Saturday, October 31, 2009

They Rose from Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom, or, Savage Zombie Ablogcalypse!

Yes, folks, it's magic time. Halloween is upon us and I saved the best for last. I have one more board game for all of you and I recommend, nay, demand under pain of death that you check out this game.

I don't remember when I first caught wind of this game. It was, most likely, when I was still working at a comic and game shop many years ago. In fact, I think that's right, because it came out around 2001. Seriously, though, when I did check it out on our store shelves, I knew I wanted to play it.

The game I'm referring to is Zombies!!!, and, just like Betrayal at the House on the Hill, it features players going around on an ever-expanding board that uses tiles to dictate the board.  A normal game of Zombies!!! starts out with the players at the central town square, and they have to explore a city infested with the undead.  You can find certain buildings that can give you extra health, extra ammo, or, if you have the right card, a new weapon.  There are two primary objectives to the game: either be the first person to kill 25 zombies, or the be the first person to get to the helipad (which is shuffled in the tile stack) and kill all nine zombies there to clear it off.  That's right, people, Zombies!!! is not a team sport.  Everyone is in it for themselves, and with certain cards, you can really fuck your friends over.

Which is part of the reason I love playing this game.  This is the truest test of friendship I have ever known.  If your friends can play an entire game of Zombies!!! with you, as you call each other the harshest of names after taking turns dicking each other over, and they still like you, they're a keeper.  Hell, I remember one time I called my wife something along the lines of "Harpy Bitch Queen" after she screwed me over royally.  She told me to fuck off and die, or something, and we both laughed our asses off.

So, the game works like this: On their turn, each player draws a card, if they used one and are below the hand limit (I think it's five), pulls a new tile from the top of the stack and connects it to the rest of the board, then they roll the dice for movement and get to where they want to go.  If they encounter a space with a zombie on it, they have to fight.  They roll 1 die (the dice are all the standard d6, by the way).  If they get a 4 or higher, they kill the zombie and add it to their kill count.  If they get 3 or lower, they can do one of two things, they can either spend an amount of bullets (each character starts with three bullets, but can collect as many as they find) in order to bring the die roll up to a 4.  For instance, if someone rolled a 2, they would have to spend two bullets in order to succeed.  Each bullet counts as adding +1 to the die roll, and you can only do it if you wouldn't normally make the roll.

If the player doesn't have enough bullets, or doesn't want to waste that many, they take 1 health worth of damage (players start with three health and can have up to five).  Should you run out of health, you lose your entire hand, half the zombies in your kill count, and have to start their next turn back at the town square.  If the player survives movement, they then roll another d6 to determine how many zombies they can move.  Each zombie moves 1 space per turn (into legal squares - there are some nameless buildings that are not considered a legal square) and only one zombie can occupy a square at a time.  Other than that, the player can move them however they like.

Needless to say, this game is fucking awesome.  I always look forward to a good Zombies!!! game, though I usually don't win.  And, if playing the core box gets a little stale, there are expansion sets that add on to the basic set.  Usually, these expansions add new rules as well as new locales to escape from the zombies, including a mall, a military base, a circus, a prison, a forest, even the sewers.  Adding one of these expansions is sure to keep your game going longer, though I only recommend using all of the expansions if you and your friends have an entire week to kill.

You can find Zombies!!! and all the expansions at your local store of awesome, or at Twilight Creations Inc.  The company actually has a wide selection of horror games to choose from, including a hybrid board game/RPG called When Darkness Comes..., which is very similar to Betrayal at the House on the Hill, but isn't out of print, so you can get it at a more reasonable price (I found a copy of Betrayal on ebay for $80.  Yikes!).  They also are releasing a Deadlands board game (Deadlands is an old west horror RPG and is also the predecessor to Savage Worlds).  Definitely check out these games.

I assure you, you won't live to regret it.  (maniacal laughter)

Happy Halloween, my Steel Legionnaires!
Kaiser out

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Dark Shadows That Plague Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom (A Games You Should Know About... Halloween Special)

The survival horror genre has been a staple of mainstream video games for over a decade.  Most of us remember playing Resident Evil for the first time and actually being creeped out by a video game.  I remember playing it with tense apprehension, waiting for something to jump out at me so I could put a few shotgun shells in it before I wigged out too much.  The fear factor wore off after the first time playing, but the game did give you a good experience.  After the success of the Resident Evil series (which is still going strong), Capcom and other companies capitalized on the rise of the genre.  From the disturbing pshchological terror of Silent Hill, to the eerie horror of Fatal Frame, to the seat-of-your-pants zombie survival bonanza Dead Rising.  It was all thanks to Resident Evil for being the first survival horror game that started it all... or did it?

Actually, Resident Evil was not the first survival horror video game.  That honor would probably belong to another Capcom game, Sweet Home, which was released in 1989 in tandem with the movie of the same name.  Though Resident Evil did borrow a lot from this game, Sweet Home was never released outside of Japan and was an 8-bit RPG for the Famicom.  Resident Evil is a 3D game, so would that make Resident Evil the first 3D survival horror game to reach the States?

No.  Another game beat RE to the punch by four years.  That game was Alone in the Dark.  It was primarily made for PCs and Macintosh computers, but a version did crop up on the lackluster 3DO console.  It took place in 1925, as a paranormal investigator, Edward Carnby, discovers terrible horrors in a Louisiana mansion where the owner committed suicide.  The game has a heavy Lovecraftian influence and is considered a classic by many old school afficionados (I wouldn't know, though.  I spent most of my life without a computer, so I never played this game).

