Friday, March 7, 2014

PlayStation Horror Sound Novels

In direct contrast to the Super Famicom's somewhat paltry selection, there is a fairly healthy number of horror-themed sound novels available on the PS1. Retrieving information on some of these is difficult due to varying obscurity levels and virtually no English language coverage, so any information you may have on these titles would be appreciated. This list is largely considered finished. If you have any relevant suggestions, feel free to send them my way. Thanks to jenny for translation assistance with certain titles.


Yaku - Yuujou Dangi / 
厄 ~友情談疑~
"Misfortune - Doubts of Friendship"
Publisher: Idea Factory
Developer: Axes Art Amuse
Release date: 1/13/96
Graphical style: CG sprites and backgrounds
Footage: Youtube

Five adults return to the elementary school they attended as children only to find that it has been closed up. They trespass into the closed-down building in order to dig up a time capsule they had buried at its courtyard. However, this turns out to be a mistake as bizarre monsters are waiting inside. There are five scenarios available, each one telling a different character's story, but only the protagonist's story is initially available. This game is not considered particularly good, with one of the primary issues being the extremely bizarre and ugly graphics.

Twilight Syndrome - Tansaku-hen /  
トワイライトシンドローム 探索編
"Twilight Syndrome - Search"
Publisher/Developer: Human Entertainment
Release date: 3/1/96
Graphical style: 2D sidescrolling/first-person exploration segments with photographic sprites and backgrounds for sound novel elements
Footage: Youtube

The first entry in the Twilight Syndrome series, alternately referred to as Twilight Syndrome - Omen Tansaku-hen. The high school girl trio of Yukari, Mika, and Chisato delve into the urban legends that surround their school with nightly explorations, armed with nothing but a flashlight. Although there are light sound novel elements, the majority of the game is spent exploring the school (and other environments) with side-scrolling and first-person perspectives. Multiple scenarios are available, but can only be reached if the player did not meet any bad ends.

Trivia: Suda51 (of killer7 and No More Heroes fame) worked on the first three entries in this series.

Ugetsu Kitan / 雨月奇譚
"Mysterious Story of the Fifth Lunar Moon"

Publisher: Tonkin House
Release date: 07/05/96
Graphical style: Photographic sprites, CG environments
Footage: YouTube Nicovideo

The protagonist has been bed-ridden in a hospital for some time as a result of a disease, and feels an enormous amount of despair. While contemplating suicide on the roof, he hears a girl's voice speak out from behind him: "You won't die comfortably." In pursuit of the girl, the young man eventually enters a haunted house as well as a series of mazes. The game utilizes a point-and-click interface and feels more like an adventure game than a standard sound novel.

Twilight Syndrome - Kyuumei-hen /  
トワイライトシンドローム 究明編
"Twilight Syndrome - Investigation"
Publisher/Developer: Human Entertainment
Release date: 7/1/96
Graphical style: 2D sidescrolling/first-person exploration segments with photographic sprites and backgrounds for sound novel elements
Footage: Youtube

The second installment in the Twilight Syndrome series, much the same as the first. Yukari, Mika, and Chisato continue their investigations into the supernatural with new scenarios.


Gakkou Deatta Kowai Hanashi S / 学校であった怖い話S
"School Terror Story S"
Publisher: Banpresto
Release date: 07/19/96
Graphical style: Photographic sprites and backgrounds
Footage: YouTube

This is a port of the Super Famicom title Gakkou Deatta Kowai Hanashi. The content is largely the same, beyond improved graphics and a new scenario.




Kuro no Juusan / 黒ノ十三
"The Black 13"
Publisher/Developer: Tonkin House
Release date: 09/27/96
Graphical style: Photographic sprites and backgrounds
Footage: YouTube

The protagonist comes across the titular "The Black 13", a book containing 13 stories, each written by a different author. Each of these stories is a self-contained sound novel, and not all of them are horror - some deal with heavy topics such as bullying, depression, and revenge. Most endings are tragic, but more upbeat ones can be obtained based upon careful player choice. (Thanks for informing me about this one, Anon.)

