Archive for October, 2014

Get Spooked: The 20 Most Unexpectedly Scary Moments of Non-Horror Videogames

So I wasn’t planning on writing anything special for Halloween, but it’s really freaking hot in Sydney at the moment and the coolest part of my house happens to be right in front of this computer screen, so let’s do something spooky.

If you’ve ever had a videogame-related discussion with me, or even read some of this blog, you might pick up on the fact that I don’t mix well with deliberately scary games. Horror films are one thing – I can deal with those to some extent, though I don’t actively seek them out – but interactive horror experiences are quite another. I just don’t understand the idea of wanting to be scared by something. This may mean I’ve missed out on some of the most talked-about videogame titles of the last few years, such as Slender, Outlast, the Amnesia games, P.T. and more recently The Evil Within, but hey, there are other things to play.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t ever been scared by a videogame before, of course. There are quite a few games out there that, while not deliberately branded as horror, smuggle in some deviously spooky moments. These are arguably even more affecting because you don’t expect them. Some are jump scares, and some are just thoroughly unnerving. Here are no less than twenty of the most memorable ones in my personal gaming history, in no particular order. Of course, some of these are based on the fact that I was a child when I first played them, which made me more vulnerable to such moments, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are forever imprinted on my mind.
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Get Out! – Donkey Kong 64

If you’ve played DK 64 before, you’re probably already hearing that ominously deep, aggressive voice in your head right now. In the game’s second level, raiding a pyramid tomb for a golden banana or two brought up a sudden and inexplicable sniper crosshair, accompanied by a loud shout and some crapped pants. A bit of a cheap shot by developer Rare, but an effective one.
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The Basement – The Last of Us

The Last of Us is not a horror game, despite what some people might say – it’s more of a dramatic interpersonal drama. But jeeeeez, don’t ever make me play that basement sequence with the power generator again. It just ain’t happening. Combining low light with any amount of water is already a pretty heavy nope situation for me, so throwing in a rush of bile-spewing fungus zombies that spawn at exactly the wrong time is just… aagghh.
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Baby Boss – Luigi’s Mansion

His name is Chauncey, apparently, and he’s one of the ghostly bosses in Luigi’s debut solo adventure on the Nintendo Gamecube. He’s also a one-year old baby whose blood-curdling scream just should not be in a Nintendo game aimed at “all ages”. Fighting him in his room, complete with cot and creepily spinning mobile, is the most genuinely scary moment of an otherwise pretty lighthearted adventure.
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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.31 – Smash Bros & The Code Master


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It’s once again time for another episode of the Mega Ultra Blast Cast! It’s starting to get really hot again in the studio, but we persevere for the sake of a solid hour of entertainment! Or at least, a solid hour of time-filling nonsense. This one features not one but two spooky Halloween-themed giveaways, plenty of nerdy Marvel/DC movie chat, a new nickname for Delaney, public service announcements about gaming behaviour, some in-depth Super Smash Bros discussion, a new musical segment, and the long-awaited MUBC debut of Shane’s adorable dog Yoghurt.

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three efficient (?) Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episode right off this page if you like:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-31-smash-bros-direct

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!

Movie Review: Gone Girl

The marathon action blockbuster season may have taken a lengthy break (for now) but my goodness, the incredible movies just keep coming in 2014.

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Starring:
Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Director:
David Fincher (Fight Club, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Rating: MA15+
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When you go to a David Fincher movie, there are a number of things you can usually expect to find. Plenty of stylish shots, for one. A tightly wound script, for another. Perhaps also a grim tone with occasional moments of comic relief to balance things out. Then there are the plotlines, twisting and turning and keeping you guessing long into the film’s run time. Well, suffice to say that the man’s latest, Gone Girl, is no aberration. It delivers everything audiences have come to expect from the director of Fight Club and Seven, ESPECIALLY that last thing. The plot of Gone Girl is so twisty that talking about anything outside the film’s official synopsis is probably going to be a spoiler. If you haven’t read its source material, the bestselling Gillian Flynn novel of the same name, you’d best go into the cinema knowing as little as possible. I won’t be talking about anything particularly plot-sensitive in this review, but you have been warned nonetheless.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: Closer

