When playing through Shhh…! Welcome to Frightfearland, two words immediately came to mind to describe this game: fun and unique.
Frightfearland, created by Taito, and being released by Global VR in North American and Russia, plays like a standard on-rail shooting game with similar goals as most games in the genre. Shoot the bad guys, don't shoot the good guys, and blowing up lots of stuff. It sounds simple enough... right?
Whereas most arcade shooters pit the player against criminals, thugs, domineering aliens and other cliché enemies, Frightfearland's main antagonist is an evil carnival operator with hordes of creepy clowns to back him up. As the hero, you trek through five parts of a haunted amusement park, each one having its own boss character that is a great deal harder to defeat than standard enemies. All of this leads up to the grand showdown against the evil carnival operator. The game even has multiple endings, increasing its replay value. This may still sound formulaic of most arcade shooters, but it's the experience of playing through the plot that makes this game all the more entertaining.
The setting that Frightfearland uses is almost as entertaining to watch unfold before you as it is to play through it. These aren't just regular clowns coming for you after all as they come in all shapes and sizes. Even such nonhumans as mermaids, bats and giant spiders attack you while sporting clown makeup. All this may make the game sound like something from the survival-horror genre, but it is more comedic and lighthearted than any coin-op viddie I've played.
What helps make Frightfearland more than just a clever idea is the execution of gameplay. Enemies can pop out at all speeds, keeping you and other shooters on the tips of your toes. But watch out, since hostages will appear out of nowhere as well and shooting them will be detrimental to your score and life count. Inserted throughout the story are mini-games, things like moving target practices and memorization exercises. These mini-games keep the main game fresh and quick. When a second player joins the first on the mission, parts of the game are dedicated to cooperative play. This is a nice bonus, since most multiplayer shooters offer nothing more than an extra gun, with no extra content to supplement it.
And what helps Shhh…! Welcome to Frightfearland stand apart from other shooters isn't innovative new gameplay, cutting-edge HD graphics or a captivating storyline. Instead, what makes this game work is its fun, unique content that doesn't take itself too seriously. These attributes combined with simple yet effective gameplay will make Frightfearland worth playing more than just once.
Evan Kirby is a 22-year-old journalism student from Bridgewater, MA. A former editor of his high school newspaper, Kirby is a lifelong coin-op game enthusiast.