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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Collection Update: NES Friday the Thirteenth Jason Action Figure Comic Con 2013 Exclusive

 If you've read our blog before it's probably obvious that our regular writers enjoy the NES Friday the 13th game, perhaps more than just about anyone else. We've reviewed the game and it's hack September the 27th and play them on a fairly regular basis. So when we heard the announcement that Neca was making a specialty Jason figure based on the NES release, delightfully inaccurate color palette intact,  we were naturally insanely excited. Unfortunately we're pretty far away from California, and couldn't really justify a trip there for a single awesome action figure (Naturally there are other things at Comic Con that would be awesome too but that's irrelevant to this story) Luckily Richard has an acquaintance that was going and was willing to pick them up for us. So a few days after Comic Con this handsome guy arrived in MN:

Obviously this isn't strictly a new collection addition since we've had him since August, but he's seasonally appropriate and certainly a cool rarity. Neca really did a fantastic job with this figure from a fangirl point of view. First up we've got the box:

I really like the NECA seal of quality

 The front of the box is a  pretty fantastic replica of the Original NES box with some obvious changes like the Comic Con logo, and replacing the Nintendo seal of quality.

The back of the box:

The back is less accurate to the game box than the front, but still extols Jason's many virtues. Since this is a collector's figure this also has a snazzy viewing window and inner flap:

That text should be on a stark black background but I enjoy the 8-bit cabin
 This is one of my favorite display boxes for any figure, the cabin background and on screen display graphics are just aces. Though you're not fooling anyone Neca, we know that's Mark. Also, while I feel that the "You and your friends are dead." text really belongs on the appropriate stark black background so you can really channel the nostalgic feelings of failure most of us associate with this game. The lake cabin is very visual appealing. But this is a figure not a box so we should explore what's in this fantastic packaging.

Here's Jason:

 Jason comes packaged with his trademark extra large machete and an axe, both of which glow in the dark for extra fun. I'm a little upset about the axe, in the game the axe is very short and looks more like a hairbrush. I would have much preferred the hair brush axe or just a tiny hair brush, that would have been ideal actually. His mask also glows in the dark (as do his feet and hands) and is removable:

Jason with all his accessories.

He never takes his mask off in game, but since Neca based this figure on their Friday the 13th part III figure they just used the same face. Here's a comparison shot*:

So now we know Jason looks cool, but what about the action portion of his action figure status, you may ask? Well he doesn't have a lot of points of articulation but he gets the job done but he's a pretty good poser we took a few shots with him and our other action figures:

Falling asleep while on Special ops at Camp Crystal lake was a bad idea Snake

The power of love and Justice is no match for the power of vengeful fury

Overall NES Jason is pretty cool. Sure he's basically a clone of Neca's Jason from Friday the 13th part III with glow in the dark parts, and a very purplish blue color scheme, but that color scheme matters when you love the NES game like we do.


*Friday the13th III Jason figure image from

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Top Ten Scariest Video Game Monsters and Villains

Continuing in the Halloween spirit we're rehashing another old,  but seasonally appropriate post:

Video games have an opportunity to provide us with horror in ways that television and film can not. A video game puts us in control. We decide our fate and we're the ones that need to figure out how to escape a deadly nightmare. Sometimes control is good and sometimes it's terrifying to literally have the power of life and death in these game worlds. On these twisted journeys through nightmares we will find monsters and villains of course, but some leave more of an impression than others.  That in mind we have compiled this list. For one reason or another, I believe that these characters have something to offer a true horror fan, even if sometimes you have to dig deep to see it. After all, horror is nothing without imagination.
The Top Ten Scariest Video Game Monsters and Villians of All Time

