An interesting, if not very well executed, survival horror
video game for the Sega Dreamcast
, designed by Crazy Games (formerly Climax Graphics, the people responsible for the less-than-successful Blue Stinger
). The story is vaguely similar to that of The House on Haunted Hill
Story: Michael Reynolds, a reclusive movie producer known for making incredibly bizzare and frightening horror b-movies that have gone on to become cult classics, has designed Illbleed, a horror-themed amusement park with attractions based on some of his more popular films. The park is rumored to be so scary, that it is possible to die of fright. Furthermore, in order to entice more customers, Reynolds has offered one hundred million dollars to anyone who can "survive" all six of his attractions. So far, many have tried to claim the prize, but they all mysteriously vanished...
Meanwhile, a small group of local high school students, who are all members of a horror movie appreciation club, mysteriously receive free invitations to Illbleed. While three of them are all gung-ho for the trip, their appointed ringleader, Eriko Christy, decides to opt out. But when her friends fail to return from their trip to Illbleed, she decides to investigate. Within the walls of Illbleed, Eriko and her friends must navigate a host of wicked puzzles, fight off fierce monsters, and survive deadly booby traps, as they uncover the mysterious fate of those who dared to challenge Illbleed and never returned...
Gameplay: Players take control of Eriko (and later, her friends Keith, Michel, and Randy) and guide her through the various tricks and traps of Illbleed's six attractions.
Outside of the attractions, you can find Bloody Mary's Drug Store (a shop to buy various recovery items) Dummyman's Photo Shop (a souvenir photo stand where you can save your game), the Visitor's Bank (where you can pay to revive any characters you fail to rescue) and Emergency Room (a hospital where you can recover from damage or upgrade your characters). But inside the attractions is where the fun begins...
The first order of business in any of the main play areas is to locate the Horror Monitor, a head-mounted device that allows you to detect the various traps within that attraction area. The onscreen display features sense meters, which notify you of suspicious stimulus for your senses of sight, smell, and hearing, as well as your sixth sense; an adrenaline meter, a stamina meter, a heart rate meter, and a bleeding meter. You, the player, must use the sense meters to pinpoint the location of certain booby traps and disable them. Some of the traps are made more apparent by discolorations or obvious blood stains, but for most, you must rely on the sense meters to detect the traps. Also, your adrenaline meter goes down when you use the Horror Monitor to pinpoint a trap. You'll need to watch your adrenaline use carefully, or you'll run out and be at the mercy of Reynolds' twisted imagination.
The traps all have various effects. Some cause damage (in addition to losing stamina, your character may also start bleeding, which can result in lost stamina, a reduced heart rate, or even your character bleeding to death), some just raise your heart rate (if it gets too high, your character might pass out or even die of fright), and some release bizzare monsters ranging from homicidal crash test dummies (Dummymen), to mutant monkeys (Monkillers), to giant worms, to your basic zombies, all of which you'll have to either defeat or escape from. You might also find various items that will help you in your quest, including healing items, stat-building items (use these in the Emergency Room), and of course, weapons.
Levels: The six levels ("attractions") of the game are all themed around movies made by Michael Reynolds. The first one is pretty basic, but each of the rest introduces a unique twists to the gameplay, and all of them are damned hard (the first time through, at least). They are:
The Homerun of Death: Years ago, Gale Banbollow and his son Jimmy lived in and operated Chateau Banbollow, a youth hostel. Jimmy was a big fan of baseball, and with his father's encouragement and a rigorous training program, Jimmy helped his Little League team bring home the state championship. But not long after Jimmy's victory, both Jimmy and his father were caught in a fire at the chateau accidentally started by a group of teens. Jimmy perished in the inferno, and while Gale survived, he was mangled and mutated beyond recognition. Driven mad by the horrible death of his only son, Banbollow took up a flamethrower and proceded to hunt down and kill the teens responsible for the accident. To this day, he stalks the burned-out halls of Chateau Banbollow, obsessing over baseball and his late son, and burning all who dare to tresspass. It's up to you to journey into the depths of Chateau Banbollow and calm the rage of Banbollow.
Noteworthy Moment: Finding Jimmy's old baseball bat, which suddenly sprouts a face and calls out to Jimmy. It then turns to look at you, and says "Hey, you're not Jimmy!"
Revenge of Queen Worm: David Rodriguez was fanatical about worms. He owned one of the biggest worm farms in the area, and his prize breeder was a gigantic female whom he doted over and named Rachel. But the worm market was failing, and Rodriguez was forced to sign over most of his property to a local corporation. The corporation turned it into a campground, and built a monkey farm, a drive-in theater, and a convenience store. Rodriguez got the worst of the deal, and was forced to work at the convenience store almost full time to make ends meet. His health failing, Rodriguez was driven to kill himself rather than die of exhaustion under his oppresive job. Without her beloved master, Rachel went on a rampage, killing dozens of visitors. Now, it's up to you to solve the mystery of Camp David (the name is a coincidence, I'm sure), put David Rodriguez's spirit to rest, and put Rachel out of her misery. The twist here is that you don't get to use your horror monitor (it's stolen by a Monkiller near the beginning), but you won't need it anyway. There's no traps, just lots of monsters.
