CLOCK TOWER / Human / Super NES

Clock Tower isn't really all that obscure amongst gamers who are familiar with emulation, as the AGP Translation of the game has been out for about five years now and it's circulated pretty widely. Amongst the general population of gamers, however, it's probably still pretty much unknown as it never got any kind of official English release.

The problem with talking about Clock Tower is that most of the game's fun is in exploring, finding out what's going on and encountering the game's many little shocks and surprises. So I'll just try to keep it to brief general description and analysis. The backstory of the game is that you play as a 14 year old girl named Jennifer, orphaned after her dad disappeared under mysterious circumstances. A wealthy man who lives in a mansion on the outskirts of her town decides to adopt her and three other girls from the orphanage. Despite the fact that they've never met or even seen him, apparently the deal goes down and the girl's guardian (a Ms. Mary) hustles them off to the house to meet their new legal custodian. Ms. Mary leaves the girls in the foyer while she goes off to fetch Mr. Barrows. After hanging out for a bit, the girls notice that Ms. Mary has been gone for a suspiciously long time. Jennifer nominates herself to go look for Ms. Mary, and no sooner has she left the foyer than the lights go out, and crashes and screams are heard. Returning to the foyer Jen finds chairs scattered everywhere, and everyone missing ... and the front door is locked from the outside for some reason. Thus begins the game ...

If you haven't played or heard of this one before, I seriously recommend you stay away from any other websites, reviews and videos of this game. The less you know about it going in, the better the experience is.

The game is one of the few rare PC-style adventure games for the SNES, in that you control everything via a mouse cursor. Surprisingly, this game was not compatible with the SNES mouse. Using emulation, I suppose you could configure it to work with your regular mouse, but there are at least four buttons that are regularly needed. Jennifer usually moves about by clicking where you want her to walk - the pointer will change to a box when it's over an object you can interact with or a door you can go through. Jennifer can quickly run either left or right by using the shoulder buttons, and the X button brings her to a dead stop and tells her to rest when needed (her health is represented by the background color of her portrait, and can be restored by kneeling down for a couple of minutes in a quiet location). You also can pick up objects and access your inventory via the B button, and A is the "panic button" - you push this rapidly to fend off attacks and to perform strenuous actions.

The main draw of the game is the atmosphere - for a 16-bit game, it does a pretty phenomenal job of creating tension and gettin' you scurred. Of course, the effectiveness of this is related to how little you know about the game coming in, so again try to avoid as much information as you can about the game before you start playing it.

It's actually kind of a short one, and not that difficult - thorough explorers who don't get scurred away will probably complete it with a decent ending in 3 hours or less. There are about eight different endings to be found, however, and the game randomly switches the location of certain rooms and items (in some cases causing you to have to solve a couple of puzzles in a different way) at the start of each new game. So there's some decent replayability. The game only allows you one internal save, which is done automatically, and resets when you turn the game off - if emulating, I really recommend multiple save states, as this *is* a game that will cheerfully let you get all the way to the end only to kill you off because you missed something important way back towards the beginning.

The interface can be a little clunky sometimes, but for its horror atmosphere, its mystery and exploration, and its replayability and elements of unpredictableness, Clock Tower is highly recommended.

Videos : (safe to watch without spoilage)

What is Clock Tower?
Pedobear in Clock Tower?