Category Archives: Gaming

Game Review: Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

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Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. By now, it should come as no surprise to you that I’m a huge fan of the Resident Evil franchise, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis from 1999 is by far my favorite title in the old series of games. I love this game, and I return to it often on my PlayStation that has seen far better days.

That being said, Resident Evil 3 is not a perfect game. Objectively Resident Evil 2 stands as the far better game, and the reasons why I like Resident Evil 3 are personal to me. Don’t worry, I won’t be speaking through rose tinted glasses here. Just because it is my absolute favorite, that doesn’t mean I don’t see the flaws.

The game has some very clunky elements. Questionable decisions were made that just don’t allow the game to have that same polished feel that its predecessor had. The game is certainly a step sideways rather than forwards when it comes to enhanced gameplay.

So let’s dive in and take a look at this amazing game, and why it fell a little short.

The Burdens of an Acclaimed Reputation

As I explained in my Resident Evil review, the game was a spiritual successor to Sweet Home, and the birth of survival horror as a genre. Due to the huge success, a second game came shortly after, and the fans clamored over all of the wonderful new additions Resident Evil 2 had to offer.

In the late 90’s Resident Evil had proven itself to be a series that was beloved by gamers everywhere, and this made it a hit. With two widely successful games in the series so far, and sales filling their pockets, Capcom knew they had a real gem to work with. A few spin-off games were already in production, but Capcom didn’t want the fans to wait too long. This resulted in another developmental kerfuffle.

They had faced one of these controversies in the past. I’ve highlighted that particular mess with my review of Resident Evil 1.5, which you can read here. The short version is this; Resident Evil 2 had a prototype that was scrapped due to disagreements in the development process.

Ultimately, this resulted in a lackluster game that was never finished. This prototype is loved by a select few, and is known in the fandom as Resident Evil 1.5.

Those still on the team at the time revitalized the game from the ground up. This was the right decision, making Resident Evil 2 the success it stands as today. Upon release, it quickly made incredible sales numbers. Many fans argue it’s the best game in the entire series, and really among the classic games it is very hard to dispute this fact.

Anyway, perhaps these past lessons about rushing the development process hadn’t been learned. Two spin-off titles were being produced at the time, and instead of making an entirely new title, both of these spin-off titles were in the running to take the place as the third official entry in the series.

For clarification, one game was Resident Evil: Nemesis. The other was Resident Evil: Code Veronica.

Quite frankly, I believe this is the core issue with a lot of the problems the game has. It stands to reason that taking a spin-off title and trying to contort it into a main story leaves, much to be desired.

Side Note: A Theory I Have

To be honest though, I don’t think the rush to release a new title was entirely unsound. Even though I do think the game did suffer a bit because of it. I’m sure that the precedent set by the swift release of prior games made the developers and the production staff behind the game feel a true sense of urgency.

Other horror titles were also in production by competing studios at the time, and this likely had a part to play in the decision to rush to a release. The games slipping into the market would promise some very heavy competition. What games you ask? That’s a very good question.

There are a few, but namely Silent Hill comes to mind as one such powerhouse title. It was in production at the time, and saw an earlier release in 1999 as well.

I can only imagine that the knowledge of Konami working to release Silent Hill in a timely manner, and Squaresoft releasing Parasite Eve in 1998 proved to Capcom that their hold over horror games on the PlayStation could be considered fickle at best. It is merely a theory, but I’m sure this contributed to some of the rushed decisions we ultimately see when in regards to Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

What is important to remember is that while there were many horror titles in the original PlayStation era, few series were as popular, or as widely loved as Resident Evil or Silent Hill.

It is true that Clock Tower comes to mind as one such series that may stand up well against them, but due to gamers already knowing of that franchise as early as 1995, it’s hardly a fitting comparison. It released before the first Resident Evil had even seen the light of day, and Clock Tower already had a strong fan base crossing over from other platforms.

The Chosen Successor

From here on out, I will be calling the prototype to the game the “Nemesis prototype”. Capcom eventually chose their Nemesis prototype to become the third game in the series. It would proudly bear the number three upon it’s front casing, with the titular monster standing menacingly behind the title. When fans saw the game, we were hyped, and we just couldn’t wait to get our hands on it.

The game is known to us now as Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, released in September of 1999.

The issue is, this game was crafted to be a spin-off title first and foremost. It was never built or conceptualized to be a main series title. Originally, it had been handed to a small, and frankly very inexperienced team of people. The sort just getting their feet wet with larger and widely loved titles.

There was little knowledge among the group when it came to the vast lore of Resident Evil as a series. The game was intended to star an entirely new character, attempting to escape the horrors of the city now infested with zombies. However, this creative choice would not stand well against the already released and widely popular Resident Evil 2. The story was just too similar in thematic beats and story telling.

With two games out and set in stone, it was imperative that the next story reflected the already loved and established characters. With stories that hadn’t been entirely finished yet, the world needed building. The environment and threat from Umbrella needed to be extrapolated upon. When the “Nemesis Prototype” was chosen, and it underwent an exclusivity deal with PlayStation, cementing it firmly in place.

From there the wheels began turning into motion. Key plot lines were changed to include Jill Valentine from the first game as the main character for this new title.

She was chosen because she could still escape the city, and tying the story in closely with the events from the second game allowed many of the thematic elements to be kept from the initial prototype. They could still keep them well in-hand, without crapping all over the general premise that the “Nemesis Prototype” started with.

Shinji Mikami stepped in to help, as his previous experience gave him insight as to just how the game should be produced. Ultimately, the game is a mixed bag. Now let’s discuss why.

Story Troubles

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis makes the entire Resident Evil lore a bit messy thematically. Some parts take places before the events of Resident Evil 2. Meanwhile, others take place during the events, and some take place after the events. This makes the game stand as a strange narrative window into almost all of the early Resident Evil plot lines.

Jill is a former S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team member. She is coined by Berry, another teammate as the maser of unlocking.

In the first game, what started as a search for missing Bravo team members went south when monsters chased the group deep into the forest. Taking refuge inside the mansion, sinister truths began to unfold as zombies and other monsters run rampant.

At the start of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis Jill recounts the events. When the team returned to report what they’d seen at the mansion, the truth wasn’t received well. Due to the mishandling of information, and conspiratorial cover-ups, the dangerous T-virus has run rampant in the heart of the city. Now she must survive the hordes of zombies all over again.

Umbrella wasn’t going to go down without a fight. They had a new master plan. The pharmaceutical company gone wrong had a new bio-weapon they’ve been working on. This one is intelligent and deadly. Releasing it into the city streets, they’ve given this abomination one single mission. To eradicate remaining S.T.A.R.S. team members, and this creature will prove to be Jill’s most dangerous opponent yet.

As she calls it “My last chance, my last escape“. She attempts to flee the city, and bring light to these new horrors. During her escape, Jill teams up with a member of Umbrella’s own mercenary unit. A man by the name of Carlos Oliveira.

While it’s true that plot line itself is fairly straightforward, trying to break down exactly when certain events take place in relation to Resident Evil 2 can be a bit difficult. Thankfully though, this only really influences the most die-hard fans. An average player won’t be impacted by the questionable bits of lore buried deep.

Resident Evil has never really had the knack for complicated storytelling, particularly in it’s earliest games. What makes the plot of Resident Evil 2 so good is that it is very cleanly cut and masterfully written upon those surface level ideas. The details embedded into the core of the game need not be considered by the casual fans, and I think that has a lot going for it.

Meanwhile, Resident Evil 3 just can’t hold up as well. It can be too easily compared on a surface level, and to differentiate the game from its predecessor you need those finer details and several times playing the game due to branching paths. I’ll get to that later. For now the only point I want to make here is that most titles in the franchise linger on the surface elements.

That is where most gamers will collect the vast majority of the plot elements, and Resident Evil 3 fails to accomplish surface level storytelling. You need to be willing to dive deep to get the best out of it, and that shouldn’t happen in a zombie shooter.

This game requires that you understand the entire lore of Resident Evil up to that point. The events at the manor play a large role in the backstory. The corruption between Umbrella several key characters from the previous two games can’t be understated either. If you don’t know of these games, you likely have no idea what I’m talking about. That’s my direct point. The devil really is in the details on this one, and that makes Resident Evil 3: Nemesis much harder to simply dive into blindly.

Nemesis or Mr. X Clone?

Welcome to the devil within those details I mentioned above, the main big baddie of the game. This is another point of contention for the game. Nemesis is a clunky bugger on a good day, but we’ve already seen his mechanical style before. He chases the player in key moment of gameplay. Sound like something we’ve seen before? Well, it should because Mr. X does this during Resident Evil 2.

Many times when Nemesis crops up, the player can choose to fight or run away. Some battles are scripted boss battles that can’t be avoided, but there are plenty of times you can just run away too. This is a good time to discuss the multilayered storytelling, and the choose your own adventure style of gameplay. Occasionally, the player will encounter a moment when time slows down and the screen fades a bit to a whiteout.

Two choices will come onto the screen, and you have a few moments to choose one before the game picks for you. Doing nothing will always choose the option highlighted first. These moments don’t always include Nemesis, but it happens often enough with him that this is as good a section as any to discuss it.

I think this is why I love the game so much, and why it is my favorite. The layering of complex choices upon a first or second run of the game are staggering. For example, the first time this happens is an encounter with Nemeses. You can choose to run away, or you can choose to fight him. Here’s the funny thing though, you don’t have to fight him even if you choose the option to do so. Instead, you can run up to the dead body of one of your teammates and collect his identification card so that you don’t have to find yours later.

After grabbing it, you can run inside the police station and avoid the fight. Or if you choose to fight him accidentally, you can just run inside the police station anyway having done nothing.

This sort of complex narrative is done through player interaction, and it builds a very distinct style of gameplay that just can’t be overstated. You have options, often times way more than you think you do. Being creative and thinking about how best to tackle a situation is the core of the Resident evil formula, but here it really thrives.

How you choose to play after you’ve made a clear cut choice matters. It can and often does split the narrative path.

This matters on a personal level, and tactically it offers a far more robust gameplay experience on top of it. Without this key detail, Nemesis would certainly be a Mr. X clone many claim him to be. However, because these events are so often tied to a Nemesis encounters in some way, he’s absolutely not a clone, he stands on his own merits.

Your choices change some of your item pick-ups, bits of the narrative, and other small details. Each choice gives you a lot of tiny tactical options. Therefore, I firmly stand on the opinion that Nemesis is a much more improved villain over all. This is simply because the main story ties to him in a way that Mr. X could never hope for. Mr.X is an on rails experience, and he feels that way. Nemesis is on rails too, but at the time the game released he didn’t feel that way. That’s the difference here.

That being said, I still stand by what I mentioned before too. A casual player will miss out on the value this can offer. This concept is made for a hard core Resident Evil fan first and foremost. If you’re not going to think around the choice you pick, or you can’t think fast on your feet with all of the previous knowledge of Resident Evil games you should have by this point, most of the super small details will be lost on you.