So, if I never played this game, why am I writing about it?  Well, the game did have sequels.  Both AITD 2 and 3 followed as direct sequels to the game, but didn't have as much Lovecraftian influence.  It wasn't until the fourth game came out that I took notice.  Titled Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, it seemed like a reboot of the franchise.  It retained a lot of Lovecraft's influence, but the monsters in the game are not quite like the Cthulhu mythos.

The hero, again, is Edward Carnby.  Some people have theorized that he, inexplicably, was in a coma for several decades and that this is the exact same guy from the first game.  Regardless, he decides to go to this island off the coast of Maine after his partner dies while investigating there.  Along for the ride is the beautiful Aline Cedrac, a young professor at Boston University who is looking for Obed Morton, who, supposedly, inherited this island, as well as some "research," from his father.  Of course, there's much more to this story than is let on in the beginning.  It seems that the island is filled with these monsters who come from a shadow dimension and are eager to kill anything in their sight.  The player will also come across lots of zombie-like creatures: corpses that were injected with some of the inorganic material that the shadow monsters are made of.  They were brought back to some abomination of life, much like Lovecraft's story, Herbert West: Reanimaror.

The player can play either Carnby or Cedrac.  Each character has their own different game experience, as both of them are exploring the old mansion nestled on the island.  The game plays a lot like Resident Evil, you run around (just like in RE, it's like steering a tank), picking up items, solving puzzles, and shooting monsters.  But this game does some things differently.  First off, this game has a lot of investigation, in the way of reading letters, documents, diary entries, photos, and audio recordings, in order to get a lot of the backstory, which is pretty involved.  I certainly recommend reading every document you find.  It may take some time, but the backstory is rewarding. 

Another innovation with this game has to do with the lighting.  Light plays an important part in this game, from the way that lights will go out just when the monsters appear, to actually having weapons that use light, such as the phosphorescent bullets that Carnby uses, to kill monsters.  This may sound insignificant, but the flashlight in this game is quite impressive.  Considering the character and monsters are 3D representations on a pre-rendered 2D backdrop, the flashlight actually interacts perfectly with the 2D background, making a realistic spot of light appear wherever you aim the flashlight (and you can aim the flashlight to search through the dark surroundings).  It's actually a good effect.

The voice acting is a step up from the original RE.  It doesn't sound as forced or corny (no "Jill sandwiches" here).  Some of the voice actors do ham it up a bit, but it sounds much better than Barry from RE repeatedly saying, "What is it?" in such an unconvincing voice.

Like I said before, gameplay is similar to RE because this came out after and uses some of the influences from the game.  I do like that the left analog stick is used to aim your flashlight while you're searching.  You can also aim both your gun and flashlight at the same time, so you can see what you're shooting.  The dual shock controllers are a must for this game, because the game uses the vibration function to kinda give you chills at appropriate times.

Despite a lot of reviewers saying this is just another RE knockoff, it really is much more than that.  It provides atmosphere, depth, and real scares to your gaming experience.  I recommend you pick up a copy.

Now, I know that the picture above is for a PS2 version of the game, but unless you live in England, you're shit outta luck.  The PS2 version is only available for PAL systems.  I own the PS1 version of the game, which has the least impressive graphics out of all the versions.  There is a Dreamcast and PC version of the game available, but I don't know how well the controlls would work, since the control scheme seems to be made for Sony's systems.

With that being said, this video is definitely not from the PS1 version.  Most likely, it's from either the PC or Dreamcast version.  So enjoy, and always be wary of things in the dark.

Kaiser out

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Demon Hunters of Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom

Halloween has only been a recent phenomenon in Japan, but has quickly become very popular.  Despite this, Japan has a longstanding penchant for horror.  Most of their horror stories center around ghosts and spirits, as is evidenced by such popular movies as Ringu and Ju-on and video games such as the Fatal Frame series (which are some of the scariest games I've ever played).  In the late 80s and into the 90s, there has also been a fascination in anime and video games on demon hunters.  A lot of these anime (and some of the games) made it to the states and became one generation's first glimpse at the world of anime (myself included).  So I decided to take a look back at some of the anime and games from the past 20 years that focused on demons and the people who hunt them.

One of the most successful anime studios, Madhouse, cranked out these supernatural anime like nobody's business during those days.  Features such as Demon City Shinjuku, Wicked City, Devil Hunter Yohko, Vampire Hunter D, and Phantom Quest Corp. were staples of the anime section of any movie store (Devil Hunter Yohko was actually ADV Films' first release).  All of these were made by Madhouse.

Though Madhouse was the most prolific, others made supernatural anime as well.  Most notable was Devilman, based on the manga by the legendary Go Nagai, it focused on Akira Fudo, a timid young man who is encouraged by his friend to fight demons.  In order to do this, Akira becomes possessed by one of the strongest demons in Hell, Amon.  Only his pure heart keeps Akira in control and allows him to transform into Devilman, an amalgamation of Akira's will and Amon's strength.  Another one, Tokyo Revelation, is based on the Shin Megami Tensei video game series (which I'll get to in a minute).  A young man discovers he can control demons using a computer program that works much like a summoning spell and wreaks havoc with his demonic tools until a childhood friend tries to stop him.

All of these demon hunting movies do share certain characteristics:  Blood, Violence, Sex, and Nudity.  Not all of them are the same, though.  For instance, Devil Hunter Yohko does have nudity and sexual situations, but little to no blood and gore, while Wicked City is dark and gritty with plenty of sex, violence, gore, even a rape scene.  Phantom Quest Corp. is probably the tamest, as it's primarily a comedy.  There is some sexual innuendo and a short flash of breasts, but it doesn't get graphic.  Then there's series such as LA Blue Girl and Urotsukidoji, both of which are notorious for their "tentacle porn."