Kyoufu Shinbun / 恐怖新聞
"Newspaper of Terror"
Publisher: Yutaka
Developer: Atelier Double
Release date: 12/24/96
Graphical style: Manga sprites, photographic backgrounds
Footage: Youtube

Based on Jiro Tsunoda's horror manga of the same name (published in "Shonen Champion" in 1973). The titular document is a cursed newspaper that allows the reader to discover misfortunes that will occur in the future, but also shortens the reader's life to 100 days. The protagonist receives the paper against his will and is pursued by a bizarre spirit. He must explore multiple scenarios in order to find a way to break the curse.

Trivia: Tsunoda supervised the production of this game. The sprites come straight from his original work. The Kyoufu Shinbun series was popular enough to produce two OVAs, two movies (one of which was released here as "Premonition"), a PS2 game with 3D exploration segments, and another manga produced by a different artist.

Yaku Tsu: Noroi no Game /  
厄痛 〜呪いのゲーム〜
"Misfortune: The Cursed Game"
Publisher: Idea Factory
Developer: Axes Art Amuse
Release date: 2/7/97
Graphical style: CG sprites and backgrounds
Footage: Nicovideo

The sequel to Yaku. A game company has released a title only for it to be received coldly by the press. The company's president disappears soon after, and mysterious deaths begin to occur. Much like the original, this game is considered sub-par.

Trivia: This was supervised by famous horror mangaka Hideshi Hino (responsible for works such as Hell Baby and two of the Guinea Pig movies).

Akazu no Ma / Akazu no Aida / あかずの間
"The Forbidden Room"
Developer: Visit
Release date: 05/09/97
Graphical style: No sprites, CG backgrounds
Footage: Nicovideo

The skyscraper 'Bayside Labyrinth' is the setting for a three-month psychological experiment on entrapment, with its inhabitants as the subjects. The psychotherapist protagonist, Emi Ayagawa, is inadvertently involved in an 'incident' that creates dangerous psychopaths.

Trivia: This was written by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, author of such novels as Perfect Blue.

Moonlight Syndrome /  
ムーンライトシンドローム
Publisher/Developer: Human Entertainment
Release date: 10/09/97
Graphical style: CG sprites and backgrounds with 3D exploration segments
Footage: YouTube

A non-canon entry in the Twilight Syndrome series. Mika runs into a mysterious individual on the way home from school one day and receives a warning of terrible things to come, which begin to happen in short order and seem to cap off with the death of a schoolmate by the name of Kyoko Kazan. Mika and Kyoko's brother, Ryo, begin to investigate just what is lurking behind these recent events...

Trivia: Suda51's last 'Syndrome' game before leaving Human. It is considered the first entry in Suda51's "Kill the Past" series which continues into The Silver Case and Flower, Sun, and Rain.

Saishuu Densha /
最終電車
"The Last Train"
Publisher: Visit
Developer: Break
Release date: 02/26/98
Ports: Saishuu Densha (PS2)
Graphical style: Silhouettes, CG backgrounds
Footage: YouTube

A businessman barely catches a midnight train and meets a school teacher as he goes to catch a seat. However, they soon find that not only is the train not moving, but the doors are also locked. They manage to escape to another part of the train and meet a child before being assaulted by a strange liquid that turns out to be a bizarre monster.

Twilight Syndrome Special /
トワイライトシンドロームSP
Publisher: Human Entertainment
Developer: Human Club
Release date: 07/02/98

A compilation rerelease of Twilight Syndrome - Tansaku-hen and Twilight Syndrome - Kyuumei-hen.






Daiobake Yashiki - Hamamura Jun no Jitsuwa Kaidan / 
大幽霊屋敷 〜浜村淳の実話怪談〜
"Haunted Mansion: Jun Hanamura's Real Ghost Stories"
Publisher/Developer: Visit
Release date: 7/2/98
Graphical style: Photographic sprite and backgrounds
Footage: Nicovideo

The protagonist takes up a part-time job at a local haunted house, where Jun Hanamura is working as manager and storyteller. There are many stories, and beyond a few mini-games, they are static experiences wherein the player can only listen and look at the visuals.

Trivia: Jun Hanamura was a famed Japanese actor who featured in over 130 movies.

