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Monday, January 18, 2016

Clock Tower: The First Fear

Well it's been a while, so I was in the mood to dive back into the side-scrolling, horror adv genre. I know it's a very popular genre and even though I had hundreds (nay thousands!!) of games to choose from, I went back to good ol' Human Entertainment and loaded up Clock Tower: The First Fear on the even gooder ol' PSP.

I have to say, for a game that originally came out only 6 months before Twilight Syndrome, the first Clock Tower was pretty darn bare bones. If I wasn't super gamer expert (ie can use google+wikipedia), I would have thought this was a fairly early SFC game, not something that was released after the launch of the PS1 and ported almost 2 years later.

OMG!! Only took 2 years to add this next gen PS1 graphics!
If I had bought the PS1 version day one in my fantasy Japanese childhood, I would have been pretty darn disappointed after Twilight Syndrome. They didn't add any voice acting to the PS1 version, just the typical dated Human CG intro and the ability to save your game. Yes, in the enhanced version, you can actually save your progress.

I mean, if I didn't know any better, I might have thought this game was not bad but the lack of almost any story to speak of, no voice acting, and zero character development makes this game feel way older than it really is.

This is the blonde girl. That's all you need to know about her.
I still have no idea why the girls were brought to the mansion and the game doesn't explain anything about the Barrows family. I didn't look up any further information from fear of spoiling the sequels but taken by itself, this game doesn't explain a single thing.

The other big issue I had was the gameplay. Maybe I should have read the manual, but the game freaked me out because Jennifer's stat goes to red every time she runs. I spent painful hours just watching her meander slowly through the mansion like she was taking a nice stroll in the park.

Also, she never sat down to rest until I realized much later on that you have to press triangle after she starts moving. I had assumed when she walked into another room, she would just sit down after a while so I had no idea how to restore her health. But to make this whole gameplay element even worse, I finally figured out I can beat the entire game while completely in the red. You're supposed to spam the X button when your avatar is flashing and having more health is supposed to help you survive. But I was able to beat down that little scissor guy, the crazy puppet, and every other "tense" moment totally in the red.

As for the puzzles, I just got tired of going from room to room while stuck for hours. The parrot freaked me out early on so I never did find the perfume bottle. I did manage to unlock one ending completely blind. You find a car and the car key conveniently in a box next to the car. Jennifer was like, "But the other girls..." and I was like, fuck that. DRIVE. Needless to say, it did not end well.

Similar to my blind playthrough but way less getting lost and slow walking

Eventually, I followed a guide and unlocked all endings in a matter of a few hours. If you don't get stuck, the game is actually incredibly short and requires repeating the same things but with minor differences in terms of things you may miss or which events you encounter. There's not much difference in the endings either so I can say after unlocking them all, I don't think it was really worth the hassle. There's actually a random event that you have to avoid in order to get the best ending. I don't know how you could have known to reload if you happen to be unlucky without a guide. I thought that was kinda lame.

The music had a bit of that Human charm but there was very little variety and it was ok at best.

This was my favorite track and it was just ok

Score: 2 this is like a poor man's Twilight Syndrome out of 5 (like Lehman Brothers SUPER POOR)

As Jhipster, I think this game got way more attention because the later games were localized and the lack of almost any story made it WAY easier to fan translate than Twilight Syndrome. I'm hoping the later games in the series will step it up a notch... or 10.

Scale
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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