Every October and in preparation for Halloween, most people I know tend to watch scary movies. It helps them get into the spirit of Halloween by having a good scare. While most kids love Halloween for dressing up in their costumes and going door-to-door to get a bag full of candy to keep them on a sugar high for days, adults prefer to have their socks knocked off with something terrifying. This is why scare events like haunted houses are widely popular this time of the year. If you’re a gamer, maybe there’s a certain horror video game you love to play and would have a horror video game marathon to get into the Halloween mood. Me? I can’t stand the horror genre.
Lately I’ve had this impulse to read, or rather, re-read some Stephen King books. I can’t put my finger on why, after so many years, that I suddenly have to read them again; all my head is telling me is that I must. But why Stephen King so specifically? I think it has something to do with libraries.
Throughout the better part of my formative years, my mother made sure that my siblings and I visited our local library regularly. In fact, I can picture the interior of that library as clear as day, with the large checkout counter just inside the door. To the left of that was the reference book section. Beyond that was the fiction and non-fiction room. And downstairs was the kids section. And all of it was enveloped in that post-modern, sterile, and beige environment common to many public libraries of the time. But I didn’t care one bit about the décor – I was all about the books.
But not all books.
Nevermind, a horror game currently trying to reach its goal on Kickstarter, is the first horror game that uses biofeedback to monitor just how scared the player becomes while playing. The more frightened the player becomes, the more difficult the game becomes, in turn, helping the player to manage their anxiety. Continue reading Biofeedback Horror Game Monitors How Scared You Become
For a long while now I have found myself consistently attracted to the horror genre of video games. Games like Amnesia: The Dark Decent and Dead Space have reached out to me through the years and I have found it to be rather special. Why is that, though? How can someone like me, who can’t even watch a movie like Paranormal Activity, have such an urge to play horrifying games like Slender: The Arrival? What is it that draws me in and keeps me seeking more? I think I might just have the answer to all of these questions, but it has taken me awhile to actually formulate them. Continue reading What the Horror Video Game Genre Means to Me
It’s that time of year once more; when the barrier between the natural and supernatural is at its weakest and little ghouls haunt the streets in search of sugary treats. For this week’s video game comic column, it only makes sense to venture into the darker side of the printed page. There is a rather massive subgenre of horror comics, and its tentacles stretch far into the video game world. So let’s dive into a realm where monsters do battle in rounds of two, until only the strongest survives.
It was back in November of 2004 that Udon Entertainment debuted their Darkstalkers comic series. At this time, Udon was releasing their work through Devil’s Due Publishing, which included a Street Fighter comic series that launched in 2003 (which we will definitely discuss in a later post). The Darkstalkers comic ran for six issues, until it abruptly stopped in April of 2005. In October of the same year, the chief of operations Eric Ko, announced that Udon had become a full-fledged publisher and its lengthy hiatus was due to producing material for the video game Capcom Fighting Evolution. Since that time, Udon has grown into a massive comic book and video game powerhouse, producing several comic series, art books, and work for video games such as Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and New International Track and Field.
For the Darkstalkers comic, Udon had plenty of interesting characters and settings from which to source fresh story material. This is especially true, since most fighting games have very few details outside of “some people got together to fight in an arbitrary battle tournament held by a mysterious benefactor.” For example, this story comes straight from the Darkstalkers instruction manual:
“When the sun sets and humanity retreats to the imagined safety of their beds, a mysterious entity appears in the sky to assemble the wicked and the evil. The unimaginable secret power of the dark is unleashed! Ten supernatural beings of destruction have materialized to wage their eternal war for the domination of the night. The Vampire, the Mummy, Frankenstein, Bigfoot. . . their very names conjure fear. But who or what has summoned them? These creatures of myth and legend, the Darkstalkers, have gathered for what is destined to be the greatest battle ever. And the fate of all humanity rests on who wins the epic struggle. The Darkstalkers are coming. . .tonight!”
From this rather bare bones plot, Udon crafted a solid story about the various machinations of the Darkstalkers who hide in the dark corners of the Earth. In this six issue series, the conflicts between certain characters take center stage, while the sideline characters are left as mere window dressing. So while Dimitri and Morrigan prepare for an eventual battle of the ages, Rikuo and Lord Raptor only show up briefly in side stories and single panel shots. Every issue features plenty of great fighting scenes, complete with signature moves and plenty of nods to the fans of the video games. There is also loads of background on many of the major characters, including several side stories that flesh out their motivations even further.
As with most of the comics from Udon Entertainment, the artwork really shines. The horror themes of the video games allowed the artists to include plenty of heavy contrast and shadows, which really lend to the atmosphere of the comics. The characters remain in the anime-inspired style of the fighting games, but with more vibrant colors and further detail for better expressions. In spite of the show-stealing appeal of the characters, the backgrounds have not been overlooked. There is plenty of detail in the settings of each scene, with some panels exclusively dedicated to moody environmental shots.
Besides the solid story work and gorgeous art, my favorite part of Darkstalkers comes at the end of each issue. A single page is always dedicated to a gag comic called Darkstalkers Mini. The fun work of Corey Lewis (pseudonym, Rey), these quick strips feature super-deformed versions of the fighters in silly situations, most of which end with goofy punch-lines. Unfortunately, when Udon collected the comics into a trade paperback, all of these side stories got the boot. On the plus side, that has made the individual issues of the comic unique to the trade version, so be sure to track these gems down!
At the end of the first issue of Darkstalkers (right before the Mini comic), there is a writers’ commentary aptly titled, “From the Darkside.” On this page, some of the staff from Udon spill their guts about the joy they felt in creating the Darkstalkers comic books. There is talk of the great chance to write a darker story than the usual Street Fighter comics, along with their mutual love of horror films and fighting games. At the very end, the colorist, Gary Yeung, says that the goal at Udon was to “make a faithful interpretation of Darkstalkers from a game/animation into a book.” Through action-packed stories and striking artwork, all wrapped up in a spooky atmosphere, it seems like Udon met their goal quite nicely.