Saturday, August 11, 2012

VGR Illbleed

Today's review?
Easily the most hardcore Survival Horror I've experienced yet!

Not that it's that really frightening...though as a matter of fact, it certainly can be, in some cases.
But certainly a very challenging experience, best played on various playthroughs, arcade game-style.

VGR: Illbleed
From Crazy Games/AIA/Sega
Played on Dreamcast
Also available on /

Type Arcade/Survival Horror
Year 2001

Developed by the folks at Crazy Games, formerly known as Climax Graphics aka the guys behind another Dreamcast classic survival horror Blue Stinger, Illbleed is a game that wants to innovate and take the gamers out of their usual Resident Evil clones predictable patterns.
As such we can say it's more of an arcade experience, such as Sega consoles used to offer, with a whole Ranking scoring system and all.

Participating in a deadly contest for a million dollars...what could go wrong with that?...

The story revolves around a group of friends - horror movies-fans.
A multimillionaire horror movie producer from the name of Michael Reynolds has invested all of his money in his ultimate life work, an haunted park with a big prize in game. He is offering a prize up to $100'000'000 for anyone who dares exploring his park and....survive!
Yes, as crazy as it sounds, the park isn't only scary but also deadly.

Nobody has yet made it past the first attractions.
But that isn't stopping our heroes from wanting to participate in this crazy scheme!

You play as Eriko Christy, an horror movie buff.
Her parents actually had their very own small horror attraction way back. She grew up with horror films and doesn't scare that easily. She and her friends from the Horror Movie Research Club end up participating in this contest.
Though she is a bit reluctant at first she ends up joining in as well when her friends go missing in the park...

The game looks nicely, with detailed and even colored backgrounds, but the characters models do look a bit too simple, dated even. (and it seems to me, less animated than those in Blue Stinger even!)

A deadly game worth a thousand dollars! Will you be brave enough to take this challenge?

As you can see the premise isn't that serious, and the rest of the game doesn't take itself too seriously, but it certainly respects the various themes employed all over.

It's more of a B-movie experience, voluntary, full of self-referential moments and allusions.
The game is sort of a parody of the genre and each "worlds" in itself is sort of a tribute of a different theme.

The game takes place in the park Illbleed.
Participants aren't allowed to exit the park as long as they haven't entered all the stages. (!!)
Each stage is designed as an Attraction Theater in which you experience an horror movie genre.
There are 6 stages, "The Home Run of Death" where you'll confront the usual odd invincible slasher from an old accident, "The Revenge of the Queen Worm" with its own giant monsters ravaging a quiet deserted town, "Woodpuppets" with mysterious gory/splashy carnage taking place in a lumbermill, "Killer Department Store" and murderous toys coming to life, "Killerman" a bizarre murderer at large in a more fantasy setting and finally "Toy Hunter" where everything goes!

A pretty straightforward basis that offers a pretty different experience each time!

You can save at photo booths all over the park, either outside the attractions - which you have to complete in order to go back to the main park - or while exploring these theaters.

The gameplay is pretty original!
While it's your usual 3rd person Resident Evil-like clone to play in appearance, the game contains some very unique elements to take care off. The game doesn't only have an health bar to keep an eye on, but various other elements like you rarely see in games (only Deadly Premonition would later have something vaguely similar comes to mind).

You see the attractions are full of traps!
Traps can harm you.
How to avoid them? Either simply avoid them or mark those to neutralize the threats.
But don't worry you can count on your character's senses! When something comes into your vision, or the character can smell it, hear something or "sense" its presence you will know it thanks to the HUD display on screen.
Sometimes it will be traps like giant hands coming out of walls, loads of blood splashing you à la Evil Dead, spikes, creatures, trapdoors, etc.. Anything goes really, according to the theme of the attraction!
Sometimes it will simply be items, objects, weapons to find (indicated by your sixth sense display).

Your character also has an heart beat to keep an eye on - slow it down a bit with the help of items or by finding traps correctly.
Finally there's also a stamina which will prevent you playing correctly/marking traps. So, that's another thing to keep an eye on!

The first and most important object to find if you wanna survive long is the Horror Monitor which allows the player to mark traps correctly. Like a first person camera.
To help you restore your adrenaline or blood loss the game is full of various items to restore your character to health!
Like food, a return of Blue Stinger's very own Hassy drinks but also the likes of relaxing music (to calm you down), etc.

