Game Center CX Season 14 – Back to Contents
Scary? Or Drowsy? "Kamaitachi no Yoru"
Arino recently played through the detective adventure Okhotsk ni Kiyu, and now he tackles another adventure, though this one is almost pure story: Kamaitachi no Yoru (lit. "Night of the Sickle Weasels," a mythic demon), Chun Soft’s Super Famicom visual novel. It’s mostly about reading, with the player forced to make decisions every now and then that may or may not get them to the best ending. Can Arino get to the best ending? And will it take less than a day? It’s just a novel, right?
Since the game is a spooky murder mystery, and has "night" in the title, today’s challenge begins at 7 PM. Arino still walks in with "good morning," though, because that’s just what you do on a TV set. The story takes place at a ski lodge, where a group of various people (all represented by blue silhouettes) are soon ensconed in a series of murders. As the prologue scrolls by, Arino starts making notes on the whiteboard.
Once he gets to the lodge, the characters start coming in. We’re introduced to the three office ladies, the old couple, and in the dining hall, Mr. Tanaka, a strange man in a coat and hat (known simply as the "coat man"). Then, a mysterious note is found, saying that 12:00, someone here will die. The story continues as more characters are embellished, but then a crash of glass is heard in the house. The group goes upstairs to check the bedrooms, and finds the coat man dead on the ground below.
As the winter winds get rougher, one of the group, Mr. Kobayashi, decides to head out of the lodge. Arino and some others go out to try and locate him, but there’s no hope. They return to the lodge and check another bedroom, and find Midori, a young woman, also dead.
The pressure rises for Arino, as he must find the culprit behind the killings before any more people are lost, and the good ending slips away. With all the characters mapped out on the whiteboard, he sits back and starts to really consider any motives. He returns to the game, and Tanaka’s room, where he finds a tote bag. After conferring with the others, Arino is given several different choices of theories. Again he tries to recap the timeline of events, and settles on a choice.
Hopefully it was the right one, but some time later, Arino hears a scream from Mari, the player’s girlfriend. She’s OK, however, four more bodies are found. The numbers are dropping, and Arino’s not really getting anywhere in his sleuthing.
But eventually, he reaches an impasse of sorts, where he’s required to enter the name of who he thinks the killer is. As a goof(?), he enters "Midori," but that sure ain’t who it is. Later, Arino enters a hallway, and is attacked! He seems to have been killed himself. The story ends.
AD Katayama comes by and tells Arino that’s a bad ending. Arino sarcastically goes "eh?!," then restarts the game. Luckily, he can choose any of the chapters of the story he’s seen up till then, and he tries to retrace his steps based on the chapter names. He goes with the 27th story, and gets back to it.
As he watches characters talk to one another, the doorbell rings. Arino goes out to check it, but sees nothing, then goes back in to find another tenant dead, and then is attacked in the hall once again. He escapes, but now everything is just falling apart: two of the office ladies are dead, and then Mari ends up killing Arino. Game Over again.
Katayama returns, telling Arino that he didn’t get the bad ending, but in fact the worst ending! Well, your girlfriend does kill you, after all. The AD then not-so-subtly leaves a piece of paper behind. It’s a note with a hint to jog his thought process: Who is it that will visit at midnight?
Arino jumps back to an earlier chapter that started aroud the time the mysterious note in the game arrived. Some more missteps lead him to another bad ending, though, and when he restarts, he can only go as far as that last chapter this time! The game overwrote his save, meaning he’s back to square one — and as far as notes, all he’s done is write down the characters on the whiteboard and how they were killed.
As Arino gets back to business, audio editor Tani walks in with a snack-ish dinner for Arino in the form of curry dorayaki. But it’s soon time to get back into the game — he begins from chapter 5, just after Mr. Tanaka was killed, but ends up with another bad ending.
Arino focuses on Tanaka, searching his room a few times, and finally moves forward when he reaches another decision point, and gets to enter the name of the killer. He chooses Mikimoto, the photographer. This seems to be some sort of turning point, as the hunch is that Mikimoto and Tanaka were the same man. The murderer’s methods are explained, from the events that led to the deaths, and the mechanism that broke the window in Tanaka’s room, while Mikimoto planted the fake body.
Needless to say, Mikimoto goes nuts and the others try to stop him. He’s barely restrained, but eventually killed. The narrative continues to the end, where we fade to black, and the credits roll. Arino completes the game in just nine hours — yes, that means it’s 4 AM, but there’s no better time to put the cap on a good ol’-fashioned horror story.
Much like today’s game challenge, Arino is out in the evening again to pay a visit to Kikuchi Shoten, a nondescript treat shop just a bit away from the Shinagawa train station, with a few gachapon machines and video games laid out all around.
Arino begins with an old 10-yen flipper game, Yamabiko, but it doesn’t seem to accept his coin. After cycling it through the slot a few times, the old man running the shop whacks the machine a bit, then just goes ahead and uses one of his own coins. Arino loses the game early, but on the second try he earns a prize: a wafer good for 20 yen. Well, at least he broke even
Arino picks out a candy packet, then takes a look inside the mini-fridge the proprietors use to store the colder stuff. But in the back of the shop are where the video games are, along with a group of local boys. Arino spots one playing Pac-Man (really Pac-Man Plus), and asks if he can play on the next turn. Arino loses, and then the boy asks to get back. Fair enough.
The kacho sits down at another cabinet, but sees two other boys playing Dynamite Deka EX, which looks far more fun. Arino gets a turn, smashes some bad guys, and then… the ending! Seems the boys were pretty far already. Arino gives the younger one his treat.
He heads back to the front, where a digital pachinko game, Cross Planet, stands. Arino plays a round, then wins another monetary prize, and goes back to brose the sweets. The Pac-Man helps him choose, and then they all go back to hang out with the video games again.
To Catch a Catch Copy
The first ad in this installment touts a "panoramic adventure." Tojima picks Super Monkey Daibouken. His reasoning is that the Japanese word for panoramic, "heikou," makes him think of the game’s shift from overhead RPG scenes to side-view action scenes. His pick is right! Well, except "heikou" means "parallel," not "panoramic."
Arino picks Asmik-kun Land for the next game, but he’s wrong. Tojima goes with Penguin Adventure, but that’s not it, either. Finally, Nakayama chooses Bubble Bobble, perhaps only because the ad had the word "fantasy" in it, as Bubble Bobble’s intro does. But Nakayama’s wrong, too. It turns out to be Door Door, the Chun Soft puzzle action game.
The next tagline refers to working together, doing your best, and so on. Arino goes first and picks up Bubble Bobble again, and he’s right! Part of that is because the tagline has a double meaning in Japanese, where the word for "bubble" and "at the same time" are pronounced the same.
Game Collections: 1991: June-July