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Rise of Nightmares Review
Posted on September 06, 2011 by MikeV

Let’s face it, no matter how much Microsoft tries to spin the Kinect as a device made for the core gamer just as much as the casual gamer , there are no games that appeal to that core audience yet. Kinect has so much potential, yet developers would rather play it safe and push out dancing, fitness and party games, knowing that they are a safe bet. That’s where SEGA AM1 comes in with Rise of Nightmares.

If the name of the developer sounds familiar to you, it should be. AM1 (now SEGA WOW) developed classics like Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Shinobi, Streets of Rage and modern titles like Valkyria Chronicles. But more recently, they are most famous for the House of the Dead series. Rise of Nightmares is the spiritual successor to the House of the Dead games, but does it have what it takes to take that title and rise above the reputation that the Kinect has with gamers? 



Total Immersion - When the Kinect first launched, Microsoft wanted gamers to feel as they were in the game. They wanted to show that players can have that same feel of immersion as they would have if they were using a physical controller. They have yet to bring that experience, since a majority of the games are party, fitness and dancing games. Rise of Nightmares attempts to bring that immersion and succeeds. Every little action is controlled by the player from picking up weapons and fighting off zombies to exploring the current area, finding objects to interact with and other little things. Every slight movement is picked up by the Kinect and is carried out in the game. For example at certain points in the game, the screen would prompt me for an action that I needed to do. At first I thought it wanted for me to wave my hand over the prompt. When I died, I realized that I had to actually act out that action prompt. And having the game in first person deepens the immersion. You’re not just controlling some random guy, you are that random guy. Every step you take, every fight, could be one closer to the game over screen.

Zombie PUNCH!! - Rise of Nightmares is a very physical game. At first I thought it was going to be a rail shooter. That notion was quickly thrown out as soon as I encountered my first zombie and sliced it to pieces.  The game picks up and reads different movements and carries them out. Leaning my leg out front caused me to walk forward at a normal pace, leaning it out more would speed me up, while leaning my leg backwards caused me to walk back. Turning my torso left or right would turn me in that direction.  Getting used to moving around is very important to pick up right away; cause if you don’t you’ll be seeing a lot of the game over screen. The same goes with the movement prompts. It took me two deaths before I realized that I had to actually run in place. As for combat, raising your arms up like a boxer will cause you to block and lock on to enemies, punches are on the left and right arm respectively as well as kicks. Putting all of these moves together will prove not only useful but will ensure your survival.  

An Arm, a Leg and a Chainsaw - Now punching zombie steampunk rejects sounds fun and all, but will get you nowhere but dead when stronger zombies come along. That’s when you will need to arm yourself with whatever’s laying around. Hatches, machetes, and other blunt objects are scattered around the area waiting to be impaled into a zombie body. As you progress further into game weapons such as projectiles, chainsaws, and even an acid sprayer become available. If that wasn’t enough, the walking dead will have weapons attached to them, such as knife arms, stun sticks and other mechanical limbs, which players can pick up after killing them and use as weapons. 

It’s a Trap - The house/mansion that you search though is full of them. From spikes popping up from the floor to giant saw blades traveling back and forth. One wrong step and you’re treated to a bloody death and the game over screen. But if you’re careful and smart enough, you can use those same traps to your advantage. You can lure a pack of zombies in to these traps and have the trap do all the killing for you. It can take a bit to get them to follow you, but it so worth it to see their corpses getting torn up.

B-Movie Atmosphere and Looks - Just like the House of the Dead games before it, Rise of Nightmares gives off that B-movie feel. The sound of your footsteps echo throughout the castle/mansion while you strain your ears to hear if that was you. In some areas there’s just enough light to see and keep zombies hidden until the last minute.  Even the screen has a B-movie feel. By that I mean instead of it being clear, it look to be that there’s some sort of filter that makes everything look grainy and rusty/dirty. It really adds to the ambiance of the setting. 



Give Me Space - And lots of it. Right from the get go, the game asks to have plenty of play space before starting the game and for good reason. Rise of Nightmares encourages over exaggerated attack gestures when fighting. Anyone or anything thing in that area where the game tells you to stand in will be at risk of getting punched or kicked.

Dead Center - In conjunction with having lots of room, you will have to be dead center in front of the Kinect in order for the game to register the movements. The game will tell you if you’re off center even if it’s just a tiny bit. And it will be that tiny bit to the left or right that will come back to bite you when you’re in the middle of a fight. 



Rise of Nightmares by far is the best non dancing, fitness and party game out for the Kinect. It delivers an immersive experience in a B-movie setting that can’t found in any other Kinect game so far. Never has slicing a zombie to pieces with his own arm felt so satisfying and physical at the same time. Even with it being a total space hog and wanting you to be perfectly centered with the Kinect, the game was a blast to play. SEGA AM1 saw the potential the Kinect had, took a gamble on it and it paid off. The game tops off between 8 to 10 hours depending on the difficulty, how much time you spend looking for secrets and of course how many times you die. Rise of Nightmares is a must have for people looking for something a bit more adult for the Kinect, those looking for a good horror game and something fun to play that isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. 

MikeV - Staff Writer | all author's articles

Are you getting Skyward Sword?

Absolutely! I'm getting it today.
Sure, once I remove all the dust from this Wii of mine.
Nah, sold my Wii because there weren't any games for some time.
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