Soapbox features allow our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random things they’re thinking about. TodayOllie sits down with the least-loved entry in the current Nintendo Switch Online Game Boy library and finds a strange, twisted version of a game he loves…
Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare for the PlayStation is no masterpiece.
It’s one of those survival horror games that came after the massive success of Resident Evil and Silent Hill, although the Alone in the dark the franchise itself was preceded by several years. The New Nightmare was the first reboot of the series (with the second reboot currently in the works at Pieces Interactive and THQ Nordic) released in 2001, seven years later. Alone in the Dark 3.
Critics at the time were mostly positive in their review of the game, with many praising its visuals and atmosphere, while also criticizing the script and puzzle elements. With 15 reviews available, the PlayStation version now sits at a more-than-respectable 77 on Metacritic. All in all, the general consensus with players seemed to be, “yes, great effort, but not as good as RE or Silent Hill.”
Me personally though? I absolutely adored Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare.
I loved the dark, gothic nature of the game: the dark forest surrounding a vast, spooky mansion on the Shadow Isle; the way it emphasizes the use of a torch as a navigational tool and weapon against supernatural creatures; the over-the-top ‘B-movie’ voice-over work that the creators of Resident Evil would be immensely proud of. It was wonderful.
it was not perfect though anyway, and I would imagine if the game was released today, the sheer number of alternatives available – coupled with the fact that I now have my own disposable income – might mean it would fall by the wayside. But as a kid with only a small handful of games to call my own, it kept me hooked from start to finish.
The New Nightmare was released on several consoles in 2001: PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Windows and Game Boy. The first four platforms received more or less the same experience, save for some minor graphical differences, but the Game Boy Color version was drastically changed to accommodate the handheld gamers’ experience.
I’m also impressed with how well the essence of the game translated to such a different piece of hardware.
I knew, of course, that Pocket Studio’s Game Boy version of The New Nightmare existed, but it wasn’t until its recent addition to the Nintendo Switch Online service that I actually played it for the first time.
Frankly, I’m shocked at how different the experience is and how much has been cut and changed, but at the same time, I’m also impressed by how well the essence of the game has translated to such a different piece of hardware. It is, in my opinion, a very bizarre addition to the Nintendo Switch Online service, but I recommend you give it a try. At the very least, it will satisfy your morbid curiosity.
Looking first at the narrative differences between the Game Boy version and the home consoles, they are actually quite glaring. In the full version of the game, you have the option to play as one of two protagonists: Edward Carnby, the main character of the entire franchise, and Aline Cedrac, a young college professor who has her own interest in the overarching mystery. As they approach Shadow Isle, their plane is attacked, forcing the two to leap into the air, landing in separate locations on Shadow Isle. It’s this approach that allows you to experience the game from completely unique points of view, and it works really well for the most part.
The GBC version, however, ditches this altogether, focusing the experience squarely on Edward Carnby alone. In fact, any sense of danger in the opening scene is completely neutralized. While the plane effectively crashed in the home console version, it landed safely on Shadow Isle on the Game Boy. Not only that, but Carby instructs Cedrac to wait on the plane as a good sidekick while he goes on his spooky adventure. The two continue to communicate via walkie-talkie, but Cedrac’s involvement in the story is minimal at best.
You it could argue that the narrative changes provide a more streamlined experience; this is the Game Boy we’re talking about, after all, and there’s only so much you can fit into this little thing. The biggest changes, however, come with the gameplay.
Navigating Shadow Isle and its mansion is quite similar to the larger version. You have pre-rendered backgrounds that cut between multiple camera angles, showing just enough of the environment while blocking out certain key visuals. For an 8-bit Game Boy title, the environments look quite impressive, but areas on the home console version were completely cut off, resulting in dead ends and blocked doors that would otherwise be open, leading to quite a bit of confusion. on my part.
But that’s not all that has changed. Major differences really come into play when you enter combat, and this is handled remarkably similarly to Capcom’s GBC survival horror offering Resident Evil Gaiden.