Tank Controls and Dodge Maneuvers

Let’s talk about the new mechanics and the old. You know the game looks good for it’s time, even if it looks a bit trashy nowadays. You also know the soundtrack had to be good, and that’s a fact too. Typewriters and ink ribbons return, as well as all of the other stuff from previous games. There’s not much new here, though now there’s a gun powder system, that’s fairly standard and expected in the franchise now. Back in the day it was really cool, but why gush about something we’ve all been exposed to by this point?

So, we go to the core contentious mechanics that heavily influence the fandom. The Tank controls, and that dodge mechanic from hell. First however, let’s discuss something very few people bring up, in a segment I like to call “zombie eats bookshelf”. See for yourself…

See the zombie? See that bookshelf? He does that every single time! Without fail, I have yet to see him not have a go at the bookshelf instead of me, the fleshy person he should be after. This zombie absolutely loves that shelf. He won’t ever attack me unless I stand there long enough for him to figure out how to turn around. All of the other zombies could be dead, and he’s still playing with that shelf. Every single time, on any play through. He is not the only zombie to favor a wall or some other object either. The zombies are dumb, very, very dumb.

The enemies have never been too bright in these games, but certain ones are regularly more stupid this time around. It’s a real issue in this game because I notice it more in this one than in previous titles. This zombie tends to be the worst of them, which is why he gets the spotlight for most idiotic bullet sponge in the game in my opinion.

Okay, now then, onto take controls. I’ve said this before but tank controls deserve to be a gameplay choice, and I will 100% fight on that hill until the day I die for one simple reason. For me, it makes many games easier to play and enjoy. It doesn’t suit all gameplay styles though, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis proves this in spades.

Now the tank controls themselves are fine. There’s nothing wrong with them even slightly, however a new gameplay mechanic was added that is without question very problematic. This little piece of unholy garbage is known as the “dodge maneuver”, and it’s just as crappy as you’d think it is by name alone.

What make tank controls fun for me is their predictability in the right sort of space. I know that when controlling my character, it will only run forward in very specific ways, and turn under very direct parameters. Tank controls aren’t a fluid control system. That’s why I like them.

However, the dodge maneuver takes everything I love about tank controls, and it ruins them. First of all, not only is the move clunky, it is very unpredictable. You might as well just send your character directly into the enemy you were trying to avoid. Trying to dodge will likely do it anyway, the thing is useless to anyone who isn’t a seasoned pro at the game.

The maneuver isn’t exactly player friendly, not to mention entirely not needed. That is the maneuver’s only saving grace. You don’t actually need to use it, and you can beat the entire game without having to use it at all.

Yep, you read that right. We don’t need this thing, the good ole fashioned Resident Evil “bait-and-run” works well enough on zombies. It’s the tried and true method. As for Dogs and other dangerous enemies, your old skills in previous games will serve you better than that maneuver.

Stop, look, and listen in every new area. All of the old hallmarks are there, including obvious warnings and attack patterns. Yes, some enemies move faster in this game sometimes, but you can and should be outsmarting or outrunning them. Classic Resident Evil has never been about blasting your way through everything, and it’s not about that here either.

If you ignore the dodging mechanic will you take a few hits? Oh yeah, sure, you will. However, you probably would have taken just as many, if not more hits just by using the damn maneuver anyway. You can still get the best rank in the game, never having used it once. Leave that thing to the top tier speed runners, the rest of us don’t ever need it.

Virtues of Easy Mode

This is the one and only game in the series that I will praise for having an easy setting. In most other Resident Evil games, having an easy mode only makes enemy placement or some puzzles easier to contend with. Enemies in these games are “bullet sponges” nine times out of ten on harder difficulties. Killing certain zombies qualifies as a strategy, and you don’t earn your Resident Evil stripes unless you know what zombies will screw you later. In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, though having an easy mode set up the way it does actually has replay value.

On this mode, you’re geared out hard core. You have a wealth of bullets and ammunition at your disposal, and you can basically blast your way through the entire game. Unlimited ink ribbons and even coveted Magnum rounds are in the first item box you come across along with a slew of other healing items and weaponry.

You don’t have to play by the rules. You can run the early game with that high end weaponry. With unlimited saves, and more firepower than most people would ever know what to do with, this thing isn’t exactly an “Easy Mode” as much as it is a “Fun Mode”.

I’m actually kind of sad not all the games utilize this mentality, because easy mode turns Resident Evil 3: Nemesis into a glorified fun house and there’s something to be said for just toying around in the game every now and then.

In other games, this would be the worst idea possible, but Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has branching paths. Having a mode like this allows even the most casual players to see all of the options without investing too much time into the game. They can just recklessly blast their way through with no loss of difficulty later when they play for real.

This mode is far too easy to prepare you for harder difficulties, so the addition hurts nothing. Enemies basically melt, and your item boxes are bursting with all the equipment you need to thoroughly trounce Nemesis in every encounter you have with him if you’re even halfway competent. If you want the true ending, you still have the play and beat the game on the hard setting with absolutely none of the advantages easy mode gave you.

After playing easy mode, the curve in difficulty will be absolutely astronomical for the unsuspecting player.

As much as I love the typical way to play the game, I’ve got to admit, toying around in easy mode every now and then isn’t half bad either. Yeah, there’s absolutely no real difficulty at all, but it is fun. It has a real place here, and this is the only Resident Evil game where I will praise its inclusion.

Final Thoughts

This is a hard final thoughts to write. It doesn’t come easy to me, because I love this game, but at the same time it is a mess beyond words sometimes. I guess that’s the acknowledgement I need to give it. Let’s do that, then.

Let’s end right back where I started. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Just because Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is my absolute favorite game in the classic series, that doesn’t mean I don’t see the flaws. I do, trust me, they’re everywhere.

The game is a mixed bag. I’ve praised it, I’ve bashed it, and I still can’t help thinking that my not so favorite zombie will still toy with the bookshelf next time I play the game. I’ve got my complaints with the game mechanics, and yeah the story was a bit clunky. Nemesis isn’t perfect, and although the branching paths are my favorite part of the game personally, I can see why people wouldn’t like them.

When you boil it all down, the game can’t possibly stand on the same level of quality as Resident Evil 2. There’s no denying it, I won’t try. The game was a major letdown for a lot of people. They had high expectations, and the game couldn’t live up to them.

Still, it’s not a complete failure either. This game had a lot of things going for it, and it was nice to have Jill back for another main series title. The easy mode is pure fun to play, and the freedom of gameplay and narrative choice surpasses both of its predecessors by far.

That being said, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is the game that I like best. At least when it comes to the classic Resident Evil titles. I can’t urge you to play it, objectively it just isn’t that earth shattering. I refuse to tell you to avoid it, because I like it too much, and maybe someone else will to.

This thing is a very old game. If you you must play every Resident Evil game out there, pick it up and enjoy. If not, that’s okay too. Don’t feel like you’ve lost your chance at a true piece of monumental survival horror history. This game isn’t like the ones that came before it. Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2 have the claim to fame, and those are the ones you should pick up if that really matters to you.

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This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll catch you in the next post.

WEDNESDAY Feedback – Gaming Polls

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Hey Everyone, it’s Kernook here. This blog has been around for a short while now. The Demented Ferrets began the blog our blog in January of this year, and I’d like to see just what sort of content you’d like to see going forward so this blog post is a bunch of polls to determine how best to continue our content going forward.

Before we get to that, I want to remind you all that we have a new time slot for our Saturday streams going forward. You can find us over on Twitch. New Saturday time: 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM (GMT).

We hope to see you there. Now, with that out of the way, let’s discuss gaming content. If you’re up for it, please answer the polls, as it would be a great help to us.

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Gaming Questions

Thank you for answering the polls, as we hope to streamline our gaming content to best suit the interests of our readers. This is the first step in doing that.

That’s all for now, this has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

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Game Review: Silent Hill

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In the 90’s, survival horror began to become an iconic genre that spilled into the gaming market

People all over the world wanted to sink their teeth into something a little more bone chilling than the average shooter, platformer, or role-playing game of the time.

Game consoles of the 90’s such as the PlayStation could support better graphics, and PC gaming had been receiving plenty of its own horror classics for a while. Consoles needed to catch up, and fast. Thankfully, two types of horror franchises lifted from the shadows to meet this demand. Both of these titles hit the ground running, but they were vastly different in nature.

When 1996 came around, Capcom released Resident Evil. The horror title showed gamers just what they could hope for when it came to survival horror. It coined the phrase, and that successful effort would change the social sphere of gaming as we knew it.

Konami was hot on the heels of this new bandwagon, and they jumped into these new possibilities for gaming feet first. They aimed to make a game that could become Resident Evil‘s direct competitor. They knew this would not be an easy thing to do, as Resident Evil had cornered the market fairly spectacularly in the horror genera in one single game.

They wanted to create a cinematic game-play experience first and foremost. With this in mind, “Team Silent” was formed with a ragtag production crew. These were people with big ideas and bigger personalities. They didn’t necessarily fit the creative mold that others in the industry did, and that is why they were chosen. There was only one small issue…

The members of “Team Silent” had no idea how to go about making their new game. Horror games were not the staple that they are today. Survival horror was a newly coined term, and it was unknown territory. The team felt the weight of their task weighing down heavily upon them. They had the skills, but they had no idea how to apply that knowledge to a horror title. These once bright-eyed game enthusiasts began to become discouraged under the pressure.

Like many developers do, they began forging their own path. In the end, they ended up choosing a much more subdued narrative for their story. Something far more contemplative and vague than Resident Evil could ever be. All of their efforts eventually paid off, providing a game that split horror fans down two distinct paths.

Each path worthy in their own right.

While zombie fans had Resident Evil to keep them awake at night, others were hungry for something darker and thematically deeper. These fans had a different game to call a masterpiece. This game was known as Silent Hill.

As a gamer, it’s hard not to have heard of these two powerful franchises. While many consider both games it under the branch genre known as survival horror, Silent Hill is far from it. No, this game is without a doubt a psychological horror series.

Released in the early part of 1999, Silent Hill offered players a different type of experience.

Unlike its zombie infested distant cousin, this game provided a look into unsound minds, and along with it, a compelling narrative that wasn’t so simple to unravel. There are still questions left unanswered when it comes the lore of the game, meaning that new players to the series can still find it enjoyable.

With several games, decades of terrifying fun, and a spin-off movie, Silent Hill is by far one of the most fondly remembered franchises that requires a reboot.

For a while, fans even thought we were going to get that reboot when “P.T. Silent Hills” came out in 2014. It was a terrifying playable demo that has it’s own complicated story to tell.

I only wish to give it a brief mention here, because if I didn’t it would be a huge disservice to my love of the franchise, and everyone who worked so hard to bring fans another taste of the franchise.