As if anime wasn't enough, Japan had quite a few video games that involved demon hunting.  A lot of them were based off of some of the anime I've already mentioned.  I know that, Devil Hunter Yohko and Devilman have been turned into video games.  The most recognizable series, though, is Shin Megami Tensei, which was originally based on a novel about summoning demons through a computer.  The first games, were released on the Famicom, when the series was just called Megami Tensei.  They added "Shin" to the title when they started making them for the Super Famicom.

One of the first games from the franchise to reach the states was Persona for the PS1.  It's not technically part of the SMT series, it's more of an offshoot.  The main difference was that, instead of summoning demons with electronics,  each of your party members summoned a "persona," a sort of archetypal being that arose from their personality, that would cast spells to defeat demons.  It achieved a cult status when it released and the sequel came out for the PS1 as well.  Persona was one of the first series of SMT based games to have each game brought out to the States (The Digital Devil Saga series and the Raidou Kuzunoha games also have been completely released in the states, but Persona was made before them).  Along with the different series, standalone games, such as Nocturne for the PS2 and Devil Survivor for the DS, were released.  Each of these games have gotten critical praise for their innovative RPG elements, fascinating premise and themes, and their art and design.

So now that you have seen how they do horror on the other side of the Pacific, check some of these games and anime out (except for Urotsukidoji, unless you have a thing for girls being raped by psuedopods, freak).

Kaiser out

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

John Carpenter's Crypt of Doom, Starring Kaiser Crowbar

The early 80s was the prime time for horror.  In books, authors such as Stephen King and Clive Barker were constantly producing bestsellers.  In the movies, Wes Craven dominated theaters as well as my favorite horror director, John Carpenter.  Carpenter is most famously known for starting the "slasher" film craze with his horror masterpiece, Halloween.  His career as a director has not been the most successful, but he did create a lot of enjoyable movies.

For instance, The Thing, which is a gripping movie about isolation, insanity, and paranoia, didn't do well at the box office, mostly because people were so enamored with E.T. that they didn't want to see a movie about an alien that devoured all life and cellularly assimilated its food to change shape.  Also, the special effects, though fantastically done, were too gory for critics to accept.  Regardless, the movie picked up a strong cult following and helped re-launch Kurt Russell's acting career.

Unlike Craven, Carpenter did not limit himself to horror films during his career.  He did everything from the romantic drama, Starman (which was critically acclaimed), to action films such as Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China, both of which, again, starred Kurt Russell.  Most of Carpenter's non-horror movies still contained a sci-fi/fantasy flavor.

In the late 80s and 90s, Carpenter's movies were not as well received as they once were.  He could never get the critics or the box office to see the appeal of his movies anymore.  Carpenter dropped off the scene for a while, but people have started to remake some of his films, such as The Fog and Rob Zombie's interpretation of Halloween.  He also did an episode for Showtime's Masters of Horror series called Cigarette Burns.  There's whispers that he's planning on working on new projects and bringing sequels of his old films, but not much has come out of that yet.

Despite being snubbed by critics for most of his career, I thoroughly enjoy Carpenter's movies.  They have a certain feel to them.  Partially, it's the music, most of which was done by Carpenter, himself.  What I love most about his films is this kind of schlocky quality to some of them.  Most of his movies were made with a lower budget, but he knows how to milk as much out of that budget.  A lot of his films were somewhat ridiculous, such as Big Trouble in Little China, but that's what makes them so great.  I love the silly one liners that "Rowdy" Roddy Piper spews out in They LivePrince of Darkness had such a silly, but fascinating premise, where Satan is the son of a dark being from the farthest reaches of space.  Most of Carpenter's movies look like they were shitloads of fun to make, and that comes through.

My favorite of Carpenter's movies has to be In the Mouth of Madness, which is Carpenter's tribute to all things Lovecraftian.  I thought the movie had an awesome premise when I first saw it as a teenager and it still holds as my personal favorite.

Some people would think I'm crazy for enjoying some of these movies.  I watched They Live with some of my friends, and they couldn't stop talking about how ridiculous it was and how it didn't make sense.  They just don't know what I know.  They don't see it.

John Carpenter is awesome.
Take it or leave it.

Kaiser out

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kaiser Crowbar Presents LORDI, Playing a Sold Out Show at the Crypt of Doom

There have been horror rockers in the past, Alice Cooper certainly comes to mind as one of the first, but none have been as entertaining as Lordi.  Their story is a bit of a strange one.  Inspired by KISS, the band was formed to play horror themed hard rock while wearing grotesque costumes.  They actually entered the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 and won, which was interesting for a group such as them to win a contest dominated by pop stars.

Since then, they have rocked concerts all over Europe (especially in their homeland, Finland) and even played in the US.  Their music videos are like miniature horror films and are always awesome.  Last year, they actually starred in their own horror film, Dark Floors, which Mr. Lordi actually conceived with the director.  Dark Floors is a well polished, entertaining film, though not necesarily scary.  Watching Lordi slaughter makes me cheer more than cringe (then again, horror films don't usually scare me).  If I saw Lordi terrorizing people, I'd flash them the horns and invite them to Macaroni Grill.  We'd talk about the massacre of foolish humans and rocking out over pasta, salad, and bread (their bread is so good).  Then we'd collaborate on doing a song together.  I think we would call the song, "Lawn Care of the Damned," or something like that.

Anyway, here's to Lordi, who definitely belong in any horror lover's collection.  To commemorate this, here's one of my favorite Lordi videos.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Eerie Sounds From Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom

 When playing a good horror board game or RPG (I have only mentioned a few that are available, and I'm saving the best for last), having a haunting soundtrack in the background does a lot to set up the mood.  I like using music when I run RPGs.  I did it a lot when I ran Mage: The Ascension, and I planned on implementing it in a Rippers campaign I was starting (It fell to the wayside after two sessions because everyone wants to run one game or another in my group).  Last October, I came across these cds that I found to be perfect for background music for the game.

