Vampire Night – Review

To the average male gamer, one of life's greatest conundrums is the potentially cataclysmic struggle between a man's videogames and his not-interested-in-games woman. The girlfriend/spouse of a gamer sees the console as her main competitor. Every hour spent gripping a game pad is one less hour of coddling time with the honey. Since a majority of videogames can take any where from 20 to 40 hours a week to complete, you can see why the old lady is threatening to throw the PlayStation 2 out the window. The last thing she wants to be is an "Everquest Widow".

So what's the solution? Give up one love for another? Nah. That's not an option to most diehard gamers. Is it possible to have your cake and eat it too? Absolutely. The answer lies in being able to convert your mate into a gamer (or at least someone who likes to play games on occasion). That way she will no longer see your console as competition. Instead, videogames would be something you share together. What was once a hindrance to the growth of your relationship is now considered quality time. Of course this is something of an impossible Holy Grail to most gamers, but fear not, because good old Chi Kong Lui has the secret formula for you right here (now aren't you glad you sacrificed your privacy and registered with us?).

Step #1: While on a date, play the arcade coin-op version of House Of The Dead 2 together.

Ever wonder why year after year, light gun games never disappear despite having zero innovation and replay value? For someone who doesn't play videogames, there's nothing more alienating than foreign concepts like the quarter-circle fireball motion or the sight of stout S.D. (super deformed) role-playing game characters. Gun games, on the other hand, are different. Almost anyone can pick up a light gun, be instantly comfortable with the goals of the game and start blasting away. Thank God for Hollywood and the N.R.A.

Why does it need to be the arcade coin-op version? Gamers have been stigmatized with the unflattering image of vegging out on the couch without showering for days and being unproductive while the rest of the world passes by. Good luck trying to get your girl to even stay in the room while your Xbox is running. Arcades are different in that there's a sense of going out and doing something, which makes the whole environment more socially acceptable (never mind that the games at home and at the arcades are near identical). Your girl will be much more open to trying her hand at a game under these conditions. Another viable option is while on a movie date, before or after the show, hunt down a House Of The Dead 2 machine at the theater. I don't know if this is true for the rest of the U.S., but in New York City, almost every theater has one.

Aside from the familiarity of the gun-based gameplay, what also makes House Of The Dead 2 an ideal choice is that its a co-operative game. Nothing will turn your girl off faster to videogames than you repeatedly whipping her butt in a competitive game like Street Fighter II (rubbing it in afterwards will also ensure you wont be getting any nookie later also). In a co-operative game, not only does she feel like your partner (feel those positive relationship vibes tingling?), but you also can cover her sorry green ass and make up for her terrible aim without being obviously overbearing or condescending.

Another positive about House Of The Dead 2 is the subject matter. If by chance your girlfriend happens to be a feminist intellectual who gets turned off by the gender-bias nature of videogames or doesn't like the morale undertones of assassinating law enforcement type figures, House Of The Dead 2 offers up politically safe yet still threatening zombies for crosshair fodder. Everyone hates zombies and she won't feel any guilt for killing them since they are already dead.

Step #2: Suggest Buying The Home Console Version

Assuming your girlfriend had a ton of fun playing and you didn't do anything stupid to put yourself in the dog house like being cheap or suggest something sexually inappropriate during the course of the date, casually mention that House Of The Dead 2 and many other fine games like it are available on home consoles. If all goes well, she should respond in glee at the possibility of having the same kind of zombie exterminating fun from the comfort of home and urge you to purchase the game.

Step #3: Purchase Vampire Nightand an additional Guncon or Guncon 2.

Since House Of The Dead 2 is no longer readily available on home consoles (it was last seen on the defunct Dreamcast system), your next best option is Vampire Nightf or the PlayStation 2. While the main premise of the game revolves around vampires rather than zombies, the groaner B-movie voice acting of the characters and core of the gameplay remain pretty much unchanged and your girlfriend probably wont even miss a beat. This is still a classic light gun game with alternating rail paths, but without any complicated ducking feature, a la Time Crisis. Hordes and hordes of varying demonic and grotesque monsters still wait to meet the wrong end of you and your girlfriends flashing light gun barrel.

Where Vampire Night differs is the slightly slower paced action on screen. Rather than having enemies clutter the screen and overwhelm players, Vampire Night has a more calculated flow and enemies tend to exhibit more physical reactions and gestures than one might expect from this type of game. Even the act of rescuing hostages/innocent bystanders (a common gameplay device in light gun games) has a unique twist. Players need to blast off a small leech like creature off the human without harming the hostage in the process. The slower pace makes for a more manageable difficultly level, but that's a good thing if you don't want to frustrate your girlfriend with cheesy unavoidable hits and constant level restarts.

Another significant bonus to Vampire Night is the Special and Training Modes. The Special Mode is plays out essentially the same as the standard Arcade Mode, but there are two differences. One change is the inclusions of little side-missions that involve assisting villagers recover, rescue or locate various items, persons or paths. The second addition involves obtaining money while trekking through the levels and buying items from the store at the start of each new game. Items can range from special shotgun bullets to extra credits for continues. While this isn't a terrible innovative feature, it does provide a welcome hook and increases the replay value tremendously. The Training mode, which is a series of fun mini-shooting games, also provides a soothing break from the main vampire blasting gameplay.

Just remember that it takes two to tango. So don't forget to purchase an additional Guncon 2 or dig out the original PlayStation Guncon (which is also compatible with Vampire Night). If this solution actually worked and your girlfriend/spouse is now a gamer, color me surprised and CONGRATULATIONS! Now you'll have to deal with the other unexpected conundrum that most male gamers face, "fighting over the control pad with your woman." Solution to that problem is still pending. Rating: 7 out of 10