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Ju-on -The Grudge Review

Ju-on – The Grudge is a series loved by Japanese movie fans, and recently more widespread thanks to the lacklustre American versions. This has culminated in Feelplus giving us Ju-on – The Grudge, which proudly dubs itself as a ‘Fright Simulator’ on its cover art. The question is, does it hold true to its claim?

The story behind the movies is that when a person dies in a violent way and with a powerful grudge, they will stay behind in the form of a spirit and haunt and kill anyone who visits the premises where they died. In the Grudge’s case, this is the Saeki household in Nerima, Japan. The game follows the story of Erika Yamada and her family – beginning with Erika’s encounter with the evil antagonists – with you taking control of different family members to try and rid yourself of the terrible curse.

The game has two game-modes which in essence are exactly the same . Firstly there is a standard story mode, where you’ll follow the Yamada’s exploits in ridding themselves of the curse, beginning with Erika looking for her dog, Ivy, who has run into an abandoned warehouse.  The second mode is the same – only it tracks how you played each level. These can be quite comical as they give you descriptions of how you played, based on how long you took and how well you done. An example of one of these descriptions –

“Your fear level: A total wuss. That's what you are, Zero courage. Zero guts! Why don't you lock yourself in your bedroom and write poetry or something?”

That’s right: the game flat-out calls you a wuss. Charming or what? Unfortunately, with these two modes being identical save for the descriptions at the end, there’s no need to play through them both and this is a problem for one reason only; the game is very, very short. On my first playthrough where I was new to the game, it lasted me three hours, but on my next playthrough it took me roughly twenty minutes per stage – that’s about an hour and a half!

To get through the game you’ll need to do all sorts of exciting things like find keys and, well, that’s about all you’ll do. You’ll be walking around desolate locales looking for keys to unlock the next door, while trying to find flashlight batteries, as your flashlight is your only source of light in the game. Finding these ‘elusive’ keys however isn’t even a challenge as they handily glow brightly for you in the dark to spot from a mile off.

One of the strangest things about the game is its control method. It uses a grand total of two buttons and doesn’t use the nunchuck. Simply using the Wii-Remote you point it in the direction you want to look, press B to walk forward (and I mean walk very slowly), and press A to perform actions such as opening doors, picking up keys and batteries and that’s all. The only time you’ll exert any energy here is when you get to one of the game’s survival scares, and that’s what this game is about after all, right? The scares.

Being based on the Ju-on movies, there are opportunities aplenty here for potentially pant-wetting scares to take place; you may actually find yourself wishing for something to make you soil yourself just to get some excitement out of it though. Every now and then you’ll come across a sequence where you open a door, and Kayako (the bearer of aforementioned grudge) will grab you and let you hear that now classic guttural noise. When this happens, you’ll be prompted to shake the Wii-Remote back and forward to try and shake off the ghost, and then you’ll run away, before resuming walking as fast as a tired snail. This will creep you out if you’re playing in the dark with the volume up (or headphones if you’re feeling brave), but it happens all too often that it takes away the effect it has the first few times.

Other than these ‘escape frights’, the only other type of scare you’ll encounter is the overplayed shock-scare – where something will jump out at you from nowhere before disappearing – usually the little boy, Toshio from the movies. These sequences are frankly amusing. My first thought the first time it happened was that it reminded me of Mortal Kombat sound designer Dan Forden appearing in the corner during a fight and yelling “Toasty!”, as Toshio simply appeared to slide from the left side of the screen, meowing at me, then sliding away again.

The games pitiful attempt at multi-player consists of a second player controlling when the frights happen via a second Wii-Remote, but the frights have all but lost their effect after the first stage of the game is complete.

The game does have some merits though; the graphics are good for a Wii title, though this is probably helped greatly by the grey / brown colour palette along with the low visibility of anything on-screen. The sound also shines, as music that is as atmospheric as the movies plays in the background as you walk slowly through the games haunted locales.

What could have been a fantastic horror game, given its license and source material, has turned out to be one of the least scary ‘horror’ games I’ve ever had the misfortune of playing. Only a die-hard Ju-on fan would find something to truly love here, and even for those die-hard fans, I’d be hard pressed to recommend anything other than a rental for a game that can potentially be over quicker than one of the movies.

4.00/10 4

Ju-on - The Grudge (Reviewed on Nintendo Wii)

Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.

Ju-on – The Grudge is a series loved by Japanese movie fans, and recently more widespread thanks to the lacklustre American versions. This has culminated in Feelplus giving us Ju-on – The Grudge, which proudly dubs itself as a ‘Fright Simulator’ on its cover art. The question is, does it hold true to its claim?

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
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azrael316 - 11:41pm, 3rd April 2015

Kinda assumed it would be, shall we say, not that good. lol. I guess it would be ok for a while, you know, get it cheap and use it as a trade in for something better once its finished. Its a shame so many games fit into that category these days. Had they gone for a More Resi-Evil vibe I think it might have worked out better for them. Better to be chastised for "copying" an awesome game than for producing an inovative but essentially c**p game.