Hell’s House

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 stupid.  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.

Oh shit! An Italian! Run!

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.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

12 Responses to Hell’s House

  1. Ha. The funny thing about people defending FMV games as ‘good for the time’ is that everyone thought they were shit back then. I’ve never ceased to be baffled that Dragon’s Lair is now considered some kind of classic. At the time, it was considered a risible wreck of a game, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I was there.

    In other news, I’m pleased that I wasn’t the only one who thought this girl looked very faintly like Sarah Michelle Gellar in a couple of shots.

  2. mayaterror says:

    Please tell me you’ve checked out their previous release, “Sword & Hammer.” It’s been a source of much horse-laughing when I get together with my XBLIG dev team.

    You mention FMV fans? I’ve never met one of these elusive creatures in the wild – I think they’re theoretical constructs invented by game companies of the early ’90s who didn’t know what else to do with all that extra storage on a CD-ROM. Even in their heyday the FMV games were all subjected to scathing reviews that would do an Indie Game Chick proud. A typical game mag review of an FMV title usually fell somewhere in the 3-5 range on a scale of 1-10.

    And the ’80s – yeah, you had to be there – but not for Dragon’s Lair. That game is a serious turd. Even back then, I heard all the same horse shit about it being one of the greatest games ever. I’d never been so disappointed from dropping a dollar into something until I was old enough to go to a strip joint.

  3. BrunoB says:

    Woo woo hang on a sec, most laserdisc/FMV games were shit, but Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace – with all their limits – have always been on another league when compared to their clones, if nothing else for the sheer quality of the animation.

  4. JimmyB says:

    Actually, I am one of those elusive creatures in the wild. As a kid, I really did enjoy those laser-disc games (which Dragon’s Lair, the original arcade game, was). My favorite was Cliffhanger, which was literally ripped from the “Castle of Cagliostro” movie, a Lupin the third cartoon. Another favorite was Cobra Command, a “helicopter” game where all you did was move your receptacle over targets or in the right direction. I even owned the famed Sega CD, and the infamous Night Trap game, which was an awful game, but it did create quite the controversy in congress.

    Yes, the games were, for almost all of them, bad. But for me, it was a blast. It was something different. Were they games? Not really, just glorified demos that you had a small part in directing. It’s not really worth the hate that some here have posted. It was a craze in the day that appealed to a group of loyal gamers, kind of like the same people today who will buy the next Madden game simply because it’s Madden. Leave us alone. Let us enjoy our trash.

    But from someone who grew up in and loved the FMV game’s–Hell’s House is horrible!

  5. Adman says:

    I’ll never forget the first time I saw Dragon’s Lair in an arcade. Some dude was dropping dollars into the game like it was nothing, and there was a HUGE crowd of people around watching. They even had a alternate monitor on top of the game cabinet so people in the back could see. From my perspective, as a young child, the idea of “playing a cartoon” was a Pretty Big Deal. In retrospect, yes, it boils down to a DVD menu system crossed with a reaction test, but compare the graphics to big games at the time (Donkey Kong, etc), and it was something totally new.

    Don’t be too harsh on the 80’s or early 90’s… As a young geek, it was a fantastic time to be a gamer.

  6. Eversion says:

    Yeah, you can’t udestand the change of moving from pacman/goldenaxe to the interactive anime of Dragons Lair… It was just like moving from the black and white tvs to the technicolor.
    It was an absolute blast!

  7. Pingback: Dead Sea « Indie Gamer Chick

  8. W says:

    The acting is terrible, absolutely terrible. I understand you stupid americans have low standards cuz you suck at everything but c’mon.

  9. W says:

    Only a moron identifies themself online by their gender. You are contributing to why we hate girl gamers, retard

  10. Joeyboots says:

    I would just like to mention that FMV games were a product of the 90’s not the 80’s. Yes they were invented in the 80’s, but the genre was not well known nor were many titles in this genre produced before 1990. Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace are the only ones I can recall that actually came out in the 80’s. Not to mention the worst of them were made in the mid to late 90’s. Games like Corpse Killer, Johnny Mnemonic, Fox Hunt, and Sewer Shark make Dragon’s Lair look like a masterpiece by comparison. Sorry to break it to you, but your childhood is indeed firmly placed in the era of bad FMV games. Looks like God didn’t save you after all and had it in for you all along! 🙂

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