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Nanashi no Game – Nintendo DS

Nanashi no Game – Nintendo DS

nanashi no game cover art boxPlatform: Nintendo DS

Developer: Epics

Publisher: Square Enix

Release Date: July 3, 2008 (JP Only)

Genre: First Person Survival Horror

Nerd Rating: 7.5/10

Reviewed by ChronoSloth

 

*Thank you to Nagato, Ryusui, and summvs for the excellent English translation patch.

 

Have you ever seen The Ring? It was a pretty cool horror movie, based on the idea that there’s a haunted movie, that if you watch it, it will doom you to die in seven days. Part of what made it so spooky is that the death tape in the film was on the same form of media that many used to watch The Ring itself (VHS tapes were still around in the early 2000s, kids). Nanashi no Game takes this idea and applies it to our favorite medium: video games.

Nanashi no Game puts you in the shoes of a Japanese college student (gender and name are your choice) who is one of many to own the insanely popular dual screen “TS” (no subtlety here) handheld game system. Games for the TS are commonly distributed wirelessly with download play. You receive one such game in the middle of class who’s title is a mess of distorted characters, but you think nothing of it and begin playing. Despite a few visual glitches, nothing appears to be off in this RPG with cheery music and visuals akin to the original Final Fantasy. It isn’t until later that you hear from a friend who also downloaded the game that there is a rumor surrounding the nameless title. It’s said that after starting the game, players are doomed to die in seven days. The urban legend is horrifyingly proven true when you attempt to make contact with another friend who hasn’t been to school in a few days and find his waterlogged corpse inside his boarded up apartment. It’s at this point that with the help of professor at your university, you attempt to unravel the mystery behind the strange game and survive its curse. To reveal anything else would spoil your experience, so I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you hanging.

nanashi no game regret game

Get it?

Though I’ve never been much of a handheld gamer, Nanashi no Game did a great job drawing me in and giving me the same kind of experience horror games have given me on bigger, and singular, screens. Before you begin playing, you’ll be advised to play with headphones. Besides getting you further immersed in the game, surround sound is used effectively in-game to lead you in the right direction with sound cues, so this is good advice. You’ll be flipping the system from vertical to horizontal positions throughout the game (more on that later), but instead of taking you out of the experience, it heightens it, by making you perform the actions your avatar is in the game: actually using a dual screen handheld to play a cursed game.

Most of Nanashi No Game is played holding the DS sideways, where you will explore the real world. Players navigate through 3D environments using the directional pad in addition to the touch screen to walk, run, look around, and interact with select objects. Exploring areas is fairly simple and linear, and the challenge comes in the form of avoiding “Regrets”, which are the ghosts of players who’ve lost their lives to the curse. With dark voids where their eyes and mouth should be, the phantoms block paths, jumpscare the player, patrol areas, and relentlessly pursue players in the real world levels. Navigating around them, running away from them, and finding the triggers to make them disappear are the key to progressing.

nanashi no game screenshot

Players must carefully navigate the real world,

nanashi no game english

as well as the world of the cursed RPG.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other game mode in Nanashi No Game has you experience the cursed downloaded title first hand. During real world gameplay, you will receive messages and more chapters of the game. You then hold the DS upright, where the “TS” menu, which looks an awful lot like the actual DS menu, allows you to read your messages and play the 2D RPG. The game within the game provides the player with clues on how to proceed while exploring and offers more information about the origin of the software and why it’s killing people. Early in Nanashi No Game, the RPG, though cursed, is a nice break from the hostile environments in the exploration mode, because it’s a familiar, cliche fantasy game where no danger threatens the player. Over time, the chapters of the simple RPG will grow more dark in subject matter, the music will become distorted, and the graphical glitches become more prevalent. It begins to feel as disturbing as the things you’re experiencing outside of the TS title. This is when horrors inside the game begin to manifest in the real world, where you’re incredibly vulnerable. The creepy foreshadowing in the RPG makes the 3D exploration chapters even more tense.

While it isn’t nearly as deep as a Silent Hill game, and the graphical limitations and touch-to-look controls of the DS hold it back from having any grotesque or visceral horror, what Nanashi No Game does have is a great idea, a unique take on the genre, and a constant sense of dread. Letting a ghost touch you a single time means game over, and just as tank controls (though these are a bit more frustrating) aided in making claustrophobic escape even more panicked in Resident Evilthe clunky ones here make the appearance of a specter have a much more frightening impact than their not so spooky in game models. The scariest moments in the game take place with no clear danger in sight. It’s the dark rooms of a hospital with items thrown about and childish art scribbled on the walls, and following the sound of the cursed RPGs theme through your friend’s wrecked apartment.

Horror fans and those in search of interesting games that never made it West should definitely give Nanashi no Game a go. Fans of classic RPGs will also get a kick out of the aesthetics of the cursed game downloaded by the protagonist. It’s fairly linear and doesn’t overstay its welcome with its length, so it makes for a short but sweet experience unlike pretty much any other title out there. Nanashi no Game isn’t only spooky, it’s special.

nanashi no game creepy spooky

 

 

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Written by ChronoSloth

ChronoSloth


Video game reviewer with a specific love for the fourth and fifth generation of consoles. In an exclusive polygamist relationship with Nintendo and PlayStation. Fluent in Al Bhed and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 combo notation. Follow him on Instagram to see lots of pictures of video games.

 
 

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