Not going to that Halloween party this year? Maybe Halloween just isn't your bag. I now it isn't mine. I don't really need an excuse to stay home and play some video games but in the spirit of the holiday, I have a recommendation of ten games that are just perfect for this time of year.
01.) Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)
Dracula, the unkillable cockroach has once again returned but this time, he makes things personal by kidnapping Richter Belmont's girlfriend. This set's Richter on a one man whipping mission to rescue his gal and put Dracula down until he inevitably rises from his grave once more. But Richter isn't the only one that has a beef with the lord of vampires. Maria, a prisoner that Richter can rescue has a stake in this mission (pun sort of intended) and once Maria is freeded, she becomes a playable character. While Richter plays like nearly everyone else in the Belmont Clan with those super stiff controls, Maria is another story. Maria's attacks are even more short ranged than Richter's whip, but she can move while she attacks, posses a double jump and she can slide. With tons of alternate routes to take, and two playable characters to control, another knock out soundtrack featuring familiar songs and original music, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood gets my pick as the Castlevania game to play this Halloween out of the plethora of other entries I could have listed here. If you don't have a PC Engine, you can hope on the Wii's Virtual Console and download this excellent game for a mere 900 ($9) Wii points. Alternatively, there's the Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles on the PSP, which includes a remake of Rondo of Blood as well as the original, which can be unlocked.
02.) House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii, PS3)
Mutants. Issac Washington and Agent G just can't seem to get away from them. Circumstances force these two reluctant allies to team up in a town where most of the population has turned into flesh eaters. Most of the House of the Dead games feature serious plots that are hard to take seriously with the bad voice acting. Overkill is not one of those House of the Dead games. With clear inspirations being drawn from films like Grind House and tons of other corny B movies, Overkill is more of a parody that pokes fun of the genre, never taking itself serious and get this, has good voice acting! If you aren't doubling over in laughter from the absurdity of the story line, it will be gut busting back and forth banter between Washington and G that will leave you in stitches. The on rails shooter genre saw a bit of a revival on the Wii thanks to the nature of the point and click Wii Remote and the shooting gameplay here is rock solid. You can shoot a mutant in the leg to slow them down but a well aimed head shot will end their undead existence for good. It's good old fashioned shoot to kill fun that's great if you're playing solo or with a buddy. If you want some extra content and shinier visuals, cop the PS3 version. Just know that you'll need some Move controllers to play it.
03.) Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
Luigi's uneventful night of slumber at home is interrupted when the Dark Moon of Evershade Valley is shattered, causing the friendly ghosts in Professor E. Gadd's estate to turn violent. The cooky old man summons Luigi to return to his ghost busting duties, equipping him with a better Poltergust device than before and a flash light that can stun ghosts as well as find things that can't be seen with the naked eye. No longer confined to a single huge mansion, Evershade Valley offers multiple areas for Luigi to explore such as the Gloomy Manor and the Old Clockworks. Since there are now numerous mansions to explore, the game sends you on various mission objectives, allowing you to explore the areas several times over. Of course you can still get rich while catching ghosts. Search every single nook and cranny you can find to discover stacks of hundreds of dollars, coins, gold bars and gems. Lovable coward Luigi is as lively as ever, stumbling through the ghoulish areas, humming the background music and leaping for joy when he completes a mission.
04.) The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)
All Zelda games are dark on some level, but none are as dark as Majora's Mask. In fact I dare say this one is pitch black. The Skull Kid stole Majora's Mask from the Happy Mask Salesman. Theft sucks but what makes this crime especially heinous is the fact that Majora's Mask grants the wearer extraordinary powers. With the Skull Kid's new-found abilities, he summons The Moon. Wait, The Moon? Well, that doesn't seem so bad. See the above screen shot? THAT'S The Moon and it has a serious bone to pick with the residents of Termania. In three days, The Moon will descend upon Termania and kill everyone, leaving Link very little time to stop it. Thankfully our elf-like hero has the almighty power of time travel on his side and can turn back the clock as many times as he needs to to save Termania. Not only that, but Link can also collect various mask that, granting him a variety of abilities. In case you haven't guessed by now, Majora's Mask is vastly different from other Zelda titles. Sure, it runs on the same engine as Ocarina of Time, but you're on a time limit and each day lasts only about 20 minutes. You think that Moon is scary when you look up at it and see that death glare? You should see when it finally comes down and kills everything. It's the stuff that nightmare fuel is made of.
05.) Super Metroid (SNES)
You know, if Samus had simply exterminated that last baby Metroid at the end of Metroid II, she would have saved herself a whole mess of trouble. But then, if she did that, we wouldn't have what so many of us consider to be the crown jewel of the Metroid series. Super Metroid may not be a horror themed game, but there's still lots of creepy things about it. The remains of alien life that crumble after a Metroid sucks the life out of it, Chozo Statues that come to life and attack you, a space colony full of dead scientists after Ridley's attack and that's just to name a few. The fact that Samus is alone on a hostile planet full of alien creatures out to get her is also an unsettling thought. Good thing Samus is more than capable of taking care of herself and has an upgradable power suit that can turn her into a one-woman army.
