Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life

Tag Archives: Silent Hill

The Silent HD Collection VO

If you’re a fan of Silent Hill at all, you’ve probably heard about what’s going down with Silent Hill and the VO on the title. If you haven’t, here is the quick version:

Konami announced they were re-recording all of the VO for both Silent Hill 2 and 3 for the HD collection. Some hardcore fans got pissed. There was drama. Konami looked at some legal and technical stuff and announced they could put the original in for 2. So now, Silent Hill 3 only comes with re-recorded VO and new voice actors, and Silent Hill 2 has the options for the new VO or the original. Some fans are still pissed and rejecting the new VO.

If you know me (or really, read my blog at all), you’re going to know that I am a super hard core fan of Silent Hill. So, I found myself pondering… should I play the game with the new VO, or the old VO?

I have decided that yes, I am going to use the new VO. And here is the break down of that choice.

The main reason: If a Broadway play is being performed, no one refuses to go because it doesn’t have the original cast. Theater patrons look forward to seeing the new take on characters. I feel like the new voice acting is something very similar. I want to see the new actors take on the characters. Will it be better? I don’t know, but won’t ever know if I don’t try it out. I can’t have a preference if I have only experienced one.

The second reason: The people they brought in to play Mary/Maria and James are heavy hitters in the voice acting world.

So, who’s playing new Maria?

Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. Why does that name sound familiar? Well, it’s because for one, she is pretty much the *voice* of Silent Hill. She does the female vocals on the soundtracks for *every* Silent Hill to date. In addition, she has been involved in tons of other awesome things such as CowBoy BeBop, Princess Mononoke, Tekken, Ghost in a Shell, .hack, and Shadows of the Damned. And that’s just for starters.

How do I feel about this? I’m really excited. Mary has proven time and time again that she is good at being a voice actor, and has always been a very important part of the Silent Hill franchise. She seems like she would hands down have been my first pick for Maria.

So, who’s playing the new James?

Troy Baker. Again, this guy is in everything. I’ve already worked on 2 games in which he plays the main character- Red Faction: Guerrilla and Bioshock Infinite. Additionally, he’s all up in other cool things- like Full Metal Alchemist and Shin Chan. Not to mention he is in practically every video game ever.  From WOW to Saints Row 3, he’s got it covered. Not to mention, I actually got to meet him in person one day at work, so that was cool.

How do I feel about this? I’m looking forward to it. I’m not all “OMG, TROY!” but I’m looking forward to his take on it. I haven’t seen him take on a character who really experiences pain on the same level James does in Silent Hill 2, so I’m interested in seeing how Troy tackles it.

The Final Reason: It’s looking pretty good. If you watch this clip below, you can see some side by side comparisons. Now, warning, the guy who made this video clearly hates the new VO… so skip to 15 seconds in and don’t watch the end.

Now, watching this, I’m not sure I prefer McGlynn’s Mary.  I’m not saying it’s bad, but her voice just seems too…  strong. The original voice acting seems more innocent as well.  But that same thing that makes me unsure of her Mary, makes me LOVE her Maria. Her revision of Maria just oozes seduction. I think it’s great, and I’m looking forward to it.

This video doesn’t show as much of James as I would like. I really don’t have an opinion on Troy’s part yet. I didn’t see enough. I can’t tell from that clip if he can really show the pain and fear James is going through. But, I’m looking forward to finding out.

And anyway, what kind of Silent Hill Fan would I be if I couldn’t boast about playing it will all VO versions, or having some crazy deep opinions on how did it better and why?

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My Silent Hill Collection

As everyone knows, I’m a Silent Hill fan. I just wanted to share my collection. So here it is- minus the picture of my tattoo that is.

*Edit: One of my friends realized I didn’t add in my copy of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories as well. So here it is minus my tattoo and that.

See text below for image contents

My Collection includes:

  • Silent Hill 1 (original print, not greatest hits collection) with case and booklet
  • Silent Hill 1 disc (from my childhood, original print)
  • Silent Hill 1 (Japanese copy)
  • Silent Hill 1 Brady Guide
  • Silent Hill 2
  • Silent Hill 2 Greatest Hits Version
  • Silent Hill 3 w/ Sound track
  • Silent Hill 4: The Room
  • Silent Hill: Origins
  • Silent Hill: Homecoming
  • Silent Hill (movie)
  • Silent Hill nurse cosplay costume, with shoes and mask

Silent Hill Downpour: The Music

Warning – This is a very video heavy post.