It may have taken me far, far longer than I initially thought it would to complete, due to a drastic change to my lifestyle that has seen a lot of my free time just evaporate, but I’m pretty happy with the order on which I decided for my Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises here on Vagrant Rant. If you just want a quick glance at the whole list, well here you go:
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30 F-Zero
29 Yoshi Series
28 Pullblox
27 Kid Icarus
26 Pokemon Rumble

^ READ THIS SECTION ^

25 Luigi’s Mansion
24 Wii Sports
23 Fire Emblem
22 Pokemon Home Console Battle Series
21 Kirby Main Series

^ READ THIS SECTION ^

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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.30 – EB Games Expo



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Didn’t get a chance to attend the EB Games Expo this year? You’re in luck, because after a long hiatus the Mega Ultra Blast Cast returns with a bumper episode to smash through the best and worst games from the show, before we talk Smash Bros, discuss the future of Destiny, give away a full Steam game and catch up on the biggest news stories of the last month. It’s 100 minutes of Delaney-isms, hard-hitting criticism, nonsense and Pringle crunching – It’s Episode 30, only on Soundcloud!

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three Smash Bros-addicted Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episode right off this page if you like:


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-.-.-.-

Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-30-eb-games-expo

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!

My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #5-1

5. Paper Mario

Games: Paper Mario (N64), Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GCN), Super Paper Mario (Wii), Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)

Ah, Paper Mario. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to flatten the world’s most famous videogame mascot, not to mention all his friends and adversaries, and insert him into a world where everything (loosely) follows the physics of papercraft dioramas? Whoever it was, I’m glad that the Paper Mario Series came out of such apparent insanity. I’m even more glad that Intelligent Systems were put in charge of bringing it to life (yes, I am harping on about them quite a bit, but come on, look at all the amazing games they’ve made). Like the quirky Mario & Luigi series, Paper Mario is a humour-laden, turn-based RPG series that owes its action-esque central gameplay mechanic to the Super Nintendo’s Super Mario RPG. What sets the dimensionally challenged series apart from others like it is its endlessly creative use of paper physics in puzzles, battles and storytelling, as well as its apparent lack of fear when it comes to trying new and crazy ideas. The writing across the games is irreverent, self-aware and fun, the secrets are bountiful and the characters are endearing. All Paper Mario games are commendable, engaging RPGs (except for Super Paper Mario, which is a platformer – I know right?) but I’m not going to lie – the reason I rate the series highly enough to lift it into my top five is almost entirely based on the strength of The Thousand Year Door on the Gamecube. It is no exaggeration to say that TTYD is one of my absolute favourite games of all time, and at the very least my favourite RPG ever. I fear its near-perfect storm of meta-battling mechanics, location variety, narrative twists, subtle series in-jokes and rewarding extra content will not be matched for a long time.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #10-6

10. Animal Crossing

Games: Animal Crossing (GCN), Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS), Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City (Wii), Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

No, I can’t explain this. Not fully, anyway. If you haven’t played a game in Nintendo’s ever-quirky Animal Crossing series, you will very likely not understand a word of what I’m about to say. When you pay off a loan to Tom Nook the passive-aggressive raccoon and upgrade your house, the feeling of accomplishment is up there with nearly any gaming achievement you’ve ever reached. And you immediately want more, going further into debt for the sake of just a little bit more space, so you can add just the right touch of balance to the vibe of your room. When you see a bug you haven’t caught before, the cocktail of heart-pounding excitement and self-doubt that floods your veins is overwhelming. And when an animal you like leaves your town… Well, the less said about that the better. In terms of content, the games continue to get more and more expansive as the series continues, but in my opinion the portable entries are by far the best ones. The intimacy of a handheld device perfectly suits the strange, pride-fueled mini-achievement cycle that drives Animal Crossing. There is nothing else quite like it.

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