The Gripe! 
      A small rant discussing some of the more hysterical pitfalls of survival horror: Written by- Randi Drew

      Ok, this week (hopefully, I can make this a weekly thing, we'll see), I will be discussing some of the more annoying things of our favorite genre. I have dubbed it B-syndrome. All horror games have an element of B-syndrome. From our more traditional games, for example, ground breaking games like Resident Evil, and Alone in the Dark (with their plot holes and awkward translation); to newer titans like Silent Hill which posses the aggravating questions: “Why can't I just climb this fence, or why the fuck are all these doors locked??”

     So, let's establish the criteria for B-syndrome. Much like the term B-movie, this is hallmarked by laughably poor dialogue, which is often the result of bad translation, or direct to English translation. Case in point, in the first Resident Evil, one of my first and favorites, a character by the name of Barry Burton, gives Jill Valentine a lock pick set; saying something to the extent of : “Here you go Jill. It might be handy if you the master of unlocking things, took it.” * pause for lols * The game is littered with awesomely bad dialog, stuff that would make the great William Shattener cringe!

      Next, another factor of B-syndrome, one that is hard to ignore, is the incredibly illogical and campy decisions that some of the characters, but especially main characters will attempt. For example- “Let's split up.” Motherfucker, NEVER split up!!! For unless you are Albert Wesker, really lucky, or a main character, you have just signed your own death warrant. This is nothing new to horror. Genius decision making skills, such as let's all have sex while there is a chain-saw wielding maniac about are nothing new; and yes, we love to scream at the screen and laugh hysterically at the extremely predictable folly that our character or group has gotten itself into. One of my current gripes is very new. While playing Left4Dead 2, my friends and I remarked on how much of a ridiculously dangerous scenario the survivors had gotten into, and how preventable it was. Let me elaborate: Hard Rain. This scenario is as horrible as you can imagine, the survivors, brave hurricane conditions to get gas, in the dark, and wait for it...witches LOVE the dark. So, why would four seemingly rational adults venture out into this cluster fuck of a situation? Beats me! That is the million dollar question, that not a single person in our group could answer. Why would you go out into something, where your visibility is nearly zero, against something that can see far better than you, and tear you apart? Everyone agreed that for the most part, they could have holed up in the safe room for the storm, assuming that this storm, didn't get horribly worse.

      Okay, * phew * moving on, the games also follow a plot, very similar to the movie genre! Which, is definitely is inline with B-syndrome. Most horror movies/games generally fall into this formula plot,unless, you get a “Richard Bachman Ending,” where it is definitely an ending, but not an all's well that ends well ending. A good example of a “Bachman Ending” would be **** spoiler***** the last bit of The Running Man,where Ben Richards knows that he can't stop the momentum of the Games Network, is mortally wounded in the plane he is in, and decides to suicide crash into the Games Network's main building. So, far, in my gaming oydessy, only one series comes very close to the “Bachman Ending,” Silent Hill. I say this because, some of the alternate endings of Silent Hill borderline the “Bachman Ending”. (Random Silent Hill factoid- One of the roads in Silent Hill is named Bachman road. I wonder if that is a fan shout out, or foreshadowing on the part of the Silent Hill crew.) An example of this, and again, **** spoiler **** is in an alternate ending for Silent Hill 2, when James hooks up with a woman that mirrors his dead wife, Mary; then rides off into the sunset with her, only to have her have an ominous cough, akin to Mary's illness. Which is almost a hint that the cycle is doomed to repeat itself, but that at this point James doesn't give a shit, he is just going to roll with it. At that point, wouldn't you just throw up your hands? 