So, Silent Hill:I’ve got a lot to say on this upcoming title,  so I’m breaking it up. So in this piece on Silent Hill: Downpour we’re going to talk about the preview of the game’s soundtrack.

So, Akira Yamaoka has been the composer for all Silent Hill soundtracks – and he’s done a great job and generated a giant fan base. He’s created music that has expressed both the pain and the fear that defined an entire game series. His songs have been memorable, and the industrial and melancholy undertones couldn’t have produced a better ambient music for game play. Let’s take a quick look back at some of the notable songs he has composed for the Silent Hill Series.  (There are a lot, and no, my feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t listen to them all.)

And yes, I did leave out the theme song for the original Silent Hill. I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard it by now.

Alright, the first 2 examples I have are “Witchcraft” from Homecoming and “Acceptance” from Shattered Memories. I think these two pieces were both highly memorable and were great during gameplay. The “Acceptance” video was actually taken while someone was playing- you can hear them picking up items and such during the video.

So, those were examples of just general gameplay. This next one is very much a “OMG, HARRY! RUN! RUN YOUR ASS OFF!” moment in the game, and I think you can hear that in this song- “Devil’s Laughter” from Shattered Memories.

The next two songs are simply fan favorites. You find find a MILLION fan made versions of both of these.

And finally,  this is just about one of my favorites. Skip half way through for the good stuff.

So, I did just posted a lot of videos. And I’m hoping that now you’ve gotten a feel for the Silent Hill music.

Now, I’ve talked about how great Akira is, and how much I like his music… now some of you probably already know this. Akira left Konami. So, yes, he isn’t doing the Silent Hill downpour soundtrack. So this is the first Silent Hill he hasn’t been a part of. So, who are they having replace him? Daniel Licht, the composer from the TV show Dexter. So, what does he have to contribute to Silent Hill? Well, they recently put this out –

Alright – and now what’ you’ve all been waiting for – the preview of his work on Downpour –

Or if you would rather see it mixed in with gameplay you can check out the trailer:

Now, before I go any further I’m going to offer this disclaimer:

1. I don’t watch Dexter, and honestly before writing this I hadn’t listen to any of Daniel’s work. So, I didn’t have an opinion of him going in.

2. I am a huge Akira fanboy and won’t try to act like that doesn’t make me somewhat biased.

 

So- I’m not really feeling this. I don’t hate it, and I’m not saying it’s not good. I’m saying I don’t feel it.

I guess the best place to start on this is the emotion from the song. When I’m listening to this I don’t feel sad, worried, afraid, terrifying, or distressed. To be honest, I feel like this song is “curious.” I can see someone exploring an area they don’t know, but they’re intrigued about it. Or maybe it’s a comical sort of afraid- in the same way Scooby and Shaggy are afraid while exploring a haunted mansion. I’m not convinced it has the right tone to really contribute to the Silent Hill feel. When you watch the trailer the music does get a little more epic near the end, but I’m not sure it’s enough.

Secondly, there are a few things about the song itself that I don’t like. Like, I don’t like the wood block in the song. I think it contributes to the “curious” feel that makes it hard for me to feel afraid or nervous during the song. Honestly, can you think of a time some one put a wood block in a song and your first inclination was to take it seriously? It just doesn’t seem to fit with the whole “creepy” vibe Silent Hill should have. There is also that drum “breakdown” … which I couldn’t place why I felt like it shouldn’t be there until my fiance commented that it sounded like it belonged in every ’80s pop song- which is totally true.

And lastly- the song isn’t memorable. Just stop- try to play the song back in your head. How did it start? I can’t remember. Honestly, I remember there was a woodblock, and an ’80s drum break down, and a mandolin. But I can’t tell you the tune. I doubt I could hum it if I tried. I think this piece lacks the power to really draw in big fans like a lot of Akira’s work because it doesn’t stick with you.  It’s not something that is going to get stuck in your head or that you want to listen to again. It’s just sort of “there.”

I’m not saying that Daniel’s work is all going to suck. I’m not saying that his work is ruining Silent Hill. I’m just saying, from this preview, I’m  not convinced he can step up and fill Akira’s shoes. Who knows- maybe I’m completely wrong and this fits with the game play great. Maybe the rest of his work is insanely awesome and I will regret ever doubting him. Maybe I’m just a crazy biased Yamaoka fan and I’m not giving his work a fair chance.