Sadly, for many reasons, the reboot just wasn’t meant to be. Still, the legacy of Silent Hill, and the franchise as a whole, is something that should be remembered. Both for some of the best gaming in history, and some of the greatest failures later titles provided within horror as a genre.

Surface Level Shenanigans

It’s hard not to know at least a few fragments of Silent Hill‘s story. It may as well be a campfire tale, spoken with flashlights in hand while eating marshmallows with friends. Even so, the concept is effective for sending chills down any spine. The problem is, most of the story is left up to interpretation, and that’s by design. Silent Hill’s creator Keiichiro Toyama, made sure that the plot is as consistent as it is vague.

This writing style is a great way to spin fan-theories, and conjure about what goes on in the game. Unfortunately, since so much is left up to interpretation, and there are multiple endings, not everyone views the events of the game in the same way.

There will always be debates surrounding Silent Hill, and that’s the way it was designed to be. Just keep that in mind as I gloss over the very basic story.

There lingers a fictional town somewhere along the foggy shores of Toluca Lake. Within this small and seemingly insignificant location, a quaint little community resides here. One that probably fell on hard times and left forgotten about. It’s not likely one to attract a boat load of tourists any time soon, but something about that little town is compelling anyway.

As if the town has a voice of it’s own, it sings an almost sirens call. Unfortunate souls are attracted to this gloomy place. They find themselves wandering through a pit of dark truths, and murky discoveries. That sad, destitute little town, is known as Silent Hill.

You play as Harry Mason, a single father who’s on his way to Silent Hill for a small vacation. While driving at night, Harry swerves his car out of the way to avoid hitting someone that seems to be standing in the middle of the road. After waking from the crash, he notices that his daughter, Cheryl has gone missing. With snow littering the ground and fog thick in the air, he sets out to find her.

While Harry attempts to find his daughter, he wanders into the town. There he meets a police officer who attempts to help him, and eventually finds himself entangled in the dealings of a cult that seek to manipulate Harry for their own goals. As the game continues, players realize that the town of Silent Hill may as well have a life of its own.

However, all of that is only on the surface… The game has a deeper story… A darker one… I shouldn’t have to say this, but beyond this point, there will be spoilers.

A Town’s Sinister Tale

The above summery alone makes for a compelling story, but it isn’t the complete story. It’s not anywhere close to it. Instead, it’s a fabrication, made to lure the player in. Remember, this is a psychological horror game, and the story itself is intentionally vague. Nothing is as it seems.

I am now going to gloss over the actual story of the game, and if you haven’t played it before, you may struggle to keep up. This is not a simple premise, and it was never intended to be.

Contrary to what you might think given the details above, the story isn’t one about a father looking for his lost little girl. Even though you play as Harry, it’s not his story that begins to unfold as the player progresses.

Instead, Silent Hill is all about a little girl named Alessa.

This little girl was born into the town’s religious cult. This messed up collection of demon enthusiasts preach a far different bible story than usual. Apparently, the god they speak about returned to the heavens before the world was done being created. This ultimately lead to a flawed, and imperfect design. This god then promised to return one day.

The cult aim to speed up their god’s return the best way they know how. The crazy old lady, Dahlia is the current leader of the cult. She has the idea to use her own child as a means to do it. Unfortunately for Alessa, Dahlia isn’t just the cult’s current leader, she’s also her mother too.

Alessa has psychic abilities, and Dahlia believes that they can use that to impregnate her with god. Let me say that again. Dahlia, crazy person that she is, thinks that she can get her psychic daughter pregnant so that she will give birth to their god.

Obviously, it should come as no surprise that this plan fails spectacularly. The stress of the ritual forces Alessa’s powers to activate, causing catastrophic damage to Alessa, and her powers. During this messed up series of events, Cheryl is created. Once she is, Dahlia can no longer complete the ritual.

To make this explanation as simple as possible, the cult needs Cheryl and Alessa to reunite if they have any hopes to complete the ritual so that their god can be born. Alessa refuses to let that happen, and does everything in her power to keep the cult’s plan from coming to fruition.

Why does this matter? Simple, because the mechanics act as a metaphor for this story.

Everything in this game has mechanical weight that means something to the greater plot. For example, the story I just detailed above is the explanation for the “Otherworld” which is a commonly visited mechanic in the game.

After playing the game enough times, you can figure out that the “Otherworld” is merely Alessa losing control of her powers and her mind every now and then. When she does, her mind allows the darkest parts of her torment to seep freely out into the world.

The monsters that players see are physical manifestations of this poor girl’s suffering. The puzzles are tied to her intrinsically. When you look at the game through that lens, everything begins to come together and make a lot more sense.

Most of the characters are mechanical in nature too. The side cast carry the weight of monologue heavy diatribes. The few actual characters you run into are unstable at best. Some characters openly lie willingly, and others will merely offer a version of the truth. As I said before, the town itself might as well have a life of it’s own, and it certainly seems that way as each person you meet continually muddies those narrative waters.

Harry himself is merely the vessel the player uses to understand this sordid tale. Cheryl acts as the simple narrative device that new players cling onto as the story unfolds.

Intuitive Design Done Right

It would be easy to assume that since this is a horror title, that it would have game design that felt similar to Resident Evil. That assumption would be incorrect. While they’re both horror titles, the way they display that horror is vastly different.

There are a lot of the same hallmarks to horror series sprinkled in the game. Limited ammo, puzzles, and exploration are all part of the greater whole, but in very different ways.

At the time of the game, clunky controls were the staple for the horror genre. To some degree it is a hardware limitation of the time. They make a reappearance here as well. Thankfully though, it’s not as clunky in this game as its survival horror counterparts. I wouldn’t call them “tank controls” exactly. However, that said, running can be a chore on occasion.

Harry moves decently fast once you get him running, but you can’t always outrun every single enemy in the game. Some of the hallways are too narrow for the usual Resident Evil style bait and dodge. This means being prepared to stand your ground tactically. With this in mind, let’s discuss how to survive.

Weaponry isn’t just limited to guns and knives. There are plenty of objects to pick up and use as well, encouraging trigger happy players to take a different approach when it comes down to selecting weapons. Each weapon has its own “recharge” time, so to speak. Some weapons are faster than others, so learning how to time an attack is crucial to a successful enemy encounter.

Ammo should be saved for the larger fights, while other other items can be used to take down a lone enemy or two. Like Silent Hill‘s survival horror cousin, the best choice is to conserve weaponry and just run away when you can. However, because you can’t outrun everything, the average player will need a good stock of weaponry for those unavoidable encounters and boss battles.

As shown above and here as well, some spaces are tight and claustrophobic.

The camera accommodates this aspect well, adding significant tension to any environment. When it comes to the camera itself, it tends to be smooth and easy to control. No forcefully fixed camera angles here.

This allows for easier navigation, and comfortable coordination while in combat. There’s just one downside, it is a very a slow camera. This means anticipating where you’d like the camera to be is a skill players will come to learn quickly. The camera will move on its own to a decent spot whenever you enter a new area, and sometimes it’s best not to adjust it at all.

The concept of exploration is vast, and feels closer to an open world, at least for its time. It’s not as sprawling as an open world game is nowadays, but Silent Hill is a vast town, with plenty to explore.

The player is able to access a decent amount of the town fairly early in the game, allowing the player to stock up on supplies early and often. This is a double edged sword though. Stocking up early can give the false impression to new players that you will likely never run out of supplies, but it is very possible, and very easy to do so.

The game itself has a rather linear and set narrative direction. No side quests here, sorry. The game won’t let you venture too far from the beaten path. Once you’ve entered a building, that similar horror feeling will come flooding back to any players of Resident Evil. The hallways are dark, the areas are often crawling with enemies. Puzzle solving and key finding are the name of the game.

In general, exploration and backtracking are a bit more linear and laid out. A few doors in some locations aren’t meant to be opened at all. Silent Hill asks the player to traverse many locations around the town, so this “on rails” approach is slightly required. That said, environments can still be confusing to a newcomer. There are street names to remember, and fog to navigate. Thankfully, as Harry walks around Silent Hill, he’ll scribble things down on the town map. New players should check it early and often for clues and hints.

The “Otherworld” as Harry calls it, will crop up from time to time, and the player will have to navigate that too. While it might be the same basic area you’ve been wandering around in already, this world is darker, grittier, and different. Previously opened paths will be cut off from access, and monsters can catch the player off-guard if they aren’t prepared for encounters. Previously safe spaces are no longer safe, and this added element makes backtracking fresh and enjoyable.

The puzzles are difficult, hands down. This is one such puzzle, and one of the most iconic ones. Truthfully, it’s a very common puzzle to get stuck on. Silent Hill offered some of hardest puzzles that a game of its day could provide. They’re vast and several are multifaceted, offering vague hints and very little else. They’re not impossible though.

This puzzle here, is proof of that. It’s all about understanding the words that you read, and applying them to a broken piano.

To make it simple to understand, you just need to know three things. White birds are white keys. Black birds are black keys. Some keys are broken and don’t make a sound if you press them. Pushing the keys in the right sequence is how you solve the puzzle.

Puzzles can be solved without looking them up. The game offers you everything you need in order to figure them out. As an added little bonus, the puzzles actually mean something to the core narrative, so they’re not just made to slow you down. They’re made to progress the story in subtle ways.

Unbinding From Hardware Limitations

Silent Hill was praised for its atmospheric dystopia and unsettling visuals. In truth though, the game was designed this way was because it had to be. Due to the limitations of PlayStation hardware, the fog was added to keep everything from rendering all at once. The same could be said for the particularly dark backdrops. Less rendering meant a smoother experience, and faster loading times.

However, this too, became part of the game’s lore. The particularly dark backgrounds in parts of the “Otherworld” were explained by Alessa’s psychic powers. The thick fog that settled over the town was explained as being a product of the nearby lake. The occasional falling snow ties the dreary world together, and helps to make everything much more believable.

On top of that, for its time, everything looks awesome. The careful quality control of visible details were crucial. The game is immersive thanks to each and every environment. Combat is mostly fluid, and each area is truly a spectacle of what horror can accomplish if it is done right.

Characters feel fully realized, although in cut-scenes there can be odd moments when they don’t look quite right. Enemies are fairly disturbed and the horrifying placement of certain details do enough to make a player unsettled as they play.

When it comes to sound, the music is masterful. To me, it is probably the absolute best thing about the game. It is, in a word, iconic. I hear its music and I’m taken right back to the emotions I had while playing the game. Now later titles in the franchise certainly blow this one out of the water, but they were more advanced games, and had a much more powerful consoles at their disposal. With that in mind, the soundtrack to Silent Hill is everything we could have hoped for from Akira Yamaoka.

The voice acting is good, not outstanding, but the actors do their job. Rather, let me put it this way. The voice acting stands up far better than most in horror games of the time.

The only time characters sound weird, is when they should sound that way. It isn’t because characters have a sudden case of inexplicable constipation. Some of the characters are completely insane, and others just aren’t normal to begin with. The acting lines up with that, and really, that’s enough.

