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Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within

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Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within
Clocktowerghostheadasi7ll1.jpg
Developer(s)Human Entertainment
Publisher(s)
  • JP: Human Entertainment
Director(s)Yutaka Hirata
Producer(s)Yuichi Kobayashi
Designer(s)Yutaka Hirata
Programmer(s)Kazuhiro Takeshima
Artist(s)Masatsugu Igarashi
Kiichi Takaoka
Writer(s)Yutaka Hirata
Composer(s)Kaori Takazoe
SeriesClock Tower
Platform(s)PlayStation
Release
  • JP: March 12, 1998
  • NA: October 1999
Genre(s)Point-and-click adventure, survival horror
Mode(s)Single-player

Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within, released in Japan as Clock Tower: Ghost Head,[a] is a horror-themed adventure game developed by Human Entertainment and released for the PlayStation in 1998. It is the third game in the Clock Tower series. The story follows 17-year-old Alyssa Hale who suffers from multiple personality disorder with an alter ego named Mr. Bates. The player must guide Alyssa through various environments, altering between her normal and twisted personality, to uncover the secrets of her and her family's past.

Clock Tower II was met with negative reviews. Journalists heavily criticized the gameplay which they found to be poor due to its slow and dated point-and-click interface, as well its reliance on trial-and-error mechanics. The story was criticized by some but found to be mature and creepy by others. Critics ultimately did not recommend the game except to those looking for an experience similar to Clock Tower (1996) and those looking for a game that, like a cult film, is flawed conventionally but redeemed by its willingness to stray from the mainstream.

Gameplay[edit]

Alyssa runs to a door after the player double-clicked it

Following its predecessors, Clock Tower II is a point-and-click adventure game with 3D graphics and survival horror elements.[1][2] The player can use either a standard PlayStation controller or the PlayStation mouse to control the protagonist, Alyssa Hale, through the game.[1][3]:5-7 The cursor will change shape when placed over certain objects, which the player can click to interact with. Clicking in any location will guide the Alyssa in that direction. Moving the cursor to the top of the screen will reveal the player's inventory. Clicking an item and then clicking an object on the screen will use the item on that object or in that location.[3]:9-10

Alyssa starts the game with an amulet which keeps her alter ego, Mr. Bates, from emerging and controlling her. However, the amulet can be placed within cases or other containers. Without the amulet, Alyssa will become Mr. Bates if provoked with fear. To change back to Alyssa, the player needs to simply retrieve the amulet back. Some events can only be cleared as Mr. Bates and likewise some only as Alyssa. The choices the player makes as both Alyssa and Mr. Bates will change the scenario development and lead to one of 13 possible endings.[3]:11

When Alyssa is being chased or is in danger, the cursor will flash red. During this panic mode, the player must rapidly tap a button to escape. When escaping enemies, click points will appear on items or objects that Alyssa can use to fight back or hide from the enemy. Escape mode will not end until the enemy is repulsed or successfully evaded.[3]:9-10 If playing as Mr. Bates, the player may use weapons such as pistols and shotguns against the enemies.[4][3]:12-13 When equipped with a weapon, the cursor becomes a crosshair used to aim and shoot. The cursor will change color during panic mode from white, to yellow, and finally red to indicate the Alyssa's stamina. First aid kits can be used to improve stamina by one level.[3]:12-13 If Alyssa's stamina reaches zero or the player fails a panic scenario, the screen will read "game over" and provide the player the option to restart from the last room they entered with one extra stamina level.[3]:14

Plot[edit]

In the Japanese release, the game is set in Osaka. This was changed to California for the North American release.[4] Alyssa Hale is a 17-year-old high school girl who is traveling to visit her father's friend, Phillip Tate, during the spring of 1999. Alyssa suffers from a multiple personality disorder shared with a soul inside her named Mr. Bates. She holds an amulet to keep Mr. Bates from taking over her mind. When Alyssa arrives at the Tate's residence she discovers her cousin Stephanie who attacks her with a knife and stalks her around the house. Alyssa finds Philip, who gives her a statue and tells her to burn it because of the "Maxwell Curse". Alyssa manages to throw the statue into a burning fireplace but loses consciousness. She later wakes up in a zombie-infested hospital and meets a detective named Alex Corey, who saved Alyssa from the house. She explores the hospital, only to become overrun by zombies and faint again.

When Alyssa comes to, she finds that Alex took her to a pharmaceutical lab. As she explores the lab, a man armed with a hatchet and wearing an oni mask begins to stalk her about. She later finds her father, Allen, speaking with the stalker. Allen explains that Alyssa is not his daughter, but rather, the daughter of the man in the oni mask, George Maxwell. He continues, saying how every few generations there are cursed twins born into the Maxwell family; the family must immediately bury the twin babies alive and leave them to die to protect their family. Allen, jealous of George's wealth, dug up the children with Philip to spite him. Alyssa was one of these twins and the other twin suffocated to death. Alyssa realizes that her twin was Mr. Bates, who transplanted his soul into her body. Allen shoots George and demands Alyssa escape before the building explodes. Alyssa escapes and watches the building burn from the hillside.

