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In this school, they teach you things you never wanted to know about.
Essentially Resident EvilIN HIGH SCHOOL!, ObsCure is a series of survival horror games by Hydravision Entertainment (later Mighty Rocket Studio). One of its most notable features was its two-player cooperative mode. Instead of exploring the haunted halls alone, the teens were Genre Savvy enough to stick together in pairs, with the player selecting who to take along as a partner. Said partner was either controlled by the game's AI or a second player, and each character had had a unique skill to make parts of the game easier.Another part of the game's charm was its campiness. Styled after the post-modern, Genre Savvy teen horror movies of the late '90s (such as Scream (1996) and especially The Faculty), the games were flush with corny, Totally Radical dialogue and characters written as broad caricatures of teen movie heroes and villains. The first game even featured the song "Still Waiting" by Sum 41 as its theme song, as a nod to such films' "hip" soundtracks.The first two games were rereleased on Steam in 2014.
Something strange is going on at Leafmore High. Students are disappearing, teachers are acting oddly... When Kenny Matthews, a varsity athlete, makes an horrific discovery under the school, four of his friends — his cheerleader girlfriend Ashley Thompson, school reporter Josh Carter, stoner friend Stanley "Stan" Jones, and little sister Shannon — join him in investigating what exactly the hell is happening. However, they quickly find themselves locked in the school overnight, and now there're things roaming the halls...Notably, none of the five characters were ever required to advance the plot... mainly because all of them could be easilyKilled Off for Real at any time. Losing somebody didn't instantly equal a Game Over; you could continue without them so long as you had somebody left to play as. Having every character still alive was also necessary to achieve the Golden Ending.
ObsCure II (2006)
The sequel, ObsCure II (known in America as ObsCure: The Aftermath), takes place two years after the events at Leafmore. Shannon and Kenny are attending the nearby Fallcreek University, while Stan dropped out and is working as a pizza delivery boy. Stan and Kenny have to take medication to stave off the aftereffects of what happened at Leafmore, while Shannon has managed to adapt on her own... something she frequently snipes at the boys about.Unfortunately, there's a new recreational drug that's become trendy among the students, one that's made from a strange-looking flower that keeps appearing all over the campus. Naturally, it isn't long before the survivors of Leafmore High, along with a small group of other students, find themselves facing hordes of mutants and struggling to stop the contagion from spreading too far.Unlike the first game, the partners (and deaths) for each section of the game are decided automatically as part of the plot, and each hero's skills are actually required to navigate past the various puzzles and obstacles. The original heroes suffer heavily from Not as You Know Them, and the game becomes a parade of Cruel And Unusual Deaths.
Ashley is the most adept at combat out of the five characters in the first game, with her special ability being a "rapid-fire" attack that allows her to get off two shots or swings in rapid succession. Shannon can also hold her own if one is desperate (i.e. if she's one of the last characters left), though her abilities make her more of a support character best left at the gathering site.
In the second game, Shannon has Taken a Level in Badass and become this. Sven also compares Amy to a valkyrie after watching her kick some monsters' asses.
Cassy in Final Exam.
Badass Crew/Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: They all fit neatly into every cliched teen movie category you can think of and still manage to be friends on some level. Then they find melee weapons and firearms. Cue the drug induced, one-liner filled chaos.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The entire plot of the first two games revolves around one of the Friedman brothers trying to save the life of the other. Even their children get involved, human and plant alike.
Subverted in the second game, with the reveal of the Bigger Bad.
Hand Cannon: The revolver in the first game and in Final Exam. The item description for it in the first game even lampshades this, calling it "a powerful revolver."
Hollywood Nerd: Shannon and Josh in the first game, Mei and Jun in the second one.
The revolver is one of the most powerful weapons in the first game, standing far ahead of the three semi-automatics available, and bested only by the double-barrel shotgun and the laser. Its description even refers to it as "a powerful revolver".
The same is true in Final Exam, where the magnum revolver is not only far more powerful than the semi-auto handgun, but stuns enemies as well. Given that you find it in the second level, it's practically a Disc One Nuke, especially if you're playing as Sean.
