Feature: Halloween Scares on Wii
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
The cute little console's horrors
The scariest night of the year is now only two days away, a horrifying evening when strange children knock at the door and refuse to leave without a toll of sweets and candy. If you don't hand some tooth-rotting treats over, then you could find out what tricks they have up their sleeve; that's not always a smart move.
It's also the time of year when we willingly scare ourselves witless by playing frightening video games. This could mean downloadable horrors so bad they're terrifying, or you could opt for some games that genuinely send a chill down your spine. To finish off our week-long series of fond Wii remembrances, we want to highlight some titles from the system's back-catalogue that are perfect for this time of year.
We suggest turning out the lights, basking in the tiny blue glow of the Wii power switch and trying these titles this Halloween.
Not to be confused as a simple re-make of the PlayStation original, this is a game that decides that having weapons for self-defence is the easy way out. You explore a creepy town, interact with various citizens and then have to run for your life when the world freezes over for Nightmare sequences. Much of this game is done rather well, with Harry Mason's mobile phone and flashlight being his only resources and defence, and the fear of running from awful beasts is only let down by its repetitive nature and the fact that the game telegraphs when the scares are coming. With some of the best visuals on Wii and its ability to unnerve with psychological profiling, however, this is a strong candidate for Halloween gaming.
A re-release of the GameCube original, this is a title that invariably comes up when anyone talks about survival horror/action games available on Wii. While it's easy to quibble about the definition of survival horror — traditional scares equivalent to zombie-dogs jumping through windows are rare — this is a game to get you on the edge of your seat. It's less about "what's on the other side of the two way mirror", but more along the lines of a "does that crazy guy have a chainsaw" kind of horror. Assuming you play through without carrying over ammo in New Game+, you will have moments where you run short of bullets and desperately slash at enemies with your knife. Oh, and Ramon Salazar is very creepy.
Another re-imagining from a previous-generation system, Project Zero 2: Wii Edition puts you in the shoes of two sisters making their way through some of the most creepy environments you can imagine. This is an exceptionally dark game, which we mean literally; if you try and play this with any light in the room you're unlikely to be able to see what you're doing. With an art style and sound design to creep out the boldest of gamers, this is only let down by some rather over-choreographed scares — preceding frights with cut-scenes isn't wise — and some predictable tank-style third person controls. It's wonderfully atmospheric when played with headphones in a dark room, however, and relying on a camera as your only form of defence is likely to get the pulse racing.
If you want to be scared and engage your brain, then this WiiWare title from WayForward may be the one for you. The storyline puts you in the shoes of a teenager — devoured by angst, we imagine — trying to find his missing girlfriend in a school full of spooks. The main idea is to stay in the light in each area by using items, triggering switches and generally being clever, with a neat visual style helping with the tension. If you're afraid of the dark and still have love for your download collection on Wii, this is a good option.
Described as a "fear simulator", this is a title that doesn't pretend to be anything more than a sequence of scares, with a deliberately slow — but awkward — control scheme. Fans of the related movies are likely to get a kick from this, while the "Scare Level" and "Sissy Level" should sort out the wimps from the heroic poltergeist battlers — not that you have any weapons, of course, just a trusty flashlight. It has its flaws, alongside a painfully short length, but is sure to provide traditional Japanese-style scares.
This is, in all likelihood, one of those "hidden gems" in the Wii library, with its share of qualities not necessarily matched by significant sales. Also known as "that one with all the snow" amongst Nintendo Life staff, it incorporates Buddhist philosophies with high production values and a long campaign, making it an attractive and, we suspect, budget option. Of course, it wouldn't be a horror game on Wii without tank controls, but they can be excused due to the atmospheric frights that it'll offer on Halloween night.
Nah, just kidding.
So there you go, there are some of the spooky and scary games available on Wii, the console that many believe has no mature titles. If Scooby Doo! and the Spooky Swamp isn't a mature title, we don't know what is, and there are some games that we haven't even featured, notably big franchise light-gun spin-offs. In all seriousness, it may not look scary, but Nintendo's little system can make you jump this Halloween.