Plot Renovation – Haunting Ground


Between stories you wouldn’t change if you were paid and those that cause hives on sight, there’s…well, 75% of everything you’ve ever watched. You know, the thing that was pretty okay, all around, but might’ve been a lot more interesting if only. Perspective flips, gender changes, genre shifts: let’s tip our hat to the hypotheticals.

Today’s subject is Haunting Ground (titled Demento in Japan and changed for reasons that would involve questioning Capcom’s marketing strategy and are thusly better left unexamined), a 2005 survival horror game by Capcom. Gameplay-wise it’s often taken as a spiritual successor to Clock Tower (more than Clock Tower 3 was, at any rate), giving its protagonist no combat abilities and putting the focus entirely on puzzles and death traps scattered between hiding from recurring stalkers. Except you also get an attack dog, a la the same year’s Rule of Rose, a rather specific subgenre that I frankly kind of miss (and if any of the following sounds interesting, I’m afraid you’ll have to track down an old hard copy – the game got a PSN release in Japan, but there’s been no breath of even that in any other country).

The plot, such as a Capcom game can be accused of having one, centers on 18 year old (very pointedly, one feels) Fiona Belli, who wakes up from a traumatic accident that killed her parents to find she’s been put in an (unlocked) cage and is naked except for a sheet. She’s been brought to a mansion that a mysterious voice claims is all hers, but the castle staff seems more bent on dismemberment than servitude. Fiona’s only ally is Hewie, a white German Shepherd she freed from a chain on the grounds. There is a great deal of whispering about Azoth, a mysterious substance Fiona supposedly inherited within her body, but trying to parse the exact details of that Macguffin can bring only madness. You can watch a pretty good Let’s Play here.

But I’m not here to suggest that the plot should’ve made sense. Bad writing is a hallmark of the Capcom line, and embracing that idiocy in good humor is usually the fastest track to happiness. Nope, I put forth a universe in which we have Finn instead of Fiona.

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The Consulting Analyst – Silent Hill Homecoming

in a nutshell

It’s not uncommonly said that Silent Hill Homecoming is the worst Silent Hill game on account of it stealing the basic twist from Silent Hill 2 while also having an overabundance of terribly programmed combat. That is not (solely) true. Homecoming is the worst Silent Hill game because every uncovered gem of promising storytelling is almost immediately drowned in a mire of vomited detritus emerging from the fumbling mouths and hands of the development team. And in the process of revisiting the game, I’ve become a bit fond of the game, or at least the story, this might’ve been.

A quick plot summary for those whose memories are foggy (or who skipped this one altogether): Alex Shepherd is returning home (allegedly from military service) to the sleepy town of Shepherd’s Glen, neighbor to Silent Hill. He goes home only to find his little brother Josh missing, along with many of the town’s children, and sets off across the mist- and monster-infested streets on a hellbent quest to find his brother. You can watch a pretty good Let’s Play here.

Now, let’s knock those not-inconsiderable negatives out of the way first, and then get to the meat of the thing.

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Tinfoil News Update

Those of you who stopped by to visit this weekend might’ve noticed an addition to the sidebar.


That’s right, the dreaded tip jar. I know that little yellow button can have a way of spreading ripples of terror in its wake, so I wanted to try allaying those fears before they get going.


Not now, not in the future. I favor the Jim Sterling model of content creation – let it exist as it always has, and if you think the enjoyment you’ve gotten from that content is worth kicking in a few bucks, hey great! There’s a button for that now. If you don’t? That’s cool, it’s still there.

Now, it’s possible that down the line, waaaaaaaay there in the future place, I might establish an Analyst for Hire sort of deal: kick in a locked-in donation amount (different depending on the length of the requested subject matter, I imagine), and you can tell me what to write too many words about (I’ve also kicked around the idea of Patreon but that, again, is a distant twinkle in the conceptual eye). All of this is very much in a nebulous stage of thought, but it’s something to be excited/irritated for in the future.

But hey! Why am I doing this?

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Five Forgotten Gems – Animated Heroes

I’m pretty prepared to say we live in a golden age of western animation – and as someone who survived the compulsory (and awful) “western animation is just so shallow compared to glorious anime” phase, it is a real kick to be able to say so. We’re also still pretty square in the wave of mainstreaming of superheroes, replete with unexpected winners (you rolled your eyes at that Rocket Raccoon trailer, don’t you lie) and a seemingly endless chaff of bland, soulless cash-ins eaten by time (of which I imagine poor, director-shuffled Ant Man will only be the most recent example).

But before we had the tidal wave of superhero movies, kids’ TV was where it was at – and for every unfortunate Spiderman utterly strangled by terrified studio mandates, there was another handful of shows that made it out with something worth talking about. Let’s tip our hats to them today.

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Original Fiction: Beta-Test Boy

Editorial Note: And now for something (mostly) different. While I’ve had a few published works dotted around the blog, it occurred to me that I’d not posted a story in full. This here is one I wrote a bit over a year ago (in looking back on it, it’s interesting to me to see the positively visible wisps of Working Through Some Stuff). My style’s evolved since then, but I’ve kept a soft spot for this one. And I hope it inspires a bit of the same fondness in you, dear readers. 

A Quick Summary: Michael is an indie game maker who meets a fellow aspiring artist in designer Nolan. The two fall into a business partnership that becomes a romance, though Michael can’t help but find himself uneasy at his the physical changes in his partner or the way she would much he think of her as one of the guys. He becomes fixated on the private sketchbook she spends hours with, wondering if Nolan’s visions for the future will be able to match his own.

He notices her first because she doesn’t want him to. It’s dark, and there’s a pounding in his head and what might be a growing stain on his pants. He scratches at it – definitely a stain, and the question will turn to what it’s made of as soon as the lights stop jittering for more than a minute. His attention wanders back to the girl, something he’s not trying too hard to fight.

She’s not dancing, and there’s something novel about the stillness in the cataclysm of movement all around them. Later on this friends will ask how he knew, how he could’ve spotted the prize under all that illusionist level material, and if he wanted a cut of the bets that’d been traded in exchange for telling them the nasty details.

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