Final Thoughts

I do not consider Silent Hill to be a survival horror game. That is my passion when it comes to horror games, and I stand by the fact that it is certainly psychological, not survival.

However, with that said, I have nothing but praise for the original Silent Hill. This game is by far one of the most unsettling games to ever launch on the PlayStation. Furthermore, you’d be hard-pressed to find such a deep and immersive story anywhere else for its time. The story holds up to this day, and the music does too, even if the graphics don’t.

There’s only one reason I have for why a person shouldn’t play this game. It strictly falls down to players who aren’t horror fans. If they’re not, the game wasn’t made or tailored to them, and of course they won’t like it. They shouldn’t go near this thing, if that’s the case. It’s nightmare fuel, plain and simple.

Frankly, I’d say that horror fans who simply want gratuitous gore and simple plot lines should avoid this game too. Particularly if you’re a fan of modern horror that holds your hand and keeps complicated questions of morality to a surface level.

There’s real psychological torment to be found in this game. Abusive situations and trauma linger deeply within the core of the story being told. Silent Hill has gore too, but that’s not the crux of the game. It’s window dressing into the far deeper narrative.

For the rest of us, as in those who occasionally like deeply disturbed horror, this game is worth playing. The experience is unlike any other, and I don’t say that lightly. I could say the same thing comfortably about the first three games in this series. They’re experiences that you just don’t find everyday.

If you like a good horror game, this game is for you. If you enjoy going back to experience classic horror titles in the genre, this game is for you. If you are an absolute diehard fan of horror in gaming, these have to be on your shelf, or someplace in your gaming library. These games are unequivocally made for you.

The original Silent Hill is a true psychological horror game. I love it for that alone. Just like it’s survival horror cousin, Silent Hill has a place on my shelf. It’s earned that place, and all of the acclaim it has received over the years. It fully deserves every ounce of praise it receives going forward too.

It’s 2021 now, and it’s time to put that into perspective. This February, Silent Hill turned 22 years old. Think about that. In America, the game is old enough to have a beer if it wanted. As gamers, we can’t let this game slip into the forgotten corners of our history. It’s too paramount to be forgotten, too important to be bypassed and ignored by younger generations. It’ll slip into obscurity without passionate fans behind it, and that would be a crying shame.

My final thought is; play this game. If you even remotely like horror games with a bone to chew on, experience Silent Hill for yourself. Take the time and do it. It’s worth it. It’s that simple.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

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You Wouldn’t Go To An End Game Raid without Being Geared. So, Why Would You Wander Around Without Your Mask? – A Rant

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Hey guys, it’s Kernook here. It’s time we have a little chat. My mother had a stroke back in November. This weekend she had to go in for three blood transfusions because her platelets are super low. Where I live, hospitals have been restricted to one visitor due to the Covid-19 protocols. She doesn’t have Covid-19, but this effects us, because today they tightened the restrictions, and no visitors are allowed inside.

I can’t even see my own mother. So those of us not even battling Covid-19 directly are being impacted by the idiots choosing not to be careful, and to me this is just not acceptable. That it needs to get to this point this late in the game is just absurd.

Blog posts may be late for a while, because frankly I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Same with YouTube, don’t expect archived videos for a while. I have bigger shit to tackle. However, this is one post that needs to be made, and it needs to be made today!

Perhaps this is just my logic as a gamer, but that’s just not how you play a game, and it’s not how you live life.

You don’t fight a big boss without drinking your potions and elixirs, buffing your raid, eating the right foods and being ready to face down that new boss that you’re about to fight.

This is what we MMORPG gamers do. We do it every raid night. We have no issue doing it every day, because to be a gamer you want to be at your best. You want to be an asset to your team.

If a raid was dying to a boss while being ill-prepared for over a year, that raid would have some serious breakdowns in communication and stability as a team. Some bosses are called “guild killers” for a reason.

Well, Covid-19 is our real world guild killer. It’s breaking down communication, it’s messing with our economy, and it’s dividing people. It is doing everything an end game boss in an MMORPG is capable of doing, and it’s doing it to the fullest.

When bosses drop what we call “AOE’s” or “Area of Effects” on the ground, we don’t stand in it for a reason. We don’t just go in unprepared. Our healers provide support, and we do our best to mitigate the damage. As many raiders say…

Don’t stand in stupid!

Come on raiders, we know the drill here. No, really, we do.

Covid-19 is one big ass “AoE” that has shit on the entire world, and it’s hurting people. Instead of collectively mitigating the damage as any good raid might, many are choosing to stand directly in the middle of it without that mitigation.

We have some people choosing to believe this isn’t real. That it is still, a year later, not a big deal. As though it’s a video game, or a figment of our imaginations. As if it’s not something to take seriously.

They don’t think we need masks, and don’t believe Covid-19 is still a pervading threat. These are the same sort of people that raiders would call scrubs in gaming. They’d be put on blacklists and kicked from raid groups for not being prepared.

Why? Because they are choosing to wipe the raid. They are choosing to hold ALL of us back from downing the boss.

You don’t get to play in the big leagues if you don’t pull your head out of your butt, listen to your raid leader and work as a team.

In Rift, back in the day when you had to fight the Matriarch of Pestilence that boss would put an “AoE” onto a player. That player had to run out of the group, or risk dropping that “AoE” down on the entire raid. It would kill a raid. So, what did we do? When didn’t spread the “AoE” we kept it away from the raid.

If you’re a raider, you’ve likely faced a boss like this. If you’re a gamer at all, you’ve likely taken down a boss that does something at least kind of similar.

Know what we should be keeping away from each other? Covid-19. The same rules apply. If you have the AoE, don’t spread it. If you know the boss does something that’ll impact the raid, you drink the right mitigation potions. You wear the right gear.

If most gamers can figure that crap out in a simulated environment, people working and living in the “real world” should have no issue grasping this concept. It’s not difficult, it’s not complicated.

Our front line workers are our paladins, clerics, mages and bards. They are both our tanks, and our healers. They are our raid leaders for our communities. We need to heed their calls.

When they said put on your mask, they’re saying that because they can’t just magically cast a little bubble to protect you. Real life is not a game, and choosing to defy these raid leaders now is putting everyone at risk. Not all guilds have good raid leaders, and not every doctor on the planet is giving the best advice.

When we lose people in real life, we can’t just cast a “raise” or a “revive” them. They’re gone, and they’re gone for good. It’s actual permadeath.

So, stop being selfish. Think of your community as your raid, and Covid-19 as the boss we have to down. I realize this is going to go over a non-gamer’s head. That most people won’t care about this and I may just be shouting into the void. You know what, I’m fine with that.

At least if I shout loud enough, maybe someone will hear. If just one person reads this and chooses to put their mask on the next time they go out, or think a little more carefully before hosing that next big party, then that’s a success.

That’s a mini-boss I’ve taken down, and as a gamer I’d take pride in that.

If you want the achievement of downing Covid-19, we need to raid together. This is not a boss you can beat alone. You don’t go into a new 10 man raid with three people and expect to win. You don’t go into a new raid without having the right mitigation and equipment.

So next time you leave your house, wear a mask. Get good gamers, and lead the charge, because society has their thumbs up tier asses on this one. It’s been a year, the boss is still active. We’re out of mana and our abilities are on cooldown. If we don’t want that enrage timer going off, we really need to down this boss, and down it now.

I have long concluded that it’s up to us to lead by example. To show the rest of the world that we know how to deal with this, and do it better than them. In a world where gamers are often treated like total crap by the mass media, this is a fight we know how to face down.

This is a fight we know how to mitigate.

We know to listen to our raid leaders. We know you need to have the right gear score. We know that we can’t just drop boss “AoE” and debuffs wherever we please. We know that you have to let the tanks be the tank, and the healers do the healing.

We know this isn’t a fight we can win unless those in the top tier guilds lead by example, so the scrubs can figure it out too. With the vaccines out, we’ve got the DPS to take down this boss. With our masks and social distancing, we’ve got the mitigation to tank this thing until then…

There’s no excuse anymore. We have to take this boss down, or progression ends here. Think about that.

Ever since the days of EverQuest, Final Fantasy XI (and FFXIV), WoW and Rift, we’ve been trained to handle these concepts on their most basic levels. So let’s get good and lead the scrubs. Let’s take down this boss and get back to normal.

Lead by example, gamers! Get geared, get good, and let’s do what we need to do.

This is a fight we know how to win. Stop faffing around and let’s just beat this thing already…

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

If You Enjoyed This Content…

Please consider following us on this blog. We also have other platforms with content to enjoy. At the time of this post we have a Twitter, Twitch, YouTube.

TwitchLive streamsTuesday: 9:00 PM – 12 AM (GMT)
Wednesday: 9:00 PM – 12:00 AM (GMT)
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TwitterAnnouncements, Random tweetsWhenever a live stream begins or content releases. Doesn’t have a set schedule.
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Kresh Plays: Crash 4

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here, coming to you with another “Kresh Plays” post. Over on the live stream channel, Kresh recently finished playing through Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time. So, I am posting the links to the YouTube archive here. The videos are the complete streams, deaths included. Plenty of havoc ensues, since Kresh tends to get a bit salty with platformers. Hopefully you enjoy the videos, and have a good laugh.

As always a description of the game and a few points of note are included below the videos.

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Kresh Plays: Crash 4

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time released in 2020. The game follows our our titular character Crash on his adventure. Havoc ensues, and our hero needs to deal with it. If you’ve played the other games, you know what you’re in for. Platforming hell…

Crash, through no real fault of his own, must now fix a hole that’s been ripped in the space-time continuum. To do this he needs to collect masks, and keep the evil doctor Neo Cortex from making a mess of things.

You get to play a variety of characters. Crash and Coco make their usual appearance, but that’s not all.

Now you get to play as a previous villain of the series Dingodile. He’s turned over a new leaf and even opened up a nice little eatery in the swamp.

His plot lines aren’t a huge part of the game, but it is a fun little addition. He brings a lot of comic relief from his goofy humor. Just like all of the side characters, playing his stages show you events you wouldn’t have an explanation for otherwise.

All of the side cast are tied together nicely through the events of the game. There are some really nice plot twists to be found in the meat of the narrative, and that’s always a huge bonus.

That being said, the game has a few downsides.

The game is a platformer, of course. So you can expect some unnecessarily difficult areas.

Kresh encounters these more than once. Certainly characters are a bit clunky to play as, such as Neo Cortex and Dingodile. both of these characters have wonky jumps, and Kresh often commented that Neo Cortex was just not fun to play as a character.

It looked visually annoying to be honest, particularly Neo Cortex who has a stupid feet wiggle thing he does before he lands a jump. This also inhibits the timing of the jumps themselves. These are pervasive complains for their respected sections, but to be honest those sections don’t come up too often.

