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North American Dreamcast cover art
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, survival horror|
Even though it was financially unsuccessful, Illbleed received a cult following for its notable combination of nonlinear gameplay elements and its "B movie"-style comedy horror theme, dialogue, and voice acting.
Illbleed is a survival horror game. The game consists of six stages represented as movie theatres. The goal of the game is to complete each stage by fulfilling their unique objectives. Each stage has traps and enemies designed to kill the player. The player begins with Eriko Christy and can rescue and recruit more playable characters as they progress including Kevin Kertsman, Randy Fairbanks, and Michel Waters. Each character has different strengths and weaknesses.
A Horror Monitor is available near the beginning of each stage. The Horror Monitor allows the player to detect and mark areas for potential traps, items, and enemies at the cost of adrenaline. Traps attack in various different ways, resulting in blood loss, the rise of pulse, and lowered stamina, in addition to the enemies. 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 available character. If there are no remaining characters, the game ends and must be restarted from the previous save point.
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. Successful escape clears out the enemies. Each character has four senses: sight, hearing, smell and a 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 and 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 can 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.
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". 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.
Development and release
Illbleed was developed by Crazy Games. The game was directed by Tetsuro Sugimori with Shinya Nishigaki serving as producer and writer. The game was released in Japan on March 29, 2001, and in North America on April 16, 2001. It is the only Dreamcast game that 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 rumors of cancellation, the Traditional Chinese version was released 10 months after the original Japanese release. 300 copies were released in Taiwan and it came in a boxset, which included the outer box, the game itself and a 2002 calendar in a CD jewel case.
An enhanced Xbox release was planned, but it was cancelled for unknown reasons.
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