 

So, what’s my final call? I’m not all that impressed. It’s nothing special, but not horrible. It will get the job done, but I’m hoping to see some better work in the final game.

 

I got some more tattoos.

Also during my absence from Thoughts, I went and got some more tattoos, some more video game tattoos.

On my right forearm I got the one pictured below. It’s a quote from the Silent Hill movie. And although I think that last 20 minutes of the movie completely sucked, I loved the series and wanted something a little less obvious that it was a video game tattoo (since you know, there’s a triforce on my other arm).

What I absolutely love about this one tattoo is that it’s done in my own handwriting. I walked into the parlor, wrote it on the paper, and got it done. That was it.

My other tattoo I got is huge. I was torn on what I wanted… I had a small tattoo I wanted to cover… and I wanted a steam punk tattoo, pin up tattoo, video game tattoo or a tattoo with personal meaning.  I ended up getting Vasha from Red Faction: Guerrilla as a pin up. She has it all in one. The version of Vasha that I have tattooed on me is a mixture between Vasha’s concept art and what she ended up looking like in game, except her boobs are way bigger. Funny enough, I asked the tattoo artist to make them huge.

For me getting Vasha was cool because I tested like all of her mission’s when I worked on the game and would quote her constantly.

ta

How To: Making a Silent Hill Nurse Costume

Alright, so this was a really fun project. Here is how to make your own Silent Hill Nurse costume for cheap and with no sewing. Jump to the end for pictures of the whole process.

The first step is to go pick up the things you will need:

The base of my Silent Hill Nurse costume

The base of my Silent Hill Nurse costume

A “sexy” nurse costume – I bought one of the Leg Avenue costumes
A simple mask
Paint for the mask
Old make up, like eye shadow and foundation
Panty house
Shoes your willing to rough up
soy sauce
flour
newspaper

At the very bottom there is a photo gallery, click on each picture for a larger image and a visual record of making my costume!

Making the nurse dress and hat:

Take the nurse costume and soak it in a mixture of black tea and coffee.  I soaked mine in a giant pot for like a half hour.

Once it is done, hang it somewhere to dry. I hung mine up in my bathroom above the tub. As the costume dries, flick some water on it. This will create discolored spots. Only flick water on it. I mean small amounts.

Now because of the materials that costumes are made out of (you know, the kind of shiny material – maybe it’s polyester?) you can’t wash this, or get it wet. If you do, the color will run right out of it. That’s why you can only use flicks of water, don’t do any more than that.

Once the costume is dry, go through your old make up. You will be using this to dirty up the dress. I used old foundation, blush that was too dark for me, and eye shadows I was never going to use.

For powdered make up, scrape it with a fork or tweezers or something else, just to make it loose. Then spread it across the costume with just your hand or paper towel, working it into the fabric. For liquid make up just drip it on the cloth where ever you see fit, once again smearing it in .

Repeat this process for the front and back, including the hat that comes with the costume.

Now this part is going to sound a little weird, but trust me. Put the costume on some sort of incline, or you may want to hang it up. The take soy sauce a drip it on the costume. Let is run down naturally, and then dab off any extra that doesn’t soak into the costume. This gives the look of old, dried blood really nicely.

Once the make up and soy sauce have dried, take a pair of scissors and fray and rough up all of the edges of the costume.

Yay! The dress portion of your costume is now done!

The Mask

The mask really was a learning experience for me. I had no clue what I was doing when I started. It was still fun though.

Start by getting everything ready to paper mache. I would lay down some newspaper or trash bag to protect your surface. This can get messy. Once your area is set up, tear newspaper into strips, no more than an inch wide, and some pieces being smaller than that. For the paste mix I used a simple two part water to one part flour mixed that worked quite well.

You will need at least 3 layers of paper mache, so this will take some time. For the first layer, dip the newspaper in the glue mix and shake of any extra glue. Lay it across the mask. Repeat this process until the entire mask is covered. Once you’re done, let is dry. This can take up to 24 hours.

This is where things start getting hard. You have to get a idea of what you want your mask to look like now. I didn’t really do that, and as you can tell from the pictures. Mine sort of evolved over time. IF you already know what you want your mask to look like you would start laying down the ground work here on the second layer.

The one thing I can tell you is to get texture, it’s a nice idea to pinch together or lump newspaper where you want higher or raised portions now. It doesn’t matter how it looks, because you can smooth it out by adding paper on top of it with the next layer.