There's a duo of musicians that go by Nox Arcanum, and they release atmospheric horror music.  Each of their albums have a certain theme to them.  There's one dedicated to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, one about Dracula, one about the Cthulhu mythos, there's even one about a depraved insane asylum.  This music doesn't seem to be the kind of stuff you'd listen to on the drive to work, but it does what it's supposed to do and does it well.  The artwork on each of the albums is also really good.  If you're looking for something to liven up a horror RPG, board game, Vampire LARP, even a haunted attraction, Nox Arcana has the goods.  They also have a fantasy themed soundtrack, for those who want something for Pathfinder sessions.  Check out their website and listen to a couple tracks.

As an added bonus, I decided I wanted to post a Sonata Arctica video.  The video does fit the horror theme and the song kicks ass.  So enjoy some "Wolf and Raven."

Kaiser out

Random Cryptness - Last Monday Before Halloween

This one might mess with you.

Okay, so Halloween III: Season of the Witch was a fucking stupid movie.  Basically, this novelty company, Silver Shamrock, decided to create these masks and insert a microchip in there that has a piece of Stonehenge (!) embedded in them.  The company would entice children to watch their commercial on Halloween night for "the big giveaway."  The kids would watch a flashing image of "the magic pumpkin."  The kids would die (I guess from epileptic seizures?) and snakes and bugs would come out of their heads and kill their parents.  The whole purpose: to have a massive, nationwide human sacrifice for some vague pagan ritual.

Re.  Tar.  Ded.  Who the hell goes through this much trouble just to use these deaths for some ritual?  How the fuck did they get a stone from Stonehenge?  It's not like they can just go up to Ireland and say, "I think we'll need to borrow one of the stones."  "What do you need it for?" Ireland asks.  "Well, we were going to put pieces of it in these masks and cause a massive death toll back in the States, just for shits and grins."  "Oh, okay," Ireland says, "just bring it back when you're done.  We kinda need it because it is an important landmark that ties us to our rich and mysterious heritage, but you can borrow it for a while."  Not the least, though, how the hell does a kid who's been dead less than a minute start spewing poisonous snakes and crickets?  Yes, crickets, because they're so deadly.  Watch out for that cricket.  It may chirp at you.

How fucking lame can you get?

Regardless of how stupid it is, this scene did creep the fuck out of me when I was a kid.  When they're dragging the hero away, you can actually see guys with little hammers chipping away at Stonehenge.

Since I still got a buttload of topics to post about, I'm gonna do a second post later today. Stay tuned.

Kaiser out

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Savage Worlds of Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom

Last time, I went a little bit into vampire hunting in video games with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  I always thought that victorian style monster hunting would be an awesome idea for an RPG.  Well, Pinnacle Entertainment, the guys who created Savage Worlds, have the answer to that with Rippers.  Try to imagine the movie Van Helsing, except that it didn't horribly suck, and you have a good idea of what Rippers is like.

The game's story includes many classic horror characters, including Dr. Jekyll, Dr. Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man, for starters.  The formation of the monster hunting organization, known as Rippers, began when occultist John Dee and a colleague of his began experimenting with the corpse of a werewolf that Mr. Dee killed while it was attacking him.  They discovered that by using techniques such as organ transplants and tissue grafting, a subject could gain the powers of the supernatural creature that "donated" the organs.  It made men strong enough to fight the monsters that plagued them and gave rise to the organization.  The first victory for Rippers was when Abraham Van Helsing, a protege under Dee, aided in defeating Dracula.

But power came at a horrific price.  Mr. Dee, who had took up the pseudonym Dr. Jack in order to stage his own death, had many rippen-transferre procedures.  He started to suffer from what was called "Ripping Psychosis," as the monstrous implants started turning him mad.  The numerous transplanted organs also did harm to his body and he was constantly facing death from organ failure.  In order to keep himself alive, he had to have new organs constantly replaced, which meant he needed corpses, fresh corpses.  In London, he found a hearty staple of prostitutes.  Since prostitutes were not held in high regard, he thought very few people would miss a dead whore from time to time.  So it was this killing spree in London that gave Dr. Jack the nickname he was most famous for: Jack the Ripper.

With madness deteriorating his mind, Dr. Jack decided that the Rippers he once fostered were now his enemies.  He conversed with witches and sorcerers, enlisted mad scientists, and dealt with demons to form his own alliance of terror, known as the Cabal.  Van Helsing discovered this and now leads the Rippers in a secret war in the dark hours to rid the threat of the Cabal forever.

This really is a great campaign, and one of my favorites from Pinnacle.  The setting is great and it includes systems for ripping psychosis, status (monster hunters still have to play a part in gentlemen society), and maintaining a Ripper lodge (Courting sponsors for your lodge is a must, as this shadowy war costs money).  It hearkens back to the classic horror stories and brings a moral dilemma to the player characters:  Do they risk death to keep themselves pure, or do they use Ripper technology to fight the monsters and risk something far worse?

The core book for Rippers is available in print.  You can order it at your local game and hobby store.  All the supplements and adventures are strictly in .pdf format.  I recommend going to DriveThru RPG to download all the materials you need.

If you're looking for something more modern in your horror campaign, check out 12 to Midnight.  They have a horror campaign centered around the fictional town of Pinebox, Texas, where all sorts of strange and evil phenomena occur.  Pinebox, Texas is any paranormal investigator's dream come true.  Trust me, these guys have horror market cornered in Savage Worlds.

