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On the PlayStation Store, on my PSP, a game that popped out at me had the most unusual name of Corpse Party. I had guessed that it would be a horror title. It was also a year before I would download this game... not out of fear, but more like I couldn’t afford the game at the time. But when I finally did download and play it, I lost a little bit of sleep.
Corpse Party looks like a JRPG that you might find on the Super NES or Sega Genesis, but good luck getting that game on either system. The game does have visuals of the characters getting killed in horrible ways, and sound effects to match. The story of the game is pretty deep, even for its time.
Corpse Party is huge in Japan, with several sequels, mobile ports, an anime, a few mangas, two live action movies, and a theme park attraction. It isn’t as big here in the States, but it seems to be picking up steam. But for a game with a huge following, it started from humble beginnings... very humble beginnings.
It was originally an indie game...
Corpse Party was first made on RPG Maker software in 1996. Created by Makato Kedōin, the game was first released on PC-9801. The game proved quite popular and even won second place in a contest. The wrong ending mechanic introduced in this game made it so you lived and died by the choices you made. It cut out battles entirely, except for the final battle against Sachiko. It was truly unique for its time.
A remake came in 2008 in the form of Corpse Party: Blood Covered. This version was put on the PC, and introduced new characters who weren’t in the original. (That one only had Satoshi, Naomi, Ayumi, Yoshiki, and Yuka.) Two years later, it was made for the Sony PSP under the title: Corpse Party: Blood Covered...Repeated Fear. XSeed Games published the game in America, dropping the extra title, and released it as just plain Corpse Party. This was my introduction to the series.
The game looked like an overhead RPG. I kept expecting to run into monsters to fight, but I learned that this wasn’t that kind of game. Instead, you live and die by your choices... and if you can figure out how to get out of a room quick enough. Interacting with hostile spirits would end you, too.
The game had a story that was incredibly deep, and it would mess with your head. You are trapped in Heavenly Host, an elementary school in an alternate dimension with no means to escape, which is scary enough, and being surrounded by vengeful spirits doesn’t help matters, either. Eventually, you will find your way home, but your actions determine your ending. You can get a good ending, or a strange ending.
Return to Heavenly Host...
Corpse Party: Book Of Shadows followed the original Corpse Party, but this time with a different style of gameplay. You aren’t controlling the characters overhead, but now it’s more of a point-and-click adventure. It’s hard to pinpoint where Book Of Shadows takes place in the timeline, because it’s all over the place. Much of the game is a collection of side stories, what-if stories, a prequel story, (featuring Miss Yui), and a sequel story. In fact, one story chronicles Yuka escaping from Yuuya, leading to her demise at the hands of Yoshikazu, which happens in one story shift in the first game. A different path, to be sure. The final chapter, Blood Drive, leads in to the eventual sequel of the same name.
In all my years of gaming, never has a game messed with my head as much as this one. Forget about playing it in the dark, you could play it in the daytime and still get a chill. The game is so well crafted, and the artwork is done so well, you feel like you’re witnessing anime characters getting murdered. The game over screen is one of the best ever, with Sachiko’s grinning face plastered on the side.
And Now for Something Completely Different...
The Japan exclusive, Corpse Party: The Anthology-Hysteric Birthday 2U, plays a lot like Book of Shadows, but in tone, it’s more lighthearted. Sachiko wants to celebrate her birthday in the darkened halls of Heavenly Host by making her captives play a series of games for her own amusement. I can’t say a whole lot about it, as I’ve never played it. It’s never coming to the States. I know this because I asked XSeed Games about it on their Facebook page, to which they responded by telling me they have no plans to bring 2U to the States, but they assured me that the Party is far from over. Which brings me to...
The Blood Drive is in town...
Corpse Party: Blood Drive is the last game in the Heavenly Host series. Ayumi is drawn back to Heavenly Host in an attempt to bring back her slain friends, having failed to do so using the Book of Shadows in the Shinozaki House. This is another one I don’t know a lot about, having never played it, since it’s on the Vita and I don’t own a Vita. It’s my hope that it gets ported to either the 3DS or Nintendo Switch, because I’m not downloading it to my phone.
There is a game called Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient, which takes place in a hospital, has a whole new set of characters, and for the time being, there’s been no word of a US release. But never say never.
This game series is near and dear to my heart, and it inspired me to create my own horror game called Blood Manor on RPG Maker Fes for the 3DS. I have a demo available on RPG Maker Player on the 3DS, with the full game coming soon. For more details on that, click here and follow me on Twitter @MormonMetalhead.
“Sachiko, we beg of you...”