   Ok, so we have covered horrible voice acting, ridiculous decision making, and the formula plot. The last thing to add, which is probably my favorite, is wtf moments and random cultural references. While I am not a full fledged Oktaku, I did study some of Japanese culture for Cultural Anthropology, and have loved exploring some of the culture's history and pop culture references while independently studying Japanese language (not that I am really great at it, my Japanese is very, very basic). I'm not really going to go into “Wtf Moments” as I think that most of you can name a few, and also maybe at a later date I might wanna make a Top Ten List of Wtf moments, so let's go into cultural references! (Haha, surprised you with my laziness!) Although, I will say that Pyramid Head raping nurses while James hides in the closet(in Silent Hill 2), is one of my choices, without a doubt, for a Wtf Moment. 

    One big thing about all of this is, that because most of these games are made in Japan, sometimes there will be hidden cultural elements of the game, that appear mainly in in-game monsters or in extras and odds and ends. Like, for example, a special hidden item you can pick up in Resident Evil: Outbreak: File 1, is Umbrella Noodles. Now, hold on, you are probably saying, “I thought we were talking about culture, not wtf randomness.” Relax, we still are, sit down. In Japan, a lot of companies; like giants Sony, Suzuki, and Fujitsu, make appliances, electronics, medical equipment, and yes, food.* cringe * So, this isn't too much of a stretch that a large fictional company, with it's tentacles far extending would make zombies, and yes, ramen. Most of the cultural references are rather cool if you ask me, but there is one that really pisses me off, and it has to do with Japanese monsters/ghosts. Maybe this is the violent American in me, but I know that confronted with a monster, that I would probably be taken apart by, I would rather not just stand there or hide. I would throw everything, including the kitchen sink at that asshole. I would most likely be found bludgeoning it to death and screaming at the same time, in a hysterical fashion. “I know it is dead!!! Kill it anyway!!!” That being said, we are a little different. Being an American, I know I am fucked and frankly don't care. I will take everyone of those nasties I can reach with me. “Bachman Ending” Ftw!

     Siren really is a great example of impossible monsters from Japanese culture. I loved and hated this game at the same time. While the story and atmosphere of this game “hit it out of the park” for me, the helplessness and hysteria of the playable characters pissed me off. When it boils down to it, we humans generally fall into fight or flight. This was more flight and hide, and often you would be stuck in a corner helpless, as you were hunted down by Shibito, the Japanese version of the undead, which are very zombie like, but with a twist, they are demented and WAY scarier (play that one at your own risk, heh). The Americanized version of Siren that was just released, is a little better. Still scary as hell, ask anyone, but you can fight back some, and it is a little better about that then the first Siren, for the fact you can fight a touch. But again, they often just keep getting up, like Jason Vorhees. Now, I will level with you, it would probably tear off my head and happily kick it around the front yard of it's Shibito dwelling, but it is gonna have to work for that right, so we will have to Kung-Fu fight. Seriously... speaking of monsters like that there are also, the equally creepy and annoying ghosts of Silent Hill 4- The Room. Unless you pin them to the floor, or use a special candle, they will keep coming. It kind of makes sense though, in this. You can't very well kill a ghost! Duh! But at least give me a shotgun full of rock salt al la “Supernatural”.It will definitely cause a serious after thought to a would-be supernatural pest. Some kind of holy weapon, that, unlike the sword in Silent Hill 4 is reusable. I wanna see a Shibito's reaction to some American rock salt. “I hope it hits you where you live you creepy, undead motherfucker!” (I can haz one liner? Plz?)

     Hopefully, by now, and because I am running out of rant steam, you will be able to identify B-syndrome in all of it's campy glory. It's kinda funny, because while I am bitching about the impossibles of this genre, I love it in it's own mind bogglingly way. It is like Crack Cocaine to the late Rick James. Where would survival horror be without camp? It makes junkies of us all. If all the characters followed a level of common sense, maybe we wouldn't have said game or movie. The best adventures seem to happen out of the most mind blowing duh moments, when you are having to make decisions on the fly and you are a terrible judge of what to do. Which makes me think we all have a Barry Burton moment lurking around the corner of our sub-conscious. Who's to say how well prepared we will be in the event of Z-day, hell opening up, or hostile alien invasion? How well do you know yourself?

                         May ammo be plentiful and med packs abundant- R

 Reloading Kills.