Don't think I forgot about those who like something more Lovecraftian in their horror games.  I'm a big fan of Lovecraft's stories and general mythos, so how could I not recommend checking out the Reality Blurs website?  Their game, Realms of Cthulhu, seems perfect for anyone interested in risking their sanity to fight against the minions of the Elder Gods.  I haven't picked this one up, yet (Don't have the money, right now), but it does look very promising.  It's available in .pdf and print versions, as well.

So there you have it, plenty of ways to kick off a terror filled Savage Worlds campaign.  The beast is on the prowl.  Let the hunt begin.

Kaiser out

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Son of Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom

Ever since vampire fiction's beginnings with Bram's Stokers original Dracula, there have always been vampire hunters who stalk the night, willing to turn the tables on the blood suckers.  Vampire hunters have been just as prolific as vampires themselves, from books to movies, TV shows, video games, anime, etc.  These two different types of killers are intertwined in an unending struggle for dominance of the night, but that's not the only interaction between the living and the nocturnal undead.  From time to time, a vampire's lust for blood evolves into a lust for flesh - female flesh.  Vampires are carnal creatures and they sometimes go into the village their castle looms over and make an impromptu booty call.  Thus, the Dhampyr are born.

A Dhampyr, for the uneducated, is the offspring of a vampire father and a human mother (typically, a female vampire doesn't have children, though I don't see that being completely out of the question).  In fiction, Dhampyr are typically raised by their human mother, as a vampire has no time to be playing baby daddy.  Of course, they still carry a part of their father's legacy (each to a different extent, depending on the story.  Some Dhampyr have only a vampire's strengths, while others have only their weaknesses), so they often feel outcast from human society.

Dhampyr usually play a significant role in vampire hunter society.  This is mostly because of the prolonged closeness to humans has fostered a kinship toward them and the intimate knowledge of their vampiric legacy show what evil they can be capable of.  Due to this, Dhampyr tend to be solitary individuals who hunt their full blooded kin alone, so as to avoid more zealous and closed minded hunters.

Though there are plenty of famous Dhampyr in fiction, I can only think of a few of them right now:  The mysterious D from Vampire Hunter D, the luscious Rayne from Bloodrayne (the video games, not the movie - Uwe Boll can suck it), and, the main focus of this post, Alucard, son of Dracula from the Castlevania series.

Alucard was first featured in Castlevania III and became popular enough to warrant his own game, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.  Now all the Castlevania games are classics, but I couldn't play the first three, as they were too damn hard (and platformers, no less).  When SOTN came out, it irrevocably changed the franchise.  No longer were the stages linear (Though Castlevania II was non-linear, but it was a pain in the ass).  You wandered around the rooms of your father's expansive castle, gaining power ups that would allow you to reach other areas.  Plus, they implemented a level up system that gave Alucard more hit points to survive the tougher monsters along the way.

The game improved the Castlevania formula by leaps and bounds and has become the new standard in the series.  The gameplay was superior, the music was fantastically haunting, and the art style was beautiful.  SOTN was the pinnacle of the series.  Every good Castlevania game afterward stuck with that formula (By the good ones, I mean the ones on the GBA and DS.  All the 3D Castlevanias sucked).

SOTN has been an important part of my Halloween for years.  Every October, I pull it out of my box of PS1 games, pop it in the system and soak up all the eerie atmosphere.  Vampire hunting never felt so good.

Kaiser out

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blood Feast at Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom

One of the most iconic and popular type of monsters are, of course, vampires.  For the past couple of years, there's been a huge resurgence in vampire fiction, both in books and in movies.  Of course, this is soured by the fact that most of the stuff released out there is all about stupid women who can't help but fall in love with that brooding, frock coat wearing, undead metrosexual.  Somehow, vampires have become sex symbols.  Wait, let me rephrase that - MALE vampires have become sex symbols.  There's always been a seductive allure to female vampires.  That's because female vampires use their sex appeal to lead horny men to their doom.  They are the black widows of horror.  You know she's hot, but she'll fucking kill you.

On the flipside, most male vampires are used as sex objects.  They're not the elusive predators of yore.  For some reason, it seems really popular for a vampire to have a relationship with a girl, instead of killing them and making them part of their harem of undead brides.  What the fuck?  I don't care how many people read the Anita Blake, Twilight, or those Sookie Suckhouse books.  If you're fucking the monster, then it's not horror.

What happened to the vampire movies I used to love?  I remember watching films like The Lost Boys and Fright Night.  Even Once Bitten starring a young Jim Carrey was more enjoyable than the crap I see nowadays.  I have actually watched the Twilight movie and regretted every minute.  Thankfully I didn't pay to see it, or I'd have to bathe with lava to burn off the shame.  Vampire movies were better even ten years ago (well, somewhat).  The best one I can remember was From Dusk 'Til Dawn, but a lot of them, namely Blade, were just mediocre.

The reason why vampire movies started becoming crappy can be defined as "Vampire: The Masquerade Syndrome."  The RPG, along with Anne Rice's books, kind of popularized the "jaded rich boy" type of vampire - the ones with a mansion, a summer home, a crypt in Barcelona, and a Bentley with the windows tinted so dark you have to stick your head out to see where you're going.  I'm sick of these new vampire stereotypes.  In my opinion, a vampire should be one of two things:  An omnipotent, bloodthirsty god who turns his followers into a frenzied blood cult to cater to his sadistic whims, or a savage, animalistic beast of prey who feeds on humans like a wolf to cattle.

Oddly enough, there was one movie that did portray the latter.  While 30 Days of Night, based on the comic series of the same name, was way too long and got kind of boring, I did appreciate the concept of the movie (a pack of vampires go to Alaska to take advantage of an entire month without sunlight) as well as the sheer brutality of the vampires as they toy with their human prey before ruthlessly devouring them.

