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Friday, June 19, 2015

Twilight Syndrome (トワイライトシンドローム 探索編&究明編)

Twilight Syndrome as fellow Jhipsters know is a series that had a decent media franchise with 5 games, a drama cd, TWO live action movies and god knows what else. While self-proclaimed hardcore gamers may rave about "niche" games such as Lollipop Chainsaw or even Killer7, every true Jhipster knows that the first Twilight Syndrome is Suda51's best work during his golden years at Human (just kidding LOL, don't hurt me).

Human Corporation, maker of various sports (eg pro-wrestling) and horror games such as Clock Tower (because those two genres go SO WELL together) is sadly no longer with us but its spirit lives on as Twilight Syndrome's (so far) last game was released on DS by Spike in 2008. Still, it's been 7 years so I guess we can consider this series dead for the moment but it had a good run; albeit completely unknown in the West.

Of course, all you mainstreamers probably know about it from Super Danganronpa 2's 2nd chapter. (Yes, in Jhipster's super niche hipsterness world, even Danganronpa is considered mainstream). However, despite what you mainstreamers may think based on what Danganronpa and the movies might suggest, the first Twilight Syndrome game is not a murder or escape game but is rather about ghosts, spirits, and urban myths.

I said the "first" game but really it's the first TWO games cause it was split into two separate releases a mere 4 months apart: 探索編 (explore part) and 究明編 (reveal part). This is really kinda lame as the first game is really short, has like total of 5 minutes of voice acting and ends on a cliff hanger. Scored individually, I would give the first part a rating of 2/5. It also sucks because buying both games used will add up to a decent chunk of change. Nothing super expensive but $20 x 2 adds up. I feel bad for the poor sod who bought the first part on release for probably like 7000 yen or something. They were obviously aware of this as they later re-released both parts in a 2-cd budget release as "Twilight Syndrome Special" but only after a full 2 years later. This is the copy I own but it will still set you back a few Andrew Jacksons.

However, putting both games together (putting the obvious lame sales tactics aside), you end up with a nice side-scrolling urban myth adventure game (I know, I know, this genre is TOTALLY oversaturated). The graphics have not aged well (especially that yucky PS1-style CG) so it's not really scary but it has that 90's Japanese charm with pocket bells (pagers) and public phones. (For you kids, these are phones in the street that you put MONEY in to use.)

Sorry, it's 2015, a girl in dark lighting isn't gonna scare me no more.

...Ok, maybe scared JUST a little bit.

The second game is when you really feel like they put some effort into it. It has tons of high quality voice acting of the 90s variety that'll instantly bring back nostalgia for you Jhipster nerds. And while the OST has only a few songs, there are some really nice atmospheric moments such as the one below. (SPOILERS... unless you're not fluent in Japanese.)

It also has my favorite chapter out of both games dealing with phones. Phones are always a great medium for some horror. (WHY OH WHY IS CALLING ON WII SO EXPENSIVE??) And the last hidden chapter which you have to unlock is totally psychedelic and plays like a bad nightmare. (I realize now that it was just a lead in to the TOTALLY LSD-induced sequel: Moonlight Syndrome.)

Score: 3.5 man I can't WAIT to replace my pocket bell with a PHS score out of 5

In the end, the draw of Twilight Syndrome is not just about ghosts and getting scared (cause you won't). For me, it's more about the charm of 90s Japan and getting to know the 3 main characters. They each have their own unique personality, charm, and quirks not to mention real-life issues that are very much part of that era in Japan despite all the supernatural stuff that's going on.

The main problem with this game is ONCE AGAIN the lack of ability to fast forward ANYTHING. It really sucks to get the bad, medium, and good endings for each chapter when you have to play the WHOLE chapter again. Personally, I played it blind once and then went with a guide the second time. Or I guess you filthy pirates can emulate and use save states (says the guy who played it on PSP).

It didn't blow my socks off but it was definitely a nice, nostalgia inducing experience (in my fantasy that I grew up in 90s Japan).

Anone, anone, anone, anone, anone, anone, anone, anone, anone, anone, anone, anone, anone...

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

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