Halloween: The Unloved Holiday Of The Undead

With Halloween upon us, you can’t turn round in a supermarket without seeing offers on a scary mask or a broomstick. The TV schedules and cinemas are full of scares for all ages, be it Scooby Doo or Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the spirit of the season, even if you don’t fancy a trip out in a costume. You may even feel inclined to get a dog-eared copy of Dracula from your local library. After all, the majority of well loved monsters originated from books. But what about games?

Think of scary games. Think of the times they’ve made you jump, or at least go to bed a little nervous. Developers may make a sudden noise or a character jump out at you, but let’s face it, genuinely scary, I-don’t-want-to-go-to-bed-alone, atmospheric games are few and far between (before everyone screams Dead Space at me, I didn’t say they were gone all together). We all know that zombies have over populated the gaming world as of late. So much so, that we don’t think twice about them when they appear from nowhere. They’ve become part of our normal gaming life. They are no more ghoulish than a group of 8-year-olds in homemade ghost costumes! Plus, the continuous release of these undead titles mean they feel no more seasonal than Tetris!

Oh no, more zombies; I'm so… bored!

But that’s ok, we’ve got the other iconic bump in the night characters too… haven’t we? Books, TV, and especially films have always shown a love for all things Halloween. And why wouldn’t they? Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, werewolves and mummies are only a handful of the well known ghouls that we associate with horror. We know these characters from so far back in our childhood that we can’t even remember our first encounter. They are instantly recognisable, and are still brought back over and over in most media facets. Yet when you look at games, the only classic Halloween character represented regularly is the zombie. Anything else and it’s pretty much Castlevania or bust. And yet, we only have ourselves to blame.

Vampires are everywhere, except in our games!

A scary movie or a scary book will be repeated every year. Never seen Hellraiser? Don’t worry, if it’s not repeated this year it will be next year. Never read Edgar Allan Poe? I can guarantee that you can find a copy. But with games we always want more. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just the way we are. We thrive on wondering about sequels, the next gen of consoles, when they’ll do a remake of our favourite game. The retro scene may be big but it’s only a fraction of the best games that ever get played. If a big Halloween release were to be made it would soon be forgotten. After all, a few weeks on and we’d have the next triple A title in our consoles, and there’s very little chance of us going back to the experience the next Halloween.

Every film gets a game these days, even the ones that shouldn’t. But most of the horror films that will stand the test of time and be on our TV’s when we’re 80 were released far earlier than the birth of the affordable console. When you look at the cinema listings around Halloween and you can find 3D Saw, Paranormal Activity 2, Let Me In and numerous other frights. Yet this year’s games titles include Fable III, the latest Rock Band and a Star Wars game! Now, ok, there’s no chance you’ll hear me whining about their release (I’m sure the sound won’t carry from Albion, unless you wanna meet me there!) but one Halloween game that dares to be traditional would be nice.

Halloween is becoming more and more of an accepted holiday; trick-or-treaters can be expected, decorations are hung, and we all make our plans for the evening. However, our obsession to always have the next big thing means that seasonal games are just a no-no. This year let’s at least make an effort. Embrace the holiday spirit, and indulge in some gaming. Find that scary game in the back of the drawer regardless of its age (or if that’s not your thing, play a light-hearted Halloween game; XBLA and Indie games can give us many a scary chuckle) sit down in the dark and embrace the holiday spirit. Let’s make the gaming world sit still and be seasonal, even if it’s only for a night.







4 responses to “Halloween: The Unloved Holiday Of The Undead”

  1. Mark P avatar

    You know, I was convinced it was nearly Christmas going by what the shops are selling.

    I actually quite fancied some Ghostbusters multiplayer tonight – does that count?

  2. Yaz avatar

    Here here…
    Jurassic Park or The Addams Family on the SNES…
    Hmm, decisions decisions.

  3. Ninja avatar

    I think playing a scary game for Halloween is a good idea, which is why I played Dead Space a while after it first came out instead of the release date of the 24th and wrote about it 😉

    Why aren’t vampires used more though? The only notable (mostly recent) games I can think of off the top of my head which feature them are Bloodrayne, the Legacy of Kain series, Vampire Rain and, of course, Castlevania. Does Shadow Hearts count?

  4. Giles avatar

    I know it’s not Halloween themed at all, but my first few hours of Fallout 3 (once out of the vault) scared the bejesus out of me! Creeping around the school near Megaton, listening out for Raiders, jumping when they spotted me before I spotted them, fighting for my life — brilliant stuff.

    Likewise with the opening two hours of Bioshock. If I played that before going to bed I had to get some Chime in to chill me out first!

    It’s only once you get the hang of such games that they lose their edge…which is a pity, really.

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