I’m back in the U.S. this evening, struggling to stay awake long enough to negate horrific jet lag. To that end, I spent much of the afternoon trying out the rather obscure (mostly Japan-only) games I picked up last week. Here are some quick impressions:
- Michigan is a strange game told from a first person perspective, through the eyes of a camera man. Something is very wrong in the city of Chicago, and you and two other employees of a local TV network must travel from location to location, looking for scoops. The game is basically a first-person adventure game, but what makes it odd is that the developers (Grasshopper, the guys behind Killer7) have thrown this weird voyeurism element from way out in the left field. Each level gives you the opportunity to collect points of three types: “suspense,” (you find something scary, or, as it appears, find just about anything), “erotic” (you take advantage of the camera to film women in compromising positions, etc), and “immoral” (you allow tragedies to occur for the sake of the story). The suspense and immoral parts are sort of interesting, but the erotic points make the game very weird and uncomfortable.
- The Fear is a strange game told from a first person perspective, through the eyes of a camera man. The interface is very similar to Michigan (though The Fear predates Grasshopper’s game by several years), and the game play actually isn’t all that different either. The major difference (besides the lack of erotic points) is that The Fear is entirely live-action. However, it’s a lot more interactive than I was expecting; it reminds me of a really well-done CD-ROM game from 1993, when everybody went ape over the idea that video could be played back in real time. The Fear is 4 discs long (!!) because there is a crapload of content; every character has lots to say in every situation, and it’s all recorded (no text). So far, the story looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill horror movie shlock, but the acting isn’t as horrendous as I was expecting and there might actually be things to do. Since there’s no text, I’ll probably add this game to The Quest. So far the only real problems I have with it are that moving around takes forever and that it still has the potential to turn into a horrible dating game scenario.
- Hungry Ghosts is a strange game told from a first person perspective. I think I’ve detected a pattern here; I didn’t set out to buy tons of first person horror games, but that’s what I seem to have ended up with. Perhaps there is a correlation between these games being first person and them not coming out in the States; I suspect that the American market has little interest in first person games that are not shooters. Anyway, Hungry Ghosts looks like it might be a really good game if I can just figure it out. The game pounds into your skull the point that every action you take may change the course of your destiny (there’s even a voice over at the beginning of the game to warn you of this feature). Basically, you are a dead guy in a sort of purgatory, and at the beginning of the game you are on the fast track to eternal damnation. However, by doing certain, mysterious things, it is apparently possible to change your destiny and avoid hell. The Japanese in this game is pretty difficult, so I can see it taking me a while to complete.
- I don’t know what to say about Kyoufu Shimbun Heiseiban Kaiki! Shinrei File, except that the intro sucks. At least, I hope it was the intro–I “played” the game for a solid 15 minutes before giving up in disgust because the entire time was spent, I kid you not, reading text. Now, according to the manual there’s a 3D 3rd person mode hiding in here somewhere, but after 15 minutes of text (with no interactivity, just reading!!) I gave up. I’ll have to come back to this one. In the best case, I think this game may turn out to be like Twilight Syndrome Sakai, which is another game I need to get around to adding to the Quest.
- Gregory Horror Show is so far the best game I bought in my latest foray into the East. It’s got loads of style, the mechanics look fun, and it doesn’t hand out points for looking up women’s skirts. The only thing I’m worried about is that some of the puzzles may be difficult for a non-Japanese person like myself.
That’s all I have to report right now. Once I get back into this hemisphere’s time zone, I’ll have more info for you guys.