Vampire movies have gone down the crapper, my friends, but the good vampire movies from yesteryear can still be found at your local movie store.  So when your girlfriend tries to wrangle you into going to see the new Twilight movie, tell her to sit her ass down on the couch and pop in Salem's Lot.  You'll be better off that way.

Kaiser out

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sexy She-Devils from Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom

Of course, what would Halloween be without costumes?  And nothing says, "I really want you to think of me when you're screwing your wife/girlfriend," better than hot ladies wearing those sexy adult costumes.  Every year, my eyes always wander to the growing section of sexy female costumes they put out each year, mostly because the pictures on the front of the package shows  lovely models with plenty of boobages filling them out very nicely.

Are they slutty?  Sure.  Do you have a chance in Hell of getting your wife/girlfriend to dress up in one of those?  No.  That's not the point.  Okay, maybe it is, but besides that, it allows us guys an opportunity to, how shall I say, enjoy the aesthetic beauty of the female form in all its soft, curvaceous glory.  Is it okay to think of a girl who wears one of these sexy?  Yeah.  They got dressed up to look sexy.  There's nothing inherently wrong with that.  Just don't be a creepy stalker who follows the girl around during the party or tries to get down her pants.  You are not dressed up as a skeezy rapist for Halloween, and if you are, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Anyway, for all the ladies, let me make a few suggestions for Halloween costumes:

As for the guys, all I ask is you don't wear those retarded costumes that have some kind of crude sexual innuendo to them.  I'm sorry, but dressing up as a snake charmer with a snake coming out where your dong should be or wearing a lab coat that has "Dr. Seymour Bush" on the nametag will not get you laid, no matter how many beers she's had.

Kaiser out

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom: The Beginning

Only ten days remain before the night of all horrors descends upon the cowering masses.  I love this time of year.  The offensive heat and humidity of summer is supplanted by the cool, dry airs of autumn.  The leaves turn to their dying hues of red, orange, and gold.  I'm sitting at my computer with a bag of candy corn (I love this shit).  The call of night sings in my blood, seducing my thoughts as darker things rise in my mind.  With that in mind, I kick off my tribute to all the games, movies, music, and books that get me in the mood for the season.  Welcome to Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom.

I'm going to start things off with a game I just played recently.  A couple of good friends from Iowa came down last weekend and they brought Betrayal at the House on the Hill.  It's a very unique board game that nicely captures the suspense and terror of horror movies.

What makes it so great?  Well, the game actually has two phases.  In the first phase, all of the players are exploring this haunted mansion.  Everyone wanders around, exploring rooms, trying to find items that can help them.  This game uses tiles, instead of a standard board, which has actually become a staple in a lot of horror board games (I'll show you more at a later time).  The players start at the entryway and must go through doors in order to reveal the other rooms of the house.

Some rooms that are laid down trigger certain cards to be played. Event cards are, usually, minor spooky things, like blood on the walls, a slimy thing grabbing your leg, etc.  These events can slowly wear down your physical and mental attributes, bringing you a little bit closer to death, or they can steel you for the real, inevitable terror.  Items cards are exactly as advertised.  Some are weapons, some are items that boost your attributes, and some are talismans that help you out in certain rooms.  Finally, and most importatly, there are Omen cards.  When these are triggered, the active player get a (sometimes) important item, but each time an Omen card is drawn, a haunt check needs to be made.  You roll some dice and if the combined number is above the number of Omen cards in play, then everything continues as usual.

If the combined number is lower than the number of Omen cards in play, then things change, quickly.  This is where the second phase of the game comes in, because one of the players becomes "the traitor."  This player is now the monster in the game and everyone else must defeat him in order to win.  Usually, all the traitor needs to do is kill the other players to win, but they could also win by other conditional objectives.

If that sounds too easy, there's more.  You see, there are multiple factors that dictate how the second phase is played.  First off, there are 50 scenarios in the game.  Each scenario has the traitor become a different monster.  The first time we played, one of my friends became the leader of a group of cannibals.  In the second game, I turned into a giant, two-headed serpent.  Another thing is, that no one, not even the one who becomes the traitor, knows who the traitor will be until the haunting begins.  Top it off with special rules for each scenario, such as the monster is invulnerable until a character uses an Omen card to weaken them, and you have a very interesting game every time.

This game is great fun.  Not knowing who is the traitor and when they're going to strike certainly adds to the suspense.  When the traitor reveals themselves, everyone else must strategise and use teamwork to survive.  Sometimes, the game can be one sided - there are too many zombies for the survivors to kill, or the survivors already have all the items needed to kill the monster.  It's pretty much up to circumstance, but that's part of the joy, because a part of you has to prepare to fight the monster and part of you has to prepare to be the monster.

My wife's trying to get a copy of this game.  Supposedly, it's out of print.  But I have seen some places online still selling them, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

That's all the terror for today, boys and ghouls.  I'll be back soon to let you all back into the Crypt.

Maybe, I'll even seal you in there, forever. (maniacal laugh)

Until then,
Kaiser out

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Came, I Rocked, I Brütally Conquered!

I beat Brütal Legend on Saturday.  While the experience was great, it was over too quickly.  I wish there was more to the story.  I'm not going to give any spoilers ('cause I think everyone should experience the story themselves), but I'll just say that they drop a huge plot twist, one that I felt needed some further exploration and development afterward.  Instead, you are immediately swept into the final battle.  No time to discover your true destiny, just go in there and kill the main bad guy.  That part did feel a bit rushed, because I would like to know more about the history of that event.  If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, finish the game.  You'll know what I'm referring to when you get there.

