestory.com.

Who Needs to Trick or Treat When there are Games to Play?

Trick or treat! With Halloween just around the corner it’s time to get ready to celebrate all the things that go bump in the night, and what better way to do that than to take them head-on in the gaming realm? This week in Geek Squad, we’ll look at some of my favorite horror-themed games, from the throwbacks to the thrillers. So shut the door, close the curtains, turn off the lights and pump up the volume as we delve into five video games that’ll perfectly complement your Halloween experience!

Resident Evil 1 (GC)

One of the most recognized horror games in the industry, this classic PlayStation 1 zombie thriller makes an even bigger splash on the GameCube, completely remade with new visuals, new puzzles, new voice acting, and much more. At the beginning of the game, you choose to play as either Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, members of Raccoon City’s elite squad known as STARS. Sent to investigate a number of murders in the outskirts of the city, you are promptly chased by dogs into a creepy mansion. It isn’t long after that you discover the mansion is filled with the undead, and your two objectives become clear: investigate the mansion to get to the bottom of why and how these creatures exist, and, of course, survive. But the latter objective is tougher than you think for many reasons – enemies are constantly flung in your direction, puzzles and traps are there to impede your way, and worse off, ammo is very scarce. All of these combine to make the perfect atmosphere for a horror game – the kind of intensity that makes you contemplate your every move out of fear while enticing you to go on. “Resident Evil” has all the makings of a good horror game: suspenseful thrills, mind-busting puzzles, and a plot line intriguing enough to push you ‘til the end.

Silent Hill 1 (PS1)

Like the pepper to “Resident Evil’s” salt, “Silent Hill” is a horror game that’s less action-centric and more focused on emotions and plot. As the protagonist Harry Mason, your driving force through the game is reuniting with your daughter Cheryl after a car accident finds her missing. But like many pieces in the genre of horror, the plot isn’t as clear-cut as that, as the game slowly leads you through a plot revolving around the resurrection of a cult’s supposed god. “Silent Hill’s” atmosphere is one established around sound rather sight – darkness and fog obstruct your view more often than not, and with a flashlight that only illuminates the area in front of you by a couple of feet, you must rely on the sounds of shrieks and footsteps to alert you toward danger. The horror that surrounds “Silent Hill” is more psychological than anything, and the environments prove testament to this idea, with blood splattered all over the walls and corpses lurking at every corner. Playing through “Silent Hill” is a horrifying yet enthralling journey through both the quaint little town that the game is named after and your very own psyche.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (GC)

The first game published by Nintendo to be given an ‘M’ rating for mature audiences, “Eternal Darkness” aims to mess with your head even more than the previous game. Centering around the protagonist Alexandra Roivas, the game involves an ancient artifact: a book bound by human skin and bone known as the Tome of Eternal Darkness. With each chapter of this book that Alexandra finds, the game’s perspective alters to a different person, from Pius Augustus in the year 26 BC to Alex’s grandfather, whose mysterious death causes her to investigate in the first place. “Eternal Darkness’s” gameplay hosts an interesting mechanic known as the sanity meter. This meter, which is depleted and replenished under various circumstances, serves as a gauge for your character’s sanity, and when it gets too low, things tend to get a little crazy. Screams can be heard in the background, the walls begin to bleed, your character’s head falls off – essentially, these effects are supposed to emulate your character slowly going insane. But these tricks of sanity are taken to another level when they mess your own head: the game’s volume will lower with an indicator accompanying it, the display will sporadically switch to a black screen with “Video” in the corner, and enemies will appear that don’t really exist. “Eternal Darkness” is an adventure through the sanity of the characters whom you take control of and your own sanity, tricking you into questioning what’s real and what isn’t.

Dead Space (360)

If you had to put it in a nutshell, “Dead Space” is essentially “Resident Evil” in space. After receiving a distress signal from a nearby mining vessel, you, as engineer Isaac Clarke, must investigate the ship and piece together exactly what happened to the crewmembers while powering on the ship’s systems to avoid collision in an asteroid belt. It is through this investigation that you discover the identities of your enemies as Necromorphs, humans infected by a viral species of alien. But the twists and turns continue further than that as the game ultimately becomes about survival. Much of the game’s horror is derived from the creatures housed within – grotesque beings that require precise strategy to truly vanquish. And with the darkness of a powerless ship and the isolation of deep space, “Dead Space” provides the lonely atmosphere that serves as the backbone of any well-respected horror piece.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

This list wouldn’t be complete without an entry from the “Castlevania” series, and there is no better candidate than “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.” A non-linear, open-world exploration game, “Symphony of the Night” was a breakthrough entry to the series, deviating from the fully-established level-based format of the series and providing more exploratory gameplay, with RPG elements like experience points and levels, numerical attributes, and combative companions known as familiars. The game, like most in the series, deals with the proliferation of the dark lord Dracula, and a family known as the Belmonts destined to put him in his place. In this game, however, you play as Alucard, the half-human son of Dracula who decides to investigate the sentient home of the dark lord, Castlevania, after sensing a great shift in evil energy. Though I wouldn’t call the game scary by any means, it is very much a game fit for Halloween, serving host to some of the most well-known monsters of horror literature, from the Werewolf to Frankenstein’s Monster to Dracula himself. Indeed, “Symphony of the Night,” like most “Castlvevania” games, is deeply rooted in these classic stories, making it an excellent adaptation of the stories of gruesome monsters that you grew up with. It isn’t really Halloween without “Castlevania.”

So there you have it – you’ve got the games, now all you need are the right conditions to play them and maybe a dash of courage to get you through the night – or, if that’s not readily available, someone near and dear to accompany you on this frightful journey. With that, we bid you adieu and wish you all a happy and safe Halloween!