Save Game Limits: Both the first and second game do this in their own way. The first game gives you a limited number of CDs that you can use to save the game in any room provided it's clear of enemies. In the second game, there are fixed save points (represented by mortifilia flowers on the wall) that can only be used once, though given the second game's more linear progression, you'll rarely revisit old save points.
Solve the Soup Cans: Played straight in many puzzles (as per survival horror tradition), though some doors allow you to pick the lock. Thankfully averted, however, whenever you face a locked door with a glass window. The solution? See Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay below.
The first game has only three types of ammunition: pistol bullets, shotgun shells, and the laser's batteries. It makes sense for the shotguns (which are all presumably 12 gauge) and the laser (for which there is no extra ammo available), but the same pistol bullets are fired out of everything from an old pocket pistol to a Hand Cannon revolver.
Final Exam goes further and has its ammo apply across all weapons, from pistols to shotguns to machine guns.
In the first game, Ashley and Kenny fall into the former category, with their special abilities (a rapid-fire attack and a quick sprint, respectively) being derived from their physical ability. Josh, Stan, and Shannon, meanwhile, fall into the latter category, with Josh able to find items, Stan being able to find locks and pick them faster than the others, and Shannon being skilled at first aid and also offering puzzle tips. Using Josh and Stan primarily on one's first playthrough can make life a lot easier in terms of not missing anything.
In the second game, most of the male characters fall into the former category, while all of the female characters fall into the latter. The bruisers Kenny and Sven don't do much of anything besides push heavy objects and hit enemies, while Corey's skills are also derived from his physical ability (in his case, climbing narrow ledges and being able to take more damage). Stan is the one exception among the guys, once again being able to pick locks. The girls, meanwhile, can all do some pretty unique things — Mei can hack computers, Amy can solve puzzles, and Shannon can suck dangerous dark auras out of the environment.
None of them seem to struggle with guns or chainsaws though. Gun Slinging 101 must be a requirement in high school and college.note Hey, why are you looking at me like that... This was at least semi-justified with Ashley in the first game, as her file states she went through self-defense training prior to the events of the game.
Weakened by the Light: Zig-zagged. Light causes those infected with the mortifilia spores to start to mutate. A small amount of light triggers enough mutations to turn them into monsters, while a greater amount kills them, the mutations working like a fast-acting cancer. In gameplay terms, this means that direct sunlight and other high-intensity light sources (such as flashbangs, flare guns, and the lights in the cafeteria) kill the monsters almost instantly, and flashlights help weaken them.
We All Live in America: While the games are set in the United States, they were made by a French developer, and it appears that they were basing their impressions of Anglophone society more on the UK than the US. Metric measurements are frequently used in place of American Customary Measurements, dates are rendered in the form of "DD/MM" rather than the "MM/DD" format used in the US, British spellings are employed frequently, and a notice makes reference to the "Ministry of Health" (the US' equivalent is the Department of Health and Human Services). On top of that, one of the calendars still has the French names for the months of the year (octobre, janvier, avril). If it weren't for the American flag in the gymnasium and the brief reference to Friedman being born in Iowa, one might guess that the game took place in Quebec rather than the US.
Likewise, with the exception of the Friedmans (whose last name implies a German background), every single character who's not explicitly specified as being non-white (Mei and Jun) or otherwise foreign (Sven) has an English last name like Matthews, Thompson, Jones, Carter, Brookes, or Wilde. No corner of the US was exclusively settled by the English; even those parts of the country with substantial levels of English heritage (like New England, Utah, and the Southeast) tend to have Scottish, Irish, German, and Scandinavian ancestry mixed in as well. To English ears it probably wouldn't be out of the ordinary, but it certainly stands out to Americans.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Beating the game unlocks alternate outfits in New Game+ mode for each character still left alive at the end. Ashley's gray shirt is switched out for the top half of her cheerleading uniform (though keeping her jeans), Stan's shirt is recolored in Jamaican/Rasta colors, Josh gets a Hawaiian shirt, Kenny's muscle shirt and track pants are recolored green and orange respectively, and Shannon gets the most dramatic makeover — a punk/goth ensemble that includes fishnet stockings and blue streaks in her hair.