In any case, it is a solid platformer and a reasonable entry to the series. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better addition to the original trilogy. The stoy is kind of cute, and very funny at points, keeping with the humor you’d expect from this series.

Final Verdict: give it a play if you haven’t, or at least watch someone else play it.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

If You Enjoyed This Content…

Please consider following us on this blog. We also have other platforms with content to enjoy. At the time of this post we have a Twitter, Twitch, YouTube.

TwitchLive streamsTuesday: 9:00 PM – 12 AM (GMT)
Wednesday: 9:00 PM – 12:00 AM (GMT)
Saturday: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM (GMT)
YouTubeStream archive. Occasional Anime/Game/Movie reviews. Deep dives/analysis of RWBY.Videos upload Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:00 PM (GMT)
TwitterAnnouncements, Random tweetsWhenever a live stream begins or content releases. Doesn’t have a set schedule.
Our BlogAll kinds of written media including anime, games, RWBY and more.Posts are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:00 PM (GMT)

There are plenty of ways to support us. To find out more, click the button below.

The Second Brick – Thoughts On ACCESSIBLE Gaming

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. In case you don’t know, I’m not just a blogger. I’m also streamer on Twitch along with my good friend Kresh. Together, we’re known as “The Demented Ferrets” and we play games several times a week.

Today I want to talk about something that hits very close to home for me; accessibility as it applies to gaming. This is why I thought it prudent to do another “brick post” today.

This time I’m going to give a bit of background on Dyspraxia, what it is, and how it can get in the way at the worst absolute times. Gaming is certainly one of them, hence the post.

Gamers tend to talk about new improvements while disregarding the old, but both have a place. The important little matter of nuance that has been lost in the greater discussion. This is a complicated topic when it comes to gaming, so please bear with me.

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First though, a brief primer on the subject. Dyspraxia is a form of developmental coordination disorder, also known as a “DCD“. I was born with it. It’s fairly common as I understand it. Although, I don’t have any personal friends who have it. That being said, there are plenty of famous people who do speak about it openly.

Daniel Radcliffe is a noteworthy actor that has spoken publicly about the disorder. He is someone I believe most people will have at least some familiarity with, given his role in the Harry Potter series. That’s why I use him as the example, but there are many more.

Now, before I continue, you need to understand that Dyspraxia has a very wide spectrum. Some people with the disorder are very low functioning. For others it would be very hard to tell they have it at all.

The disorder hinders motor skill coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech. It is a lifelong condition, there are no cures. Dyspraxia is a fairly distinct disorder and it can affect a person in many ways.

Why does this matter? Well, I have Dyspraxia and I’m a gamer. You kind of need to have good motor skills to play a game. It’s how you handle the controller, so it matters to talk about this kind of thing in the gaming community.

Accessibility is a word thrown around a lot in the gaming sphere, and often times with negative connotations involved with it. You can put your knee-jerking to the side though. I’m not here to bash developers. I’m hear to talk about my love of gaming when in relation to the disorder itself.

Accessibility is not the same as making a game easier, or in any way “watered down”. No, that’s just flat out idiocy. What makes a game accessible is merely just a wider range of options presented to the player. Therefore, when I am speaking of accessibility here, I am speaking from my personal lens.

My lens will not be your lens, even if you have Dyspraxia. Our level of severity regarding certain symptoms may be vastly different. The one thing I want to make clear here, is that gaming is not inherently inaccessible, and we need to think of accessibility in gaming differently.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. The fact that gamers sometimes assume something needs to be added to a game merely to make it accessible at all… well frankly, that just shits all over the discussion in the first place.

It needs to stop, and we need to widen our perspective. Accessibility shouldn’t be a list of “must haves” or “bells and whistles” tacked onto a game as an afterthought. That is not accessibility, that’s being an asshole.

Rather, when we discuss accessibility, we should discuss it’s confines and trappings. Accessibility is always a two way street. Balancing careful planning with a mindfulness to your core player base is the key to success.

An afterthought for the sake of brownie points is never the goal. It should never be the goal. Do not tack on stupid things, just because people scream that they want it. Instead, carefully consider just who your game is made for, first and foremost. Then, after you have that clear idea in mind, think about how you might be able to include others based on that.

Accessibility does not include superglue and a prayer. They should not feel like options slapped onto a game like some sort of deranged clown car. They shouldn’t feel as if they’re bursting out sideways and cockeyed.

For example, when it comes to Dark Souls, I’d say that when it comes to pure gameplay, it is very accessible despite the difficulty. From a point of motor control, I’d say it holds up well. Yes, it’s a hard game. It’s supposed to be.

Just because it’s hard, that doesn’t make it inaccessible inherently in that very specific instance. When you discuss how accessible and game is, it’s all comes down to specific instances.

The game is difficult, but also carefully crafted. You can do battle at a distance, you can plan your attacks. With the multitude of ways that a player can broach fights, I would not say that the gameplay itself is at all “inaccessible” based on motor function. Merely that the game can have a large barrier to entry in other ways.

Under this one lens, it is therefore accessible. However, that is just one lens, and someone may in fact disagree.

Dyspraxia can hinder a person’s ability to participate and function in everyday life. Education, work and gainful employment isn’t always easy for people who have it. A large amount of the time you end up with Dysgraphia or Dyscalculia on top of it. However, that’s an entirely different set of issues, and I won’t be covering those.

What I will say is this. It is imperative that a gamer considers the games they play, and understand the confines of those games. What an accessible MMORPG to me, for example may be different than what you consider to be so.

Final Fantasy XI is a great example of an accessible MMORPG for me. Yes it’s old, and yes it feels a bit dated. That being said, skill in this game relies entirely on knowing what you’re doing. It isn’t exactly a “motor skill” heavy game.

Knowing what the enemies do and how to counteract them is half the battle. There are no quick time events, and there is no jump button. You have no need to handle blinding floor spit aoe’s that you might find in games like WoW, or FFXIV which are also MMORPG’s.

When I thinking of end game raiding, I think of all the mechanics that just turn out to be a pain in the ass. That being said, I call what would be vanilla Rift the pinnacle of end game raiding. The best, and most fun raiding I’ve ever had in a game, for me personally.

This is merely because even if a fight was difficult and AoE’s were tossed all over, I was never just flat out blinded by a boss I was fighting.

For me, the worst offender in this regard is FFXIV. To me, though I do like it, it is very inaccessible as a game in many ways. For me boss battles in FFXIV are not a matter of simply getting good. Sometimes they are a matter of stupidity. Occasionally, I just can’t see what the hell is happening. There is literally too much crap everywhere.

I have golf balls for eyes sometimes, hence the spelling errors that occasionally slip into blog posts. This is also why I tend to use a medium font, and not the “default” that is included in the editing tool.

When I think of a game that isn’t accessible, I think of a game that is stupidly difficult for the sake of it. Or a game that might have had a very small team, and therefore couldn’t hope to factor in gamers such as myself in the first place.

Sometimes artistic choices are enough to make a game somewhat impossible for me to play. Those games have a fan base, and those games don’t include me. This also includes games like Undertale which is primarily black and white, and terrible for me personally.

It took me a year to play and beat the game. This is not to say it isn’t a good game. It is to say the game is not accessible to me as a player. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It just hurts my eyes, and the way you play the game doesn’t help.

However it was such a massive hit that I played it merely to have a perspective upon it myself. That it isn’t a good one personally, doesn’t detract from it objectively. That’s a key distinction to make here.

All in all, people with Dyspraxia are not a monolith. There are a huge list of symptoms, and if you care to look at them, do so understanding that is a very fluid disorder. No one will ever have “all” the qualifiers, because the list is just too large.

So, why does this matter? Well, to me gaming matters. Therefore, my heart can only go out to others with motor skill impairments that inhibit them from fully enjoying a gaming experience the way they might like.

When we play games we see “game over” screens more times than an average player. Sometimes, these are just for dumb reasons. Perhaps a boss doesn’t choreograph what it’s doing very well. Perhaps in games that don’t allow you to turn off quick time events, you kiss your butt goodbye on those several times over.

However, if you don’t have some sort of motor impairment you might think we’re just bad gamers, or that we’re just flat out stupid. It’s not that, not really. It’s just that how we experience the game can and will be different from yours, and our ability to play the game reflects that.

This is why I actually love the Resident Evil and Silent Hill series of games. Particularly the ones with tank controls. In my latest review of Resident Evil 2 from 1998, I brought the matter up directly by saying this:

If you think tank controls absolutely suck, you’re in for a bit of bad news. They’re just as clunky as you recall them to be. Now, I’ve never had an issue with tank controls myself. For my personal situation, tank controls actually make the games easier to play, not harder.

There is a very direct reason for that. Given my Dyspraxia, which is a motor skill disorder, having limited movement allowed me to have better control over the character. I didn’t need to be careful of subtle movement, because the characters only move in very particular ways. When it comes to my thumb being clumsy, the game just didn’t pick that up. This meant I could pay closer attention to my environment, and not what my hands did of their own accord without my noticing. While I love tank controls, I do understand that most people hate them.

For me personally, it’s not a downside. Objectively speaking though, it very well could be. I won’t overlook that just because of my nostalgia or personal situation. “

If you want to read a few of my reviews for the resident evil franchise, you can do so here:

See, this is what I mean by we need to broaden our idea of what accessibility really means. Tank controls actually help me. I’d love if more games have them, and that’s why I love a lot of retro titles. Do I expect them? Absolutely not, but I would very much like to have them.

To me, they would be an accessibility that would improve gameplay.

The point I am trying to make is that this whole accessibility discussion has vastly jumped the shark in many ways. It is true that not all games will be accessible to all people, and it will be impossible to attempt to make it that way.

However, it is also true that using that as a blind excuse is just pure laziness. Nuance matters, and we’re starting to lose that.

Final Thoughts

If you are experiencing trouble as a gamer, I have just one bit of advice. Before you start pounding on the gong of accessibility, take a breath and look at all that gaming has to offer. There will be a game or two that will suit you. There will be a genre that allows you to love gaming.

Once you find those games, you can open your eyes to the other games like it, and the much deeper world that gaming has to offer. Instead of just focusing on the usual complaints, we need to think out of the box. It’s better for everyone, and that’s the whole point of accessibly in the first place. To reach as many people inclusively as possible.

It isn’t just about controller layouts and game overlays. It’s not just about including new add-ons, fonts, colors, keybinds, or multi-lingual subtitles. It’s about the larger scope of the experience we have as gamers.

Sometimes it’s about playing the inaccessible games to understand what needs to change, instead of what we simply want changed.

We need to be discussing ports and revivals of older titles. We need to consider that there are already a wealth of games suited for us that might need to be brought back onto current software. Perhaps some of these titles need to be brought back to life or brought over to other platforms.

Perhaps a gamer can’t play a Mario or Zelda title on a Nintendo Switch, but could play that very same title with a different sort of controller found only on PC, or by a third party company. We need to be discussing this too, and look at all of our options.

