Friday, December 19, 2014

Nerdicus SNES Review #53: Clock Tower

Title : Clock Tower

Publisher : Human Entertainment

Developer : Human Entertainment

Genre : Survival Horror / Point N Click

Players : 1 Player

Release Date : 1995

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $????? (import only - fan translation)

I received a pretty little package in the mail. A fan made translation cart of a relatively unknown SNES game called CLOCK TOWER. Most of you probably know this game for the Playstation and the PC, but I never had the luxury of playing that on either system. So when I received a custom cart with this game on it, fully translated from the original Super Famicom version, it was impossible for me to resist playing it.

Besides the fact that the girl on the "supposed" box above looks like Jennifer Connelly, you can pretty much guarantee you are in for a creepy story. In fact, it was even inspired by Dario Argento's film, Phenomena. I guess that explains the Jennifer Connelly look alike, eh? And let me tell you, that film was disturbing as anything. I can only cross my fingers that the game will prove to be just as much of a mind trip.

Don't jump into this game thinking you are in for a fast paced adventure, or a standard RPG like we had when we played Sweet Home. Nope, we're going old school to one of my favorite gaming formats that really doesn't get the respect it deserves nowadays. Thankfully, Telltale is bringing it back! I hope you know what I'm talking about..

It may be the holiday season, but I'm craving a good scare. Let's hope we get one. Join me as I journey through CLOCK TOWER.

The story is quite a complex one, so if you really want the full deal, definitely play the game yourself. There's a lot of twists and turns involved, and like any horror it's all about discovering the truth. The basic premise revolves around you playing as Jessica Simpson..sorry Jennifer Simpson...not the singer..escaping a murderous boy in the confines of a mysterious mansion called the Clock Tower. There's a lot more to it than that, but trust me, it's worth the play through to get into the story. It's pretty damn deep.

If you've played a point and click before, and I hope you have, you know how this type of game works. You've got your character who you command by pointing a cursor around and directing them to move to locations, examine objects, pick up things, and use things. It's basically a puzzle game where you have to figure out how to get past certain obstacles all by looking everywhere and anywhere possible.

Now a little side note, if you haven't played a point and click before, I suggest you look through the old Lucas Arts library and get yourself familiarized. Next week, I'll be dabbling in a little game called Maniac Mansion which is where it all started for me. Microwave Hamsters anyone? End side note.

With most point and click games, you pretty much have all the time in the world to figure out puzzles that are thrown in your direction. But nope, not this game. You're constantly being pursued by someone (or something) that wants to kill you. So, the longer it takes you to solve a puzzle or look around, the more likely you are to get mauled to death by someone who wants to kill you. Talk about pressure, and it's good pressure. I was sitting at the edge of my seat, sweating bullets, hoping and praying that nothing was going to jump out and kill me while I'm trying to experiment with different objects. 

I tell you...the "what if..." and the pace of the game is the true test of fear. Every second matters, and this game makes it feel that way.

Now there will be a lot of times when you'll run into your attacker (which is some freaky little guy named Bobby, wielding a giant pair of scissors), but the point of the game is to use each room to your advantage so you can manipulate your environment to delay being captured by him. I say captured, but I really mean mutilated.

Sometimes you'll have to make an object fall to block Bobby's chase, or sometimes you'll need to quickly exit the room by running past him. It's one long chase, and the object of the game is to escape with your life. And it certainly is challenging. For the most part, you'll have to fight your way past good 'ol Bobby, and you'll enter a mode called "panic mode"

In panic mode, you'll be forced to rapidly tap buttons to escape Bobby's grip, however the more damaged you are from Bobby's attack or environmental effects, the less likely you are to escape. There's no health meter though, and the only way to judge how you're doing is by the background of your screen and the color it is. And it's not even really health, it's actually a fear meter and somewhat reminds me of what we encountered in Eternal Darkness, without the game altering effects.

Clock Tower is one of the most challenging point and click adventures I have ever played. There's a constant state of tension apparent throughout the entire play through that you really feel like at any moment you can be given the GAME OVER screen. The puzzles arent' as difficult as some others, but the fact that you have to deal with a scissor-wielding mad man makes it a lot more irritating. The fact that I'm trying to open a door, and avoid being sliced to death, just adds to the enjoyment factor.

Surprisingly enough, the controls work pretty damn well on a control pad, as I'm used to these point and click adventures on the computer with my handy dandy mouse and keyboard. But it's fluid, and effective, and doesn't feel uncomfortable at all. I would complain if it was slow and inaccurate, but it's not.

The game feels a lot more sinister thanks to the dark visuals and spooky soundtrack. It feels ripped from a horror movie, and some of the scenery and backdrops are pretty damn disturbing for a super nintendo game. I'm not sure why it wasn't released in the states, but I could only assume that Nintendo was a bit hesitant in bringing over a game like this to have it young children play...although it was fine in go figure..I have no idea. Maybe there was no market for it? That is, until the playstation came around.

Above all, if you're looking to get your hands on a game that's quite a bit different from your average SNES game, and don't mind adding something that's not an official release, get your hands on a imported fan-translated copy, or play it on an emulator. It's definitely worth it if you're in the mood for a scare. And damn that Bobby and his giant scissors. NO RUNNING WITH SCISSORS!

Final Score (out of 5 zombie heads):

Until next time, remember: Aim for the Head.



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