So, just keep repeating the add paper mache – let it dry sequence until you have something you like.

Once that is done you paint it. I just used some normal paint for crafts, acrylic paint. Now, my mask turned out really dark. I tried to paint it once with lighter colors, which are more accurate to the reference I was using, but looked horrible. I am not a painter by any means. I decided on going with a dark mask, not because it was accurate, but it looked better and was easier to do with my painting skills. Feel free to paint it whatever colors you see fit. It is your mask after all.

Now, Silent Hill nurses don’t have eyes. I do. To make my eyes little harder to see I hot glued panty hose on the inside of my mask over the eye holes. Simply cut a square piece of panty hose, stretch it, and hot glue it in place.

Now you’re mask is done.

Shoes:

Now shoes are really up to you. The nurses in the movie and Silent Hill: Homecoming both wear heels, which is what I chose to go with. I didn’t have a pair of white heels so I just spray painted a pair of black ones white. I then used a left over paint from the mask to rough them up a bit.

Make-up:

Now I haven’t done a full costume run yet. That means including make up. The nurses are covered with veins. I plan to have them all over my body, including legs.

Wanna see how I looked in my costume? You can do so here!

Hope you enjoy making your own costume!

Games from my Childhood – Part 1

listed in no order by a reminiscing Tara

Being in a nostalgic mood, I made a list of games from my childhood and wrote about them. The list was long, and they clearly aren’t all here. I figured I would go back to later and do a part two because there were so many I felt needed mentioned… I mean Pokemon Snap isn’t even on this one!

Tomb Raider: Playstation
Tomb Raider box artMy dad had just bought my younger brother and me our Playstation when I picked up Tomb Raider. Actually, it was the first game that I purchased for the system. My dad had taken my brother and me to the local Walmart and we both got to choose one game to buy. I picked Tomb Raider. It was one of my favorite games from then on.

Reason I played it first:
To be honest, probably because there was a girl on the cover.

Gameplay:
It’s a third person, 3D action adventure game. You control Lara and navigate here through a series of caves and temples while solving puzzles and killing enemies. Dinosaur enemies… T-Rex enemies. Well, okay… they aren’t that many T-Rexes. But it was still super intense to be a kid and here the “DUH-DUH” followed by the violins starting to play… because you knew it wasn’t good.

Here’s the T-Rex part I was talking about.

Do I still have it? Yes.

How has it held up? I still love playing this game. Although the graphics didn’t fare well as time went on, the game play is still great. The controls, even after adjusting to modern games, still handle smoothly and are easy to use. This game will continue to stand the test of time.

Memorable Moment: To be honest, I loved the theme song for this game. It was simple and elegant. I still find myself humming it to myself every now and then.

Legend of Zelda: NES
zelda_boxI have no idea how I got a copy of this game. To be honest, ever since I can remember I’ve had it (which may be directly related to the fact the game came out the year I was born). Of course I didn’t play the game the year it was released, I was only a baby. But I did started playing it (for real) about the time I was in first grade. I would pour hours into Zelda and loved it dearly. And that’s how it became the first game I ever beat.

Reason I played it first:
I remember seeing my mom, or maybe my step dad, play it while I was a kid. And then I wanted to after that. It’s that simple.

Gameplay:
From on top down perspective you guide Link through Hyrule in his journey to collect the pieces of the Triforce and save Princess Zelda. You go through 9 temples or dungeons, each one with on item to collect and a boss to fight. When you’ve collected them all, you fight the evil Ganon!

Do I still have it? Yes, although not my NES copy. I have the Zelda collector’s disc for GameCube which has it on there.

How has it held up? The Zelda series has gone through a lot of changes, and put out a lot of games. Some, I will admit, better than the original. I still love this game though. I’ve even tried to speed run it before. I was doing pretty well until I hit the seventh dungeon… then I couldn’t remember anything.

Memorable moment: I first got in trouble for inappropriate language while playing this game. I remember not knowing how to get a new sword and saying “I don’t know how to get the damn sword.” My mother then stuck a bar of soap in my mouth. Yuck.

Tekken 2 – Playstation
tekken-2-11Tekken 2 started a long standing passion with the Tekken games for me and my younger brother. This game really was a family bonding game for my brother, my dad, my uncle and myself. We’d sit on the couch and take turns versing each other until we grew tired.


