14/03/2014

EPHEMERA, VOLUME 5

Not as good as party time but better than intrusive exploratory surgery time, it's ephemera time again! Another five chunks of gaming nougat, served up on the off-chance you'll find them as interesting as I do, and definitely not as an attempt to distract myself from the fact I'm not playing Dark Souls 2 right this second. Enjoy!

So That's How It Works

Double-jumping: a common if generally nonsensical element of videogaming. We've all seen it done in a wide variety of games, and if you were the kind of kid who loved videogames but was also filled with boisterous energy - so most kids, then - you've probably tried to do a double-jump in real life. C'mon, admit it, you jumped into the air and then tried to force yourself upwards again and it didn't work. There's no shame in that. I once tried to recreate Guile's famous somersault kick on my younger brother and all that happened was that he got a severe concussion. The laws of physics are in opposition to the double-jump, so it's nice to see that Capcom made the effort to ground the double-jump in reality in Devil May Cry.


Okay, so "reality" perhaps isn't the right word, because Dante double-jumps by forming an arcane sigil in mid-air from which he can jump again. Still, I appreciate the gesture and as a bonus it looks pretty cool. It also explains why I can't double-jump: unlike Dante, I am not half-demon. I'm only one-eighth demon. Great-grandpa VGJunk was into some weird stuff.

Shinji Mikami's David Cronenberg's The Fly

If it enjoyed a cruise on Noah's Ark, then the Resident Evil series has a monster based on it. Lizards, apes, dog, whatever the hell the Bandersnatch enemies from Code: Veronica were supposed to be. Then there's this friendly fellow.


That's a Chimera, and they're part-man, part-fly and I've got a suspicion one of Umbrella's researchers dropped some red rope liquorice into the mix. I love that design, with the menacing sickle of a hand and the faintly sympathetic facial expression. Plus, according to some of the guidebooks Chimeras are created by implanting the mutant egg into a human host and having them carry it to term, which is the kind of grotesque detail a horror fan like myself can really appreciate.


However, my favourite thing about the Chimeras is that they're barely in the original Resident Evil at all. They pop up in a couple of rooms right at the very end of the game, and that's why they're so effective. I can't speak for anyone else, but by the time I was deep in the Umbrella laboratory I knew the end of the game was right around the corner and I really wasn't expecting the introduction of any new enemies. The final boss is what's on your mind, so entering a new room only to be swarmed by ceiling-scuttling fly-men that move unlike any other enemy you've faced thus far - that was a wonderful surprise, albeit a surprise that caused me to waste a load of ammunition through panicked attempts to destroy these vile insectoids. If you were thinking of recruiting me for your SWAT team, don't. Also, because they're so scarce and you don't necessarily get a good look at them, the Chimeras remain a strange and unsettling foe that make you wonder what other abominations Umbrella have cooked up. As the later games showed, the answer is "all of them". All of the abominations.

Bwee-ee-ooo

SNES classic The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past now, a truly excellent game of undeniable quality and polish from which I am going to mention one tiny detail. In A Link to the Past, you have to travel between the Light and Dark Worlds, sometimes by looking into a hand mirror with inter-dimensional powers. When you do, you're treated to this sound effect.


That's it. That's the sound of someone phasing between two separate but connected planes of reality. I will hear no arguments to the contrary, that is the perfect aural accompaniment for that particular action. I haven't tried A Link Between Worlds yet, but if they've changed that sound effect I don't think I can bring myself to play it.

Possibly The Most Immature Thing You'll See Today

Micro-scale Amiga football sensation Sensible Soccer is beloved by many and is still fun to play today, but the title is possibly a touch misleading. It may be enjoyable, but sensible? Maybe not, as demonstrated by the 1994 sequel Sensible World of Soccer. As well as featuring vast numbers of the world's club and national teams, SWOS also included some "wacky" custom teams based around various different themes.


For example, this team is called Kebab Shop and all the players are named after things you might find in a kebab shop. I bet Cheeseburger and Chips link up will together, although I'm surprised there isn't a player called "food poisoning".


Here's Into the Void, a team that you probably shouldn't pick if you're suffering from a case of The Mondays. There are others based on members of the game's development staff, or types of cheese, or books of the Bible, but because I have all the maturity of a twelve-year-old this one is my favourite.


Members Only, a team where every player is named after euphemism for male genitalia. Someone at Sensible Software sat down, thought of all the things they've called their tackle over the years, (I've just noticed "Tackle" isn't on that list, which seems like it should be a given considering this is a football game,) made a team out of those words and placed it into one of the most famous and best-selling games of the British home computer scene. I can't imagine something like that ever happening in FIFA, and that's kinda sad.

Accessories Sold Separately

Monolith's 1997 shooter Blood is one of my favourite-ever games, and I don't often miss an opportunity to talk about it's horror B-movie atmosphere, delightfully sinister enemies and makeshift flamethrower comprised of an aerosol can and a cigarette lighter. This little droplet of Blood is one for the kids, however.


The secret level in Blood's fourth chapter is called "Mall of the Dead" and yes, it is a pastiche of Dawn of the Dead, only with more shark-men and screaming Grim Reapers, so it's like Dawn of the Dead but better. The mall is home to a toy shop, as malls so often are, and the window of said toy shop is home to a display of something I'd give my right eye to own: a collection of Blood action figures!


It's a simple trick - the enemy sprites have been shrunk down and arranged together - but it's just so charming. Man, I would buy every single toy in a range of Blood action figures. Imagine the possibilities! A Caleb toy with pitchfork-stabbing action! Cultist dolls that jabber away in their bizarre language when you pull their string! Exploding mime artists! Right, I'm going to need to set up two KickStarters: one to buy the rights for Blood and another to get these toys made. I won't be content until an "Axe Zombie with Detachable Head" action figure is sitting on the desk in front of me.

8 comments:

  1. I haven't played too deep into Link Between Worlds and if there is a mirror I haven't found it yet, but so far it's mostly tripping through warp points.

    Still a good game though!

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    1. One of these days I'll get around to getting a 3DS, I'm really looking forward to playing ALBW.

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  2. Get that Blood kickstarter going! If we can see some Shadow Warrior like remake quality of the game, I would be beyond stoked!

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  3. Oh man, I'd absolutely love a Blood remake, no game since has captured that same feel for me.

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  4. Ha, I just think of Jeff Goldblum when I see that fly thing.

    "Whaddaya think? A fly. Am I becoming a hundred-and-eighty-five-pound fly? No, I'm becoming something that never existed before. I'm becoming... Brundlefly. Don't you think that's worth a Nobel Prize or two?"

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    Replies
    1. I wouldn't be surprised if Umbrella have an employee whose job it is to watch horror movies, looking for inspiration for possible future BOW experiments.

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  5. I am very happy to report, good sir, that the sound effect for the titular "Between World" passing in Zelda ALBW is pretty much exactly what you would expect the BWEE-EE-OOO to sound like if updated for the 3DS' sound capabilities.

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  6. The Chimera is probably one of the most disturbing and interesting monsters in RE, not just for its horrifying appearance, but its backstory.

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