So you think games are violent nowadays, huh? Let’s take a little adventure down memory lane. In fact, lets jump in our time machine and take it all the way back to the good old year 1997. Back in this lovely year I was still a young man, and I didn’t yet have a beer gut. Another thing that makes this year unique is that I asked for a game for Christmas by the name of Nightmare Creatures. I was not yet old enough to purchase the game, and thinking my parents wouldn’t bother to read the box, I put it right at the top of my list.
Christmas morning rolls around and I run downstairs with much anticipation and grab anything that looks like it could be a PlayStation 1 game. There are several CD-shaped items there so I pick up one at random and tear the wrapping off with adolescent glee. I see the PlayStation logo and I get a little twitch of satisfaction. I pull the paper back further and instead of seeing the demonic eyes that I knew graced the front of Nightmare Creatures I see a mushroom cloud and a green attack helicopter. I had gotten Nuclear Strike. Now let me be clear, Nuclear Strike is a fantastic game, but I wasn’t expecting it.
I grab the next CD-shaped item and strip away its coverings. Lost World: Jurassic Park for PlayStation as well. At this point I’m beginning to get a little nervous. Had they forgotten? Had a store clerk tipped them off to it’s “M” rating? I prayed not as I grabbed the last remaining disc-ish present. I annihilate the wrapper only to find… what? What’s this? It’s a f*cking Spice Girls CD that was mis-labeled and meant for my little sister… I was heartbroken.
After the rest of the Christmas morning festivities commenced I headed up to my room to play the two games that I didn’t ask for but got anyway. I walk into my bedroom and saw something on my nightstand. What’s this? Why it’s another present that looks like it could be a game! I think at this point the wrapping paper just removed itself for fear of obliteration. Nightmare Creatures!!! It turns out my mom was rather “against” the idea of me getting a game with dismemberment advertised right on the box so my dad went ahead and picked it up for me on his own. The rest of that day, me and my father roamed the streets of London, murdering everything in sight in gorgeous, bloody, pixelated glory.
Creatures puts you in the shoes of either the talented swordswoman Nadia, or seemingly alien-named Ignatius. Regardless of who you chose, you’ll face a number of different, horrible creatures that must be defeated. The man behind these abominations is Adam Crowley, an evil cult leader who had found a way to unleash a seemingly endless wave of disgusting creations almost overnight.
Time constraints aside, the monsters are now wreaking havoc on the city and it’s up to you to stop them and catch Crowley at the same time. During your adventure, you’ll experience a number of different locals, from the inner city, to the docks, to the cult headquarters, and all points in between. You have a number of elemental powers to find and harness around the city as well. Find a freeze blast and turn your enemies into icicles, or maybe turn up the heat with a flame attack. If those things just don’t satisfy your lust for blood then go ahead and serve them a lead sandwich with your pistol. Thirsty for blood? Then I’d advise you go ahead an melee your foes into a bloody meat pile right in the middle of the cobblestone streets.
It’s certainly an interesting thing to be remembered for, but Nightmare Creatures was one of the very first titles in which dismemberment didn’t necessarily equal death. Depending on the monster, you can remove two, three or four limbs and still have a problem on your hands. Even decapitation wasn’t a guaranteed kill back in these days.
That’s where the main reason to play (or replay) this game lies. I think lately there has been more hubbub about the violence level of games than ever and people need to realize that games have always been extreme. Even more so in the past than now, and if we sit back and look at it from a comparative point of view it’s easy to see that. Go play GTA IV and then boot up Nightmare Creatures. I think you’ll find yourself a lot more disgusted by the amount of gratuitous violence in the latter than in the former. Enjoy your games, complain when it’s warranted, and always keep a game like Nightmare Creatures in your collection to keep things in perspective.