10. The W Star (Drahkken, SNES)

So to claim anything scary can happen in this particular title may seem odd at first, but there are a few moments that are noteworthy at least to nerds as big as we are. Drahkken is an old RPG from the early nineties which tried to utilize a three-dimensional, first person environment. It couldn't be called successful implementation (at least not in the SNES port) but did make the game unique for it's time. One aspect of the game was time change, days passed more or less normally as you were playing.  As with so many  frightening events, nightfall hit is when the terror strikes. The player would notice the many stars in the sky, shining quite brightly. As you trek forward you may notice a W-shaped set of stars in the sky,
The Monster itself
looking much like our earthly constellation of Cassiopeia. Thinking nothing of it, you continue on, when suddenly, those stars start to move, flapping up and down like a crazed bird while an eerie downward scale plays. Then suddenly you hear a loud, low "boom," and the whole world stops of a second. Then a flying creature with a skulllike head comes careening out of the sky and attacks. You inevitably think "What the
HELL is that?!" and proceed to fight this thing, hoping you're leveled up enough to take it on. This occurance actually happens with multiple sets of stars in this game bringing out different monsters.The first time we saw this though was with this set, earning the name we gave it, the W Star.  While the monster itself is certainly horror material (for 1991 anyway)  but the really element of terror comes from how bizarre and unexpected it is. Who expects the sky itself to attack you?

9. The Cyberdemon (DOOM, PC)

One of the greatest first-person bosses of all time in arguably the greatest first person shooter of all time. The Cyberdemon's level starts off with a warning, as you first enter his level their are dead Barons of Hell chained up on the wall (which, before this point your hapless space marine assumes are the baddest thing on two legs). Once you open one of the four doors leading to the exterior of his arena-like stage, and see the flaming skulls known as lost souls. Inevitably, you will sneer at this relatively simple and weak monster, and take it out with your shotgun. However, upon the first shot of your rifle ringing out into the air, you'll hear a staggering and terrifying roar from an unknown source, followed by an unknown "crash-BOOM!" sound which continuously repeats. You realize something else is here with you. And it is big. And it is coming for you. This is Cyberdemon making his presence known to you. What will likely happen next is that you will step out into the open area, turn a corner or two, and in the distance you'll see something. "What is - " will likely be all you have time to think before a missle comes flying right into your face, instantly splattering you all over Hell's floor. Although it's hard to get close enough for a look, the Cyberdemon gets his name from the steel, cybernetic right leg he sports and the rocket launcher inexplicably grafted on to his left arm. The rest of this towering hell beast includes a hooved left leg, huge black horns on the sides of his head, and all kinds of red, bloody wires sticking in and out of him. It's not good enough that all of Hell is trying to tear you apart, but now they're using cybernetic technology to do it with. What makes the Cyberdemon so terrifying is that he's incredibly large, incredibly strong, and is equipped with a one hit kill with unlimited ammo. Technically if you have 200% health, Doom Guy might take the first hit, but it's not a guarantee. Only experienced players can go toe-to-toe with this behemoth, most of you will have to run for you life, taking it whatever shots become available to you. The goat-legged Cyberdemon's discouraging endurance, terrifying attack power and horrifying looks give him a sure position among scariest video game monsters.

8. Michael Myers (Halloween, Atari 2600)

It might seem laughably improbable that an Atari game could do anything in the way of scaring you, but read on. In this game, you wander a house which is a series of  seemingly endless hallways, taking children to the safe rooms and looking for a weapon. Meanwhile, every time you enter a room (other than safe rooms) within seconds you'll be confronted by Michael Myers, with an Atari-appropriate version of the classic Halloween theme playing during his screen time, "Dee doo doo dee doo doo dee doo dee doo dee doo doo dee doo doo..." as the collection of pixels known as Michael Myers stalks towards you in a constant stabbing motion with the four or five white pixels that make up his "knife." If he gets you, you'll enjoy a rather humorous animation of your female character running frantically with her head cut off, red dots spewing from her neck. Michael will also decapitate the children if you let him, and I do mean "if you let him," as the game allows you to grab onto the children to take them to safe rooms for points, but you may also decide to use them as bait, as Michael seems more interested in killing them rather than you. So at first this isn't scary, just silly. But as levels progress, and you continue to stab Myers with the black knife, which for some reason you can only use once and then have to seek it out again, he gets faster and most aggressive until soon, you can barely outrun him. What's worse is that you'll enter rooms with faulty "wiring" causing the screen to flash from normal to pitch black while Michael's in the room with you. "Oh God, where am I?" you'll wonder and you hope to have run past the derranged mad man, only to find yourself headless once the lights come back on. With time, Michael Myers will make this one of your most stressful experiences in gaming.