We need for developers to be our partners, not our enemies. We need fellow gamers to hear us out before biting our heads off.

These are the sorts of discussions we need to be having. These are the ones that should pervade the larger narrative. When we think of accessibility, need to consider tank controls and other methods of control in general too.

Hopefully you love gaming as much as I do. Hopefully I’ve given you something to chew on. Perhaps the next time the word accessibility comes up in context with gaming, you’ll look out of the box too.

If you’re an aspiring developer, or one from a huge studio, reach out to gamers. Sometimes that alone is enough. Nine times out of ten, we’re okay that a game doesn’t have something, if there’s a good reason not to include it. Knowing why a feature isn’t in a game is sometimes enough for us.

Sometimes just being talked to, so we’re included, is all that we need. Sometimes all we want is to be heard. We don’t want to feel useless, or that we’re just shouting into the void.

Communication is the first step, and it’s one that needs to continue being made, so yeah… do that developers, really. That first step will be an answer to a great many problems. After that, creativity is your foremost tool. Use it, and empower all of us.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets.

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

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Claire Redfield – A Remake Letdown

Since I just recently reviewed Resident Evil 2, a title that was released (1998) I thought it was prudent To discuss a character from that game and the personal impact that Clair Redfield had on me as a fan.

The reason I wanted to write this was because I grew up with this character, and now a younger cousin of mine is as well. I feel the need to reflect on this, because thanks to the remake a character I once really liked in this fandom has been tarnished significantly. These are the reasons why.

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As I said in my review of the retro title, Resident Evil 2 improved on the standard formula of the first game, but it didn’t forget what made it so well loved in the first place. It changed nothing that would hinder the experience, only enhance it. You can read the full review here.

Claire Redfield originally made her first appearance in the game. She’s come to the city looking for her older brother. By the time she gets there, he’s already gone to a safer location.

The city is infested with zombies, it isn’t safe. By the time she discovers that her brother isn’t in the city anymore, all hell has broken loose. She needs to leave too, and working together with Leon seems to be the safest bet. They agree to try and help a few survivors if they find any during their escape.

During Claire’s scenarios the player will be tasked with helping a little girl named Sherry Birkin. This is a somewhat key focal point for Claire’s main story. After culling the zombie horde and traversing a police station, sewers, and even an underground lab, eventually you escape the city with the Leon and Sherry.

If you’ve done everything right, you get a happy little ending that fades into the sunset. They’re you’re given a grade and score encouraging you to play again and get a better rank next time.

Claire promises to find her brother before the credits roll. Her story isn’t finished, and you’ll see her in later games.

The Resident Evil franchise has a knack for writing strong female protagonists, and there are no shortage of reasons why these characters are beloved by the fans of the games. That being said, Claire Redfield is probably one of my favorite characters in the entire series, at least as far as the retro titles are concerned.

In the early games, Claire is a little sassy, but all around sweet and sentimental. She’s got a kind heart, and a level headed optimism that plays a great counterpoint to Leon’s nearly blind obsession with doing the right thing.

While Leon almost fancies himself a hero in a police uniform, Claire is more down to earth about her ambitions and what she can be capable of. There’s a real soft side to her character that ultimately allows her to befriend Sherry Birkin. Through the events of the series, Claire sets herself on a path to help heal the wrongdoings and nightmares that plague the world.

I wish I could say I that liked the remake version of Claire Redfield just as much as her retro counterpart, but sadly this just isn’t the case. She’s a different character fundamentally and there are a few reasons why.

Claire Redfield is a far cry from her retro counterpart in the way she acts in the remake. Her personality and disposition are gritter, just like everything else. This version of her has a propensity to curse up a storm. She’s far more sassy and quick to fire off at the mouth, and there are times she’s flat out rude.

I don’t find these traits to be likable in the way she portrays them, and this isn’t to say she isn’t written well. She is very well conceptualized for this darker and gritter version of the game, but it’s hard for me to like her.

In fact, I hate this version of her character. Claire grows into having a certain amount of cynicism as time goes on in the franchise. After the series lore and the things she’s seen, that’s completely logical and understandable. Yet, this is tempered by the fact that she’s down to earth enough to recognize what she’s doing.

Now when I play Resident Evil games, I look for the charm and whit of the series. That was what the series taught me to do in my youth, and characters like Jill, Claire, and later in the GameCube era Rebecca were the ones that I heavily attached to. These women have diverse and complex personalities, which makes them incredibly easy to idolize. Young gamers need those idols. They’re no different than superheros in that way.

All of these characters become more cynical as time marches forward. However, to revamp Claire into this type of person from the start for the remake, is something that makes me not want to play the game at all.

I like the remake, but I’ve played it through about four times, and I’ve already gotten sick of it. Meanwhile, when I play the retro classic, I’m never sick of it. The reason for this is that Claire and Leon play off each other so well in the original version that I’m reminded of the journey these characters go on. As a gamer, I want to follow that journey.

Playing the retro games make me want to relive other great stories too, such as the ones in Code Veronica and Resident Evil 4.

There’s a real earnest side to Claire that gets buried under the grit and grime of the remake. She’s always been a tough person with a thick skin and the mindset to get things done.

She’s a real icon to younger gamers everywhere, and I’m offended that the remake just didn’t do their due diligence to keep what made her so awesome as a character in tact.

Although, that’s a more personal gripe than just being salty over a difference in characterization. Like I said, she is still very well written, but she isn’t exactly someone kids can look up to anymore, and that’s sad.

The thing is, I saw this first hand. So, maybe that soured my experience with the game a bit. For me, it’s the heart of the matter, though. It’s that I saw a true fan of this cool character become disheartened in a way I never expected.

You see, I have a few female cousins that are now just nearly teenagers. One of them loves the retro Resident Evil 2. She is enamored with Claire, just like I was as a kid. She even has a poster of the character on her wall. Actually, it’s my old one from a gaming magazine that I’d bought as a child.

She was so excited to play the new game, and I even let her come over and spend the night so that she could play it with me the night it released. So, there we were, a bag of Little Cesar’s crazy bread and a two liter bottle of soda in hand. The download completed, and of course we start up the game and play as Claire first.

We beat that play-through about fifteen hours later, after much death and plenty of slogging through every area of maps to the point of flat out stupidly at times. She really liked looking at all the little things they added, and when she had the controller she may have gotten a little too brave with kiting the zombies…

Yes, like I said, many game over screens occurred between the both of us. However, even though she kind of liked the game, she didn’t like Claire at all. When I asked about it, the response I got was confused and sad.

My cousin literally just… for a lack of a better term crinkled her nose and said “That’s not Claire. I don’t like her, she’s not very nice.”

Now I attribute that statement to the fact that the original game just doesn’t have talking when it isn’t in a cut-scene. The remake does. As you’re fighting monsters and exploring around, sometimes you hear a lot of not-so-nice things come flying out of Claire’s mouth. Her reactions to things are certainly realistic, but they do diminish those good attributes I spoke of above.

In the remake, she’s a lot less a hero in a biker suit. At least insofar as a young girl would be able to be inspired by. I realize my cousin she wasn’t the core age demographic for the game, but that has never once mattered when it came to the series before.

Recently, I discovered that it certainly didn’t matter as far as the remake for Resident Evil 3 was concerned either. She loved that one too, even when I absolutely didn’t.

The only game she hasn’t played in the franchise is Resident Evil 7. I think she’s just a little too young for that one. There are a few things in that game she just isn’t ready for. In my opinion, it’s a little too dark, and a little too edgy for her just yet. Every now and then, she still asks if she’s old enough to play it.

That’s the kind of fan I’m talking about here. It’s hard for her to dislike a Resident Evil game at all. She hasn’t asked to play the remake of Resident Evil 2 ever since the night of release. She doesn’t even want to play Leon’s side of it. She just doesn’t care.

That really put Claire as a character into perspective for me.

To say that my cousin was disappointed in Claire is a huge understatement. This is now thirteen year old girl is no Resident Evil slouch, either. Her first game was Resident Evil 1 for the PlayStation, full of campy dialogue and content that really can’t be called scary to a modern gamer. When she beat that, she wanted to play the remake for the GameCube.

I was a skeptic about that for sure. Back then, she was only eight years old at the time, and those monsters looked way more realistic. I didn’t think she would even get passed the first zombie encounter, to be honest. Still, I let her play it with me at her side. She proved me wrong.

This kid spent well over a month during the summer as an eight year old playing through the GameCube version of Resident Evil 1 top to bottom. That’s when I knew I had a real fan on my hands, so I unearthed everything I had from the series.

She survived through Resident Evil 2 for the PlayStation and liked it so much, I gave her my Nintendo 64 copy of the game. That way, she could have some version to play whenever she wanted. This is a girl that absolutely annihilated Resident Evil 3 for the PlayStation, and muddled through Code Veronica on my Dreamcast in a single winter break when we were up at a cabin a few years back.

When every little kid on the planet seemed to be Five Nights at Freddy’s, crazy that little girl was a zombie fan to the extreme. If I had a Resident Evil game in my collection, she was going to drive me absolutely crazy until I let her play it.

So with all of this being said, for me the night we played the remake of Resident Evil 2 I really wanted my cousin to like that game. For me, that would have been by far the best gaming experience I could ever have.

I wanted her to enjoy it just as much as all the others. When Resident Evil 6 could at the very least accomplish that much, I was pretty sure that the bar wasn’t all that high to reach.

Man, was I wrong.

All I wanted, was to to see the magic that a game could bring to a young die-hard fan. In a way, I guess you could say I wanted to re-live my own youth a little bit as well.

Every gamer eventually finds a title in a franchise that rips away the magic. A game that lets them down. For my cousin, that game was the remake of Resident Evil 2.

It’s a good game, it really is. Sadly though, it just can live up to the heart of the matter.

Uniracers Review – Bombastic Fun

Unicycles, high speeds, colorful tracks and a plethora of tricks have made this SNES title a classic for any collector. Tragically, the game is super rare due to a lawsuit, and only 300,000 copies were ever distributed.

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Welcome to my review of Uniracers. In some areas of the world, this game known as “Unirally“, I shall be using the american title, as that’s what I’ve always called it.

The game was designed by British developers known as  “DMA Design Limited,” now known as “Rockstar North Limited“.

On the surface, Uniracers plays like any standard racing game. The goal is to come in first place, or pull off stunts to achieve points in order to pass the stage. The game is sometimes silly or completely absurd. When it comes down to the naming of the tracks or the trick, this all boils down to the game’s core goal.

Uniracers is all about plain stupid fun. Unabashedly wearing idiocy on its sleeve and not giving a rats ass about who that annoys. Unicycles ride on a bombastic 2D tracks, riderless, and with a tenacity that could only come from the most insane stunt rider.

You’re more likely going to be paying attention to the track rather than what your unicycle happens to be doing. This is by design, as stunts will be your key game-play mechanic. They can’t be readily ignored.