There's also various monsters and creatures and even bosses to fight as well!
You can fight with your long or short range attacks (at first only kicks and punches and then you'll grab various slasher-styled weapons like bats, machetes,..)
Most quick fights trap you in a little segment you can either leave (like in an RPG) or fight the monster.

Now that is the most inspired reference I've seen to Sonic outside his games, ever!

You are not alone!
At first you'll only play with Eriko but you will then encounter her friends by exploring the park.
You can either save them or not.
Saving all of them will show you the best ending scenario, missing one or all of them will offer two more variant endings. As soon as you save one of them he or she will become available to play as.
Eriko is the default regular character, you can unlock Kevin Kentsman (voiced by the great Ryan Drummond from Sonic and Blue Stinger!), Randy Fainbanks and Michel Waters (as well as an additional secret character!). Each one having his/her own stats, stronger stamina, better punches, etc.

The game is obviously mostly aimed to horror aficionados!
As you'll see in the fun cutscenes people operating the park and posing the next creatures in your path, it's kinda meta.
The plot doesn't make much sense, and Eriko's traumatic past will obvious come back in the end to bite her.

There's all the visual references and use of clichés of the genre.
Friday The 13th, Texas Massacre, Child's Play.. they're all here! In one form or another!
The mysterious monsters lurking around campfires, killer toys, etc.
There's also the more subtle references to video games, like Climax' previous title Blue Stinger ("the Bullstinger"), or one of the final bosses looking suspiciously way to similar to Splatterhouse 1's "Captain Mozzarella".
But also more in-your-face random parodies of Toy Story or Sonic The Hedgehog!

Really, all in good fun!

This is a Japanese game, whut did you expect??

The game has a great old school horror atmosphere, perfectly translated into the music of the game!
The main HUB music is so darn catchy!

Completing an area, depending on the way you played through it, what you did, monsters faced, and everything will rank you giving you some amount of cash, which you can spend in-between zones for more items or replenish your health.
And it all contributes for the ultimate prize!

Once you've done a playthrough you can have another try at the game, only this time there some, errr, bonus content.
Everytime a friend will die Eriko will lose some clothing.
That's it, the big final ultimate prize! XD

And going through the game with only one character is certainly challenging enough...

Overall, it's a very fun game, albeit challenging!
You'll have enough trouble finishing the game only once!

I can only recommend you take your time, play carefully and buy loads of food/drink (in the game, gettit, for your character's health!)

It starts really difficult with an unforgivable first attraction, to better put you right in the middle of the gameplay mechanics.

Easily one of the scariest console game ever made!
And not for the horror itself, which has plenty of gore, sure, but more comedically employed like an Evil Dead 2. But because there's a lot of tension coming from the gameplay itself.
The traps are generated randomly each time, which doesn't help memorizing stuff to avoid trouble!

The game also became infamous the last decade for its real life "supposedly malediction".
It was directed by Shinya Nishigaki, the big boss of Crazy Games/Climax Graphics. He wanted to work next on an Xbox updated remake and also a sequel, an eventual Ilbleed 2.
But he died shortly after before the game's would be-relase in 2003. The company also went bankrupt later on. (and on the internet that's enough to generate rumors apparently..)

Anyways, it's a very fun game once you get the hang on its complicated health/HUD system, even though it's very hard too.
Fans of survival horror games and 80s horror movies fans will love it no doubt!

I give it:
 2 / 3 Quacks!


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  2. I am shocked this game hasn't been released on steam or ported to other consoles. It's such a weird game. I think it's actually good but even if people felt like it was bad I'd have to believe they'd label it a so bad it's good game. I don't think it's so bad it's good tho. I think it's actually a pretty good game with humor and horror mixed together pretty well. And I do think it was intentionally done as a horror comedy game. I don't believe it was meant to be a serious Horror game. What do I know tho? I also think Blue Stinger which inspired Dead Rising clearly should get a steam release too. I own both these games on my Dreamcast but would love to have hd versions them and officially not some dreamcast emulator or some crap like that. Emulators usually have issues with them any ways when it comes to sound and other graphic glitches they may occur. If this got released on steam i'd probably buy a usb to Dreamcast Controller converter so I could use the Dreamcast Controller on the pc.

    1. Please the Dreamcast version via VGA. It's as good as it will be if we ever get a proper HD re-release on PC someday. (My bet would be on GoG rather than steam, though..)
      But I doubt we'll ever see them back, the original studios behind these games are no more, and I doubt Sega kept anything from games they only published, not produced.