Reason I played it first:
Some Playstation demo disc me and my brother had.

Gameplay:
Tekken 2 is a 3D fighting game with 25 playable characters. The controls are set up with 2 punch buttons and 2 kick buttons, and special moves and combos are accomplished by pressing a series of buttons that include both the directional buttons and the punch and kick buttons. The first player to deplete the other player’s life bar wins.

Intro video followed by some game footage:

Do I still have it? I sure do. The case hasn’t fared as well though. It’s long gone.

How has it held up? As time went on the Tekken series has evolved, it also sped up. Playing Tekken 2 now seems sluggish and unrefined. It’s nice to play for the reminiscent factor, but if I’m going to play a fighting game I’d much rather play Tekken 5 or 6 now.

MediEvil – Playstation
MediEvilThere’s just something memorable about a game who’s main character has no jaw and one eye… and also fights the early stages of the game with his own arm.

Reason I played it first:
Four Words – Pizza Hut Demo Disc

Gameplay:
Medievil is a another 3D action adventure game where you navigate your character, once a hero, now a bag on bones around solving simple puzzles and killing enemies. That’s about all I remember. I think there was an evil wizard maybe?


Do I still have it? I sure don’t. And I have no idea what happen to it.

How has it held up? I have no idea. I haven’t played it since I was a kid. I hope it’s as glorious as I remember it being, but I don’t know. If I ever track a copy down I will let you know.

Silent Hill – Playstation
silenthill_boxI think that fact that Silent Hill shows up on my childhood game list shows my parents didn’t read the label of whatever I was playing. This game scared me to death as a child, but for some reason I kept playing it. I remember the sound effects in the music in the school were exceptionally terrifying.

Reason I played it first:
I have no idea. I don’t even know where our copy of the game came from. It was just there at our Dad’s house one day. I think my brother just found it and put it in. It had to have been one of my dad’s friend’s games.

Gameplay:

It’s a third person survival horror with wonky camera angles and horribly awkward combat. Your task is to lead Harry Mason through the deserted down of Silent Hill while looking for his daughter Cheryl. You tour all of Silent Hill scenic locations such as the school, hospital, church… monster infested streets… you know, the usual.

Intro Video with some game play

Do I still have it? I sure do. The case is dead, by the game is in prestine condition.

How has it held up? Silent Hill has held up quite well in some areas and horribly in others. Silent Hill is still considered amazing at setting up atmosphere and the music. The graphics didn’t hold up well at all. And the control scheme has gone under fire as well. Some people see it as adding to the atmosphere and confusion that is Silent Hill. Others just see it as annoying and a unnecessary obstacle. So overall it’s held up okay, but not as well as I would like.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – NES (The one that was released in North America only)
indiana_jones_and_the_last_crusade_nesI’ve always been a huge Indiana Jones fan. I mean, massively huge. Of course I was going to play the game. The amount of time I played this game easily rivaled Zelda. I wasn’t ever able to beat it though.

Reason I played it first:
My mom bought me this game from a  yard sale I think. I’m not really sure. I just know one day she came home with it and I was in love.

Gameplay:

It was a side-scrolling action adventure game, mixed in with some mini-games involving timed puzzles. What was most awesome about this game was at times the player could choose what part of the story you would like to follow. So I could choose if I wanted to go to the castle to get my father first or to go save Marcus.

A speed run of the entire game


Do I still have it? No, I don’t. When I was younger the game had a mishap involving my little brother and then it stopped working after that. I was really upset.

How has it held up? I’m not really sure. I don’t see it holding up super well though. I will say I would play it again. I never beat the game as the kid before it was broken. Mainly because I always lost the grail diary.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories – A Brief Look

from a more optimistic Tara

shattered-memoriesLast April, I expressed my fears about Konami and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii. I had hoped that by setting my expectations low that I would be pleased by whatever the results happened to be. Well, I’ve spent some time sifting through everything I could find about the game being released October 13th, and I was really surprised to be really liking everything that I saw.

