One of the coolest things about this game is that it uses digitized animated sprites of real people overlaid on photos of real locations with paths distinguished by their relative distance in the fore and backgrounds on a side-scrolling 2D plane. It shares quite a bit more than the developer (Spike) in common with Twilight Syndrome Saikai and that series in general as it is also a group-based horror-themed adventure into the supernatural.
A group of teens decide to investigate the rumors going on in their school about weird things going on in town. Nao, Kurumi and Osango go to the park one night and find more than they bargained for. A bird with the face of a woman tells Nao that: ”After one hundred days, someone will die”. At that point, the game becomes a mix of school simulation and sleuthing. Every clue gets written in your notebook. The kids then can go out to "walk the dog" to search out the haunted landmarks hinted at during the schoolday. I would say there is some definite religious (Shintoism) symbolism going on, but unfortunately that is beyond my knowledge and it is likely that this game would not really be playable without translation.
Happy Salvage was created by Okura Raita (Sentimental Journey) and takes place in a small seaside community where the main character lives and works with his friends at pulling various treasures up from the briny deep as salvage. Wataru and Marina are college students living on Pakitto, a fictional southern island held by the United States. The hero learns that his father and uncle had run a salvage company on Harukuin Island a short distance away from the Pakitto Island but they are now missing after an accident. He is told that his father owed a huge debt. He and Marina take on the debt to repay it and find his missing relatives.
Happy Salvage features chibi-style 2D sprites on a flat world. The bulk of the game focuses on speaking with the other inhabitants to gain insight and missions, then using the loot to upgrade your boat for better hauls. And in getting to know the ladies of the island better while earning the money to pay back the debt. It is a fairly "cute" game in appearance, but has some more thoughtful content as well though it went mostly under the radar.
The Syndrome series was originated by Goichi Suda (Suda51 of Killer 7, No More Heroes, Lollipop Chainsaw, Killer is Dead etc. fame), Saikai is the first game in this series to be developed by Spike (Way of the Samurai) instead of Human Entertainment (Clock Tower series). And it is also the least text heavy, making it the easiest to follow for the English-speaker.
The Twilight Syndrome is a supernatural ability to see and hear the dead. At a boarding school, a group of teens are granted this "gift" and they decide to look into and solve a variety of ghostly mysteries and myths throughout the game's chapters (fans of the anime Ghost Hunt and the show Ghost Hunters take note).
The lead character named Yuuri, can also explore the school at nighttime during special segments to find clues for use during the group's main missions. Like Fatal Frame but without the combat, Yuuri has a camera, and can find spirits willing to speak with her before snapping some photos. The film can then be developed as part of your collection.
The game itself uses a fully third-person 3D graphical approach to the otherwise normal Japanese visual-novel style first-person adventure system. The downside to not being able to understand the language is that the most interesting things are contained in the tale itself as with most other Japanese horror adventures.
While Athena started out in video games with the self-titled platformer for the Arcade and NES and the sequel Psycho Soldier, she may be best known as one of the combatants from SNK's long-running fighting series the King of Fighters. Athena Awakening from the Ordinary Life is a 3D adventure game and one of two games I remember reading was meant to be released by Vistec for the PSX, the other being the horror RPG Koudelka.
The story centers around the untapped psychic potential in a young high school girl and some dastardly researchers who want to use her for their own goals. Athena employs a special meter monitoring her current psychic status. The meter is adversely affected when Athena is attacked or harmed, uses her mind-reading or psychic abilities, or if you input the wrong pattern during special actions. Much of the game is focused on exploration and finding the correct items to deal with the current situation, but without a guide it would be very difficult (I would suggest either TClemente or Gunsmith's guides on this very site).
Kowloon's Gate is a first-person adventure game controlled with directional choices chosen by the arrow keys. It utilizes full motion cg as the player moves into new areas and static images to show important interactions such as who can be spoken too. It is a very ambient and claustrophobic game set in closely-packed ruins of the Kowloon Walled City. There is a very cyberpunk-thriller vibe to the art and the setting similar to Blade Runner.
As a young woman who has mastered the art of Feng Shui, you are tasked with restoring the "feng shui" balance to the area so that the Yang (dark) does not overwhelm the Yin (light). You are given the Lao-pan which helps you to discern location of the four mythical sacred beasts (North, South, East, and West) which symbolize the powers creating the imbalance.
You encounter different people, fight enemies, and solve puzzles to prevent global destruction. While some dialogue and puzzles are hard to follow, the game is mostly playable and the visuals do a good job of conveying what is going on as well as the feel.
The intro starts with Takuto (Tact) riding his skateboard home. A strange portal opens up in his house and threatens to pull him in. Afterwards he studies the words: Trick, Trap, Trip, and Truth on his laptop only to reappear in another world where he fights the Mind Patrol. Tact was self-centered, rash, and rude before, but his personality gradually changes over his adventure tying the story into a personal journey of self-discovery and improvement. He is helped along by Cinnamon, a girl whom he meets in this other world, and by a pink creature named Olie.
T is a 3D action-adventure game with some minor similarities to Zelda games. There are various fields and dungeons, jewels used as currency, weapons to equip to different buttons, and Olie serves a similar role to Navi (and other fairies from Zelda). The menu may take some trial and error to learn, but most of the game is very open and comprehensive. T may be the easiest game for the average gamer (especially those familiar with Zelda) to pick up and play without knowing any Japanese.
