The Joy of Gaming with jfe2

Posted on Nov 7th 2009 at 05:15:29 AM by (jfe2)
Posted under Nightmare in the Dark, arcade, zombies

Bubble Bobble is freaking great. I have loved Bubble Bobble since I was a wee gamer, playing in the arcade tent at the festival that ran in my neighborhood. The gameplay was simple enough for a little kid to pick up then, and is hard to master even now that I'm older. Snow Bros. is another game that I have fond memories of playing at the same arcade tent. The images of the little Snow dudes jumping around on platforms is something that has stuck in my memory for years.

By chance today, I discovered a Neo Geo arcade game called Nightmare in the Dark. It looked interesting enough at first glance, with big, colorful sprites and amusing looking characters. After watching the game play on the screen for a bit though, I realized that this game played almost just like Bubble Bobble and Snow Bros! Some would maybe blow it off as a cheap knock-off because of that, but being the simple-arcade-platformer fan that I am, I knew that I had to play right away.

Nightmare in the Dark puts you in the shoes of an old cemetery gravedigger. The story is pretty slim, and plays out through a simple narrative on the demo screen that tells you about how the gravedigger is an outcast in his town due to his fugliness. When shit goes down at the local cemetary however, he checks it out and becomes their hero. The dead have started to rise from their graves and its up to him to figure out why. Simple premise, but the story admittedly isn't the strong point here.

The addictive gameplay is what really makes this game a gem. Each level is set up with various platforms that are occupied by a variety of different enemies, including the standard zombie, fast little top-hat-wearing hunchbacks, flying ghosts, and crazy undead ostrich things that lunge at you from a distance.

You are tasked with eliminating the various beasties by throwing magic fire stuff from your lantern at them, which freezes them in their steps. When you hit them with enough fire, they turn into a giant fireball that you can collect and toss at other enemies. When tossed, the fireballs will bounce off the walls a few times, annihilating whatever is in their way, before finally exploding and leaving behind a nice power-up for you to use. Power-ups consist of different potions that can upgrade your movement speed, the distance you can throw your magic fire, and the power of said magic fire.

The gravedigger can only jump up to the platforms above him, and cannot drop down to a platform beneath him, which means that you have to use a bit of strategy in this game. The time limit, which starts at 99 seconds, also helps to ramp up the challenge. When the timer hits zero, an invulnerable pumpkin monster will chase you around the screen until he kills you dead.

The bosses in this game are a real treat for anyone who loves sprites. There is a Frankenstein monster that can summon grunt zombies, a huge mummy-head-car thing that has knives sticking out of its head, and a sorcerer who floats around the screen summoning TONS to raise the chaos level. The bosses can all usually be beat by hitting them with the giant fireballs made from the grunts that they summon, but some of these bosses can be quite challenging to actually hit.

It took me about a half hour to forty five minutes, and about eight bucks in quarters, to play through to the end. There are roughly twenty five levels total, and it goes by pretty fast. The game does manage to present a fun challenge though, especially towards the end. Although the game is rather short, it has tons of replay value. This is the type of old school arcade game that is meant to be played over and over again, with the goal of achieving huge scores. I think I had a total score of around 500,000 when all was said and done, but I know that I could destroy that number in the future.

I would really recommend giving this one a shot if you ever get the chance. I had never heard of it before today, and am so glad that I found it. This game is a throwback to a time when games were fun and dangerously addicting, and achieving that high score was the most important thing in the world.

Posted on Nov 5th 2009 at 06:47:38 AM by (jfe2)
Posted under House of the Dead 4, zombies, arcade

I recently went to the movie theater with my wife, my sister, and her boyfriend to check out the much hyped Paranormal Activity. We were going on a Saturday, so I knew that it was going to be packed. I didn't want to risk sitting in the front row, straining my neck to see what the hell was happening on the giant screen five feet from my face, so we resolved to get there about an hour early... which I guess wasn't early enough, seeing as the showing we were aiming for was sold out. We picked up tickets for the next showing that was like two hours from then, and went to go sit in line.

My wife and sister were pissed... My sister's boyfriend and I, on the other hand, knew that we would be fine, since the movie theater we were at had a great selection of arcade games to hold us over!

The first thing I saw when I walked into the arcade room nearly brought me to tears of joy. It was a House of the Dead 4 cabinet. I've been a huge House of the Dead, and rail shooter in general, fan for a long time, and have probably pumped more quarters into HOTD cabinets than any other, but I had never seen an actual House of the Dead 4 cabinet in person anywhere before. Needless to say, we cashed in some dollar bills, filled our pockets with quarters, and started 'sploding some zombie heads.

The first thing that I noticed about this game was the awesome light gun. It is a big orange uzi that has some nice weight to it. The gun fires automatically, which is great considering how many zombies the game throws at you, and reloads as most light gun games do, by firing off-screen. There is a small button on the side of the gun that tosses grenades, which you have a limited supply of.

House of the Dead has never really been known for its story, and the its the same old song and dance here. You play as some government agents or something, who are investigating an underground lab when they suddenly find the evidence they need, use it to prosecute the mad scientist they are looking for, and go home safely to their loving families...

No, actually they are attacked by zombies. Wouldn't that be something though? Nobody would have expected that from a game called House of the Dead 4. Sega should have thrown us the curve ball in my opinion.

This game throws TONS of zombies at you. Like, a million zombies. Maybe more than that. It's insane, but luckily you have a few cool tools at your disposal. If a zombie grabs hold of you, you can shake the gun up and down like a Wii-mote to throw them off. This tactic is even used in some boss fights, and makes for some rather tense situations. You can also be pushed down to the ground by enemies, which makes situations where you are being attacked by multiple enemies even more intense. You can also toss grenades at groups of enemies to help thin out some of larger zombie crowds.

The enemies consist of your usual HOTD suspects, including normal zombies, big zombies, jumpy annoying zombies, projectile tossing zombies, weird swamp monstery zombies, flying bat creatures, and those annoying leech things. All pretty run of the mill stuff, but the game really shines during the boss fights. Now THESE are some bosses.

The bosses range from a giant, four-armed, Goro looking zombie that chases you through a sewer system, to a badass ghoul that assaults you in a train with a gigantic dual-sided chainsaw. There is even the token giant spider, which chases you up an elevator shaft! These guys really make the whole experience what it is. You feel a real sense of dread while fighting these guys, especially since its your quarters at stake!

There are plenty of power-ups to be had, which can be found by shooting at secret areas throughout the stages. The setting of these stages changed up enough to keep me interested, and I never really get bored of my surroundings. The game even lets you choose your path at certain points, which should make for some interesting replay value if I ever get the chance to play it again.

We made it to the end of stage four on our play through, where we were killed by an obese titan of a zombie boss, that rolled into a ball to mush us into goo. Between the two of us, we probably spent at least $25 on the game, and really couldn't justify spending much more. It's not that we didn't want to, but as fun as the game was, we didn't want to empty our wallets on it.

The true fun-factor of this game comes from the overall experience. It literally takes you on a ride through various levels, ranging from an underground lab to a European city in ruins. The hordes of zombies popping out from everywhere, the terrifyingly huge bosses, and the camaraderie you feel with your fellow zombie hunter, all while frantically pumping quarters into the coin slot, sum up to create an exciting and unique experience.

House of the Dead 4 is such great interactive experience, and you owe yourself to try it out if you ever get the chance!

This is jfe2's Blog.
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I'm a 23 year old husband, father, and gamer. This blog is an outlet for all of the random gaming thoughts that I have, and will also allow me to express how gaming impacts my life. And yes, the blog's title is a Bob Ross reference... That'll be our little secret.
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