Monday, October 26, 2009

Ju-on: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator

I follow Takashi Shimizu with blind devotion. Lucky for me, I also have a Wii, so it seemed a perfect fit that Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator was released on my favourite gaming system a scant few weeks ago. With Shimizu overseeing game development, it seemed to be made more in the mold of the Ju-on films, using short chapters, each following a different character, to develop the story. Except it turns out, there is no story. Just death.

The first time I played the game was under harsh circumstances. It was the middle of the day. Several friends were over, none of them really paying attention. They chattered and clucked like little roosters, creating much noise and distraction. The first thing that I immediately noticed is that the game is REALLY slow. You walk at a snails pace, regardless of how much freaky shit goes on, which is kind of funny in a sadistic kind of way. But it quickly became apparent the game isn't to be played when people are mocking it. Like watching any good horror film, you need the zeitgeist. A scary movie doesn't work when people talk and chatter and laugh, constantly breaking the tension and pulling you out of the experience. I knew then, to play
Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator, you need to play it late at night, with all the lights turned off, with one other person, two tops. Maybe on some mind altering substances. Completely focused in the experience the game creates.

Saturday night, stumbling home from the bar after the some what disappointing Machida vs Shogun fight, in which no one really won, including me the spectator, my French compatriot Nick and I decided to embark upon our first quest into Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator .

The first time you play the game, it definitely does get scary at times, maybe even a little freaky. It does a great job of creating tension. It seems that each character you play dies at the end of each level, so its just a matter of time until Kayako pops her pale white head out from behind a corner and swallows your soul.

The bad part of the game comes when you have to play a level a second time, either because you died before you beat it, or just for kicks. All the scares come at the same moments, so nothing is surprising. All tension is lost. That wouldn't be all bad, except you move so frickin' slow, there is absolutely no enjoyment gained from playing a level over again. So basically, its great the first time, but then, a few hours later, it makes a great coaster, or an addition to your ever growing Ju-on collection. But nothing more. Or maybe background art at a party.

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