So, what do you do when you beat Brütal Legend?  Well, you can still roam around the world, finishing missions and finding all the hidden crap.  There actually seems to be a good reason for this, and not just for the Achievement you get for getting 100%.  If you look at the map, you'll see a final mission marker.  When you get there, you can't do anything with it, yet.  My theory is that something will happen once you reveal all the hidden goodies, maybe even the real ending (the cinematic after defeating Doviculus does feel quite open ended).  So, I guess I'm not done with the game, after all, which is fine.  I can definitely see myself cruising around, listening to heavy metal, while searching for the secrets of this savage land.  Add on the fact that I haven't even touched multiplayer yet, and I've still got lots of quality time with this game.

Now, after playing Brütal Legend, one question will hang in everyone's mind: will there be a sequel?  If you know anything about Tim Schafer, you're probably thinking that a sequel is highly unlikely.  Tim Schafer makes a game, then moves on.  That's his style.  However, there are a few factors that could increase chances of a sequel.  First off, Brütal Legend may just be a more commercially successful game than Psychonauts, considering that EA gave the game a good deal of marketing (Not that it really needed it.  Plenty of people knew about the game long ago).  The numbers aren't out, yet, but, if they're good, EA may try to convince Tim Schafer to revisit the world of metal.  Another thing is that Tim Schafer loves to put a lot of history in his games, and Brütal Legend is no exception.  There is a lot of background details lying around to use in a sequel.  Even if Tim Schafer turns down the prospect, they could go ahead with another sequel, just like Sony did with God of War (Though, in my opinion, they should have stopped with God of War II, so I hope Schafer would be gung-ho for a sequel).  At this point, only time will tell.

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to start a Halloween special, where I'll write about horror games, movies, and other things.  There's going to be plenty of posts, as I have a lot of ideas for topics.  On November 1st, I'll try to post pictures of the party I'm having on Halloween night.

Kaiser out

Monday, October 19, 2009

Random Weirdness - Every Monday

Metal, fire, and ice.  There is no better combination outside of Ds, DDs, and DDDs.  This is why I need my own mad scientist.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm Too Busy Playing Brütal Legend to Post Right Now

Deal with it.

Okay, so I'll talk about my experience with Brütal Legend. It's fucking awesome. Duh. But there's some things I did not expect. Mainly, the real time strategy elements of the mass battles you fight in. You still are in the thick of battle and controlling Ironheade cannot be any simpler, so it's not like Command & Conquer is interrupting your game, but the strategy elements make it the most fun play mode in the game.

I do have a few gripes (emphasis on few). The side missions in the game are not as varied and can get tedious. Basically, you can ambush enemy forces, race against time or an opponent, or shoot things, turret style. My favorite side missions were the hunting missions, where you run or drive around, killing the local savage fauna. After you beat The Huntsman's record (I'm trying to think of who plays him. He seems so familiar.), you are able to summon the beast with a guitar riff and use them for combat.

Second, driving off road is hell until you upgrade The Deuce's performance. The landscape is about as flat as Pandora Peaks and one bump can send you careening in the wrong direction, usually into a tree or a rock, which sucks if you're doing a race mission. Considering that most of the roadways are hard to spot at times, you'll be driving like you were in an earthquake a lot. It does get better, though, so I can't gripe about it so much.

Also, navigation is a pain in the ass. Each waypoint is shown as a beacon of light in the game, but sometimes those aren't easy to spot, either, especially when it's sunny. At night, or when it's overcast, you can see them. Finding a good route to them without the map is kind of a pain, which is why you must constantly check the map screen to see if you missed that hard to spot roadway or even see if you're going the right direction. There is no minimap on the game screen, no compass. Pretty much, the HUD is non-existent. I can understand why they did that. That kind of shit would clutter up the screen and kinda cramp the style of the game. I respect their aesthetic choice on that. I just wish I didn't have to consult the map so often.

What I do like, other than the obvious, is that the world is sprawling. They show it to you, piece-by-piece, as the story goes on, but there's a lot of shit hiding in the landscape and they all give you some good stuff. I found myself enjoying the exploration aspect a lot, even if it's just to explore some new metal themed vista. From liquid metal rivers ever-flowing from a mountaintop to primordial statues to relics that allow you to glimpse into the past of the metal world, the world is your interactive metal album cover. You can even be rewarded some "cash" for sightseeing, if you know where to look.

Also, the story and characters are top notch. Tim Schafer knows how to write a good game with some good characters in it. It may not be as much a laff-a-minute romp as Psychonauts, but its more adult humor does work for me. By the way, you can actually censor the cursing and the gore in the game. Although, playing the game that way will make you a humongous pussy. I mean c'mon. Are you really going to play the most metal game on Earth and not have blood and f-bombs pollute the skies. Honestly, censoring the gore just looks weak: no blood, no dismemberment, no fun. And while some people may think that hearing bleeps over the swear words is funnier (my wife sure does), the problem is that they censor just about every word that was once considered potty mouth. From "crap" to "fuck," no word is safe. Considering how many times you'll hear roving bands of your army crying out they're looking to kick some @$$, the "joke" gets stale. I will say, though, that the "Parental Advisory" labels over every middle finger that's flashed is kind of amusing.

Anyway, the story does get pretty engaging. It does take some time for build up, but once you defeat General Lionwhyte, things start getting interesting. Ophelia, who you may recall from the demo, is, of course, Eddie's chance to get some tail, but Lita, sister of the leader of the human armies, Lars, is pretty hot, too. She's really high strung, but she wears a low cut, midriff showing leather bustier quite nicely. There's a lot of great characters in the game and their voices fit them wonderfully. Of course, some of them fit so well because they are actually voiced by their real life counterparts. Of course, I mean Lemmy Kilmister, Rob Halford, and Ozzy, who surprised me with a very mumble free voicing. By the way, if you're wondering if Tim Curry did a good job as Emperor Doviculus, he did.