Development and release[edit]

Clock Tower II was the last Clock Tower game developed by Human Entertainment.[4] It was also the first in the series not directed by series creator Hifumi Kono.[5][6] Kono was asked by Human to make a sequel to the first two games, but he felt he was out of material and could not make it. Yutaka Hirata stepped in and offered to direct the game.[7] It was not given a numbered title in Japan because it moves away from the story and setting in the two previous Clock Tower title.[4] The game supports enhanced rumble features in DualShock controllers.[8]

The game was released on March 12, 1998 in Japan,[9][10] and in late October 1999 in North America.[2][11] A drama CD based on the game was released in 1998.[4] The game was rereleased on the PlayStation Store in Japan on May 9, 2012.[12][9]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic49/100[13]
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame2.5/5 stars[2]
Famitsu24/40[9]
GameSpot3.9/10[1]
IGN4.8/10[11]
OPM (US)2.5/5 stars[14]

According to review aggregator Metacritic, Clock Tower II was met with "generally unfavorable" reviews.[13] The gameplay was found to be flawed due to the dual personality mechanic and poor storytelling methods.[1][11] Joe Fielder of GameSpot described the puzzles as counter-intuitive, like being stuck on a Rubik's Cube and coming back later to find the cube solved. In the same vein, he noted how sometimes events are triggered or areas become accessible only after spending time exploring other unrelated areas.[1] Mark MacDonald writing for Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine shared these sentiments, saying the player spends most of their time wandering around, hoping to trigger the next event.[14] The point-and-click interface was also criticized as slow and inaccurate.[1][2][11]

Fielder criticized the graphics as "pure first-generation PlayStation" and believed the sound design was also poor.[1] Marc Nix of IGN argued the sound design was good and the graphics were clear and sharp but the scenery was ultimately lifeless.[11] The story was criticized by some, but MacDonald found it to be more adult and "out there-spooky" than any other PlayStation title yet.[1][11][14] Mark Kanarick of AllGame heavily criticized the voice acting, describing it as the worst aspect of the game.[2]

Ultimately, Fielder could not recommend Clock Tower II as an adventure or horror game, saying "leave this one for the antique collectors."[1] Nix felt the game fell considerably short of its potential. He found the rumble feature the "sole perfect feature of the game."[11] MacDonald called the game "seriously flawed, but unique." He described it as a terrible game in a conventional sense, but like a cult film, it is redeemed by its willingness to take risks and stand apart from the mainstream and therefore is "strictly for hardcore niche gamers."[14] Kanarick called it a poor attempt at a survival horror game, but that fans of Clock Tower (1996) may enjoy it.[2]

The Electric Playground presented Clock Tower II with its 1999 "Console Adventure Game of the Year" award. The editors called it "decidedly the best of the few challengers" in its field, despite competition from the PlayStation release of Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror.[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In Japanese: Kurokku Tawā Gōsuto Heddo (クロックタワーゴーストヘッド)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Fielder, Joe (November 5, 1999). "Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kanarick, Mark. "Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 16, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within instruction manual (US, PlayStation)
  4. ^ a b c d e Kalata, Kurt (December 12, 2013). "Hardcore Gaming 101: Clock Tower". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on June 24, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  5. ^ In-game credits. Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within. PlayStation: Agetec. 1999.
  6. ^ Szczepaniak, John (November 2015). The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers Vol. 2. SMG Szczepaniak. p. 304.
  7. ^ Clock Tower: 20th Anniversary Sound Collection booklet (in Japanese). Japan: City Connection. 2016.
  8. ^ Mollohan, Gary (August 1998). "Previews: Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. Vol. 1 no. 11. p. 69.
  9. ^ a b c "クロックタワー ゴーストヘッド [PS] / ファミ通.com". www.famitsu.com. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  10. ^ "まお「世界観が日常に近いほど怖い」『クロックタワーゴーストヘッド』【ホラゲレビュー百物語】" (July 24, 2016). 電ファミニコゲーマー (in Japanese). Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Nix, Marc (November 11, 1999). "Clock Tower 2: The Struggle Within". IGN. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
  12. ^ "CLOCK TOWER GHOST HEAD | ソフトウェアカタログ | プレイステーション® オフィシャルサイト". PlayStation. Archived from the original on May 10, 2018. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within for PlayStation Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on September 28, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2014.
  14. ^ a b c d MacDonald, Mark (January 2000). "Reviews: Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. Vol. 3 no. 4. p. 100.
  15. ^ Staff (March 2000). "EP Blister Awards 1999". The Electric Playground. Archived from the original on August 16, 2000.

External links[edit]