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How ObsCure Told Me It Was Okay To Like B-Movie Games - Destructoid

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A self proclaimed professor of survival horror despite only having a BA (Hons) degree in film. Go figure.

Okay, maybe I should write more here but I once did an interview for Law's blog, which explains everything about me.

In the meantime, I'm just a guy who writes about videogame theory and how the medium can achieve better cinematic emulation (while keeping its own indentity). Though, if that's too boring, you can always find something delightfully fluffy in the following:

Gamer Obscura

Gregory Horror Show
Glass Rose
Michigan: Report From Hell
Hellnight
Steambot Chronicles
Chase The Express
The X Files FMV Game
SOS: The Final Escape & Raw Danger
G-Police & G-Police: Weapons of Justice
Koudelka
Friday The 13th: The Computer Game
Hard Edge
DENNIS HOPPER featuring Black Dahlia
Harvester
The Note
The Police Quest Collection
It Came From The Desert
Blade Runner
Men in Black: The Game
Famicom Detective Club Part II
Toonstruck
Ham-Ham Heartbreak

Unsung Heroes

Brad Garrison (Dead Rising)
Jenny Romano (The Darkness)
Cass (Fallout: New Vegas)

Hey, check out these inane ramblings:

The Vague History of UK Videogame TV shows

Part 1 (Bad Influence, Gamesmaster & Games World)
Part 2 (BITS & videoGaiden/consoleVania)
Part 3 (the worst and the future)

The Assimilation of Eastern & Western Horror in Videogames

Part 1 (The Eastern/Western Horror Assimilation)
Part 2 (Interaction and Narrative)
Part 3 (Case Study)

Random

Skip To The End: Max Payne 2
The Lost Idea of An Adventures of Pete & Pete Game
My Unpopular Opinion: I Liked Alone in The Dark 5
Hey BBC! Where's My Doctor Who Game?!
Loving Dr. Chakwas
The 'Fun Simulacrum' of Movie/TV License Games
Why Devs Don't Get The Colonial Marines From Aliens
It's Okay To Like B-Movie Games
Endings That Made Me Cry...Like A Man
Who Do You Trust?
Dancing With Myself
My Unpopular Opinion: Silent Hill 4 Deserved Better
Theme Hospital & The Embarrassing Operation of Old
When It Comes To Noir in Videogames, "It's Chinatown"
My Irreverent & Irrelevant Awards Show 2010
Amateur Bedroom Critics
Sydney Briar is Alive
The Big Gumbo
Alan Wake's Hallowiener Special
...And So I Watch You From Afar

Nostaljourney

Some poor sap let me onto their awesome podcast. These are the horrific results...

Deus Ex
Resident Evil 2
Duke Nukem 3D

Secret Moon Base

They sent me into space for this podcast. There were no survivors...

Fiddling Nightbear

Monthly Musings

I Suck At Games: Stretching My RPGs Out into A Year & A Half Ordeal

Improving Gaming Communities: We Need A Gaming Fonzie

The Future: Laughing At The Past

Something About Sex: It's A Conquest, Not A Catalyst

Alternate Reality: "My other car is a Trotmobile!"

Teh Bias: Starting At The Ground Floor

Groundhog Day: One DeSoto, Two Carefree Owners

Front Page

Nothing Is Sacred: 'It looks like the lock is broken. I can't open it.'

Love/Hate: Shark Jumping Videogame Writers

E for Effort: The Adventures of Mega & Master (A Cautionary Tale)

The Lament of Solitary Antagonistic Horror

2010 Sucked: Why Cing Will Be Unknowingly Missed

Technical Difficulties: Rainbow Six FUBAR

Cass from New Vegas

Honest Endings for Honest Hearts

Growing Old Disgracefully

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As videogames attempt to be taken more seriously through cinematic emulation, it seems like most critics forget that not everything put on celluloid is a masterpiece. Developers are also quicker to shun the influence of the straight to video market, in favour of impressing non-believers in the manner of an attention seeking child. Not that I have a problem with the videogames industry wanting to show off their maturity through emulation, but without leaving the training wheels on, we get naive efforts that are patted on the head and generally accepted as a ‘milestone’.

