Horror Games That Deserve A Remake Or A Sequel – Part One
Sometimes, game series die without explanation, leaving great stories untold and leaving the fans mourning. Sometimes, games don’t even get the chance to become a series and die after the first is made. This is a tribute to those games that don’t deserve this fate. Those games that should be brought back from the dead to play on our fears once again!
I bet any dedicated gamer who’s been around for a while can think of a game and/or game series from their childhood that they miss and would love to see return. For me, this had been Splatterhouse. I’d been telling anyone who listened (which isn’t many people after they’ve had an earful of one of my gaming related rants) that Splatterhouse was a modern Horror classic waiting to happen, and that it should return as soon as possible. I had all but given up hope when I saw by chance that the remake was finally in the works. It didn’t just make my day, it made my month!
So here is a selection of games that I’ve played and loved over the years. Before anyone asks why some games are missing, I’ve excluded games that firstly are obvious choices, like Silent Hill, or Resident Evil. Secondly, those that already have confirmed sequels and remakes coming out, like Doom and Parasite Eve (which I had all but started a write-up for this article for when I read about The 3rd Birthday, something else which made my month), and thirdly, I’ve discounted many games I just never played, as…well…I just can’t comment on them! I’ve also discounted the millions of Cthulhu Mythos inspired point-and-click type games as…well…there’s millions of them…anyway…
One last thing before I begin, I apologise for any spoilers!
For the first game of this article, we have to go all the way back to 1992, the year that saw the release of the best Dracula film to date and Alien 3, and was the year that Mortal Kombat was born. However, we have to look far away from the blockbusters and big releases and look at a game that surfaced, completely under the radar on the Sega Mega Drive (or the Sega Genesis if you’re so inclined). I’m talking of course, about Chakan.
Chakan (also known as Chakan: The Forever Man) is a platformer based on a series of graphic novels. It was uncharacteristically dark for a platform game at the time, and was panned by many for being too difficult. In fact, the final boss, who you fight following the credits, is so difficult, the makers of the game didn’t bother to add the final scene afterwards! It’s apparently impossible without using an Emulator and saving and loading. Don’t let this put you off, though, as despite this game’s difficulty and it’s flaws, the story is terrific.
Chakan, the game’s hero, was a powerful warrior who became so sure of his abilities that he boasted that even Death himself would fall before his blades. Naturally, the Grim Reaper got wind of this boast and appeared before Chakan and made him a proposition. If Chakan could beat him in combat, eternal life would be his prize, but should Chakan fall, he would become Death’s slave for eternity. Well, Chakan’s boasts weren’t inaccurate, as after days of brutal combat, Chakan felled Death.
Not one to go down without the last laugh of course, Death granted Chakan with his reward, but added a clause that would cause Chakan torment throughout his eternal life. Chakan’s dreams are plagued nightly by the great evils of the world and the pain of their victims. However, Death added a final clause that Chakan may finally rest after hunting out and destroying each of these great evils. Armed with twin swords and looking like Iron Maiden’s Eddie dressed up as Solomon Kane, I ain’t going to bet against him!
As the player joins Chakan on his quest, Chakan has four evils left to defeat (one for each of the four elements), which he describes in superb detail before entering their domain from a central hub for the first time. Over the years, he has honed his skills and also become a master alchemist. This alchemy element adds a twist on the typical platformer style, giving the player the opportunity to collect and mix bottles of coloured fluid they find whilst playing the game. There are four colours (again one for each of the four elements), and these grant him different abilities like invisibility, the ability to jump higher, and can also add fire or lightning to his swords.
So, I’ve rambled on for five paragraphs about this obscure Mega Drive game. Why should it be remade? Simple enough really, just look at the potential this story has! A hack-and-slash style like Dante’s Inferno or Devil May Cry, but with the added alchemy ingredient (see what I did there?) and a very dark feel that seems to be missing from many of the hack-and-slash type games at the moment. The heavy element of storytelling found in the modern gaming era will also improve the game tenfold, especially if we are allowed into the mind of Chakan as he suffers his eternal torment.
An attempt to make another Chakan for the Sega Dreamcast was made in 2001, but the project collapsed and much of the work on the game ended up in another horror game, Legacy Of Kain: Blood Omen 2. It seems, however, that the world hasn’t entirely forgotten about Chakan’s quest as according to Wikipedia, a live action film based on Chakan has entered production. Let’s hope that if the film is made, another Chakan game will surface!
Onto the next game! This time we’ve got to jump forward five years to 1997, which saw the release of Alien Resurrection and a host of crap teen slasher films. In the gaming world, the beast known as Final Fantasy VII was released, alongside Quake II, Fallout and Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, and finally, the Nintendo 64. It was also the year that Nightmare Creatures was released for the Playstation and the PC.