Performing stunts causes the unicycle to go faster during races, and certain stages require stunts in order to reach a point threshold.

Overall, the stunts that can be performed are generally easy to do. There is a very low barrier to entry on basic tricks. For one of the easiest, all you do is to get some air and mash a single button. By doing that your unicycle will twist around in the air. This is called a twist, or some variation of the name

None of the stunts are overly difficult on their own, but the tracks can make them exceptionally harder to pull off. The idea is to be able to perform these stunts quickly in tight situations, all while avoiding a “wipe out” that will slow you down.

There are a few types of stages, obviously called tracks. Race tracks, circuit tracks and stunt tracks are evenly spread across the entirety of the game. There are nine total tours with five tracks each. Each tour contains two race and circuit tracks, and one stunt track. Mastering each type is the only way to achieve gold medals.

There are two types of skill curves in this game. The racers you face and the tours you race in.

The Tours

So, let’s talk tours first. As I said, there are nine tours. Each tour is named after an animal, complete with a goofy looking icon letting the player know exactly what they’re in for. Filling the early game you have Crawler, Shuffler and Walker respectively.

Frankly these are the tracks I like the best. I’m an average player, by far not the best. I flat out suck at some of the tours. I’ve beaten all the gold metal tours before as a child, and for the sake of this review, but that was only after months of playing.

I’m not great at this game, but I know it isn’t just me. This is a hard racing game to play to completion due to the style the game is played in. The tracks in every tour can be hard on the eyes due to the color splashes, and depending on the opponent it’s supposed to be completely unfair. More on that later.

Crawler acts as your starting tutorial. It is easy to play even on the bronze setting. It edges the player into the game fairly gently given that it is a high octane racing game.

Meanwhile Shuffler and Walker hone your newly discovered skills. You’re going to need them. The game isn’t unfair with it’s skill curve, but it’s certainly steeper in later tours on bronze and completely unforgiving on gold.

Hopper is your first step into intermediate tours and tracks. By this point in the game, you not only need to know tricks, you need to know when to best utilize them. On bronze it’s a clear ramp up, on gold it’ll eat an unprepared player alive.

Prior to this point, the need for tricks were fairly minimal, and most tracks could be won simply by paying attention to the course, or getting some air and just spinning around in circles.

In fighting games there are techniques known as “first order optimal strategies” or “FOO strategies”. This is a strategy that new players repeat on end because the attack is effective enough to serve their needs. They have no need to learn other stunts until the skill curve rises above the simple ones they’ve picked up. I use this this same analogy when it comes to Uniracers.

The easy tricks will carry you all the way to Hopper. Then you’re going to get slapped in the face by tracks that are no longer toying around. You’re not going to be able to pass the Hopper tour without knowing when to utilize your tricks.

Still, you don’t need to use many of them on the races. You just need to use them well. Jumper and Bounder continue this upward curve in skill steadily.

The next huge stretch in difficultly curve is Runner and Sprinter. These tours promise to make you eat dirt on your stunts, and demand that you’re able to follow the flow of tracks effectively.

I don’t have much to say on Runner or Sprinter because even though it’s a jump in difficulty, it’s an expected one. Let’s be honest, we all know what the worst set of tracks really are. We also know what unicycle is to blame for all of it.

Hunter is the final tour, and it’s as intense as the name sounds. All of your skills need to be utilized, and sometimes it comes down to good RNG.

There is very little room for error on the tracks, and the errors you do make can only be corrected with a combination of well placed stunts and pure luck. Even on bronze, Hunter is no joke. Now, you’ll also notice this is the only one showcasing a “gold” rating, and that’s because to see the final boss in all of his glory I had to get it.

To get that gold rating, it took me several weeks of playing races over and over again to even get all the medals required. It wasn’t very fun because I hate gold level play, but there it is… stupid thing…

Though, as I said, there are two forms of difficulty in this game. The tracks are only half the battle.

The Racers

Onto the racers then. Each track has a bronze, silver, and gold opponent to race against. That means each track needs to be completed three times to have a chance at completely clearing the game.

I won’t bother with screenshots for the first three opponents, since they’re all just different colored unicycles. It’s the last one you face that matters. If your persistent enough to get all the medals the final boss is a special kind of hell.

Bronze medal courses have you racing against Bronson. In the vast majority of my time playing the game as a child, I raced against him. For my casual style as an adult, bronze races suit me best when I’m trying to just relax.

In the early game, Bronson rarely performs stunts to gain speed, and to my experience doesn’t seem to take provided shortcuts. In later tours it’s the tracks that provide the upward difficulty curve, not Bronson himself. He is your baseline barrier to entry on every track, and beating him opens up the silver race.

Silver medal courses have you racing against Silvia, a much more skilled opponent. Silver races are where I find myself most commonly playing when I want a decent challenge. She’s not too difficult, but if you have mastery of the tracks, she’ll give you a good test.

Unlike Bronson, Silvia uses tricks often, and in the right places. She will occasionally use shortcuts as well. She’s difficult to play against if you aren’t using the track to your advantage. New players will be able to learn by observation. A skill that you’ll need in any gold medal race. If you have a track giving you problems, learn by following her.

In gold medal courses, you’re up against Goldwyn. The training wheels are off with this guy. He’ll put you to the test as early as Crawler for casual players and by the Hopper tour he means serious business for anyone that isn’t an expert in the game.

Completing every tour against Goldwyn unlocks the final boss of the game. This monstrosity is named “Anti Uni”, a black and red unicycle that plays dirty. It openly cheats and often ends up throwing attacks at you. Honestly, I hate this thing for all the right reasons.

“Anti Uni” will do everything in its power to screw you over. From making the screen wobble, forcing sections of the track to disappear, and just flat out slowing you down.

This jerk even goes so far as to cackle at you like a deranged chipmunk when it has gained the upper hand. With attacks such as “barf mode” and “screen flip” messing with you at every opportunity, this boss is the most aggriavating thing I’ve ever seen in a racing game.

I won’t lie, I couldn’t get a decent image of “barf mode” because I can’t really look at it for too long without it hurting my eyes. For me, it’s a bit blinding. Screen flip, which turns everything upside down, is by far bad enough.

“Anti Uni” only appears on the Hunter tour, and as an average player I’ll openly admit I’ve never beaten this stupid thing in a gold race.

That’s why I much prefer Bronze and Silver metal races and earlier tours. Playing beyond Silvia just doesn’t have appeal to me. The fact I can choose the skill curve I like best and still enjoy all of the tracks is why I love this racing game so much.

Now, to be fair I have seen my older brother win races against “Anti Uni” at his most difficult when we were kids several times, so I know it’s beatable. I was just never able to do it myself.


With all of that, said I come down to one simple conclusion. The sentiment at the start of this post bears repeating. Uniracers is plain, stupid fun.

At the best of times, the game is tenacious and bombastic in every aspect. Sentient unicycles speeding around on flashy track designs, with over the top rock music playing over them.

As a player you’re pulling stunts that have dumb names sometimes. The combination of gameplay is incredibly immature in some places, and just goofy in others. The game is better for it. In that way, Uniracers offers a high octane experience that’s just hard to match.

In the worst of times, the game is just flat out annoying and sometimes it even tries to be. It can also be very hard to play due to some of the tracks being hard to look at. One of Hunter’s tracks named “Neon” proves my point perfectly.

All that black background smashed against neon green and red? Yeah, that’s grounds for a bunch of not so very nice four letter words in my book. Especially when I need to redo the track for the umpteenth time.

To make that worse, the cocky and belligerent boss unicycle at the end of the game will absolutely screw with you. It has a laugh that inspires the sort of fury that can have you tossing your controller at your screen.

Then again, this game is from the same company that made the original “Grand Theft Auto“. I shouldn’t need to say any more than that. If you love racing games with that kind of devil may care attitude, you’ll love Uniracers.

It’s just that simple.

Maybe someday soon I’ll talk about the lawsuit that crippled Uniracers from being a common household name. However, that’s a complicated topic that requires a video all of it’s own, and that’ll be for another day.

Until then, everyone. This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”.

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…


To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

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At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

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TwitchLive streamsTuesday: 9:00 PM – 12 AM (GMT)
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Game Review: Resident Evil 1.5

Note: This was an old post on the original “The Demented Ferrets” site, and prior to that it belonged to my personal blog. It is being placed here because this is now where it belongs.

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I want to take a brief interlude into the troubles of game design, and the subsequent cancellation of what would be Resident Evil 2‘s first iteration. Unfortunately, that particular version of Resident Evil 2 was canceled. It is now known by hardcore fans as Resident Evil 1.5. Frankly, this unreleased attempt of a game deserves a discussion or two, and that’s the reason for this post.

It’s a shame that director Hideki Kamiya, and producer Shinji Mikami, hadn’t been able to see eye-to-eye on the game. If they had, the Resident Evil 2 that we know and love might have been vastly different.

As a failed prototype, Resident Evil 1.5 is an interesting look into what Resident Evil 2 could have become. There is no official release of Resident Evil 1.5. Thankfully, the build of Resident Evil 1.5 was leaked on the internet back in 2013. Fans of the series have managed to cobble together some form of playable version.

If you look hard enough the content for 1.5 is out there. If you can’t find the game to play yourself, there is plenty of game footage among members of the survival horror community. It’s worth a look at the very least.

Failure to Launch

The original Resident Evil was a huge success. You can read my review of it here. Even if you don’t though, just know that the game was foundational to the survival horror genre. It proved that gamers had a true hunger for survival horror, and a ravenous craving for more.

Just a month after the original game released, development began for a sequel. The success of the first game was so large that it stood to reason that they’d make another. Hideki Kamiya was slated to direct the new game. Shinji Mikami was going to produce it. These two masterminds dove into their new concept, eager to make a much better survival horror experience.

They had big plans to surpass the fandom’s expectations when it came to the new game. Initially these two men had three core ideas on how to make the sequel even better than the original.

  • Firstly, they wanted to make playing the game feel more dynamic. They felt that the first game wasn’t as strong as it could have been in this area.
  • Secondly, they planned to vastly expand the scope of Raccoon City. They wanted to broaden the scope of Resident Evil‘s already compelling narrative.
  • Thirdly, they wanted to include a wider range of highly detailed and stunning pre-rendered backgrounds. This would lend the game even better imagery than what was provided in the original game.

Unfortunately, this new vision wouldn’t be the one to be published. Hideki Kamiya and Shinji Mikami had all of the building blocks for a great game in place. However, each of them had different artistic visions.

Originally, Shinji Mikami wanted to complete the entire Resident Evil story with the sequel before moving onto other projects. He didn’t want to linger on this franchise for too long.

Hideki Kamiya vastly disagreed. He wanted to make a longer, more complex story. He planned on using the sequel to expand on Resident Evil‘s core themes. to create a wider universe.

