October 20, 2011 12 Comments
I was a mere three-years-old when the Sega CD came out, so I pretty much missed the golden age of Full Motion Video based games, or FMVs. And thank God for that. It wouldn’t be until my teens that I first got a taste of what this genre really had to offer. Which is to say, not a lot at all. I was much younger when I played one for the first time, which was Mad Dog McCree. It was cheesy, shallow, poorly acted, and really horrible. Yet, at the age of seven, I thought it was the bee’s knees.
Which proves my point that all kids are fucking retarded. It’s one of the reasons that Dragon’s Lair could be so popular. I’ve seen DVD menus that offer more interactivity than it, yet it’s remembered fondly as “one of the all time classics.” My ass it is. It has pretty Don Bluth animation, but it barely qualifies as a game. In fact, I think one could say that if you were to lock yourself in a room with a metric ton of uranium and try to guess how long it will take for you to die of radiation poisoning, that’s more of a game than Dragon’s Lair and it’s kin.
I hear two things when people defend games like Dragon’s Lair or Night Trap. The first is usually “you had to be there.” Thankfully I wasn’t. I’ve been exposed to enough 80s media that I get down on my knees and thank Jesus Christ almighty every day that I wasn’t a child of that fucking decade. I was born in 1989, but I feel that was God’s way of telling me “you were THIS close to watching Full House and movies starring Judd Nelson. Now be good!”
The second thing they tell me in defense of FMV was “it was good for its time!” Again, I call bullshit on that. I’ve yet to meet any FMV enthusiast that could tell me with a straight face that Dragon’s Lair was remotely in the same universe as stuff like Ms. Pac-Man or Donkey Kong. I mean really people. It was a cartoon that told you to push a button every five seconds to see the rest of the show. If the latest Pirates of the Caribbean DVD told you that you had to hit a button on the remote control every five seconds to continue watching the movie, you would call it the worst thing in the history of the anything. Which technically it already is to begin with on account of it being the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but I digress.
A new FMV game in 2011 seems like drinking-Pepsi-with-a-spoon madness, but this is the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace and so I guess it’s not a surprise that the absolute worst type of video game that ever existed would rear its grainy head here. Hell’s House by BM Games is about a girl who has to spend a night in a haunted house. The gameplay is kind of like a rhythm game. You just press the face buttons when they line up with the indicator, all while watching the absolute most boring “scary” movie of all time. You’re off the hook, Blair Witch Project.
The movie is bad, but the not in a good way. It’s hard to believe you can fault a game for having good acting, but one of the things that people wax nostalgically about with FMVs is their camp value. The acting was always a big cheese sandwich and the plot was usually something horribly contrived and silly. Here, the acting is actually not bad. Really! Hell, if you squint really hard, you might even confuse the girl for Sarah Michelle Gellar. But without the cheese, there’s nothing here except a really generic fan movie.
There’s nothing really creepy about it. The house doesn’t have an ominous feel to it. There’s nothing special about the house, it’s decor, it’s location, anything! It just looks like any other house. It’s not even an old one. Meanwhile, the game purports to have “death scenes” but there’s nothing here that will frighten or even shock. It’s 2011! We’ve had four Scream movies, seven Saw movies, a dozen Friday the 13ths, and we’re on our sixth season of Dexter. Anyone attempting to do horror in this day and age has way too much desensitization to compete with. You have got to do something spectacular. Death by live embalming using vinegar, via IV tubes inserted into eyeballs, swabbed with alcohol to prevent infection. That I might cringe at. A little.
As a movie and a game, Hell’s House does absolutely nothing for me. I admit I might not be this game’s target audience, because I don’t look back lovingly on FMVs. I look back on them and think “God, I’m so lucky to have been born when I was.” This isn’t even one of those cases where you can say “games have gotten so much better since FMV died out.” Video games were always better, even before FMV came around. Talking about the good old days of FMV is like fondly reminiscing about the time you got run over by a combine harvester.
Hell’s House was developed by BM Games
80 Microsoft Points are only scared by crows and Rosie O’Donnell in the making of this review.