Review by Bkstunt_31
"Horror in point-and-click form!"
So, interested in early horror games? That's how I first learned of Clock Tower, an old Super Famicom point-and-click horror game that has yet to see a release outside of Japan. But thankfully, the English-speaking gamer can find that the entire game has been fan-translated, as most good Japanese-only games tend to be. Here's what you can expect from the first game in the Clock Tower series:
You take on the role of a teenage girl named Jennifer, who was adopted by a Mr. Barrows, from an orphanage along with three other teenage girls, Laura, Ann, and Lotte. The four of you are taken to the Barrow's mansion and while having you wait in the foyer, Mrs. Barrows (Mary) goes to track down her husband. After now showing up for awhile, Jennifer will volunteer to find Mary. After exiting the foyer, Jennifer will hear her friends scream and returns to find the foyer empty. You will now have to explore the mansion to find out what is happening to everyone...
Without spoiling too much of the story, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. This isn't the type of horror game like Resident Evil or even Silent Hill where your main character (in this case Jennifer) can stand up for themselves and fight back. Instead the main emphasis is on running away from danger and being able to hide and evade safely. The story may also change as a direct result of what you do or don't do in the mansion, ultimately leading you to one of several endings, which also gives the game decent replay value. When you look at the story as a whole, it's rather standard and even a bit awkward at times (I found myself asking how a few t hings could possibly happen), but it was still good overall.
Game play: 7/10
As mentioned earlier, Clock Tower is a point-and-click type of game, so Jennifer will go anywhere you tell her to while inspecting and providing comment on anything you can click on screen. This interface works quite well with the Super Famicom controls as you can even use the shoulder buttons to make Jennifer run right or left. So with this point and click control scheme, you'll guide Jennifer through the mansion to try and collect items and explore, eventually finding out what is going on. Jennifer's health is displayed by the color of her portrait, as different things in the mansion can make her panic and lose health. Fortunately you can recover any lost health by just sitting down and waiting for awhile as Jennifer calms down. At times you'll need to run away from things, so you'll need to find a place around the mansion to hide until it's safe to explore again! The only other interaction you have with Jennifer is that when she's in trouble you'll have to hit the panic button as fast as you can, which can be the difference between life and death!
As you can tell, interactions with the character are limited, making Clock Tower more or less a puzzle game, which isn't bad by any means. Since the game play is so simple and the game is rather short, you can easily figure out everything Jennifer can interact with and find your way through the games endings by trial and error. I liked the idea of having a panic button to fall back on as well and finding places to hide is rather fun.
The graphics in Clock Tower are pretty simple, but they do their job well enough. I mean, how much can you fancy up a mansion in 2D? The rooms looked good, and there were plenty of decorations throughout the mansion. If there is one thing I could have gone for more of, it would have been more blood and classic horror elements. I mean, sure, there are a few times that you get to see some cool stuff, but I felt that those moments were rather bland and PG-ish. Animations worked flawlessly throughout the game and looked good, which is a must when your very life (and the game) is on the line.
Music / Sound Effects: 8/10
Ah, the music.. or lack thereof, can make all the difference in a horror game. Clock tower does go rather easy on the music, as you'll be dealing with silence for the parts of the game when you're merely exploring. During these times all you'll here are the sound effects of Jennifer walking and opening doors and various objects (Jennifer's footsteps are LOUD!). However, whenever you encounter your tormentor's, or a cut-scene, music will start playing. It has very stressful overtones accentuated by a sharp, staccato like medley designed to make you panic. Remember to keep your cool!
As stated before, Clock Tower has a bunch of different endings for you to go after, which add quite a bit of re-playability. Of course, some of these can be achieved in a rather short amount of time compared to others, and you'll be a master of Clock Tower by the time you unlock all of them, but they're there. I personally just did a couple and looked up the rest on the internet.
Overall, Clock Tower is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. It's not one of the greatest horror games, but it definitely helped to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/08/10
Game Release: Clock Tower (JP, 09/14/95)
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