Every gamer has experienced it. Playing a game in the evening, maybe winding down after school or work, then one way or another it’s 3 AM. You’re still wide awake and will be for a while regardless of when you have to get up in the morning, you most likely haven’t eaten, and you are just dreading the sunrise coming very, very soon.
Whether it is through fear, intrigue, or sheer tenacity, video games have this quiet, lurking power over gamers to suck up time, especially at night. They suck up sleep time and pump out exhaustion the next day. Out of all the worlds of gaming, there are a small group of sub-types that are the biggest culprits of gamer sleep deprivation. I’ve outlined them here with ten examples, two games across five categories. Maybe after reading this, you will place them in your play schedule a little more carefully.
Clock Tower-1995 (SNES, PS1)
I am frequently surprised at how well this game can put me on edge. One wouldn’t think that such an old horror game, let alone one on a system like the Super Nintendo would be able to grab a player, play around with their minds, and leave them with shaky hands and a pounding heart. The ambiance in Clock Tower is killer and the tension that quickly builds doesn’t ever drop or become dull. The presentation is top notch with gorgeous visuals and a minimal yet effective soundtrack. The game features a point and click interface where you direct young Jennifer Simpson around a dangerous mansion and while this control scheme might seem strange or frustrating for the SNES, it is surprisingly well utilized. Not having total control over your character raises the fear factor, especially when the dreaded Scissorman pops out on the scene. All the important pieces fall into place and form a delightfully dreadful experience that will keep you glued to the game. Admittedly, it’s not the longest or most difficult game, but that’s ok. The randomly changing rooms and multiple endings will keep players coming back, no matter the time of night so they can see new content across the various paths and delve deeper into the strong, twisted story
The creeps and paranoia that Clock Tower supplies seep out of the game and into the world around you as you play and after the game is switched off. What do I mean by that? Well, confession time. For the time being, I’m living in one of those big ol’ New England houses deep in a small town in the woods. I was playing through this list to get a feel of things and made it to this game around 1 A.M.. Suddenly. the cat knocked over an empty soda can and I just about flipped over the coffee table in shock. The feel of the game had me on edge, truly keeping me up at night.
Silent Hill-1999 (PS1)
Take the the creeping paranoia feeling of Clock Tower, the Perversion of small town America from the television show Twin Peaks, and mix it all together with the the action based play style of Resident Evil. All of these things added together creates one hell of a game. It’s a haunting, tense experience with an engaging story and characters that leaves you wanting more to learn about and experience. Silent Hill really took the best of what came before it and improves on so much. It lures you in when things aren’t that scary or serious, and then it hits you over the head with a twisting surreal turn. This pull sticks with the player in a similar fashion to Clock Tower, but Silent Hill is more expansive with a path that grows along the way. When the game and TV are switched off Silent Hill has players curious about the game world stuck behind the monitor, yet apprehensive about turning the Playstation on again. Harry’s quest to find his daughter and solve the puzzles of the dark, secretive town follows the player and haunts them like a fog. Silent Hill Means business when that TV is flickering in the dark, (because you know you’ve gotta at least try it in the dark.) It may not have aged particularly well in the visuals department, but it is by no means bad enough to be a game changer.
Some People say that the second Silent Hill Game is much better, and in many aspects I agree. Visuals are much stronger, characters and plights are more relatable, everything just feels tighter. However, the tone and the game feel are pretty different. Silent Hill 2 has a feel that is more morose and a fear full of dread and despair, whereas Silent Hill has a more standard horror tone. It’s a fear derived of shrill anxiety, the unknown, and the grotesque. These feelings feed the fear of darkness by your bed more than those in Silent Hill 2 and fuel the fire that keeps eyes open later.
Phantasy Star Online-2001 (Dreamcast, Gamecube, Xbox)
While Online play may no longer be available today, (Through official means anyway,) it doesn’t take away from the fact that Phantasy Star Online was not just the first console MMO, but one of the most loved and addicting of it’s lifespan. If you have/had this game when it was easy to play online I’m sure many of you will agree with me. PSO always had a strong community, no matter the platform people played it on. I remember how lively things were when the Dreamcast servers were still buzzing with activity. My best friend and I would play the game until the brutal morning shined through the windows. He got the game when it first came out on the Dreamcast and quickly became a PSO junkie. The hobby carried onto the Gamecube when the official U.S. Dreamcast servers were shut down in 2003 and even then my friend kept exploring Ragol and killing Rappys. The “just one more quest” syndrome is strong with this one.
Technically, Phantasy Star Online is still an active MMO across the major platforms 14 long years later. As I mentioned above, the Phantasy Star Online community is strong and organized. There are a few fan servers out there that players can use, and they do get used. I can’t blame them though. Phantasy Star Universe was just… meh, I never felt like playing it far too late into the evening. Things have slowed since the release of Phantasy Online 2, but it still isn’t out in North America, so Phantasy Star fans will have to get sucked into the web through their dreamcasts.
Pokemon (Red/Blue)- 1998
So much an be said about Pokemon.
Pokemon is both an obsessive personality’s best dream and worst nightmare with a high customization range and a high completion challenge that only grew greater and greater with each new release. When Red and Blue, the first Pokemon games on the Gameboy, were still new they were surrounded with talks of rumors, fan speculated theories, and secrets. (Many of which were false, but that only made the real ones that much more special.) investigating all of this as a player made their way through the game ensured a lengthy, thorough playthrough. Many a young gamer in the late nineties snuck Pokemon time in wherever they could. On the school bus? yes. Visits with Grandma? Yes. Church? English class free-writes? Yes and yes, but one place I knew many kids would sneak in time to play would be late at night when they were shut up in their rooms. Playing in the corner or under the blankets, only by the low luminescent glow of a Worm Light. (Remember Worm Lights? The dark ages, man. Literally.) When I was ten or eleven, I had a bet with a kid living nearby on who could complete their copy of Pokemon Red the fastest. I finished one night around 3:30 AM… and lost. I fell asleep and fell out of my chair the next day. Did I get in trouble? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutley.
Part 2 coming soon will cover the remaining three types of games to keep you up all night. Are there any of games that you’ve played late into the the night or into the morning? Tell us about it in the comments below.
‘Til next time, sweet dreams!