Where does the appreciation for a game end, and obsession begins? There is indeed a fine line between being a simple fan and spending hours of your life entirely devoted to an obscure PlayStation game. That is indeed what happened to Ben Speight, after he first published his Overblood 2 walkthrough online.
Overblood 2 is the 1998 sequel to 1996’s Overblood, a little-known survival horror by Japanese studio Riverhill Soft. The sequel ditches most of the claustrophobic horror vibes from the original for Final Fantasy-style characters and locations, even though remaining firmly in the action adventure genre. Even the story does not seem to have much to do with the original, taking place in 2115, seventy years after the death of the Earth, until the very last beats. We follow main hero Acarno Brani, who will later be joined by investigator Chris Lanbecca and Navarro Jean.
Despite the original having its fair share of fans, the sequel was never released in the States. The 1999 Overblood 2, instead, went only to PAL consoles and ended up being relatively unknown, especially because the original release was even plagued by a game-breaking bug. Most people might be familiar, today, with Overblood and its sequel because of Gameinformer’s crew playing both of them in their Super Replay videos back in 2012. A Facebook community also formed pretty soon after the videos were published, rightfully called “I watched the entire Overblood Super Replay” (Pipo represent!), which is still alive today.
What caused Ben Speight to spend hours of his life devoted to Overblood 2? “I picked up the game in 2001. I was buying a bundle of games, a sort of 3 x 20 situation. I bought it just for the cover art, which looked interesting, [and I] always liked action adventure/survival vibes”. Ben remembers giving up on it pretty soon after being stuck at the beginning of the second level. “There was no walkthrough on the internet back then. A year later, I picked it up again, and started keeping notes on how to beat it. I decided to write a walkthrough, like how many chances do you get to be the first to do so? Then the PC I was writing on broke, I lost everything, so I gave up, but did keep the notes”.
Fast-forward to ten years later, Ben gets reached by emails of people who had seen his post asking for help and ask him “someone tracked down my work email, it was surprising to get a did you ever finish Overblood 2 email. Well, I did, so I thought maybe I should pick up my notes again and write. Also, maybe I should document how to find each item and secret in the game…”. In the end, that little walkthrough turned into a shrine dedicated to all things Overblood 2.
Ben admits getting a lil’ bit obsessed over things like that. “I started to look at importing guides from Japan, that fleshed things out further. I wanted to do it right, play it again and get screenshots”. What started out small, got quite big as Ben started spending time on Yahoo auctions Japan, finding stuff and over time, people got in touch to send him stuff as well. “I have VHS given out to shops, posters, OSTs, extra discs, novel…”. He also spoke to several of the English actors, especially the voice acting director, Mark Estdale. He went on record saying “the script was awful” but he was forced to do it as it was, “since they told me it was perfect, we squirmed and the actors wept.”.
But sadly, the original release was plagued by a bug, as mentioned, which is also why Overblood 2 was re-released in 2001, finally fixed. “Someone explained to me that it happens because the game tries to load the wrong piece of code in a specific room. I’m sure most people who reviewed it originally, most of which scored it quite poorly, never realized it was a bug and never went very far in the game either”.
But what is so interesting about this obscure sequel to a quite obscure Resident Evil-clone? “For me it is the ambition, Overblood 2 tries to do a lot of different things. Now, it is easy to see the game is shit, but it was made by a minuscule team. There are lots of different locations, types of gameplay, solutions, cutscenes (some would argue too many). For its limited PS1 technology, it was very ambitious. Compared to the original, Overblood 2 went into a completely different direction, which a lot of people did not seem to like”.
While the work by Ben is not, of course, on the level of other websites saving gaming history, it is still of utmost importance. With the game never seeing release in the US, public interest seems to be pretty much non-existent and most of Overblood 2 memorabilia would be lost to time without Ben's work.
But, is the work on the website finished? Ben laughs, “honestly, I thought it was over after finishing the walkthrough!”. Naturally, he will continue archiving everything about Overblood 2 for the foreseeable future. “I won’t let the website disappear, I'll keep putting stuff there. I'd like to do a full documentary covering everything from start to finish.” Finally, I had to ask: Ben, are you trying to start an Overblood 2 cult? “Well, it would be a really small, very male-oriented cult... so probably not”.
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