Innsmouth no Yakata

Innsmouth no Yakata[lower-alpha 1], also known as Insmouse no Yakata, is a 1995 first person horror video game developed be Be Top and published by I'Max in Japan for the Virtual Boy. Assuming the role of a private detective in 1922, the player is tasked with escaping a monster-infested mansion with an artifact called the necronomicon while being pursued by monsters. The player navigates several maze-like levels that must be finished under a certain amount of time.

Innsmouth no Yakata
Developer(s)Be Top
Publisher(s)I'Max
Platform(s)Virtual Boy
Release
  • JP: October 13, 1995
Genre(s)First-person horror
Mode(s)Single player

Being one of Be Top's only games, Innsmouth no Yakata is loosely based on the H.P. Lovecraft novel The Shadow over Innsmouth, however the only simularity between the two is the presence of fish-like monsters. It is believed the game is a loose adaptation of a Japanese television film based on The Shadow over Innsmouth, however this has yet to be confirmed. It received mixed to positive reception, with critics praising its Lovecraftian setting. Reception of the gameplay was mixed with critical contemporary reviews from magazines Famitsu and VB Guide, though it was viewed positively for its ambition and uniqueness.

Gameplay

Innsmouth no Yakata is a first-person horror video game. Assuming the role of a private detective in 1922, the player is tasked with escaping a monster-infested mansion with an artifact called the necronomicon.[1] The game is played from a first-person perspective, with each stage consisting of a floor within the mansion — the player must find a key and use it to open an exit door under a strict time limit, which varies between levels.[1][2] It uses a twin-stick control scheme, with one d-pad used for movement and the other for the gun.[1] Completing each stage will present the player with a stage select screen, featuring branching level paths similar to the Darius series.[2] The game automatically selects a floor based on how much time is left upon completion — finishing in under 30 seconds lets the player move up a floor and finishing in the last 30 seconds has the player move down a floor.[3] After completing one of the final floors, the player escapes and the game ends.[1]

Throughout the game the player will encounter fish-like monsters that will attempt to kill them.[3] These creatures can either be defeated with bullets or by fleeing them.[3] Smaller enemies take about two or three bullets to kill, while larger ones requires five or eight to kill.[2] Additional ammunition can be found scattered throughout the floor, alongside health pickups.[3] A map screen can be brought up that shows the player's current location and the layout of the floor, which will begin to reveal itself as the player moves throughout it.[3] Two kinds of orbs can be found randomly placed in each floor; white orbs reveal the entirety of the map, while black orbs show the locations of items in that specific floor.[3] The game features 45 different floors, however the level select system only allows the player to visit 13 of them. It features four different endings, including a "joke" ending that sends the player back to the start of the game.[3]

Development

Innsmouth no Yakata was developed by Be Top and published by I'Max on October 13, 1995 in Japan for the Virtual Boy.[4] As one of Be Top's very few titles,[2] it is loosely based on the H.P. Lovecraft novel The Shadow over Innsmouth, however the only relation between the two is the presence of fish-like monsters.[3] It is believed the game is closely tied to a Japanese made-for-TV movie based on the novel, however this ahs not been officially confirmed.[3] Akin to all other Virtual Boy games, it uses a red and black color scheme and projects two slightly different images in each eye hole to simulate depth.[5][3] Its limited release and launch towards the end of the Virtual Boy's short lifespan has since made it a prized collector's item.[6]

Reception

Reception
Review score
PublicationScore
Famitsu24/40[7]

Initial reviews for Innsmouth no Yakata were lukewarm. Famitsu was critical towards the game's lack of ambition and the presence of a time limit, saying that most players would not be able to fully immerse themselves in its world due to the short length of the timer.[7] They unfavorably compared it Dungeon Master (1987), disliking its limited ammunition and relatively easy difficulty.[7] VB Guide liked its presentation, but criticized the quality of its gameplay and horror elements.[8] Despite the more negative reception, Nintendo Magazine felt that its horror-themed locations and role-playing elements would make it a success in Japan.[9]

Retrospectively, it has been met with a mostly positive response for its atmosphere and uniqueness. Both Anthony John Agnello for The A.V. Club and Hardcore Gaming 101 found it to be a precursor to the twin-stick movement control style found in first-person shooters and virtual reality horror games respectively.[10][3] Writer Jeremy Parish noted Innsmouth no Yakata as an exception to the Virtual Boy's otherwise lackluster Japan-only catalog. Parish found it to be unlike most other games, praising its "hyper-focused design" and noted that the Virtual Boy's otherwise "nightmarish" red-and-black visuals work well with its Lovecraftian setting. He added that the "little burst of actions" allow players time to rest their eyes.[5] Some critics were more negative; while Benji Edwards for PC Magazine found its difficulty and Lovecraftian setting enhanced the game despite not thinking of it as a "great game," Official Nintendo Magazine staff were more critical, calling its controls "awful" and sprites "ugly."[11][12] Retro Gamer staff meanwhile felt that the game's password system and time limit harmed the atmosphere and tension of the game, while they also criticized it for repetitive gameplay and environments.[13]

The video game Ritualistic Madness took inspiration from Innsmouth no Yakata.[14]

Notes

  1. Japanese: インスマウスの館 Hepburn: Insumausu no Yakata, "The Innsmouth Hall"

References

  1. Innsmouth no Yakata instruction manual (translated) (PDF). Japan: I'Max. 13 October 1995. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  2. Parish, Jeremy (3 July 2019). "Innsmouth no Yakata retrospective: Chthonic adventure - Virtual Boy Works #17". YouTube. Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  3. "Top 47,858 Games of All Time Bonus Get 24: Innsmouth no Yakata". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
  4. "Best Picks of This Week". Famitsu. October 20, 1995.
  5. Parish, Jeremy (June 5, 2019). "Behold the unknowable mind-shattering terror of Virtual Boy's greatest import game". Retronauts. Archived from the original on September 10, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  6. "The Lost Big Brother: Virtual Boy" (22). Retrogames. Archived from the original on 30 May 2019. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  7. "Weekly Cross Review - インスマウスの館" (357). ASCII Corporation. Famitsu. 20 October 1995. Archived from the original on 30 May 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  8. "インスマウスの館". VB Guide. 1995. p. 9. Archived from the original on 29 May 2019. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  9. "Virtual Boy". Nintendo Magazine. September 1995.
  10. Agnello, Anthony John (June 10, 2015). "The Virtual Boy didn't do a damn thing right, but it still had Nintendo's soul". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on August 30, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  11. Edwards, Benji (February 7, 2019). "7 Forgotten Nintendo Virtual Boy Classics". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on August 28, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  12. "Virtual Boy Insanity?". Official Nintendo Magazine. January 2010. p. 60.
  13. "Innsmouth no Yakata". Retro Gamer (102). 2012. p. 48. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  14. Tarason, Dominic (February 28, 2019). "Tamashii is an aggressively unsettling horror platformer". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on August 28, 2019. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
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