SWEET HOME / Capcom / NES
Sweet Home is possibly the most influential game to never make it out of Japan. Developed by Capcom, it was basically an early experimental effort that would later evolve into their Resident Evil series. While Sweet Home is fundamentally an RPG, you can see many elements in it that come to recur later in the Resident Evil games.
Sweet Home is actually an adaptation of a Japanese horror movie from 1989 of the same name, and apparently it mostly shares the same plot and characters. A filmmaker named Kazuo leads a team of five people into an abandoned mansion in order to photograph the frescoes of the former owner of the mansion, a now-deceased artist named Mamiya Ichirou. As soon as they enter, however, the door is blocked behind them, and the spirit of Mamiya appears and threatens them with death for entering her house. The team must now explore the house and figure out a means of escape, which centers around finding hidden messages in the frescoes.
Each of the five characters has different levels of attack power, health and defense, as well as having one particular item that only they can use. In addition to their special item, characters can carry two more items from what they find around the house, as well as carry and equip themselves with one weapon at a time. The neat and unique thing about Sweet Home is that you can split or combine the team into however many groups you like, and then can switch between them at any time. There is also a "call" command, which you can use to have others come to your present location, although it takes a variable amount of time depending on how far away they are.
The gameplay is solid, but what really makes the game is the atmosphere and the story. The graphics are fairly standard fare for the NES but there are some nice close-ups and the monsters are really well drawn. The music is fantastic, and contributes in large part to the atmospheric success. And the plot is really best not spoiled by reading ahead of time, because it actually has some genuinely shocking and affecting moments.
The limited inventory can get to be a pain, and leads to some tedious backtracking at points, but that's really the only major flaw in an otherwise very solid and very engaging game. Highly recommended.
* Gameplay Video
* Excerpts from movie