7. Mr. Graves (Haunted House, Atari 2600) 

 Another Atari release. This time, you are in as the name suggests, a haunted house, trying to escape with all of the pieces of the urn of Mr. Graves. You enter the dead man's mansion and wander around, your character only being a part of eyes. You hit the button to light a match which will give you a small orb of visibility. Only with the match lit can you find items and realistically navigate the black squares and lines that make up this house.  There are a few enemies like an errant bat or two, but they're fairly easy to navigate around. So so far it's not very scary. However when entering certain floors, you may hear a noise which could be either thunder or wind. Then suddenly, the ghost of Mr. Graves appears and he blows out your match, leaving you essentially blind and helpless as he chases you down. Sure, he may look like one of those sheet-wearing ghosts from the cartoons, but this guy's not playing around. Something about the speed and frantically waving arms of this character gets you all high strung and desperate to escape. Should Mr. Graves, or any of his buddies such as the bat or spider touch you, your little eyes will violently roll around as thunder and lightning strike, costing you one life. This game is considered to be a classic and even prompted a remake on the Wii under the same name (which is somehow less frighting even with 2 years of technological advances.

6. Jason (Friday the 13th, NES) 

The Hockey Masked killer we all know and love naturally got his own video game back in the day. However it wasn't exactly the greatest piece of media you could own. That being said One thing this title has going for it, is it's undeniable ability to give you a cheap scare. The main idea was that you wander camp Crystal Lake, killing zombies, wolves, bats, and birds until an alarm sounds, indicating that Jason is attacking either the campers or a fellow counselor. You check the map to see which cabin was in distress and race to the location before time runs out. Upon reaching the cabin, the inhabitant(s) thank you for coming, and you search the cabin in pseudo-3D mode. This is where the scare takes place. As you turn corners and advanced forward, eerie but calm music would play as you found a lot of corners and spaces. Then without warning Jason appears before you. A loud and horrifying noise blares while Jason, tries to punch, slice, or axe you to death. You use whatever projectile you have to try and defeat him while dodging his attacks, repeating this entire process until he's gone. But Jason doesn't only appear in cabins. Without warning, you can be walking along the dirt road, totally care-free (as the zombies are annoying but far from scary), and them BAM - it's Jason! Hurling axes at you will sporting his baby blue hockey mask and purple jogging suit. Jason is also sometimes randomly in a cabin that isn't even inhabited. These random appearances are actually sort of the genius as being attacked totally out of the blue is something even modern games miss. Even if he looks silly, Jason IS very unpredictable and can get the jump on you like he did so many randy teenagers in his classic films. This game will never be noted for it's quality but is noted for its intense difficulty. Taking down Jason is a slow, methodical process that spans three stressful "days" and will likely be fruitless to you in the end.


5. Nemesis (Resident Evil III, Playstation) 

Resident Evil III eschews some of the main mechanics in there series. Instead of slowly peeking down dark hallways in the hopes of taking out your zombies before they get close enough to rip a few chunks out of your flesh, you spend the entire game running for your life. In essence, as you play through this game, you are constantly being stalked by Nemesis, a mutated version of Tyrant, or in other words, a really big, really powerful zombie. However, unlike Tyrant, Nemesis doesn't simply rely on brute strength, he has a rocket launcher with an endless supply of rockets. We really do mean constantly being stalked. You never get a respite (other than the safe save rooms), at every point in the game you're essentially running from him, and he's never too far away. He'll burst through doors and crash through walls to get to you, all the while never quickening his step beyond a walk. There's nothing like the feeling of constantly being chased, and Nemesis will never allow you a moment of ease, making him a high ranking monster in the video game world. The fact that he's a huge, lumbering pile of rotted flesh helps as well.

