This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
It feels really strange to be playing a survival horror game on a Nintendo console, because I grew up in an era when consoles were marketed to kids. Nintendo built their reputation on being family-friendly, Sega built theirs on appearing to be a bit older and edgier than that to kids whilst actually being no more objectionable than Nintendo were; he might have worn trainers and had a nebulously-defined “attitude”, but ultimately there was nothing to Sonic which was any less kid-safe than Mario. Once Nintendo and Sega had managed to split the market neatly between them for a while things started to feel a little stagnant; I drifted away to PC gaming, whilst on the console scene Sony realised that there was a market for a console which wasn’t afraid to show a little blood and utter a few four-letter words. Sega asphyxiated under a large pile of bad decisions, whilst Nintendo had the indignity of seeing the Gamecube bumped into third place in the console wars after the PS2 and the original XBox.
Of course, a while later Nintendo made its family-friendly image pay off again in the form of the Wii, a console you wouldn’t be ashamed to play on with your kids or your mum. But Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem came out in 2002; Nintendo’s machines were seen as kid’s toys in an era in which people in their later teens and early twenties were seen as being the primary market for console games. Games like Eternal Darkness were meant to change that – to prove that the Gamecube wasn’t just good for the latest Mario and Zelda games – and whilst it wasn’t a huge commercial success it’s received nigh-universal critical praise.
It doesn’t quite deserve that praise.