Anyone Can Die: No, really. No matter what combination of characters you have, it is possible for one or both of them to die. For unskilled or new players, its almost a certainty.
Frickin' Laser Beams: A laser beam weapon can be found near the end of the game. It is powerful as all get out, but has limited juice and no extra batteries. A laser with unlimited battery life (albeit with a cooldown period like the flashlights) can be unlocked during a New Game+.
Guns Do Not Work That Way: The most powerful shotgun in the first game appears to be some kind of hybrid of a double-barrel and pump-action shotgun that, in real life, could not exist as a functional weapon. Likewise, you attach flashlights to guns by simply duct-taping them together; if the recoil alone didn't cause the flashlight to go flying, the operation of a semi-auto pistol's slide would do it instead. The only gun that should've been able to hold onto its flashlight was the pistol found in Friedman's safe, which had a light built in.
Love Makes You Evil: The Big Bad, Principal Herbert Friedman, is kidnapping and experimenting on students in order to find a cure for his brother Leonard's illness.
Madwoman in the Attic: Principal Friedman's grotesquely mutated brother is hidden in the school basement.
Male Gaze: It's a good thing the girls can't tell where Josh points his camera.
Multiple Endings: Two of them, with the deciding factor being whether all five characters survive to the end or not.
New Game+: Special Mode, which gives the characters alternate costumes and puts two new weapons into the game: the Morgenstern bat (a spiked club that does as much damage as the revolver) replacing the baseball bat, and a pistol with a laser beam weapon attached replacing the flashlight-equipped pistol found in Friedman's safe.
In the first game, a flyer in the girls' bathroom in the administration building tries to warn people that aliens are among us, which the characters dismiss as paranoid nonsense — a reference to The Faculty, one of the game's main inspirations.
Jedidiah in the second game is a fairly obvious one to Leatherface.
In Final Exam, Nathan's monster-trap special attack is this to Ghostbusters, even referencing it in the description.
Two-Teacher School: The only faculty members shown running around the school (besides Friedman, for obvious reasons) are the biology teacher Denny Walden, the nurse Elisabeth Wickson, and the janitor Mr. Garrison, who gets killed offscreen. Keeping in mind that most of this game takes place after school hours, there are no other teachers present during the opening scenes where school is in session. Just who's teaching these kids anyway?
On that note, the only teacher present in the sequel is also a biology teacher.
Zombie Infectee: The main characters all get infected by Friedman about halfway through the game; the rest of the game has them looking for the antidote before the sun rises and triggers mutations. Mr. Walden was also infected earlier on, and by the end of the game is too far gone to safely use the antidote.
Bigger Bad: Delta Theta Gamma, a Skull & Bones-esque secret society that views the mortifilia plant as the key to immortality. Both Professor James and the Friedman brothers were members, and the group used its deep connections to the federal government to cover up what the Friedman brothers were up to at Leafmore.
Bittersweet Ending/Downer Ending: Depending on how you look at it. On one hand, all the new characters introduced in the game suffered terrible and brutal ends, and Corey, the sole one of the new ones to make it to the very end... shot himself in the head after being unable to deal with losing his girlfriend and his car, and feeling no hope for him left. On the other, Shannon and Stan are still alive, and while they're in for a rough ride, they're more than ready to take it and kick ass.
Black Dude Dies First: Matt, an African-American student you meet in the dorm at the start of the game. When things go to hell you find the Professor dissecting a monster, who Corey identifies as Matt by his tattoo. Also, Mei and Jun, the only non-white members of the main cast, are the first among them to die.
Bolivian Army Ending: In the end, only Shannon and Stan are left alive, and they're facing down a massive cloud of black spores, with the implication that they're about to face Kenny's monstrous spawn.
Book Dumb: Stan. It's implied that he shouldn't have graduated high school, and judging by what he's like in the second game, there's a chance that he dropped out altogether. Not that it matters by the sequel, mind you.
Stan: "Stan Jones. Average: F"
Shannon: "Shannon Matthews. A+" And look where it has gotten us.
Chainsaw Good: Subverted. The chainsaw is not used as a weapon, but only for cutting through obstacles, and it requires battery power to run. That said, Jedidiah does use a chainsaw as his Weapon of Choice, and the final battle between Corey and Jedediah is a chainsaw duel straight out of Gears of War (or it would be, if this game hadn't come first).
