Review by freezafan
"Life as a butterfly would be more exciting than playing this game!"
Introduction: This game was released in 1993 for the Sega CD system. It is an FMV style game that pits the player in a mansion whose goal is to save his sister before she becomes a butterfly (At least it isn't zombies.)
Difficulty: If you know what to do, this game is insanely easy and short. However, if you don't know what to do, you will find yourself wandering this mansion constantly trying to figure out what to do. Luckily, there is a viewing screen that gives hints but they do not do a lot of good if you have no idea what the hint means. Add to the fact that the game goes on a timer towards the end, though it doesn't inform you of this until a good portion of your time has already passed, can make this a very annoying experience.
Interaction: The controls in this game can be insanely frustrating; many times you are trying to reach an item in a room, such as a table or a chair, because there is something hidden in it that you need, but you'll just struggle in some cases to reach it before you finally do. Also, something very annoying about this game is that you can only pick up certain items after you have done certain things, despite the fact that there should be nothing from stopping you from grabbing this item in the first spot, aside from the fact that the all-mighty viewing screen has yet to inform you of its purpose. Sometimes the controls don't even seem to be all that responsive; I guess the boring nature of this game even lost the controller's attention.
Music & Sound: The music in this game is just horrible; most of it is unoriginal, a lot of it is bad, and only two pieces succeed in sounding good and add to the atmosphere of a spooky environment. Since there were several games on the Sega CD (Sonic CD, Robo Aleste, Spiderman VS the Kingpin) that had really awesome soundtracks, the blame for this lackluster music cannot be put on the console, but rather on the lazy and uninspired design that went into this aspect of the game. The sound effects are alright, though I swear the sounds your character makes while walking sound exactly like the steps your characters make in the original Resident Evil, which is interesting since this game predates it by three years.
Story: The story in this game is just laughable; your sister is going to turn into a butterfly because she was stupid enough to wander into this creepy isolated mansion and it is up to you to save her. Along the way, you are taunted by several butterflies, all of which, I must add, speak in very bad impersonations of various dialects that range from Southern to British. You eventually find your sister transformed into a butterfly by the dastardly Hunter, whose master plan will completely elude you since the music playing during his speech is louder than his actual voice. But that doesn't matter, because once you get out of the house, your sister becomes normal; the end, at last.
Visuals: Well, at first glance, you might think the graphics are puke-nasty. And they certainly are pretty terrible by today's standards. However, considering the year in which this game was made, as well as the system it was put on, I think this game actually pulls off its CGI environment very well. Sure, things are blocky and hard to see at times but for the period and system this was actually pretty decent.
Overall: This game has pretty much been forgotten by today's gaming community and there is a reason for it. As part of the infamous family of FMV style games from the early 1990s, it stands out as a prime example of why this genre was doomed to fail. An absurd and unoriginal story with bland game-play is already a recipe for disaster but add to that a general boring nature as well as the frustration of figuring out what room you have to go to next and you'll be asking yourself why you are playing this game in the post-Sega CD world. That said, it does have some interesting aspects to it; the graphics are good for what they are and there is that air of creepiness that comes with a secretive mansion. The Mansion of Hidden Souls is not one of those rare gems on the Sega CD, like Sonic CD or the Lunar titles, that are always mentioned when someone praises this system, nor is it one of those really abominable Genesis ports; it's a boring entry into the FMV genre that has been forgotten for a reason. If you are curious about FMV games, you're much better off trying Myst or the 7th Guest since those are actually good games that show this genre at its best. The only reason I would say play this game is if you are either a fan of FMV games in general, have a fetish for creepy houses, or want to be insulted by a bunch of CGI butterflies.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/08
Game Release: Mansion of Hidden Souls (US, 12/09/93)
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