Yasōkyoku (Yasoukyoku) /
Akagawa Jirou: Yasoukyoku
/ 夜想曲

"Nocturne"
Publisher: Victor Interactive Software
Developer: Open Sesame
Release date: 07/16/98
Ports: Akagawa Jirou Mystery: Yasoukyoku (DS)
Graphical style: Silhouettes, CG backgrounds
Footage: Youtube

The Nonomiya Library, hidden away in a dark forest, contains a vast amount of books related to death. The protagonist and his girlfriend set to work on organizing these same books. There are two scenarios.

Trivia: Another adaptation of a Jirou Akagawa work, this one in particular being based on a short story collection, "Satsujin o Yonda Hon".

Kamaitachi no Yoru: Tokubetsu-hen /
かまいたちの夜 特別編
"The Night of the Sickle-Weasels: Special"
Publisher: ChunSoft
Developer: Astroll
Release date: 12/03/98
Graphical style: Silhouettes, photographic backgrounds
Footage: Youtube

A port of the Super Famicom title Kamaitachi no Yoru. Additions include improved graphics, a flowchart that allows the player to better keep track of characters, and extra scenarios.


Sound Novel Evolution 1: Otogirisou Sosei-hen /
弟切草 蘇生編
"St. John's Wort Rebirth"
Publisher/Developer: Chunsoft
Release date: 03/25/99
Graphical style: Photographic sprites and backgrounds
Footage: YouTube

A port of the Super Famicom title Otogiriosu. Additions include improved visuals, an expanded story, and additional scenarios with different difficulty levels.



Akagawa Jirou: Majo Tachi no Nemuri: Fukkatsusai /
魔女たちの眠り-復活祭-
"Sleep of Witches: Easter"
Publisher: Victor Interactive Software
Developer: Open Sesame
Release date: 4/15/99
Graphical style: No sprites, photographic backgrounds
Footage: Nicovideo

A port of the Super Famicom title Majo Tachi no Nemuri. The graphics have been improved, a 'bookshelf system' has been included that keeps track of unlocked endings, and there is a high speed text skip mode for those who wish for quicker replays.

Pandora Max Volume 2: Shisha no Yobu Yakata / パンドラMAXシリーズVOL.2 死者の呼ぶ館
"Pandora Max Volume 2: The Mansion of the Dead"
Publisher/Developer: Pandora Box Creative Office
Release date: 1/20/00
Graphical style: Anime sprites, CG backgrounds
Footage: Nicovideo

The second title in the "Pandora Max" series. The protagonist (default name Keisuke Akiyama) is ordered by his company, Glorious, to guide six people to a mansion. On the way, the group takes a side path through the woods. It is there that the mystery begins. Each of the characters has a 'favorability' rating that can be modified based on the protagonist's interactions with them. There is also an extra scenario.

Trivia: The "Pandora Max" series is a series of six installments from Pandora Box. Each title was released at a budget price of 1980 yen (~$19), and each entry was unique from the others in terms of genre and theme, somewhat similar to the Simple series of games. Clear save data could apparently be shared between the games.

Simple 1500 Series Vol. 031: The Sound Novel /
SIMPLE1500シリーズ Vol.31 THE サウンドノベル
Publisher: D3
Developer: Axes Art Amuse
Release date: 07/13/00
Graphical style: Silhouettes, CG backgrounds
Footage: YouTube

The scenario centers around the protagonist (default name Takahashi Seiichi) who is invited to a mansion in the woods by the heroine (default name Yui Yoshizaki). When he arrives, his car's tires are punctured by bullets fired from an unknown source, and he is forced to stay at that same mansion, where an incident is about to transpire...

Trivia:  Simple is a long-running line of budget games that spans multiple systems, with the number indicating the price (that is to say, 1500¥ = ~$15). While later Simple games on the PS2 would come to have more grandiose names, the PS1 Simple titles tended to have very simple, to-the-point titles (as seen here). The scenario for this particular volume was apparently written by Tsukikomori (Super Famicom) author Natsuko Hayakawa.

Baroque Syndrome /  
パロックシンドローム
Publisher/Developer: Sting
Release date: 07/27/00
Graphical style: No sprites, CG backgrounds
Footage: YouTube

The prequel to the surreal dungeon-crawling rogue-like Baroque, detailing the events which lead into the world-destroying Great Heat Wave. The story revolves around Kitsune Kanezawa, a student who is caught up in a supernatural murder investigation.