Deadly Euphemism: In his last words, Kenny tells Shannon to take care of the child that he had with Amy — an Enfant Terrible that envelops the stadium with a cloud of spores not long after. Shannon vows to "take care of it" by destroying it.
Mood Whiplash: No matter how horrible things get, the characters never stop making quips. It's like they get over their trauma almost instantly. It fits, seeing as how this is basically a teen slasher flick in video game form.
Mook Maker: The Licker Spider produces swarms of tiny spiders, as well as having some really annoying attacks of its own. It's implied that they had once been pregnant women infected with the mortifilia spores.
The Precious, Precious Car: Corey's lovingly-preserved classic muscle car. It gets stolen and crashed in the aftermath of the frat party, and it takes him the entire level to get over it.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Probably one of the most disturbing aspects of the game. It's hard to tell how much of an impact it's supposed to have on the game though, considering that Amy groans and cries occasionally, but shows no other signs of having gone through a traumatic experience. One would think she'd be freaking out when Kenny appears, or at least be more twitchy around the male members of the cast. Also, depending on your interpretation of the ending, her pregnancy literally spawns a possible sequel or hands out justice to the final antagonist.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Mei spends the first half of the game trying to track down her twin sister Jun and save her. If you manage to track her down, the game lets you control Jun's escape attempts, only to have her brutally killed seconds after yanking that control away. Things go downhill from there.
Sidequest: One of these is strung through the game, with a bunch of small keys scattered through the environment that open lock boxes. Each of them contains a unique, powerful weapon; in order, you get the stun gun, the crossbow, the flashball (a gun that fires mini-flashbangs), the flare gun, the mega-flashlight, and the mini SMG. Opening all of them unlocks a bonus video that reveals the fate of Josh and Ashley from the first game.
Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: After surviving the events of the first game, Kenny gets killed in the sequel — in the most drawn-out, painful way possible, involving Body Horror and a Face-Heel Turn. Oh, and Josh and Ashley, the other two protagonists from the first game who don't return, are implied to have been horribly killed off-screen.
Wacky Fratboy Hijinx: One of the early levels has you sneaking into a frat house party, which is soon followed by you fighting your way out.
Was Once a Man: Kenny, after refusing to take his meds, turns into a mutated freak the size of a Land Rover with an enormous arm/mouth on his back that he uses to spit balls of spores.
Where It All Began: The end of the game takes place at the soon-to-be-demolished ruins of Leafmore High from the first game. Then the real end of the game has the protagonists returning to the Delta Theta Gamma house, which was where the mortifilia outbreak started — in more ways than one.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: A major example. The game waits until after the end credits for its big twist: Professor James was The Mole, working for the Delta Theta Gamma fraternity, which is part of a larger conspiracy that was secretly responsible for the events of both games.Then you face the True Final Boss.
Tropes in Final Exam
Art Shift and Genre Shift: Even when it was still known as ObsCure D, it was far more cartoonish and action-packed than either of the other two games were.
Expy: Each of the main characters is this to one of the protagonists from the first game. Brutal Joe is Kenny, Nathan is Josh, Cassy is Ashley, and Sean is Stan. Only Shannon doesn't have an analogue, and that's because she herself shows up in the game as an NPC.
The Gunslinger: Sean's combat specialty is in firearms, and his special attacks all revolve around them in one way or another.
I Know Madden Kombat: Two of Brutal Joe's special moves involve his background as a football player. One has him charging like a bull, as though he were running at another team on the field, and another has him putting on football armor to give him temporary invulnerability. All of the characters can also learn a tackle move to take down enemies.
Jane of All Stats: Cassy. She can upgrade all four of her skills (health, strength, precision, and explosives) quite nicely, making her the most versatile fighter, but can't upgrade any one of them as much as other characters who specialize in one skill or another.
Stone Wall: Nathan can upgrade his health further than any of the other characters, but he can't upgrade his melee or firearm skills that much. (Explosives, on the other hand...) This is stated to be the result of him getting toughened up by years of bullying.