I’d first like to show you a trailer, just a little teaser that was released to us last May…

I was originally having a lot of doubt about this game because they kept calling it an “re-imagining” of the first Silent Hill. I wasn’t sure what they meant, or what to think. When you play through the game a lot of key pieces start out the same. You’re Harry Mason, and you’ve just wrecked your car in Silent Hill. You wake up to see the world around you covered in a thick snow, blocking your visibility. Groggy and dazed, you turn to the right to see your daughter, Cheryl, is missing. You leave you crashed car and start looking around town… but not only is your daughter no where to be seen, but no one else is either. Finally, you stumble into a diner where you begin to speak with a lady cop… something’s wrong with the town…. Sound familiar? It should. It’s a lot like the original story. Although it starts out similar, everyone kept stressing it wasn’t just a normal remake. As I watched the game play videos, it felt different. I think now I’m not only starting to understand what they meant, but really like this idea despite my initial fear.

(There’s a lot to read here so if you’re just interested in game play videos skip to the end 🙂 )

I think that first thing that made me worry about this title was the fact that it was on the Wii. Although I was worried about it being watered down for the kiddies, I was horrified at the idea of flailing my arms around while attempting to explore Silent Hill. Thankfully, I haven’t read anything bad about the controls yet, and actually it’s the contrary. Everything I have seen has been very positive. You move Harry around by using the nun-chuck analog stick, pressing Z to run, and C to quick turn. The flash light is aimed is done moving the Wiimote. A is used as your standard action button. Finally, the D-Pad is used to navigate your cell phone. From what I can tell, in addition to feeling in my gut, the controls will be easy to use and natural. I think that it’s going to be like the Wii Version of Resident Evil 4. Yeah, you used the Wiimote to aim, but you weren’t doing any extreme movements, just flicks of the wrist. It was all smooth. From all game play videos I’ve seen, no one has seemed to be fumbling or having issues getting the controls to respond as they wanted. I really felt better after seeing the controls weren’t going to be wonky, and it really let me look deeper into Shattered Memories with a new found optimism.

There are a few things that have become Silent Hill staples, such as amazing music by Akira Yamaoka. There isn’t a Silent Hill title that doesn’t have beautiful melancholy under tones or a huge music fan base. You would think that by now Akira wouldn’t be able to keep coming up with new and amazing pieces, but he does. While watching the game play footage (shown below), we see some of the lonely, sad and beautiful piano music he is known for. I’ve read that this game also spans the full length of his talent, including the heavy hearted piano pieces to the crushing industrial sounds that plague Silent Hill. Once again, it looks like we have another amazing soundtrack on our hands.

One of my favorite things to hear about this game is the Konami has stressed that they wanted to return back to the feeling of the original Silent Hill games… more solitude, more fear, less action. Silent Hill was a psychological thriller, made to play on your emotions and the fear of being alone, lost, and out of control. A lot of the intensity from Silent Hill stemmed from trying to deal with being only a normal person against a larger than life enemy, more than a person… the entire world. Of course the creatures were always a large part of that, and now we have new and equally frightening beasts to encounter. The enemies in Silent Hill out number Harry, can go any where he can, and are extremely intelligent and dynamic. They work together, they can open doors. It’s horrifying. To ensure that the player constantly felt like he was struggling, constantly in fear… Komani did something sort of radical… they took weapons away from Harry. When questioned about it, lead designer Sam Barlow had this to say:

“Hitchcock said that all horror goes back to childhood, that’s why it’s a universal thing — it’s a fundamental. How many children wake up screaming because they had a dream where they beat up a zombie with a baseball bat? You wake up screaming because you ran and you got caught. So don’t get caught — run.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a direct response to people completely punching their way through Silent Hill: Origins and the mixed feeling about melee combos in Homecoming. Either way, I’m interested to see how it works. From the game play it looks like you have to out smart them, running, taking allies in attempt to flee, jumping fences, and hiding in lockers. I like the idea and I hope that it’s executed nicely.

Along with trying to keep the feeling of the original Silent Hill, there was definite attempt to make Shatter as immersive as possible. It can be easily be seen in the tweaks they made to the game play. Not having any HUD elements has always been a staple of Silent Hill games, but this time they took it one step further. They wanted the player to have a map, as usual, but didn’t want to make the player be taken away from the game to see it. To solve their dilemma, they introduced the cell phone (which is very iPhone-esque) which has a GPS feature. The player can access their phone at any time to use it. They can also make calls, receive text messages, take pictures, and receives voice messages. To further surround the player with the Silent Hill environment, no information will be given to the player by walking up to something, pressing action, and having text appear about the object anymore. This means no more diaries or books left behind for you to read. Instead, everything comes in the form of voice mails or Harry speaking. If there is something you would like to know more about, you take a close look at the object and if Harry is thinking something about it he will say it, or if it has writing he will read it aloud. It sounds a little odd when I try to explain it, but it’s actually a lot nicer than it sounds. Take a look at the game play video below and you can really see it.