I know some readers have the common misconception that I want videogames to perfectly replicate cinema rather than impress on their own merits. I don’t really think that, I just want developers to understand what they’re copying; taking a few notes before they attempt a full-blown thriller or a fictional war.

Personally, I find too many developers have ideas above their station; showing off with an elitist smirk and disdain for the cheaper productions. Some manage to pull it off without the attitude, like Remedy and Valve, while others disappear up their own, shall we say, self satisfaction.

But what of the smaller videogames that know exactly what they want to be?

Look at it this way, if Alan Wake is the successful recreation of intelligent mystery shows like Twin Peaks, then something like ObsCure is the heartfelt homage to the B-Movie.



I picked up ObsCure in 2004, which was also around about the time Silent Hill 4: The Room was released. Being a massive fan of Silent Hill, I particularly loved The Room but there’s the nagging belief that I enjoyed it more because of the franchise rather than its attempts at breaking the past clichés.

ObsCure is commonly seen an average game that doesn’t mess with the survival horror formula much. Though unlike The Room, it doesn’t try to be something that’s running away from expectations. The intention is to give you a game to pass the time, make some money and if you enjoy the ride, then it’s a bonus. It’s clear that the developers, Hydravision, sat down and watched The Faculty while thinking “hey, that would make a great game.”

The plot of ObsCure could easily be written down on the back of a matchbox. Some high school students get locked in at their decrepit school and have to fight monsters using torches and an assortment of weapons. Some people get killed along the way; they discover the truth and destroy the main monster. The end, now go away.



While the idea of a single antagonist chasing them around the school would have served better, as with Clock Tower and Friday The 13th, it’s perfectly formed to please those who have come for a quick rental in the story or the interaction. There’s nothing here that demands the discussion of writing versus creation as in Alan Wake or the psychological effects of divorce in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but it does recapture the feel of a disposable night in and arguably is more successful than its influences due to its interactive narrative assimilation.



With cinematic horror genres like the ‘slasher movie’, it can be argued that we don’t really connect with characters that we passively gaze upon. Many are written for the sole purpose of being killed and we all come to expect that ‘the final girl’ will survive. As discussed before, survival horror creates a bond between player and protagonist; their need to survive is essentially your goal - to be rewarded with the ending. In ObsCure’s case, this transcends the stereotypes that you are required to control.



While the characterisations are typical of the genre, they all have individual survival skills; therefore, keeping them alive (while not necessary) makes advancement easier. It also cleverly ensures that you care for the cast, even the unpopular ones. Add to this the freedom to interchange teammates, each with their own conflicting personalities and you eventually relate through experimentation, i.e. see what the nerd says when teamed up with the jock.

While ObsCure plays up to B-Movie conventions, it also enhances them through interaction. It’s a game that doesn’t outstay its welcome or even pretend to break any boundaries, though I believe it should be credited with the ‘fight with light’ aspect long before journalists called it unique to Alone in the Dark and eventually Alan Wake.

In theory, videogames like ObsCure are ones that copy the cinema screen more closely than ones that claim some kind of artistic integrity, like Heavy Rain. Essentially, it does so because it manages to stay within the confines of its chosen framework and pairing itself with a similar movie genre that allows for plausible set-pieces.



These kinds of movie emulating videogames know their place as much as the Jean-Claude Van Damme straight-to-DVD efforts you’ll always find in a rental store’s New Releases section. Movie-goers embrace the ‘video dungeon’ as much as the big screen and it’s no different to gamers embracing the likes of Deadly Premonition and Nier while enjoying blockbuster entertainment of the Uncharted and Modern Warfare franchises.

If the audience can do that, then why do developers have a hard time putting the cart before the horse in a miscalculated effort to better oneself? They don’t really learn anything other than repetitive mistakes that become encoded in their descendents. I’m pretty sure I learnt more about filmmaking from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II than Lars Von Trier’s The Five Obstructions.





It’s a slow climb to maturity and sometimes we can learn from the childishness we shun, like videogames that emulate the breakout low budget efforts. They took the smaller steps and while some succeeded, other surpassed expectations because they paid close attention and made careful planning.

Then again, some completely blow it like when Hydravision made ObsCure II, but that’s another bedtime story.



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