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Victory Fanfare: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of CLOCK TOWER

Clock Tower was released on September 14, 1995 on the Super Famicom, and the WonderSwan in 1999 in Japan. There has been no proper release outside of Japan, but was reached an international audience through ROM-swapping and hacked fan transaltions. Developed and published by Human Entertainment this game is definitely one to be played, and I’ve been wanting to for a very long time! A survival-horror point-and-click game with multiple endings? Okay, that seems interesting, and much of the plot and characters are inspired by Dario Argento’s film, Phenomena. Well, I’ll have to talk about that a bit later, maybe.. It’s honestly not too similar, Jennifer does not talk to insects.

Clock Tower may sound familiar to you, and if you’re thinking it came out on the Playstation, you’re right about that one too. On October 1, 1997 Clock Tower was released on the PSone in the United States, but on December 14, 1996, Clock Tower 2 was released in Japan, on the PSone. So, if you know already, this happens a lot in America. So, what we in America thought was the first in the series, was actually the second, and what in the world there’s a series!?  A remake titled Clock Tower: The First Fear was released  for the PC and PSone in 1997, in Japan. So, America has never properly received the first Clock Tower game, but we did get a sequel.

Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within was released on the PSone October 31, 1999, and was released in Japan March 12, 1998, under the name Clock Tower Ghost Head, and is actually a spin-off that has nothing to do with the original Clock Tower story, but shares the same gameplay style. I’m gonna have to agree with these guys on that game though, don’t play it. It’s not good. There was a third Clock Tower game but, meh.

The story in Clock Tower is that you are Jennifer, an Orphan along with her friends, Laura, Ann, and Lotte. They are adopted by a wealthy recluse by the name of Mr. Barrows who lives in a mansion called the Clock Tower after the clock tower that is featured there.

That’s honestly all I feel like I can say, Clock Tower is a game that must be experienced, rather than explained.

The game I received was from my buddy Michael Anthony, of Still Loading. It is a reproduction cart, so I am playing Clock Tower, on my SNES instead of on my computer, like I had been used to. I’ve been dying to play this one on my SNES for a while now so let’s jump right into this! Time to beat the game is 2½ hours, but I’m going to be honest, it took me a lot longer.

The Good:

BobbyClockTowerPanic

Clock T0wer has been a game on my radar for quite a long time, and when I finally got the opportunity to play it on the SNES, I realized I’ve never actually played further than the first few rooms of this game. The game itself really is a psychological horror game, and can be kinda spooky time to time, the music itself really amplifies this. The multiple endings give this game a lot of replayability, and you’ll learn fairly quickly that this game will most definitely take you longer than 2½ hours.

As I stated at the beginning of this, the game is a point-and-click survival-horror game. While it may seem odd to play this game with a controller, the game actually controls really well! I’ve created a little button map to show you, and explain a bit.

ClockTowerControls

So, what we have here is the Super Famicom controller, cute huh? Well, I figured I’d make this for those who want to play the game, but have no idea how to play, because I had no idea what the buttons were for a while. Now let’s talk about this, because there’s definitely one button here, that seems to be a bit different from your normal game. L and R are used respectively to move Jennifer, while running you can stop Jennifer with X. Y is your action button, you talk, and interact with object with that one, and move your cursor around with the D-Pad. A is how you look at the items you pick up during the game, and then there’s B. B is your panic button, and with that Jennifer can defend herself. Whether you’re facing up against your main antagonist, Bobby, or trying to hide from this mad, large scissor wielding man with such a non threatening name.

Bobby is the main person you spend running away from, and he can come out anytime you’re just looking around. He’s not gonna just show up while you’re resting, but if you start looking around a bunch he may just pop out.

Bobby is the main person you spend running away from, and he can come out anytime you’re just looking around. He’s not gonna just show up while you’re resting, but if you start looking around a bunch he may just pop out.

I’m not gonna lie to you, I got spooked a few times. I was nervous to ever look at things, especially when I first began playing. This game is really tough, and kind of reminds me of Another World in that way. Short once you know how to play it, will be incredibly frustrating and take you forever when you are playing for the first time.

The Bad:

JenniferClockTower

The game is very frustrating at times, and sometimes really punishes you for being curious. There’s just some things that will lead you to a dead end, and I gotta say, it sucked. Yeah, it was just so frustrating every now and then, but it wasn’t necessarily all that bad, just frustrating. I found myself finding out the one thing I did, was going to cause me to have a different ending. Again not really bad, especially when you’re trying to get them all, but it sucks when you’re on your way to the A ending, and maybe the S ending and all of a sudden you figure out the one thing you decided to look at is going to kill you. Here are a couple hints to help you not immediately die upon beginning the game!

  • Don’t examine the bird in the bedroom
  • Don’t examine the mirror in the bedroom, I mean, you can, but I wouldn’t
  • Don’t examine the windows in the hallways, trust me.

The Ugly:

ClockTowerPS1

The ugly for Clock Tower is just the fact that in America, we never officially got the game. While the Clock Tower we got in America isn’t bad at all, it’s just not aged well. It plays the same, and even allows you to take control of multiple characters, it just so happens to be very blocky therefore making it less appealing to look at. Lately Clock Tower for the PSone has gotten a bit pricey, but you can at least find a complete copy for $42 dollars. With that said though, you can also purchase a reproduction cart of the original Clock Tower for the SNES for the same price.

Honestly though, I can’t decide which is better to go after. Part of me believes Clock Tower for the PSone would be the smarter purchase only for the fact that it’s getting more and more expensive each time I see it. Whereas the repro cart of Clock Tower for the SNES is stable at a $40 dollar price range, and more than likely will not change. So if you’re a collector like me, go for the PSone Clock Tower first, then purchase a repro cart of Clock Tower for the SNES.

Well, there you have it. Another game that was painstakingly hard, but very satisfying to beat. Have you played Clock Tower? If so, how did you play it? Was it on a SNES Emulator? Or do you own a repro cart as well? Well, whatever it is, lets chat about it!

Victory Fanfare” is a monthly game review effort to go through Johnny Ketchum’s game collection and play them all. Once the game is complete Johnny takes all of his random thoughts and breaks it down to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Author

Johnny Ketchum

Johnny Ketchum

Writer and content creator from Denver Colorado, mostly knowledgable in the realm of retro video games he also creates music and music mixes.

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