Gunparade March features mostly 2D pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D polygonal character models and vehicles (something like Final Fantasy VIII). The game takes place in the Kyushu province. It uses real or close facsimiles of significant landmarks and places.
In the game history World War II ended with an alien invasion and the slaughter of much of humanity (Resistance: Fall of Man?). The Phantom Beast aliens managed to conquer half the planet. Now in the year 1999, mankind uses Humanoid Walking Tanks (HWTs) as their latest technical achievement and hope of winning back our home world. Pilots are hard to keep alive and so the military mandates recruitment of high school students. The main characters are members of the 5121th Platoon: Atsushi Hayami, Mai Shibamura, and Akira Yuki.
The game focuses on social interactions between Hayami and his squad mates and world inhabitants using a simple influence system and is interspersed with battles against the Phantom Beasts while piloting Humanoid Walking Tanks. During the school day you can attend homeroom and classes to build your knowledge and skills or visit town locations to do the same. You can go out on dates as the various ladies grow fonder of you. You can start fights with other students or you can just focus on becoming the best HWT pilot around. The battles are a more minor aspect (keeping me from putting this game on the RPG list) and play out with a very basic "tactics" system, each unit (blue or red) has a field of vision and movement area represented on a rotatable 3D map a main phase for moving and recon and an action phase for attacking. Once in range you are treated to a CGI clip of the attack should it be successful. You can also charge up a powerful area attack to use on enemies within your space. There is also an anime made from the game called Gunparade March: Arata Naru Kougunka and it tells the story fairly well.
Shenmue! That was what I first thought when booting this game. While it really only has some things in common, there is an uncanny resemblance between the two games. Both revolve around a core murder mystery. Both protagonists wear distinct jackets. Both start in their room at home each day. Both have significant exploration elements with similar camera angles. Unfortunately, Mizzurna Falls is impossible to follow without a translation and very text-heavy without as much guidance in what to do next or where to go as a game like Aconcagua or BLUE.
Kathy Flannery is found in the woods of Mizzurna Falls, Colordao. She may have been mauled by a wild animal, but some people are not so certain. Then Emma, the mayor's daughter, (from the same class as Kathy) goes missing on the same day. Their friend and classmate named Matthew is certain the events are linked and starts his own investigation.
In so many ways, this game was ahead of its time. It features a full day to night cycle, weather, and the town's inhabitants have daily routines as in Shenmue and drive their cars to destinations. Stores also have specific hours and most of the open world is accessible from the start unlike GTA or Shenmue. Matthew can also drive a VW Beetle around town and must refuel on occasion at the gas station. One major difference between Shenmue and Mizzurna Falls is the lack of combat as at its core, Mizzurna Falls is a mystery game focused mostly on conversation. Being able to understand NPC responses and other dialogue is a hinderence to full enjoyment of a marvelous title released back in 1998. It may be one of the most ambitious games ever made.
For any Echo the Dolphin and Diver's Dream fans out there, I would suggest at least seeing some video of this game. The setting is very tranquil though the serene moments are broken up occasionally with events or puzzles that add a sense of urgency. Also, bearing in mind that it is a PSX game, the underwater graphics are nice if not somewhat simple and sparse.
The story revolves around a blonde girl named Maya who comes by helicopter to visit her father on board a ship. She later decides to go diving and explore the ocean setting up the two major focuses of the game. On the ship, Maya can speak with the crew and passengers including her father to learn more about the ruins nearby. And in the water, Maya is free to explore the sea and ruins with the aid of a unique AI partner. Maya and the dolphin travel together and the player can issue commands to the dolphin with a simple interface. An example of this comes when Maya finds another diver trapped beneath a boulder and she and the dolphin push it away to free him. The game controls smoothly. Most of the puzzles are visual or mechanical and it can be played by English-speakers fairly easily.
#1: Aconcagua (PS)
One of the most playable adventure games on this list, Aconcagua is a point and click game done in 3D but with fixed camera perspectives for each screen (sort of like the original Resident Evil). Most of the game-play revolves around moving your small band of survivors around to collect items that will interact in some way with significant parts of the environment to progress the story. The other nice option is the ability to trade some items between the characters.
Essentially the story comes down to what happens after a plane crashes on the peaks of the icy Aconcagua Mountain and how the survivors manage to find their way to safety. To begin, one of the characters named Pachmama is trying to change the political tyranny of her country and the said dictator tries to kill her by placing a bomb on the plane. The player initially is given control of Katoh the Japanese journalist and soon finds a pair of gloves which allow him to climb a cliff surface. Later characters include Steve, Julia, and Lopez (Julia even starts with a knife and a cigarette lighter). Even without understanding most of the dialogue or text, the cut-scenes are very descriptive and intuitive. The bulk of the game consists of examining points of interest and deducing which item needs to be applied to what object and by which character, and so it is very playable. While the graphics are very "pixelated" there is a "real" quality to the art direction and the sense of exploration, isolation, and mystery shines through.
So ends the Adventure game list. But here are just a few honorable mentions for your consideration:
3X3 Eyes (series)
Kuon no Kizuna
The Witch of Salzburg
Yukinko * Burning
Alice in Cyberland
Tenkuu no Escaflowne
Noel: Non Digital
List by Sohogojo (09/02/2014)
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