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North American Dreamcast cover art
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, Survival horror|
Illbleed[a] is a survival horror video game developed by Crazy Games (formerly known as "Climax Graphics") and published by Crazy Games in Japan and AIA in the US for the Sega Dreamcast. It was released in Japan on March 29, 2001, and later in North America on April 16, 2001.
Illbleed is also the only Dreamcast game which had an official Chinese version, released on January 15, 2002 by publisher Mr.Game. A Hong Kong game magazine at the time was responsible for the translation work. After numerous delays and rumours of cancellation, the Traditional Chinese version was finally released 10 months after the original Japanese release. Only 300 copies were released in Taiwan and it only came in a boxset, which included the outer box, the game itself and a 2002 calendar in a CD jewel case. The official Chinese name of Illbleed roughly translates to "Entering the haunted realm".
Despite being financially unsuccessful, the game received a cult following for its notable combination of nonlinear gameplay elements (e.g. trap detection) and bizarre B-movie style comedy horror theme, dialogue and voice acting.
The gameplay of Illbleed differs from other survival horror games. The player is encouraged to not rush through the level, but to slowly walk from place to place, looking around and at the environment. Using a tool named the Horror Monitor that consumes the player's adrenaline, the player can mark various places suspected of being a trap. These traps burn, slice, scare, and hit the player in various different ways, resulting in blood loss, rise of pulse, and lowered stamina, meaning that in addition to the enemies, the environment itself is a significant threat. The player is given tools and items to prevent the character from bleeding to death, running out of strength or adrenaline, or being scared to death. If the player fails to keep the character alive through the course of the level, they must be revived outside of the level and continue the level with another character. If the player runs out of characters, the game ends.
When engaging enemies, the player is not allowed to exit the battlefield until the enemies are cleared out. If the player tries to go beyond the battlefield, it will flash blue. In some cases, the battlefield has a smaller green square with a letter "H" on it; a helicopter hovers over the area (even indoors and when a concrete roof is above you in 'the homerun of death'). The player may attempt an escape by standing on the green square and pushing the B button repeatedly to call for help. Successful escape clears out the enemies.
A character has four senses: sight, hearing, smell and sixth sense. Each time the player gets near items or traps, one or multiple senses will register on the meter located on the top of the screen these senses are indicated like a heart monitor. The player may utilize the horror monitor, which consumes adrenaline, to mark the spots suspected of hoarding items, traps or lurking enemies. Any spot marked will display a glowing blue orb, which the player can survey. Some traps will be successfully defused this way, and the spent adrenaline will be returned to the character.
Items may be found throughout levels, purchased at Bloody Mary Drugstores located in the amusement park, or obtained as the plot unfolds. Some items restore, reduce or raise the upper limit of certain character stats; unused items will be carried to the next level. There are also upgrade items that can be used at emergency rooms in the game.
Initially, the player may only choose Eriko. As the player rescues each of Eriko's friends, the player has more choices of characters to play with. After beating the game for the first time, Eriko will wear less clothing for each character she fails to rescue in future playthroughs.
Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, with two all-around average characters (Jorg and Kevin Kertsman). Eriko Christy, the main character, can recover more quickly after being scared by a trap or enemy. Randy Fairbanks, the dim-witted slasher movie fan, has the highest strength and health, but the lowest adrenaline. Would-be psychic Michel Waters has the lowest health, but the highest adrenaline (as Jorg).
If the player does not pick up Randy's brain in the Woodpuppet stage and rescues him, the player gets Brainless Randy. He has all the same stats as regular Randy but has no adrenaline (as the adrenaline is shown by a brain icon in normal gameplay). Brainless Randy's dialogue is changed to groaning in stages and gibberish, although the other characters' dialogue is not changed to reflect this.
As the games begins, the players are introduced to horror-aficionado Eriko Christy, who is delivering a speech detailing the struggles she faced as a child, being the daughter of a horror theme park designer. In this speech, she reveals that her father would delight in "testing" out all of his new horror props and gimmicks on her; Eriko's mother filed for divorce, and took the then six year old Eriko with her, estranging the relationship between Eriko and her father.
After Eriko's speech, she gathers with her three friends Kevin, Randy, and Michelle. They praise Eriko on her speech and reassure her that she will most certainly win the high school speech contest. During this encounter, Michelle reveals she received four tickets to a recently opened horror theme park - "Illbleed". Interestingly enough, an absurd reward of $100,000,000 is offered to anyone who can successfully reach the end of the park. Eriko declines the invitation, assuming it's a cheap stunt for publicity and decides to stay behind, as her three friends excitedly set out for the park, leaving Eriko with her ticket.
After a few days without hearing from her friends, Eriko decides to investigate the park herself to determine if her friends are indeed still trapped within it. This is where the game begins.
After the levels are all completed, Eriko is forced to venture into the "Michael Reynolds' Horror Museum." She fights one of three bosses that Michael Reynolds, the creator of Illbleed and the main antagonist, has set up for them in order to complete the game. The number of friends saved will determine the ending of the game.
If all three friends and Jorg are saved, the best ending consists of Eriko and friends (except Jorg) at a beach enjoying themselves and trying to decide what to do with their prize money. Eriko suddenly states that she is going back to Illbleed and tells them not to follow, despite their enthusiasm to return with her.
If Eriko fails to rescue a friend, the bad ending comes with the camera scrolling through the park, an older Eriko speaking in the background saying she got the prize money, but lost her friend(s) in the process, saying she would give up the money to bring back her friends. The screen ends with the camera closing up on a grave of her dead friend.
If the player finishes the game a second time, and does not save anyone, (including Jorg which means the player won't get the bonus cash in the killerman stage) the true ending is shown. Eriko finds out that the mastermind behind Illbleed, Michael Reynolds, is actually her father. Reynolds reveals that his true intention is solely to scare Eriko after being unable to do so when she turned six. A fight ensues with Eriko emerging as the victor and commenting on how Reynolds "destroyed himself" and "scared the living hell out of her".
After the credits roll, a picture shows Kevin and Eriko embracing with Kevin announcing that he is taking over as club president as Eriko has become a very timid person after her second visit to Illbleed and refuses to visit another horror house. He further explains that she needs protection now and that he would be the one to provide it. The game ends with a close-up of an invitation ticket to "The Arcade" which has a similar layout and appearance to the Illbleed invitations as seen in the opening scene.
Crazy Games had revived the old Japanese tradition of the ending challenge. The first gamers who sent in a code displayed after the "true" ending (only in the Japanese version) received "Crazy Games" jackets and action figurines of Eriko Christy, which were otherwise only available in SEGA's D-Direct store and have thus become quite the rarity. Another easter egg is a hidden mini game, where up to four players just avoid screws falling down the screen until no one's left standing.
An enhanced Xbox release was planned, but it was cancelled for unknown reasons.
- Illbleed (イルブリード Iruburīdo)
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