Friday, November 11, 2011

games of our lives, part 4: Illbleed

WARNING: I am going to spoil the everlovin' shit out of this game. I figure if you haven't already played this cult classic, you probably never will, especially since it would require hunting down a defunct gaming console and a copy of the game.

I'll be perfectly honest: the next time I play a game that deserves to be in my top 10 of all time, Illbleed will be the one that gets kicked off the list to make room. But man, is it FUN. It's by far one of the weirdest, nastiest games I've ever played.

Eriko Christy is the character you must control during your first playthrough, and although you can choose to play as one of her friends on subsequent playthroughs, I wouldn't recommend it. Why? Well, I'll get to that shortly. Despite (or perhaps because of) the sadistic tricks her father used to play on her, Eriko loves horror movies and forms the Horror Movie Research Club with her friends Michel, Randy, and Kevin.

One day, Michel comes to a club meeting with invitations to Illbleed, a new horror theme park that promises a prize of $100 million to anyone who makes it through alive. Eriko is completely skeptical and decides not to go, but when her friends disappear during a visit to the park, she heads to Illbleed to look for them.

Well, I'll admit that I almost gave up about 10 minutes into this game because I absolutely couldn't figure out how to continue. But after some intensive clicking around the screen, I found the horror monitor. This handy little item alerts you to things in the area that might frighten or harm you, and if you're suspicious of something, you can "tag" it. If you were correct, you disarm the item in question. Of course, you can't just go around tagging everything willy-nilly, because it will use up all your adrenaline, plus it would ruin the fun of being attacked by things like fanged loaves of bread and butt statues that crap on you. Eriko is very hard to scare to begin with (hence my endorsement two paragraphs ago), so when she's equipped with the monitor, she's by far the strongest character in the game.

Illbleed is broken up into several stages.

THE HOMERUN OF DEATH: Many years ago, a motel called Chateau Banballow was burned down by teenagers playing a prank. The owner's son Jimmy, who was practicing baseball in the basement, was killed and Mr. Banballow was horribly disfigured. Of course, now he must take revenge on all teenagers with the help of his trusty flamethrower. This is the only stage that actually scared me (not counting the dozens of jump scares) because of the section where you're trying to make your way through a maze with Banballow hot on your heels.

THE REVENGE OF QUEEN WORM: In this Tremors parody, an abandoned campsite has been taken over by enormous worms. At the end of this stage, Rachel (the queen worm) and her worm farmer "father" are reunited in Heaven in a truly fucked up cinema.

WOODPUPPETS: A monstrous tree takes over a lumber mill and turns the workers into wooden puppets. At one point, you are turned into a wooden puppet too, which is funny as shit. Your friend Randy can be rescued in this level, but if you don't find his brain first, he becomes, um, very mentally challenged. Like, a jaw-droppingly offensive parody of a mentally challenged person.

KILLER DEPARTMENT STORE: Donald Cashman ran a popular department store before completely losing his shit. Now his store is filled with all sorts of dangerous things, not least of which is Mr. Cashman himself. And don't forget the Cake from Hell!

(Skip to 2:07 to gaze upon this grisly gateau.)

KILLERMAN: By far my least favorite level, in, I don't remember. I just remember it was a slog.

TOYHUNTER: Ever wanted to play as a cross between Woody from Toy Story and Indiana Jones? Well, here's your chance! Cork Inda's beautiful girlfriend, Sexy Doll (yes, really), has been kidnapped by Sonic the Hedgehog Zodick the Hellhog. Cork needs to go to Toy Hell to rescue her, so he purposely gives his owner a seizure so the kid will die and Cork can be buried with him. (Yes, really.) When you finally rescue Sexy Doll, this happens:

...dat ass.

MICHAEL REYNOLDS' HORROR MUSEUM: In the final stage, oddly enough, you get to choose the final boss. There's Fearspider (easy), Oh No Man (a headless dude swinging dual weapons), and Bullstinger, who's such a pain in the ass that I only chose him once.

Now, if you're playing a second time as Eriko and don't bother to save any of your friends along the way, your clothing becomes more and more tattered until you wind up facing the REAL final boss in nothing but a few scraps of fabric and some strategically placed smears of dirt and blood.

And who is that final boss?

Eriko's father.

Yes, you wind up fighting your own father while practically naked, and boy does he have some icky comments about THAT.

So let's recap. Illbleed's got fountains and fountains of gore (and occasionally shit), a parody of a mentally challenged individual, a bootylicious sex doll, child murder, a very injury prone cartoon character named Fall Down Bear, and a final ending that would make Elektra wince at its sheer wrongness. And how, exactly, did this game get released in America? I don't know, but despite its flaws---and make no mistake, they are legion---I'm damn glad it did.