4. Sae (Fatal Frame II, Playstation 2) 

All of the Fatal Frame series is absolutely terrifying.  The concept of Fatal Frame is that you are attacked by ghosts and aparitions, but you cannot attack them, merely snap pictures of them to harm them. It sounds a little silly but it's absolutely terrifying. Fatal Frame II takes things up a notch. So you take the powerlessness of that situation, tack on the detail of not having even your camera, and then include a demonic ghost child which will kill you instantly with just a touch, you've got yourself a game that even a hardcore horror fan isn't necessarily eager to try and tackle. You're in a labrynthine area full of dead ends and little hope and Sae, an evil 15 year old girl who was murdered as an act of ritual sacrifice, stalks you while eliciting horrifying laughs and a exhibiting a taste for death. Go ahead, run into a different room and close the door behind you. Sae will open it up and follow you right in there. Hide in a closet, hope for the best, but if she thinks he knows where you are, she'll open that door right up. In the split second opportunity you'll have to run, you'd better hope you don't find a dead end, or you will indeed be finished. You can't kill her, you can't hurt her, you can only run. In most instances that's just delaying the inevitable.

3. Piggsy (Manhunt, Playstation 2)

 "Holy Shit!" is probably the first thing you'll say when you face this Pig Skin wearing miscreant at the end of Manhunt. You get the Leatherface experience with this character in slightly different packaging. Piggsy is a crazed, naked man who wears a pig's head as a mask, starring in many snuff films by Lionel Starkweather, an ex direction who essentially owns the city of Carcer. If his unsettling appearance weren't enough, as you'll find while you're walking down the seemingly quiet hallway of a dilapidated attic-like area of Starkweather's mansion, Piggsy also carries a loud, powerful and remarkably loud  chainsaw. He introduces himself and his favorite toy running right at you from behind a corner, revving it up while screaming at you. Again, "Holy shit!"  This obese man somehow manages to give you a frantic and brain-scrambling chase, the chainsaw roaring hungrily for your blood. With luck you'll find a shadowed area to hide in, while Piggsy stands just a few feet in front of you, searching the area as the motor of his massive-bladed chainsaw idles, intimidatingly. Piggsy is surprisingly smart for someone who looks like he'd be too dumb to be in Deliverance, he tries trick you into dashing out into the open by revving up the chainsaw once again, even if he doesn't actually know where you are. If you're patient and quiet, he'll lumber away to search elsewhere. You'll spend the first several moments of this time paralyzed with fear. When you can blink again, you may inch out of your hiding spot and take the nearby glass shard, trying to see if you can spot the location of the chainsaw-wielding maniac in the distance. You'll turn slightly, looking in a difference, direction, completely unaware than Piggsy has once again caught side of you from another angle until that saw revs up again and he charges you. As your brain and hands freeze in horror, you hope your mental capacity return in just enough enough for you to hold down that run button and get the hell out of there....

2. Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2, Playstation 2)

 Pyramid head is easily one of the all time iconic video game villains, and also one of the most frightening. Admittedly, fans of this guy can prove to be irksome, especially if they are mainly familiar with the movie version of him. And sure, at times he may seem a bit overrated, but anyone who's played Silent Hill 2 knows that he didn't get his reputation for nothing. This bizarre character wields a huge knife that's so heavy, even he must drag it behind him. Sure, he may be slow, but if that knife does hit you...that's it. It's over. Not only that, but he follows you for the entirety of the game, the very embodiment of punishment. You may call him Pyramid Head, you may call him Crimson Pyramid, but you could also accurately call him the Executioner. No matter where you go, he's waiting for you, an unstoppable wraith hell bent on making you pay for your sins. The giant pyramid which makes up what you know to be his head conceals intentions and thought in a fortess of mystery, as he slowly approaches to put you down for all time. Encountering him in a tight space is the stuff of nightmares, and naturally is the way in which you will most often meet him. The battle you have with him early in the game in the stairwell will have you in a death grip of stress, as you are always no more than a foot or two out of the reach of his Great Knife, vieing for any position that may or may not be available. You'll put clip after clip of bullets in his head before he finally retreats, waiting to confront you again at a later time. And that's the truly horrifying part about Pyramid head. It's not so much having to see or fight him. It's that you KNOW he's going to come back. But you won't know where, and you won't know when.

