First appearing as a sound novel on the Super Famicom, then being released on other consoles like the Playstation and Gameboy Advance, Kamaitachi no Yoru (literally, "The Night of the Sickle Weasels") is finally here for your smartphone.
According to the game's Google Play summary:
The main character Toru and his college classmate Mari decide to head to her uncle's ski lodge Spur over winter vacation. There, they find a suspicious note forecasting the death of someone in the lodge, and just as the message warned, the night's first tragedy occurs. As night falls, a huge snow storm slams the ski lodge, cutting off all contact with the outside world.
Who did it? Is the criminal prowling around outside the lodge? Or is it one of the guests? Mystery and death hang in the air as the Night of the Sickle Weasels begins...
Many "sound novels" have been published in Japan on various consoles in Japan, but Kamaitachi no Yoru was one of the first games to make this genre popular when it arrived on the scene in 1994. The game is similar to reading a book, but it's accompanied by mood-setting background music, features branching storylines, and has an added sense of suspense because you have no idea when or how the story will come to a conclusion.
The highly-polished nature of the game was one reason it got so popular and is why it can be ported to new platforms even now and enjoyed anew.
The game had some bugs when it was first released, meaning some people couldn't play, but these have been fixed and it should be good to go now. I've been a fan since it first came out on the Super Famicom, so let's see how it looks on Android.
What first surprised me was the ability to choose what scenario you want to play.
Kamaitachi no Yoru actually features a number of subplots and subscenarios in addition to the main story. In order to play these scenarios in the Super Famicom version, you had to unlock them by beating the game under certain conditions.
When you started a new game, there would be new options unlocked that would let you go off on completely different story branches. With the smartphone version, all these scenarios are unlocked from the start. This means that your story won't end up branching into a different scenario.
You might be disappointed that everything is unlocked and there aren't any surprises waiting for you, but trust me, it was a pretty annoying system on the Super Famicom and this version is much better. There's none of that disappointment you feel when you're aiming for one scenario but accidentally get drawn into a different scenario.
Those who have played the original already know, but the Kamai scenario is actually completely separate from the rest of the main story, which is quite impressive.
Overall, the game feels fairly well polished. I was a little disappointed that some scenes that were animated in the original are changed to unmoving illustrations and that touch sensitivity on some of the choices was unresponsive. In spite of these minor gripes, the story itself is extremely well done and thoroughly enjoyable.
For those of you who have never played Kamaitachi no Yoru, now is the perfect time to try it out. If you have played it before, it's such a wonderful classic that it's worth replaying. This game will definitely help you beat the summer heat by giving you a severe case of the chills.
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Time played: about 2 hours
Device used: HTC Desire HD (001HT)
Publisher: SPIKE CHUNSOFT
Last updated: 9/3/2012
Price: 800 yen
Compatibility: Android 2.2 or higher
Translation by Jason Morgan