I think the largest change they have made to the game is the fact the the “game plays you as much as you play it.” It sounds a little confusing, but it’s a cool idea. When you first start playing the Shattered Memories, you start out in a therapist office, and are asked to fill out a short questionnaire with true/false questions like “I make friends easily” and “Having a drink helps me relax.” From the moment you start checking those boxes, the game starts developing a profile on you, a psych profile. The game watches your every move, straight down to the items that you look at and uses it to create the perfect nightmare for you. For example, when you first start the game you wander into a room that has both a phone and a pin up girl calendar. Which would you look at? If you walk up to the phone with the intent of calling home or 911 to find your daughter, the game might begin to label you as practical. It would then bring you to the dinner, and lead you to the cop, as its something you would probably try doing. Then, the cop doesn’t want to help you… your practical choice has turned against you. You’re now forced to think of non-practical solutions… you’re out of your comfort zone. It’s a little more complex than that, but you get the idea. Shattered Memories changes the environment to custom tailor your nightmare, and make it more creepy for you.

Did you see in 0:37 of the video when the screen quickly flashed? That’s the other person you could meet at the diner based on your choices.

So like I said, I’m feeling a lot better about this game than I originally was, mostly due to the game play footage I’ve seen. So to wrap this up, here is footage from the beginning of the game up through the diner. The only thing that isn’t awesome about these videos is it doesn’t have any of the noises that come out of the wiimote… so radio static, voice mails, phone calls… that sort of thing. Other than that it’s great though. Enjoy. (Oh, and for those of you who want to skip straight to dark Silent Hill- video 3 about 40 seconds in.)

Wonderings of my mind, resulting in props for Akira Yamaoka

The random thoughts entering Tara’s head today (So sorry if is doesn’t have much direction.)

What is music? Expression? Art? A sequence of sound? Does it set a tone?
What is music to a game? An emotion? Part of the setting? Does it set the mood?

Music can frighten us, encourage us, give us strength, and make us laugh. That’s why it’s so important in the video game world. The sounds we hear and the melodies that are played can be just as memorable as the games themselves, and are important to setting the mood of the story.

The Silent Hill series has always relied heavily in their music to help set the mood. The ambient music and sounds effects were made to be suppressing, isolating, and frightening. Konami understood that they could use our ears to their advantage, and did so magnificently. The music was both industrial and depressing. Sometimes it seemed to mimic the heavy breathing of someone lost and alone, or the thudding heart beat of someone afraid and anxious. Sometimes the music just made you feel like the entire world was against you… that there was just something watching over you… and not in a good way. Just check out the beginning of this video:

The excellent music for the Silent Hill series didn’t stop there. The intro  to the original is one of the most rememberable song of any games, partially because of the mandolin that provides the song with an almost traditional Italian feel. It will always be one of my favorite songs from any game.

The theme song was so popular it landed in the Guitar Hero series.

What’s truly interesting is all but one or two songs for the Silent Hill series (and the movie) were written by one person, who volunteered after working on another project.

Akira Yamaoka has worked on other video game series, but it’s his work with Silent Hill that has made me fall in love with him.  Akira is able to fill his music with the dark and lonely undertones that are needed to complete the setting that is Silent Hill. It’s almost like these songs come to him in his sleep… It’s even been said that he completed “Theme of Laura” for Silent Hill 2 in three days.

There’s just something in his head that works…. Akira is a musical genius, and video games are his medium. I don’t think I’d like it any other way.

What is music? It’s a feeling, the voice in your head, the tear on your cheek… but it’s so much more. It’s the monster under your bed, and the laughter at a funny joke. Yamaoka can capture it…

Do me a favor, just start this next song, and close your eyes… listen to the piano… Feel the sadness in the music… imagine walking through the streets alone…. Then when it’s over, open your eyes… Then remember the this was written for a video game… written by one man, who has defined a series.

I’m Ready Now – Kaitlyn Conley

by Tara

There are a lot of things in life that I like, but very few are comparable to this next video.

I love Silent Hill and I love dance, and this next one combines the two. Kaitlyn is an amazing dancer who worked some jerky and contorted movements into her routine below, which also has some amazing technique in it.

You can’t watch 1:45-1:49 and 2:40-2:45 and not tell me see is channeling a Silent Hill nurse.