So, there you go. Now leave me alone. I need to play some more.

Oh, by the way, Bobby Kotick is still a ginormous twat.

Kaiser out

Monday, October 12, 2009

Random Weirdness - Every Monday

Imperial Stormtroopers vs. The Ultimate Warrior? Why didn't someone come up with this sooner?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bayonetta Showin' Us How She's Built

You know, the more I see of Bayonetta, the more I'm starting to like it. I'm not just talking about the game. I'm talking about that sexy body of hers. Oh, yeah.
Baby, I hate to see you leave, but I love to watch you show off your ass! Forget about bouncing quarters off that. I wanna bounce my dick off it (or dip my balls in it?).
Goddamn! I love seeing tits and ass in video games. But seriously, Sexpie, you really should look a man in the eye when he's about to grab you in all the curvy parts.
Okay, my boner's going out of control. Can someone get me an anti-erection pill or a picture of their grandparents?

Right now, these images are all over the place. And who can blame these people? These pics are fucking hot. I've been interested in trying out this game for a while, but now I can't wait to play the demo.

Kaiser out

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Fallen Soldier Will Rise Again

At the beginning of September, I mentioned that Daring Entertainment (the ones who made G.E.T. Into Action, a game which I like) had closed up shop. At the end of the month, their once desolate website sprung back to life. News is that they are on hiatus until summer 2010 and will continue to sell their existing products on their website. At the end of the hiatus, they resume with expanding in their game library, including future supplements for G.E.T. Into Action. I, for one, am glad to see the company getting back on its feet and am looking forward to seeing what they have in store for the future. Go check out their website for the full details. Way to go, guys. Kaiser out

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dethalbum II: Electric Metal Boogaloo

Don't be terribly surprised that I like Metalocalypse, because, ding-dong, I do. How fucking awesome is that show? Anyway, I picked up Dethalbum II today. Holy shit, my ears were blown away. If you liked the first Dethalbum, the second one will fucking kick your ass. I actually believe it's harder than the first, which is saying something. I also get the feeling they re-recorded the tracks that were featured in some of the episodes, as they don't exactly sound the same to me. I actually like what Brendon Small did with Nathan Explosion's voice. It's starting to have a more versatile range, not just the constant deep guttural voice. This one actually sounds more polished than the first. Anyway, if you don't have it, get it, blah, blah, blah, or I kill you. I liked this line in the dedications: "Dethklok would like to thank blood, tits, fire, and guitars." ...Especially the tits. Kaiser out

Monday, October 5, 2009

Random Weirdness - Every Monday

Okay, so the unthinkable happened. Square Enix decided that they couldn't milk any more money doing remakes of the old Final Fantasy games and put the first one on the Virtual Console. While this is awesome, as it is a great NES RPG for cheap, all I can say is it's about damn time. Now get to work on bringing Dragon Warrior out. Anyway, in light of the FF release, I decided to post an oldie, but a goodie. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Savage Pathfinder Apocalypse!

I started playing Dungeons & Dragons at a very young age and have been playing for over 20 years. I stopped playing after 3.5 edition came out because I spent so much money on 3rd edition stuff and got tired with the system. Then 4th edition came out, which I'm not at all interested in. Of course, my RPG of choice nowadays is Savage Worlds, but a friend of mine started a game with the RPG that has become the spiritual successor to 3.5, Pathfinder. Paizo Publishing, who were once known for publishing both Dungeon and Dragon magazine, released the Pathfinder line of supplements and game aids for 3.5. When WoTC decided not to support 3.5 anymore to pursue 4th Edition, Paizo decided to revise and update the 3.5 rules. Pathfinder has been called version 3.75. So what do I think of Pathfinder? Well, I still prefer Savage Worlds, but Pathfinder is actually pretty good. The thing I like most is the addition of new abilities to existing classes. In 3.5, being a fighter didn't give you a lot except for a bunch of feats - no special abilities. Pathfinder made being a fighter cool again (being a fighter was always kinda cool, but now it contends with playing a ranger or a barbarian). I also like the campaign so far. My character is a barbarian that was born and raised in an affluently decadent society, but political intrigue had brought about the assassination of his parents and he was sold into slavery. He escaped and found solace in a barbarian tribe who raised and trained him to fight. Now I do like the improvements they made to 3.5, but the system is still d20 and it retains some of the things I'm not big on. When we did combat, we were slowed down by all the numbers. Plus I was never a big fan that Armor Class is used to determine if a blow hits or not. I preferred the Star Wars RPG from WoTC that made armor reduce damage. Nonetheless, it is better than 3.5. If you are a big fan of 3.5, then you owe it to yourself to pick up Pathfinder. I still prefer Savage Worlds, but this is a good RPG for D&D fans.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Savage Zombieland Apocalypse!

Ever since I saw the trailer for this movie, I knew I wanted to see it. So, of course, I went to see Zombieland yesterday. Holy Hell, this was awesome. Fucking gory, fucking hilarious, fucking fun.

The movie started off with a instant gorefest and rarely lets up. Then the titles come up with slowmo zombie action with Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Plus there's zombie pasties. I couldn't help but laugh at zombie pasties.

And the cast is great. I liked Jesse Eisenberg in Adventureland and I like him in this. Emma Stone is pretty hot. There's even a surprise appearance (but I won't spoil it). But the one who shines the most is Woody Harrelson. He was fucking awesome.

I'm not gonna waste any more time telling you about this - see this fucking movie. It's funny. It's gory. It's great watching.