I think this game is only for the Wii.LINK: Ju-On: The Grudge Review - review from EuroGamerLINK: IGN: JU-ON: The Grudge ReviewLINK: Review from Game Spot: Ju-On The Grudge
The GoodLINK: Ju-on: The Grudge video game review
* Stays relatively true to the films
* Great ghost design and eerie atmosphere
* Creative attack sequences.
* Poor controls and a difficult camera
* Obvious scare tactics cheapen the experience
* Boring, archaic gameplay
* Limited multiplayer
* Too short.
-Ju-on: The Grudge promises a unique horror experience, but ultimately fails to deliver on nearly every level.
By Nick Cowen
28 Oct 2009
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Released: 30 October 2009
As video games go, Ju-on: The Grudge has tougher obstacles than most to overcome. Not only is the latest Nintendo horror game based on a superb movie franchise (which is never a good sign), it's an entry in a genre which has enjoyed something of a banner year in 2009.
While the horror genre continues to stagnate in cinemas (Drag Me To Hell and Let The Right One In notwithstanding), video game console owners have been thrilled by a variety of horror titles such as Silent Hill: Homecoming, Resident Evil 5 and Dead Space: Extraction – and there are still more on the way.
Ju-on promises a unique horror experience in its assertion that it's a haunted house simulator, presumably in an attempt to distance itself from other subgenres within horror video games such as survival horror.
But can this movie franchise tie-in compete with the best horror titles released this year?
Things started promisingly enough; after a loading screen which shows a series of disturbing film clips, the game effectively dares you to play it.
There have been horror video games that have shocked me out of my seat (Dead Space, System Shock 2), while others have established a crushing atmosphere of fear and loathing and then proceeded to burrow into my skin through a cocktail of grotesque imagery and disturbing subliminal suggestion (Silent Hill 2 comes up top trumps in this department).
However, before slotting Ju-on into the Wii, I'd never come across a game that offered a 'courage test' as a menu option before.
I entered my gender and starsign as required by the game and then waited in dry-lipped anticipation for the terror to commence. About ten minutes later, I was bored witless.
The first problem players will encounter is Ju-on's completely dire control system.
Players spend most of their time navigating darkened rooms with the Wii-mote doubling as a torch. They change direction by moving the beam left and right and move forward by pressing the B button.
Along the way they pick up objects such as keys to locked doors and batteries for their torch – the only light source they'll to have for most of the game.
The controls are variously unresponsive and pointing the Wii-mote to one side of the screen doesn't always guarantee a change in direction.
Making matters worse is the grindingly slow pace at which the player moves; it really is comparable to that of an ancient tortoise carrying an elephant on its back.
Other than that the players will encounter quick-time-events (QTEs) which presumably are there to break up the monotony of slowly plodding around some stock horror environments (an abandoned factory, a darkened hospital and the like).
The environments themselves look unpolished crudely and rendered; at their best look like David Fincher movie sets.
Aside from the gameplay mechanics, the main reason that Ju-on flounders so badly is down to the fact that the developers have relied on the cheapest and most cliched scare-tactics imaginable to try and frighten players. The most tiresome of these are the jack-in-the-box thrills where a pale-faced, dirty-haired youth leaps into shot suddenly, or a hand snakes out from a crack in a recently opened door.
These are moments clearly designed to make players jump in fear, and initially they do, but eventually you're more likely to become annoyed than frightened by them.
To be honest the sensation they provide could easily be replicated by an obnoxious co-worker sneaking up on you while your back is turned.
The soundtrack, for its part, goes a long way towards redeeming the whole venture, packing the game with echoes, the odd gurgling sound and the pitter patter of feet off in the distance.
However, it also occasionally cues up a scare that's waiting around the next corner, and so spoils the intended affect (hint: if the soundtrack filters out all noises except the player's footsteps, watch it!).
Occasionally the malevolent ghosts will try to kill the player, and in order to avoid dying, they'll have to shake the Wii-mote frantically.
However, they're usually given seconds to respond, and if they fail, it's game over.
Which brings us neatly to the next annoyance; Ju-on has absolutely no checkpoint system. This may seem like a small thing, but players spend an inordinate amount of time fumbling around in the dark, moving at a snail's pace and exploring every nook and cranny for glinting items.
After around eleven minutes of this, it's more than a little infuriating to have the level reset after missing a turning, or failing to respond within a split second to the murderous advances of some pale-faced urchin.
To be frank, during the second hour of playing Ju-on, I became rather grateful that my Wii-mote was encased in a protective rubber sleeve.
By the fifth, I'd stacked a small pile of pillows in the corner of the room, to ensure I didn't break the console's controller out of sheer frustration.
Perhaps the biggest misstep Ju-on makes is that it ignores one of the most crucial elements in creating a horror title; the audience needs to have sympathy for the protagonist.
The way the different protagonists shuffle around the haunted buildings as though their feet are encased in cement does very little to endear them to the player.
After a while you start to feel that anyone who doesn't run screaming from a room after seeing bloody footprints appear out of nowhere on the floor in front of them deserves every hardship they encounter.
Also, the longer the game goes on, the more searing white anger one starts to feel for the character that started all of this, Erika Yamada, who really lost any right she had to our support the moment she ran into a darkened warehouse in pursuit of her wretched dog.
In short, after a while, players may start to side with the ghosts against the game's heroes – and considering they're playing the latter, that's no mean feat.
The received wisdom concerning horror films from the Far East is that they lose a considerable amount of bite once they have been remade for Western audiences by a Hollywood studio.
It's obviously too soon to say if the same can be said of all movie franchise video game tie-ins of this type, but if Ju-on: The Grudge is anything to go by, horror fans are better off sticking with the original films themselves.
There's no need to invest any time in this title - especially when there are so many better horror games out there waiting to turn you into shivering pulp.