Well it’s been quite a hiatus, and I think it’s been hard on both of us… But fear not! We’ll call you back the next Month.
Anyway, in honor of being overly late I’ll be doing a Halloween inspired game that has deserved a throne in the horror
game shrines for decades: Clock Tower. This game has scared the bejesus out of daring gamers for over a decade,
and don’t let its successors lull you into a semblance of confidence, this game will knock you dead, or you’ll die trying.
Clock Tower: The First Fear
Generally games are made with an original idea, and then the mechanics of the game and engine are the next big step. The director for this game said that the difference in the Clock Tower series is that quality of the story and game elements came first. I’d say it’s a decision that you can feel as soon as you turn on the game. Every aspect of it seems geared to scare you senseless. The storyline is solid and it becomes more and more gripping as you frantically rush through it. The blaring blend of sound and silence is haunting as you can generally only hear your characters LOUD footsteps echoing through the mansion unless… unless something is about to happen, and you never know what that will be. There are more “freakouts”, traps, and haunting elements than you can imagine for a SNES game, and the graphics are very well done for a game of it’s time to boot. As a music fan, I was a little disappointed at how little music there really is to the soundtrack, but the little music that is there, is more than you’ll ever want to hear inside the mansion.
Before I praise the game too much and before I rag on the rest of them, I’ll give you a small breakdown and leave the rest for you to examine. Clock Tower follows the protagonist Jennifer Simpson as she and three other girls are taken from the Granite Orphanage to live with Simon Barrows in his mansion in Norway. Mrs Mary, a relatively unknown character escorts you and the girls on foot to the mansion in a rush right before nightfall. Once inside she leaves you to get Mr. Simon, and even the girls notice, she’s been quite awhile to come back… I’ll leave the rest for you to investigate.
The tragedy of this game is that it never came to America. Why? It was deemed too scary, and for a damned good reason. Made in 1995, it saw a re-release on the PS1 with “changes” to it. Changes that I ultimately saw unnecessary, mainly because none of them included putting the game in English. Have no fear though, around 2000 a SNES rom fan-made translation of the game was released and can be downloaded from many sources, which I highly recommend using. The PS1 port changes the enemy spawning so that it was random (just like later games, which is one of the worst aspects of them), and it also added unnecessary gory scenes. I feel like the added scenes were just to make it fit more with the newer horror games, when in all honestly, clock tower itself set the standard for many of them.
There have been successive games. Now, of course, as all Japan to America games go, the numbers are wrong. America has: Clock Tower, Clock Tower 2: The Struggle Within, and Clock Tower 3. Japan has: Clock Tower: The First Fear, Clock Tower 2, Clock Tower: Ghost Head (struggle within), and Clock Tower 3. Succession is where the series bites it hard. From now on I’ll use the JP numbering. Clock Tower 2 is an excellent game – both JP and US releases, even with the terrible US voice acting -. Clock Tower Ghost Head is a confusing blip in the chronology that has nothing to do with the series and suffers from being terrible. Clock Tower has always had tough controls, but Ghost Head makes the game even more difficult to play on top of it. The game does have a few saving graces though, minus the fact that it has nothing to do with the series, it still has a good story and the voicing for US Bates (Roger L. Jackson) is freaking badass. Clock Tower 3 (Marks when the series was bought and ruined by Capcom) is the latest release in the series. This game features decent music composition, horrible enemy planning, and an even worse fighting system.
Also, there is actually a Clock Tower movie due to be released in 2010 starring Brittany Snow. Updates about it are a bit sketchy but posters have been released. The plot is also poorly explained at the moment as to which game it defers to, but it sounds like the story of CT 2 with Jennifer as Alyssa from Ghost Head and without any ties to the original CT storyline… aka lots of poop. Maybe there’s a chance it’s good, I’ll cross my fingers.