06.) Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (SNES)
Princess Prin Prin is a lot like Princess Peach. Neither one of them can stay out of trouble. But I'll say one thing for Peach. At least she doesn't put Mario through half the BS that Prin Prin puts Arthur through. Mario's quest to save Peach gradually gets difficult. Arthur's journey is stupidly hard from the get go. However, to make things a bit easier, this time Arthur can get stronger armorer that upgrades his weapons to deal more damage. That double jump he's packing is also a life saver. Still, the minions are as relentless as ever and will make every attempt to swarm Arthur until all that's left is a pile of bones. And just like the original, upon "completing" the game a first time, you have to do it all over again on a much harder difficulty. If you don't mind a lot of frustration on Halloween, this devilishly hard platformer is the game for you.
07.) Alien vs. Predator (ARC)
Capcom has made a copious amount of awesome beat 'em ups. Final Fight, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Knights of Round and then there's this little beauty, Alien vs. Predator. There have been tons of games based of this licences over the years, but this is arguably the only one you need to bother with. This three player beat down gas you playing as cyborgs Major Dutch Schaefer, Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa or the Predator Warrior and Hunter in a city overrun with the Aliens. Naturally, it's your job to rid the town of these drooling, disgusting menaces. You can use hand-to-hand battle tactics against your opponents or attack them with your weapons since each character comes armed. This adds extra spice to combat and while some weapons need to recharge, it's always nice to always have one on hand and have more than one means to dispose of your enemies. Whether you choose to use a weapon to send the Aliens to their maker or your fists, dropping wave after wave of Aliens never gets dull, even in a repetitive genre like this one. You'll have to MAME this one to play it since it hasn't seen an sort of digital release or HD remake.
8.) Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (GCN)
In Eternal Darkness you begin as Alexandra Roivas in the present day, investigating her grandfather's murder. During her search, she comes across the Tome of Eternal Darkness and each chapter thrusts you into the role of a character from a different time period that has been cursed by said tome. Playing through different time eras with the appropriate weapons of that era is a pretty cool concept and without spoiling the plot, the story of ED is very enthralling. But what makes ED a truly stand out game in the survivor horror genre is it's sanity meter. A green bar on the left side of the screen, when your character encounters an enemy, he or she will turn green. Literally. Contact with the enemy will almost always result in a loss of sanity and that loss can have varying affects on your character. They lower the sanity meter dips, the more screwed up your character will become. They may move more sluggishly in a skirmish causing you to take more damage from a group of enemies. Worst case scenario is when your sanity meter is empty and the sanity effects lean on the fourth wall to try and get to you, the player. I won't spoil any of them, but suffice to say, some of them are pretty cruel and border on trolling. Great as the sanity effects are, ED has so much going for it. Inventory items can be combined to make more powerful weapons and there are even healing and offensive spells to aid you when you're at death's door, which happens quite frequently in this game. On top of that, the overall story is very compelling with some interesting characters to move it along. ED is one of those games I would recommend to someone that isn't into the survivor horror genre.
09. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, 360)
One of the coolest and moodiest heroes ever, Batman had been getting the short end of the stick in video games after the 16-bit era. Then in 2009, all that changed with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum. The world's greatest detective must reclaim Arkham from the Joker, who's taken control of the insane asylum. Not only must the Dark Knight contend with the low level thug inmates, but he'll also cross paths with members of his rogue's gallery like Poison Ivy, Scarecrow and Bane. Since Batman is a detective first and a fighter second, you'll spend a lot of time in detective mode solving puzzles and finding out the best solutions for dealing with various situations. The actual combat is simple but entertaining and you get a few of Batman's gadgets to play with like the grapple gun and Batarang. There's even a tight story to back up the gameplay written by Batman: The Animated Series writer Paul Dini along with topnotch voice work from Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill among others. If you haven't played this title, you'd do well to check it out. The Game of the Year Edition is dirt cheap and even if you've already played it, consider giving the gritty halls of Arkham another visit.
10.) Resident Evil (GCN, Wii)
Come now, you knew a game from this series would be here somewhere. If any Resident Evil deserved a remake, you'd think it would be RE2. At the time, it was hailed as the best game in the series. As important an entry as the original was, RE2 was clearly the superior game. But no, Capcom went back to the drawing board and went all out, giving the first RE an incredibly sexy makeover both in terms of gameply and visuals. The first thing you notice about RE is the visual presentation. Saying it looks unbelievably gorgeous does not do it justice. These are the graphics that we see in a lot of HD remakes today, yet the GameCube was pumping out this stuff back in 2002. In another ten years, this game will still make gamer's eyes fall out from it's looks. But RE isn't just a pretty face. The gameplay has also been improved from the original 1996 game. The clunky "tank" controls the series is known for are still present and accounted for, but the 180 degree turn is your savior when you've got zombies at your heels. Defensive weapons also come in handy when you want to conserve ammo. There's nothing quite like stabbing a zombie in the face with a knife or blowing one's head off with a grenade. The voice acting is much better than the original game and the script was re-written. Add that with the mindblowing visuals and improved gameplay mechanics and you have a game that blows the doors off the original. On top of that, this RE is legitimately creepy. Play alone at in the dark at night if you dare. I wasn't sure which entry to include in this feature at first, but after thinking it over, this seemed to be the obvious choice.