When it comes to horror games, most people think about games from the Playstation onward: Resident Evil, Silent Hill, etc. Some might also remember the Clock Tower series, which also seemingly debuted on the Playstation. However, this is not quite the case.
In the US, the game we know as Clock Tower was, in fact, Clock Tower 2. The real Clock Tower was a game released on the Super Famicom in 1995. And what a game it was! Drawing heavy inspiration from Dario Argento’s horror films, Clock Tower had an atmosphere and style completely different from other games at the time. Naturally, it never came to America, but thankfully there’s a fan-translated rom out there, making it possible to finally enjoy the TRUE beginning to the Clock Tower series.
The story revolves around a girl named Jennifer, an orphan. He and her other orphan friends are adopted by a woman named Mary Barrows, who is totally in no way evil. Also, apparently Jennifer is 14. I’m not so sure they know what 14-year-olds look like.
When they arrive, Mary goes to get Mr. Barrows, leaving the girls alone in the foyer. After she leaves, you’re given a bit of free reign. The game is essentially a point-and-click adventure. While the SNES controller does make this a bit clunky, it works fine and is easy to understand. There’s not a whole lot of menus as you would get from a PC game, and overall it’s very streamlined and accessible.
So Jennifer goes to look for Ms. Mary, and things get pretty freaky pretty much right off the bat. Jennifer hears her friends scream in the foyer, and when she goes back, they’re gone. So now Jennifer’s on her own, trapper in a big creepy mansion. Yay.
This is Bobby Barrows, AKA Scissorman, the main threat you’ll have to deal with throughout the game. And so the chase is on. Like most slasher villains, Bobby moves pretty slowly, but seems to teleport around when you’re not looking at him.
Jennifer, of course, has no means to defend herself, so you’ll have to find ways to hide from Bobby. Luckily, he’s not very bright, though he will start to catch on if you use the same hiding spot over and over.
After evading Bobby, you’re given free reign to explore the mansion. Of course, the place is huge, so it’s hard to tell where you should start. To make the layout more confusing, some rooms switch places from playthrough to playthrough. Certain choices make later events inaccessible, and you’ll never know quite what to do the first time you play it. Of course, this is intentional… the game is fairly short, even if you go for the best ending, and is intended to be played over and over.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the rest of the house is even creepier, with some rooms serving no real purpose other than to freak you out.
And, of course, Scissorman is still out and about, waiting to ambush you when you least expect it. Scissorman can randomly appear in several rooms, and it’s important to be aware of your surroundings so you know where you can escape to.
So, Jennifer’s already had quite a bad day. But upon breaking a crumbling old wall, she finds the corpse of her own father! Turns out her dad was a doctor who assisted with the birth of the Barrow twins. Wait, twins? Well, no matter, I’m sure it’s not important. Also turns out the kids are demons, as if things weren’t bad enough.
Now this may come as somewhat of a shock, but it turns out Mary’s evil. Who woulda thunk it? When you eventually find her, she just kinda… slowly walks towards you while obviously holding a knife. So, y’know, don’t stick around.
Following clues obtained throughout the game, you eventually come across a satanic idol, which is probably important. This, like almost everything else, can vary depending on the path you take through the game.
Jennifer’s father had mentioned a “Cradle beneath the stars” in his journal, and eventually you’ll discover an altar with a pentagram painted across the floor. This is usually such a wonderful sign. Jennifer puts the idol on the altar, opening a trap door.
And of course, Bobby’s right there to give chase. Luckily, turning on the clock mechanism hurts him or something, and he falls to his death over the balcony. Jennifer just killed a 9-year-old. This game is HARDCORE.
Mary’s understandably pretty pissed about you killing both her sons, and attempts to strangle you. Apparently a 14-year old can overpower her though, and she’s sent stumbling into the machine, electrocuting her.
Her nightmare over at last, Jennifer stands atop the clock tower, her clothes billowing dramatically in the wind. And that’s that! Granted, this is only one of the endings… there’s nine of them! Pretty impressive for a SNES game. While this is one of the better endings, there’s others that are superior. And, of course, there’s plenty of worse endings too… one can even be obtained pretty much right after you first encounter Bobby.
Overall, I love this game. It has tons of atmosphere and is really quite terrifying for a 16-bit game. Hopefully, someday it will get the US release it deserves, via the Wii U’s virtual console or through other means. But for now, the translated rom is just fine. I suggest you give it a try if you’re a fan of horror games. It still holds up remarkably well.