Nightmare Creatures was part 3D Platformer, part horror set in a delightful gothic horror rendition of Victorian London. The game follows warrior-priest and occult expert, Ignatius Blackwood and Nadia Franciscus, the daughter of renowned American historian, Dr. Jean Franciscus as they battle Adam Crowley, a mad scientist, cult leader, alchemist and all-round bad egg. Crowley has unleashed all manner of chaos into London, with sightings of monsters, people mutating into beasts and sudden outbreaks of the living dead. And to cap it off in true baddy style, Crowley has murdered Nadia’s father!
So take your pick of the staff-wielding Ignatius, or the sword-wielding Nadia and wade into a game that looks like Tomb Raider with a bucket of blood thrown over it, using your weapons, and all the guns, bombs and magic spells you find along the way, slicing zombies and werewolves horizontally in half as you go! The game isn’t very good to look at, but the controls are pretty good for the time and unlike a lot of games at the time, it was quite a challenge (not quite to the extremes of Chakan, though).
It was followed up by a sequel in 2000 (Which I must admit I never played. I couldn’t find it at the time!), which again featured Adam Crowley and his legion of monsters, but this time, featured the axe-wielding Wallace, a former prisoner of Crowley’s. There was also a third game in production for the Playstation 2, Xbox and PC, which since being acquired by Ubisoft, has slid into development hell with no word on the game since 2004. A film was also announced in 2000, but never surfaced.
Nightmare Creatures’ potential lies in it’s setting and style. The casual gamer is no stranger to cults and mad scientists as antagonists (the two arguably most well known Horror games contain them, Silent Hill with the cult and Resident Evil has had both!), but hasn’t had to battle them in Victorian England with little to no firepower. If Nightmare Creatures was remade, or Nightmare Creatures 3 was to be produced, I’d like to see it done in a similar way to the original, but with a few modern touches. I also think there’d be room to add in a bit of an open world feel, giving you a lot of London/England to explore with plenty of side-quests. I think it’d also be interesting to keep the emphasis away from magic and abilities and keep the character(s) as real and believable as possible.
Next up on the agenda is a game that first surfaced in 1999, the year that also gave us our first trip to Silent Hill, the sadly doomed Sega Dreamcast and not much else…except a little game called Shadow Man. Shadow Man, like Chakan, was based (albeit loosely) on comic books, and is another 3D Platformer (which was popular at the time), crossed with action-adventure.
Shadow Man is Mike LeRoi, and is also a rather unlucky guy. Having squandered his life and working as a taxi-driver in 1989, Mike thought he was onto a winner when a client was subject to a gang-hit, leaving a briefcase full of cash. Mike gave the money to his family, specifically to pay for his sick younger brother to have an operation. However, the gang tracked him down and began menacing him and his family. In an act of desperation, Mike turned to a Bokor (a kind of voodoo sorcerer) for protection. When the gang caught up with him and his family and performed a drive-by shooting, the protection only covered Mike and he just survived whilst his whole family was wiped out.
Struck with amnesia following his recovery, Mike ends up in the Bokor’s service as payment for the protection, until one night when a battle raged between the Bokor’s gang and a rival gang. In the chaos, the leader of the rival gang, Mama Nettie, another powerful voodoo sorceress, drags Mike away from the battle and uses her power to forcibly implant a voodoo artifact called ‘the Mask of Shadows’ into his chest. This turns Mike LeRoi into the latest incarnation of Shadow Man, an African Voodoo warrior, blessed (or cursed) with the power to cross over from this life to the afterlife (called Lifeside and Deadside respectively). The Shadow Man must use this and other abilities to protect Lifeside from threats in Deadside.
Additionally, Mike regained his memories. Tormented, but unable to end his suffering, Mike joins with Mama Nettie and accepts his fate as the Shadow Man. As the game begins, Nettie has a prophetic dream telling her of trouble brewing in Deadside. Five serial killers, including the legendary Jack The Ripper, under the direction of Legion himself (or should that be themselves?) are preparing an invasion of Lifeside, using a massive construction known as ‘Asylum’. She tells Shadow Man how to travel to Deadside using the only memento left of his brother, a teddy bear as a voodoo artifact.
Now, I’m not going to claim for a second that Shadow Man was a good game. The graphics are horrific, even by the original Playstation’s standards, the controls were iffy and it generally didn’t play very well (The Nintendo 64 version of this game scored far higher marks so I’m guessing that some of these problems may be exclusive to the Playstation).
This however should not detract from how interesting this game is. For one, it was for the most part, an open-world game. You were free to explore and play the game at your own pace, and take on whichever of the game’s main villains in which ever order, provided you had the powers to get to them, much like games like Prince Of Persia (the latest one) would be in years to come. Another small, yet interesting point is the targeting system which allowed you to lock onto enemies, allowing you to move and strafe, keeping them at the centre of your view. This is no rare thing in the modern era, but was very rare back then. The game also allowed you to dual wield weapons, giving you a variety in your attacks.