1. Sinistar (Sinistar, Arcade Coin-Op) 

 "Run, Coward! Run Run Run!" There's only one thing worse than a giant, interstellar juggernaut chasing you down and hell bent on catching and devouring you. It's hearing him tell you about it. Yes, Sinistar is the original badass of the video game world and with good reason. Never before had a video game villain had such personality and such charisma while being so unstoppable. The idea of Sinistar is that aliens are working to build a huge monster known as the Sinistar, a demonic face among a circular border which flies powerfully and without inhibition throughout the universe. To destroy this beast, you must take your tiny ship and shoot planetoids to mine crystals to make Sinibombs, made from the same crystals which are used to build Sinistar, himself. There is no time to fool around. The sounds of Sinistar's construction act as a ticking clock of sorts as you race to be ready for the monster once he is completed. "Beware, I live!" exclaims Sinistar from somewhere deep in space as he announces his own completion. You pray that you have enough bombs to smash the Sinistar as you race away, Sinistar hot in pursuit. "I hunger, coward!" He shouts, revealing his intentions. "Run, coward!" As the huge monster comes closer, you shoot off all of your Sinibombs. You hear his terrifying screams as the bombs connect. He has taken damage but a moment later you come to the heart-sinking realization that not all of the bombs connected, having been intercepted by planetoids and smaller aliens. And now Sinistar is after you, chasing you down with no distraction, no diversion, and no mercy, knocking planetoids out of his way as if they were mere marbles. He's right behind you, as you race as fast as you can into endless space, twisting and turning, unable to shake him. What will you do? The answer - nothing. You can do nothing now. Inevitably, Sinistar will catch up to you. "RAAAAAARGGHHH!" he roars as your ship spins out of control and is pulled to his mouth as if caught in a tractor beam. Finally, as you enter that terrible maw, his teeth snap snap down, shattering your ship into dozens of tiny pieces. Approximate play time: 35 seconds. It's hard to believe a game like this was available in 1982, and it's even harder to believe the cult following it still has, today. There is perhaps no game that imbodies a seemingly inescapable chase better. Perhaps no other game can instill this kind of stress and fear in the player, either. Sinistar was a game that was well ahead of its time, and Sinistar is a villain that simply can't be matched as a character or a villain. Sure, you can destroy him. But he'll be back. And one way or another...he's gonna get you. Although this character and game may not be expected by many contemporary gamers, fanw of classic gaming, know Sinistar truly deserves to enjoy the top tier of the scariest video game monsters/villains of all time. He was groundbreaking, he was legendary, and most of all...he was terrifying.

When it originally appeared this list was largely written by regular contributor Richard, this 2013 reboot has been edited with a more general tone.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top 10 Horror Games

It's the Halloween season which is a time of year all of us here at Avane are particularly fond of. Unfortunately fondness doesn't translate into time or writing ideas so instead bringing you something new and spooky we're rehashing an old top 10 list from several Halloweens past. Don't let the age fool you though it's still just as relevant now as it was then. After all, when was the last time a company made a really horrifying game anyway? So if you're looking for a way to get into the spooky spirit any of the games on this list will certainly help you along.

10: Friday the Thirteenth on the NES. Most people think of this title as the awful epitome of LJN's game making career. However there's actually some genuine 8-bit terror going on here. The music is excellent, with the cabin theme taking the cake for some of the eeriest video game music of the 8bit era. The music when you encounter Jason is the perfect NES adaptation of classic theatrical killer themes. The real terror though, comes when you make your way to one of the surprisingly labyrinthine cabins never knowing where exactly Jason going to pop up until BAM! he's on your screen. If you want to know even more about the sordid tale of 8 bit Jason, we did a full in depth review on this game, because as group we really love it. Two of us even got the limited edition comic con action figure to terrorize out other action figures with his hairbrush axe.

See the rest after the break


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