Happy Halloween! My favorite time of the year, the only time it’s socially acceptable to knock on people’s doors dressed up as who knows what asking for stuff, be it tricks or treats. As with last years Writers Ramble Podcast, I thought I’d curate another Halloween themed article.
As of late, survival horror has been making a solid comeback, especially with the most recent game, The Evil Within. Sometimes, however, we take the most subtle scares for granted. These are some of the things that would make my heart skip a beat when I was younger. Albeit most of these are dated, but anyone who grew up with more “old school” experiences, this may be relatable for you.
One thing that really made Outlast intense for me was the importance of batteries. Using night vision too much would cause it to drain and without a sufficient supply, you would be left alone in the dark. These are not the batteries that scared me though, I’m talking about actual AA Batteries.
I had this horrible knack of losing the back covers of things like the TV remote and my various Gameboys. Maybe I just held my Gameboy Advance oddly, but my fingers would occasionally slide the batteries on the back causing my Gameboy to reset. This only hurt when I was playing Pokemon Silver and I logged hours of grinding the Elite Four and procrastinated saving until I heard that damn chime and my Gameboy reset.
Yet another time is when my batteries have completely drained and I would swap them out for the remote’s, but they were also dead. As well as every other remote in the house. It’s a great thing we’ve moved on to just charging things now.
My how far we’ve come. I grew up playing NES and Super Nintendo, so I remember vividly the ritual I had when a game wouldn’t work. For those who don’t know, before scratched discs we had faulty cartridges. It was said that when the game wouldn’t work or freeze, you just take it out, blow in it a couple times, and essentially just hope it worked.
For me I would blow three times fast, one time slow, then exhale softly into it. Every reset I would hold my breath hoping for it to work only to have it freeze 10 seconds in and retry again. It has come to light recently that this was never really a sure fire solution but rather coincidence. Actually, its even been shown that this damages the cartridges and that this whole time our belief that this worked was really just sort of a placebo effect.
Corrupted Save Files
If you are into RPGs, you may have experienced that heart shattering moment of losing a save file. My first encounter was cause by the dreaded batteries I mentioned. I had come home from school was saving my 60+ hour campaign on Pokemon Gold when I decided to save, toss my gameboy on the bed, and have my batteries pop out. There’s a reason games warn you to not shut off your console while saving.
This happened on Super Nintendo games like Super Mario World and this followed me until PS2 memory cards that would randomly just stop reading. Just like the transition from cartridges to CD’s, we have moved on from memory cards to cloud saving.
Red Ring of Death
The horror of all gaming horrors, for 360 gamers at least. The dreaded “Red Ring of Death” was a hardware malfunction generally caused by overheating and led to a broken console. This was such a common occurrence that Microsoft actually extended the warranty, twice. While people did discover some tricks like wrapping the system in towels, some people weren’t so lucky to save their console with all their precious saves.
I experienced this second hand at a friend’s house, when the console lit red he jumped for the power cord and unplugged it. Thankfully, his system was safe. However when he moved up to the PS3 he lived in fear of overheating for so long that he never played longer than an hour and took breaks, as usually recommended at the start of any game. But honestly, who follows that?