The game was flawed yet innovative, but the main reason I think this game should be remade, or a sequel to Shadow Man: 2econd Coming (which again, I haven’t played. I must sort this out.) should be made is because of this superb story. Imagine two open worlds to explore, Lifeside and Deadside, with a full host of voodoo powers (upgradeable maybe?). This brings me to another point, the casual gamer hasn’t really had experience of a story built so much on voodoo and African legends and magic, so this would be a fresh approach to the ‘Immortal Super Hero Type Battles Demons’ type game. It is rumoured that a third game is in the works, but nothing has been forthcoming. I’d say that it was a bit late to follow up the second Shadow Man now, and think a remake of the first with a modern approach would be the best way, perhaps even a re-imagining like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories?
Legacy Of Kain
Moving forward, we have our first established series! We must go backwards for the origins of this series to 1996, the year that brought us several other firsts, most notably Resident Evil, Quake, Diablo and Tomb Raider. One of these many other firsts was Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain.
Blood Omen launched the now five-strong Legacy Of Kain series with an intriguing premise. The main character Kain, rather than being the stereotypical hero figure, was a vampire, and the makers of the game made sure that he, along with most of the game’s other characters, had no strict Good or Evil alignments.
I won’t go into detail like with the games before, due to the complicated plotline of the series, which includes fate and destiny, time travel and even paradoxes, but I’ll give an overview. Legacy Of Kain is set in a world called Nosgoth, a war torn and grim Fantasy setting. The first game followed Kain as he becomes a vampire, with a game play style much like Diablo and other 2D/3Dish action-adventures, bordering on an RPG.
The second game, Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver, turned the plot on it’s head as we are introduced to a changed Nosgoth, where Kain rules the land. He and his underlings are evolving and becoming less human as time moves on. We are also introduced to a new main character in Raziel. Raziel is one of Kain’s lieutenants. In the intro, Raziel approaches Kain and reveals newly grown wings. Incensed that Raziel has surpassed him in vampiric evolution, Kain tears the bones from his wings and has him cast into ‘The Lake Of The Dead’.
Unfortunately for Kain, blokes like Raziel have a way of not staying dead. He is resurrected in a new form, that of a wraith, by a being known simply as ‘The Elder God’. Raziel resurfaces in Nosgoth one thousand years after his death and goes on a Kill Bill-esque rampage of wiping out his brothers (Kain’s other lieutenants) and attempting to wipe out Kain.
The series then begins to jump about in time. The player controls Raziel once more in Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 as Raziel is sent back and forth, finding himself being manipulated by various forces. The events of Soul Reaver 2 lead to both Blood Omen 2: Legacy Of Kain as a paradox causes an altered past for Kain, and then to the events of Legacy Of Kain: Defiance, the last game of the series so far and the only game of the series allowing the player to control both Kain and Raziel.
The series ceased with Kain having become as hero-like as he could possibly be, and with Raziel dead and his soul absorbed into the Soul Reaver sword. Yet, with all the time-travel and paradoxes, Raziel could quite easily make a return to the plot. A sixth game was in production called The Dark Prophecy but was cancelled three months into production. Things have gone quiet on the Legacy Of Kain front since 2004 aside from the occasional comments from Eidos saying that they’re interesting in resurrecting the series.
Well, there’s no time like the present, guys! I don’t think a remake would be required here, just give us more from Kain and (maybe) Raziel and we’ll be happy. I don’t think the game would need to be altered that much from the gameplay style that has lasted from Soul Reaver onwards, modernising aside.
Well, four down and four to go from the games I have chosen, I think now is time enough to have little break. Before I go away for a bit, though. Some honourable mentions are in order!
I hadn’t forgotten about the influential and pretty original Clock Tower series, I just hadn’t really played it aside from the occasional quick go at it at a friend’s place. The game is a survival horror in every sense of the term, since the character is helpless and has to rely on hiding from the twisted villain, Scissorman (or the Scissorwoman in Clock Tower 3), and occasionally defending herself by using the environment.
The Clock Tower games seem to have dried up since the release of Clock Tower 3 in 2003, but apparently the Clock Tower movie is still on the way (a release date is slated for 2010…though it hasn’t appeared yet…), and according to a Facebook page, a remake of the original is in the works by an independent games company. The game will be called Remothered, rather than Clock Tower.
Finally, I think every long-winded rant about games that should make a return needs a bit of comedy relief.
Bring back Decap Attack, please, Sega! Decap Attack is a game set in a cartoony horror world and stars a strange mummy-like creature called Chuck D. Head who uses his face to bash his foes. If this is not a premise for a classic, I don’t know what is.
The game itself isn’t spectacular, actually, but my main memories of Decap Attack come from a comic-strip that used to appear in the British version of the Sonic The Hedgehog comics. This was very different from the game and featured Chuck, a skull called Head, a demented Igor and a stereotypical mad scientist called Frank N. Stein. The strip had a British surreal comedy edge, which included things such as a large Scottish Were-rabbit like thing, talking brains in jars, drinkable cheese and the mad scientist pretending to be German when he’s actually from Cardiff.
So yeah, bring back Decap Attack, Sega, but hire the guys who wrote that strip to make it!
And with that, I’ll go away until next time, when I’ll have four more classic games to ramble about!