Noteworthy Moment: The Monkiller who stole your Horror Monitor earlier using it to ogle your character... in x-ray vision (cool if you're playing Eriko, just freakin' weird if you're Keith).
Woodpuppets: George MacLachlan was a lumberjack, and owner and operator of the MacLachlan Sawmill. He loved his work, and his greatest ambition was to create the ultimate chainsaw. He finally completed his master work, but when it came time to try it out, he picked the wrong tree. The tree he tried to cut down was not only 400 years old, monstrously gnarled, and tough as nails, it was also haunted. The spirit that dwelled inside the tree was outraged, and after bringing the tree to life, it swallowed MacLachlan whole and took over his sawmill. Now, the employees of the mill have been turned into homicidal thugs, and the monster now running the mill has been using human bodies to create the Woodpuppets, monstrous wooden golems that bleed when attacked, and sending them to kill the families of MacLachlan's employees. You must journey into the lumber mill, destroy the Woodpuppets, and put to rest the vengeful spirit that killed MacLachland. At one point, you're turned into a Woodpuppet, and have to go around a maze avoiding the Wood Cutter monsters while looking for your friend.
Noteworthy Moment: The boss monster breaking down. Hey, this is a theme park! (Albiet a sick and twisted one)
Killer Department Store: The Cashman Department Store was having a streak of bad luck. Its owner, Dan Cashman, was obsessed with money, and had been driven over the edge by his poor business. He began holding bogus sales in order to lure victims to his store, where he would kill them and take their money. The police finally tracked down and killed Cashman, but not long after, his spirit came back from the dead as a horrible spider monster, the Dollanchula. Cashman created a horde of possessed products designed to steal the souls (and money) from unsuspecting customers, then hid himself away in one of his main safes, where he waits and counts his money. Travel through the haunted Cashman Department Store, fending off haunted household products, and destroy the money-crazed monster that Cashman has become. For another new twist, you get your prize money in advance, but it may be stolen by the monster products in the store. This level is most likely inspired in part by Dawn of the Dead.
Noteworthy Moment(s): Meeting the "Cake from Hell", fighting homicidal chunks of meat on a giant stovetop, making the boss monster operator yell "Cashman's on fire!" (don't ask)... I think this may be my favorite level. ^_^
Killerman: Way back in 1930s New York, there was a series of mysterious murders that ended as suddenly as they began. The victims all had a red star painted on their faces, but no other clues to the identity of the murderer, who came to be known as "Killerman", were ever found. Of course, this really doesn't have much to do with the actual level, aside from the monster. This stage takes you behind the scenes of Illbleed, where you (along with a reporter named Jorg) have to investigate a series of murders and the mysterious apperance of what appears to be the "real" Killerman! Who is the Killerman? It's up to you to find out. Seriously, I am not making this up! Near the end of the level, they ask you who you think the killer is, and if your guess is right, you get a huge bonus. (Of course, in order to get the bonus, you need to rescue Jorg from some zombies).
Noteworty Moment(s): The whole "who do YOU think is Killerman?" thing, running from the zombies (who happen to be INVINCIBLE!)
Toy Hunter: Cork Goes to Hell: Another unique level, this one is actually a storytelling adventure that reveals the plot of an as-yet-unreleased (in the game world) Toy Hunter adventure. You must take the role of Cork, the Toy Hunter (who looks like a cross between Indiana Jones and Woody from Toy Story, and is called "Inda" in the Japanese version), and travel through the stage, battling monsters and disarming traps as per usual, but also uncovering "story elements" that reveal Cork's latest adventure, where he must journey to Toy Hell to rescue his faithful lover, the bootylicious and aptly-named Sexy Doll, from the evil Zodick (a thinly-disguised, demonic parody of Sonic the Hedgehog).
Noteworthy Moment(s): More techinical difficulties, Cork being taunted by drunken egg-monsters.
Overview: I rather like this game. It's unique from most survival horror games due to its darkly humorous tone, and the traps and monsters are often quite interesting. However, the fact that you're supposed to disarm as many traps as you can takes a lot of the fun out of watching the traps. In true B-movie fashion, the acting is laughably atrocious (not sure if that was intentional), and there's buckets of blood all over the place. The controls are alright, but like a lot of 3D platform style games, the camera may give you some trouble. Another control quibble is that when moving, you have to release the control stick and move it again to change speed. Other than a few gameplay goofs, this game is quite fun if you're a fan of laughably bad horror films and/or quirky Japanese video games.