Friday, December 5, 2014

Nerdicus NES Review #155: Sweet Home

Title : Sweet Home

Publisher : Capcom

Developer : Capcom

Genre : RPG Psychological Horror

Players : 1 Player

Release Date : 1989

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $25-$50

Home...Sweet....Home.....yeah, not really. More like DEATH....PURE DEATH.

This review is probably coming out of nowhere for some of you. After all, I haven't done any games that were strictly only released overseas and never even saw the grace of entering American homes. Then again, I really can't see this particular game going over so well with the average American family trying to support their child's video game addiction.

Now you won't be able to find this game as an official copy, but rather as a translated version from a group of dedicated gamers who wanted to give everyone the opportunity to play this game. If you manage to get your hands on it somehow, make it happen.

SWEET HOME was actually a Japanese horror flick that came out in 1989, which was accompanied by the release of the video game of the same name for the Famicom system. Now, it's hard to imagine the Famicom (Japanese NES for your gaming rookies) effectively coming out with a game that can disturb the hell out of you, well, besides ZOMBIE NATION.

Have no fear...actually, do have fear. This game is guaranteed to creep you the hell out. And the thing that makes it even more surprising? SWEET HOME is a RPG! It's all about the in-depth story, that reels you in and forces you to become involved with characters that are sure to be killed off at some point and be possessed by demons of a haunted mansion.
Not only that, but SWEET HOME was the inspiration for a certain popular horror game series. Maybe you've heard of it? A little known game called RESIDENT EVIL. Yup, that's right.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm eager to jump into this bad boy. Without further adieu, welcome to the horror that is SWEET HOME. 

SWEET HOME takes place in a dilapidated mansion rumored to house a collection of hidden frescoes created by a once famous painter, Ichiro Mamiya who mysteriously vanished. Probably because he was summoning demons or something. You know how it is in horror movies. Five documentary film makers decide that they could strike it rich, by uncovering where these frescoes are located.

Sounds easy enough, until the ghost of Mamiya's wife decides to trap everyone inside the house and attempt to murder them so they can remain as spirits to entertain her dead children so she won't have to commit suicide again. Wait..WHAT!? Disturbed yet!?

Following the traditional RPG mechanics of random encounters, leveling up, upgrading your weapons and stats, solving minor riddles, and indulging yourself in numerous text boxes to move along the story, SWEET HOMES is a RPG at it's core, with a few diverse twists. To me, this is the EARTHBOUND of Horror RPG's (don't get me started on my obsession with EARTHBOUND please).

Twist #1 - If one of your characters dies in the heat of battle, guess what. He's not coming back. There are no phoenix downs, or priests that can revive your buddy. They're dead.

Twist #2 - Each character has a specific skill needed to complete the game. So if one of your folks bites the dust, you'll need to find items that can fill the void of your dead characters skill set. 

Tell me, that doesn't make you want to play this game even more. The challenge level, for an RPG, has been taken to the extreme. Usually, I wouldn't even care less if one of my party members dies, now, I'm frightened with every random encounter. DEATH - IS - REAL! 

Not to mention, the more party members you have that survive to the end of the game, the better the ending you'll get. MULTIPLE ENDINGS TOO!? Can this game be even more epic!? Oh, yes.

From a NES standpoint, the graphics were actually pretty damn impressive. Sure, it's got nothing on the 16-bit games of its successors, but SWEET HOME milked the NES capabilities to the core. Enemies are detailed, and the environments are carved into the screen, creating a terrifying and nightmare-inducing scenarios. Hell, even the cutscenes were damn impressive.

The one thing however that makes SWEET HOME stand above its NES counteparts, its the audio. This game has one of the best musical scores for the NES, and it does the job of disturbing you to your very core. I literally felt like I do when I watch some creepy movies late at night with nothing to protect me but the sheet over my head. Sound effects may be a bit lacking, but the game certainly makes up for it with its impressive soundtrack.

SWEET HOME is ultimately different from a lot of games you'll ever play. Which is another reason why I compare it to Earthbound. It's one of those games, that you either hate, or love with a passion. It's truly garnered a large cult following since the retro-gaming boom, and there is no surprise. SWEET HOME is an ultimate work of NES art, and its a damn shame it never made it to the US. Still, you are able to find copies of it translated upon modified NES carts, so make it your holiday goal to get yourself one.

You won't regret it.

Final Score (out of 5 zombie heads):

Until next time, remember: Aim for the Head.



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