Twilight Syndrome: Saikai
トワイライトシンドローム再会
"Twilight Syndrome: Reunion"
Publisher/Developer: Spike
Release date: 08/27/00
Graphical style: 2D sidescrolling/first-person exploration segments with photographic sprites and backgrounds for sound novel elements
Footage: Youtube

The 'true' third entry in the Twilight Syndrome series. A new group of high school teens (Yuri, Masa, Atsushi, and Aya) hear rumors of ghosts hiding in their school's basement and hold a spirit summoning game there. Naturally, real ghosts appear, and, in the tradition of the series, the group must investigate the school at night in order to uncover the story behind the spirits. There is an additional free-roaming rode where Yuri can freely explore the school and talk to spirits.

Yasōkyoku 2 (Yasoukyoku 2) /
Akagawa Jirou: Yasoukyoku 2 / 夜想曲2
"Nocturne 2"

Publisher: Victor Interactive Software
Developer: Office Create
Graphical style: Silhouettes, photographic backgrounds
Release date: 07/14/01
Footage: Nicovideo

The follow up to the original Yasōkyoku. The protagonist and his girlfriend are once again investigating books related to death, this time hidden away in a European-styled building's library. There are three new scenarios.


Ouma ga Toki / 
逢魔が時
"The Witching Hour"
Publisher: Victor Interactive Software
Developer: Break
Graphical style: Silhouettes, CG backgrounds
Release date: 08/09/01
Footage: Nicovideo

One evening in Tokyo, a man (Tatsuoka Isamu Taro?) chases after a woman (Kyoko) only for the two of them to suddenly be sent back in time to the Edo period. Tatsuoka has lost his memory, and his only choice is to investigate a mysterious village and its private school in order to uncover the truth of the matter. There are six scenarios, and the game's clear save can be carried over to Ouma ga Toki 2.

Trivia: 'The Witching Hour' is a rough translation I've seen used elsewhere. 'Ouma ga Toki' refers to the period of time wherein evening switches to night.

Ouma ga Toki 2 /  
逢魔が時2
"The Witching Hour 2"
Publisher: Victor Interactive Software
Developer: Break
Graphical style: Silhouettes, CG backgrounds
Release date: 09/13/01
Footage: Nicovideo


The sequel to Ouma ga Toki, released very shortly (little more than a month!) after the original. If the player had clear save data from the original, they could continue the story from where they had left off. This resulted in a prologue only players of the original game could read; new players would have a different introductory chapter. The story continues to focus on the amnesiac Tatsuoka, stranded in the Edo period.



Simple 1500 Series 
Vol. 74: 
The Horror Mystery The Sangeki Yakata 
Kebin Hakushaku no Fukkatsu /
SIMPLE1500シリーズ Vol.74  
THE ホラーミステリー 惨劇館 ケビン伯爵の復活
"Simple 1500 Series Vol. 74
The Tragic Theater: 
Earl Kevin's Revival"
Publisher: D3

Developer: Game Stage
Release date: 09/27/01
Graphical style: Drawn sprites, drawn backgrounds
Footage: Nicovideo

Another entry in the Simple 1500 series. A merchant (default name Rick) has returned to his village for the first time in a year. He is reunited with his mother and sister, but tragedy ensues as the town's harvest festival begins. His mother is killed and his sister is kidnapped by a group of men originating from Earl Kevin's manor, thus forcing Rick to pursue.

4 comments:

Alexander Cossette-Deck said...

Please do a playstation 2 version of this list! Also, I've purchased several of these and am intending on doing a youtube series of let's plays where i have a translator and we go through the games. Could you tell me a bit more about The Simple 1500 one? Spoilers are welcome.

Alex Facey said...

This list is amazing! Seconding the desire to see a PS2 version.

animeloverxX93 said...

I agree; please keep this blog alive, along all its entries.
The info you provide is juicy and it's a pleasure reading through your blog every once in a wile, even though I know about most of these games already at this point.

Anonymous said...

There is also Kuro no Juusan 黒ノ十三 from Tonkin House