In the end, Shinji Mikami eventually took a few steps back from the creative development of the game. It was his belief that the game was lackluster. He felt that the narrative was lacking something important. In his opinion, the game mechanics and story just didn’t meld together seamlessly. He asked to be kept informed about the game’s development, but otherwise handed the reigns over to Hideki Kamiya completely.

During the development cycle, Resident Evil 1.5 was nearly eighty percent complete before it was scrapped entirely. A new scenario writer had joined the team and everyone agreed that it was just better to rebuild the game from scratch.

Key Differences

Firstly, I suppose, is the game itself. Resident Evil 2 as we know it today is vastly different from Resident Evil 1.5. Many of the assets from the project couldn’t be used in the release of Resident Evil 2, most of them had to be remade. That being said, some of the modded versions of Resident Evil 1.5 use assets from the Resident Evil 2 game. They do this to help fill in the gaps in the unfinished product.

The story has quite a few changes in it too. Now, to be clear, the story wasn’t completely fleshed out in Resident Evil 1.5, and that reflects in the media. That said, the story as we do know it is vastly different.

In Resident Evil 1.5, the S.T.A.R.S operatives manage to convince the authorities that Umbrella is up to no good. They report that Umbrella was directly involved with problems in Arklay Mountains and within Spencer Mansion. During the game, this is referred to as the “Umbrella Incident”.

The Raccoon City Police were shutting down Umbrella’s laboratories, but the city isn’t safe. A massive viral outbreak has overtaken the city, and it’s the T-Virus.

There is a lot of political intrigue in Resident Evil 1.5. Subtext and implication suggests that Umbrella only released the virus to quiet the naysayers and silence opposition. The story slowly unfolds as the player experiences two different scenarios, starring two different characters. There are some interesting additions to the supporting cast as well.

The first is Leon Kennedy, a familiar name to anyone who knows of the Resident Evil franchise.

Leon’s personality stays much the same, and his basic story plot does too. Very little changes with him, and its clear that he was fleshed out conceptually very well from the start. Leon is still the rookie police officer we all know and love, but thankfully this time around it isn’t his first day on the job.

The second character is Elza Walker. she is a student at Raccoon University. Let’s be honest, she’s no Claire Redfield, that’s for sure.

Elza is a motorcycle enthusiast who returns back from a long vacation only to find that the city is completely overrun with zombies. She ends up crashing her motorcycle into the main lobby of the police station and closes the shutters, locking her inside.

Classic Leon is awesome in both 1.5 and Resident Evil 2. Though, I must say, the same doesn’t hold true for Elza. I prefer Claire over Elza any day.

No matter what scenario is chosen, the goals are roughly the same. Players must find a safe way out of the police department, save any survivors, and get out of the city. As far as survivors go, there are several.

The Birkin family makes a full fledged return. Sherry is still a child that needs protection. Annette and William are her parents. Ada Wong, Marvin Branagh, and Brian Irons, have returned as well. In Resident Evil 1.5, their roles have changed drastically. This is probably one of the most important reasons to play Resident Evil 1.5, because it gives us a look at what these characters could have been.

I won’t spoil too much, but there are some interesting things to take note of. In this version, Marvin spends a great deal of time with Leon throughout the game. Ada is an employee of Umbrella, she was under arrest until the outbreak occurred. Brian is more level headed, and less murderous, but his role is very small.

Mechanics: The Good, The Bad, The Broken…

There are a few oddities to make note of. Computers in the game make a point to remind the player to save their progress, but, there are standard Resident Evil typewriters too. I’m not really sure why the save system might be implemented in this way, but it is an interesting little detail.

You’ll have to be careful when running around. The game was still in development when it was scrapped, so there are plenty of broken boundaries.

You clip through things that you shouldn’t be able to, and all enemies can be seen. Yes, that also means you can see them through walls.

If you notice, it looks like Leon is standing on the table in this photo, and there are plenty of moments like this. Trust me, that’s not a rug. I assure you that dark square thing is, in fact, a table.

Furthermore, there is a huge range of weaponry to choose from in Resident Evil 1.5, but some of the items don’t have assets. Using an item that doesn’t have assets will crash the game.

Puzzles look to be standard Resident Evil format, though most aren’t completely implemented. You can go through the entire game without collecting key items. This is likely a good thing.

Other than that, playing Resident Evil 1.5 isn’t too different from the classic Resident Evil 2. There are more zombies on screen at any given time, and even other enemies can come in small packs. Tank controls and fixed camera angles make a return, of course. Anyone who has played the classic titles in the series will be well acquainted with them by now.

There’s just one problem. The controller can be very wonky…

The game never had an official console release. That means you have to play the game using an emulator. If you’re like me, you use an Xbox 360 controller. The directional pad on Xbox 360 controllers are a piece of garbage, and it can make playing the game difficult. If you have a controller with a better directional pad, you should use it.

The rest of the mechanical changes are small, but I have to admit that I actually prefer most of them. Shotguns can still completely destroy a zombie. However, you can’t aim upwards to take off a zombie’s head. Shotguns will only rip the zombie in half. This can be used to incapacitate a zombie entirely. If you aim below the belt, you can even take their legs clean off. I have to admit, it’s a nice touch.

There is one awkward thing, though. When comes to health bars and status effects, your character will show signs of being injured by having ripped up clothing or seeping wounds. This was a nice idea in practice, but for me it kills immersion. Obviously when you heal back up, the wounds go away and the clothing goes back to normal.

This looks a little odd, and quite frankly, I prefer the limping and slower movement speed that’s found in most classic iterations of the franchise. It simply works better in my personal opinion.

Interesting Visuals and Soundtrack

The sound design is a masterful mix between the first and second Resident Evil titles. The music itself has that classic Resident Evil vibe to it, but there is no voice acting in the game. Due to the fixed camera angles, it’s important that each monster has an auditory cue so that players can hear when they’re just off screen. This ethos is the same in all of the classic titles, and it makes a return here as well.

Visually the game is impressive for its time. However, as a fan it’s hard not to notice something. There is a strange middle ground between Resident Evil graphics and Resident Evil 2 graphics. Resident Evil 1.5 fits perfectly in the center of all of it, showing off what would happen if you merged the two styles completely. Everything is slightly more improved visually from the first game, but, the Resident Evil 2 that was officially released is by far better looking.

My favorite place has to be inside the police station. There’s a cold, sterile feeling that comes along with it. The colors are often muted, meaning that even the brown cardboard boxes on shelves become eye-catching. Truthfully, it isn’t as interesting as the police station in Resident Evil 2, but, it has its own charm to it.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of good things to come out of this failed prototype of a game. In truth, there are some less than stellar things about it too. It has flaws in spades, but, that’s the point of playing it.

Resident Evil 1.5 is a stepping stone for classic survival horror. It conceptualizes a game’s development cycle in a way few prototypes can. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

The hard work and love that staff put into their crafted worlds can’t be understated either. This prototype was a steppingstone that showcases just how much effort it takes to make a series like Resident Evil.

Fans of the franchise shouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience this prototype in one way or another. If you have the chance to play Resident Evil 1.5, you should. If you need to watch someone else play it, you should still do it. The experience is worth the time, and I can’t stress that enough.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

If You Enjoyed This Content…

Please consider following us on this blog. We also have other platforms with content to enjoy. At the time of this post we have a Twitter, Twitch, YouTube.

TwitchLive streamsTuesday: 9:00 PM – 12 AM (GMT)
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Gameplay: Kreshenne Plays MYST

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. In the two videos below, Kreshenne explores the immersive world of Myst, solving puzzles along the way. The game is coined as a graphic puzzle adventure, as the main draw of the game is the puzzles themselves. The game is considered a classic.

It was developed by Cyan, Inc. and published by Broderbund. Originally it released in 1993 for Mac. As time went on other ports of the game were released. PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and Windows saw notable ports of the game.

As for the game itself, it’s all about the insanity of two brothers. The mind-games that you, the player, must sort through.

Kresh Plays: MYST

Part 1

Part 2

More About MYST

In the game players use a special book to travel to the island of “Myst“. Once there, you solve puzzles and travel to four other worlds. These other worlds are known as “Ages”. Each age uncovers more backstory of the game’s characters.

Myst is a first person game. Players interact with specific objects on screen by clicking on the item, or dragging it around. Certain items like journal pages can be picked up and carried to particular locations.

Movement in the game relies on the player clicking on locations shown on the screen. There are plenty of areas to explore, and a keen eye is required to solve some of the puzzles. More on that later…

The game also features a journal. This is a necessary component to the game. You’ll be collecting the pages that belong inside of it. This is a double edged sword. You can only carry a single page at a time. If you drop a page, it reverts back to its original location. When you find them, be sure to place them where they belong.

Little Details Matter

To beat the game, you’ve got to explore the island of Myst in its entirety. With every puzzle you solve you’ll discover clues for the next one and where you ought to go next.

You’ll be tasked with visiting the “Ages” mentioned above, The “Ages” you’ll visit are small sub worlds, self-contained and with their own puzzles to solve. Each of the Ages have their own name and theme to go with it. The Ages are: Selenitic, Stoneship, Mechanical, and Channelwood. Some of the clues, items and information discovered in one of the “Ages” might be required to solve puzzles in a different one. This is why details matter.

Rushing through a puzzle too quickly may leave you stumped later. In the videos above Kreshenne runs into this issue a few times.

Unique Aspects of MYST

Myst uses each in-game environment to the utmost advantage to tell the story it presents. Like many games of its era, the game relies largely on text based story telling. There are some “cut-scenes” if you can truly call them that, as well.

What made Myst so popular for its time was the unusual ways it provided the backstory. The entire game is riddled with mystery waiting to be unraveled. At first, you’ll have very little backstory. Nothing is particularly clear, and there is no hand-holding in sight.

You won’t have any obvious goals or objectives in front of you. As a player, it will all be left up to you. There are no enemies in the game, and no combat. The game is a slow burn, and the player can solve the puzzles at their own pace.

The two brothers that made the island are crazy people, but I’ve said too much about them with that single statement. The rest is up to you. If you haven’t played Myst or watched a play-through, you really should.

This has been Kernook of the Demented Ferrets…

“Where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course…”

The Demented Ferrets…

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content.

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 notable contributors.

Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.

If You Enjoyed This Content…

Please consider following us on this blog. We also have other platforms with content to enjoy. At the time of this post we have a Twitter, Twitch, YouTube.

TwitchLive streamsTuesday: 9:00 PM – 12 AM (GMT)
Wednesday: 9:00 PM – 12:00 AM (GMT)
Saturday: 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM (GMT)
YouTubeAnime/Game/Movie reviews. Deep dives/analysis of RWBY.Videos upload Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:00 PM (GMT)
TwitterAnnouncements, Random tweetsWhenever a live stream begins or content releases. Doesn’t have a set schedule.
Our BlogAll kinds of written media including anime, games, RWBY and more.Posts are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:00 PM (GMT)

There are plenty of ways to support us. To find out more, click the button below.