Sunday 14 February 2016

Insmouse No Yakata (Virtual Boy review)

Developer: Be Top
Publisher: I'Max
Released: 1995

Insmouse No Yakata is a first-person survival horror game that was only released in Japan.

Playing as a detective your mission is to escape the Mansion of Insmouse in one piece. The levels are timed and the premise in each is to locate a key, find the White Orb (which shows the map layout) and the Black Orb (shows where items are on the map) and then head for the exit. Monsters block your path but they can be shot using the R Trigger. Although the scrolling isn't smooth the controls are excellent and make great use of the two d-pads to move around and face different directions. The action is intense as you hunt around for the items you need to move onto the next level while peeking at the remaining time. However, the constant rushing around gets old after a while and I personally found myself wishing for more variety as all the levels look and play the same. Ammo is always in extremely limited supply and although it's understandable given the survival horror setting it actually made the action less enjoyable for me; there's no way to move past monsters that are blocking your path so on many occasions you'll be hunting around for ammo but have no chance of proceeding; therefore, death is the only option. Another issue is that once you shoot a monster the action pauses for a split second, at which point it suddenly veers away from your crosshair at high speed, leaving you open to an attack. One of the better aspects of the game is its multiple routes and endings (there's 45 levels but on each play-through you'll only see 11 of them). This is great for replayability and there's also a password system so you can pick up your game at a later date. Despite its minimalistic tunes the music is actually done very well and the footsteps that revolve around the Virtual Boy's stereo speakers create a real sense of paranoia.
Insmouth No Yakata is a unique game in the Virtual Boy's library and there's certainly some fun to be had if you enjoy survival horror games. However, the repetitious level design and lack of gameplay variety means the action quickly gets old and after a while it reveals itself as a one trick pony with no real depth. 
Random trivia: The game is based on a 1992 television series called Insmus wo Oou Kage.

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