101 Dalmatians: Escape from DeVil Manor is too scary for puppies | Crunchmaster 98

Lurking deep within the Disney Vault is one of their more bizarre decisions in the gaming industry. Why did they make a survival horror point-and-click game, and why for 101 Dalmatians of all things? Eh, who cares, it’s really fun.

Nightmare Ned was Disney’s doomed dream

If you were a kid in the 90s playing CD-ROM games, you probably played at least one Disney Interactive game. For kids learning how to use the computer, Disney games were the best of the best, the cream of the crop. 101 Dalmatians: Escape from Devil Manor, Disney’s Animated Storybook: Mulan, Disney’s The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, you name it. All your favorite Disney franchises, right on your desktop!

Oh, and Nightmare Ned. You remember him, right? That great beloved Disney franchise? … No?

Nightmare Ned was a platformer game released sometime in late 1997 (it’s difficult to get an exact date, due to vague distribution of PC games at the time). It was, as far as I know, the only Disney Interactive game to not be based directly on an established IP – it only had a single season of a cartoon that was made after the game began development, and by the time the game released, the show was no longer airing even in reruns. It was Disney’s one voyage into making ‘original’ video games, and it disappeared as quickly as it came.

So what even was it?

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101 Dalmatians: Escape from DeVil Manor haunts me to this day

There’s something about the 101 Dalmatians franchise that enraptured me as a child against all odds.

Be outraged if you must, but truth be told, I’m not even sure if I had watched the original movie at that age. When I watched it as an adult, I remembered nothing about it, and I’ve never found a VHS of it in my family’s extensive Disney tape collection.

And I mean, what about it actually drew my attention? The main characters are British heterosexuals. Yes, somehow they managed to take the two most annoying groups of people in the world and combine them. And then they had the audacity to make the dogs British and heterosexual, as if dogs are capable of hate. Absolutely dreadful. Why do I like 101 Dalmatians?

Because of the puppies. Duh.

Even Disney knew the puppies were the only reason 101 Dalmatians is even relevant enough to talk about today. And boy, the merch they made. Sequels! Cartoons! Toys! I think I spent more time playing with my Dalmatians-themed snow globe than watching 101 Dalmatians: The Series (which, admittedly, still takes up way too much space in my heart).

There was one piece of Dalmatians-themed memorabilia that held my attention for the longest, though, and it was by far the least appropriate for the puppy-obsessed children they were marketing to. For little me, 101 Dalmatians: Escape from DeVil Manor was fun, emotionally stimulating, and also absolutely unnecessarily terrifying.

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GAMING: Hylics

Hylics is a JRPG-style game made by Mason Lindroth and released on August 29, 2015.

The concept of “hylics” is taken from Greek gnosticism, where it was the basest portion of what made up a living person: their physical body. This was the evil portion of a person, the part of them that demanded to eat, to have sex, to do anything that would keep a person away from perfect spiritual enlightenment. Hylics doesn’t portray itself as an evil game, but it is an intimately physical one where the entire world is molded out of malleable, changeable clay.

After the jump, we’ll sculpt our opinion out.

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RETRO: Taco Bell – Tasty Temple Challenge

Tasty Temple Challenge 01

Hey kids! Do you like Taco Bell? Do you like Duke Nukem 3D? Of course you do? Well, what if I told you there was a way you could enjoy Taco Bell and Duke Nukem 3D at the same time Wait, did we do this already?

Taco Bell: Tasty Temple Challenge was an advergame given away with Taco Bell’s kids meal in 2000. Even for advergames, the concept is pretty inane: You play as “Baja Bill”, an adventurer exploring deep into a lost jungle temple to find an imprisoned Grande Meal. Yes, you’re on a quest to rescue precious Taco Bell food from an ancient faux Mayan-Incan-Aztec-Racist Caricature temple. As you battle your way through the temple, you combat snakes and scorpions by… lighting them on fire?

After the jump, we’ll explore the Tasty Temple, discover its secrets, and figure out how some free games demand their own kind of payment.

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RETRO: Chex Quest

Chex Quest 01

Hey, kids! Do you like Chex Cereal? Do you like DOOM? Of course you do! Well, what if I told you there was a way you could enjoy Chex and DOOM at the same time? No, no I’m serious – wait – no, don’t leave – hold on –

Chex Quest was an unusual entity in the world of video games, namely because it was one of the few games ever used to promote a brand of breakfast cereal. Released in 1996, it was packaged in with boxes of Chex for free and given nationwide distribution. It’s doubly unusual because the game in question is a commercially sold DOOM mod – a total conversion of the first DOOM game, completely done over with new graphics, sounds, and gameplay.

A second Chex Quest game was made hot on the heels of the first one, but promises of a third never realized. Although fans made plenty of mods to fill in the gap, it wasn’t until 2008 when Charles Jacobi, one of the lead artists on the original Chex Quest, made his own official Chex Quest 3 with the first two games bundled in.

Get out your bootspoons, because after the jump we’ll dig right in and discuss the history, gameplay, and our thoughts about all three games.

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RETRO: Sonic’s Schoolhouse

Sonic's Schoolhouse 01

Why the hell did they decide to make Sonic the Hedgehog the star of an educational game for children? Who allowed this to happen? We want names. Who, somewhere in the leadership of Sega, let this happen? Who?

In the mid-1990s, Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the hottest video game characters out there. His too-cool attitude and the blisteringly fast gameplay of his games made him the slick alternative to the stuffy Mario. And with how popular he was, this meant there was a bounty of Sonic the Hedgehog branded everything: Sonic the Hedgehog toys, Sonic the Hedgehog comics, Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons, Sonic the Hedgehog canned pasta… The list goes on. It only makes sense that Sega would want a Sonic the Hedgehog game for elementary schoolers, right?

In comes Sonic’s Schoolhouse, a tale of bad branding decisions and corporate failure. (more…)