Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October Horror Games: Gregory Horror Show (Playstation 2)

Oh man, where to begin with this thing? Gregory Horror Show was originally a collection of CGI shorts (very short--each episode is only two and a half minutes long) that aired for 88 episodes on Japan's TV Asahi network.

The first two seasons of the show involve a person who finds themselves lost in the middle of the night, coming upon a decrepit hotel run by a deranged mouse named Gregory. The hotel appears to exist outside of normal time and space, acting as a sort of purgatory that the guest cannot escape. As you can probably tell by the art style, Gregory Horror Show can be categorized as "light horror". There are lots of creepy and dreamlike situations offset by such completely goofy characters as Catherine the blood-obsessed lizard nurse, an anthropomorphic set of scales named Judgement Boy, and a zombie creature simply named Dead Body. You can watch all of the episodes on YouTube so check them out and see what you think!

In 2003, a GHS video game (of all things) was released by Capcom (of all companies) for the Playstation 2 in Japan and Europe. The story is similar to the first two seasons of the TV series; players choose a male or female guest and try to escape Gregory House while interacting with the sinister proprietor and other weird characters. Thanks to the help of Neko Zombie and Death himself, the player learns that by collecting the souls of others one could somehow find their way back home.

Gameplay wise GHS is unique, combining RPG and puzzle elements with stealth based Survival Horror. By observing the guests of Gregory House through keyholes and by talking to others, players must learn their weakness and exploit it to make the guests' souls appear so that they can be collected. After that watch out--the guest will try to catch the player if they see them again and subject them to a "Horror Show" that drains their mental health gauge. Losing all of their mental health due to Horror Shows or simply not maintaining it with sleep and item use (it drains automatically over time) will end the game with the player going mad and becoming a lost soul themself. If it weren't for the game's sense of humor and huge amount of character it would be pretty damn dark, though I still think it has its moments (the soundtrack in particular is incongruously creepy compared to the character designs).

This game is not the easiest to get hold of. If you know the language you could go for the Japanese version, but a used copy goes for over a hundred dollars. If you have a modified or European PS2, however, it can be gotten quite a bit cheaper! I found mine on ebay last year for $20, though I think the price has gone up since then. Even if you live in the States the boot screen for the game allows you to change the frequency for NTSC TV sets, so there's no problem there. All things considered, your best bet would be emulation.

Writing is not my forte, so I'm unfortunately selling Gregory Horror Show short for you guys. If you can get it: get it! Or at least watch a Let's Play. It's a unique experience that deserves a larger following.

Recommended for: fans of cute horror, weird art style, dark humor, stealth gameplay