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JU-ON: The Grudge

Platform(s): Wii
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: feelplus
Release Date: Oct. 13, 2009

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Wii Preview - 'Ju-On: The Grudge'

by Thomas Wilde on June 16, 2009 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

JU-ON: The Grudge, inspired by the Japanese classic horror movie JU-ON (known in North America as The Grudge), is a “Haunted House Simulator” where accessibility and instant scares are given priority over all other game aspects, with the original creator of the movie, Takashi Shimizu, serving as a creative consultant to game development.

In traditional American horror movies, the victims are typically terrible people. The killer isn't really a truly malevolent force so much as a sort of hyperconservative one-man lynch squad; if you've smoked a joint, had some sex or cursed at your mom, he's here to with a kitchen knife to make sure you don't do it again. The person who's probably going to live through the movie is the one who's turning down the drugs or waiting until marriage, and thus, the status quo is comfortably maintained. Bad kids die; good kids live.

Ju-On, the Japanese horror franchise, does not play by these rules. It is set within a universe where good people — perfectly decent individuals in every way, up to but not quite at the point where it'd be ridiculous — are stalked, terrified and eventually killed, for no other reason than pure stupid chance. Usually, it's because they opened the wrong door or know the wrong people, and that's enough.

In Ju-On: The Grudge, certain locations may be cursed when someone dies with a score left to settle (and there's the "Grudge" of the title). If you enter the house where the person died, that's enough for the curse to take hold, and once you're thusly cursed, everyone you meet — maybe everyone you know — is vulnerable to it through you. Soon, you'll disappear, and so will they, one person at a time.

Of course, this is perfect material for a Wii game.

Ju-On is currently scheduled for an October release, with the film's director, Takeshi Shimizu, serving as a consultant on the game. It's billed as a "haunted house simulator." You explore its environments in first-person, using a single button to do everything you need to do. It's smooth and simple, even by the standards of Wii gaming.

You can hand a second Wiimote to a friend, who can use it to activate various additional events. Imagine a Silent Hill game where the random freak-outs — loud sounds from right behind you, sudden musical trills, blood from nowhere — were triggered by another person. One such event I was shown involved bugs suddenly covering the screen, and thus my character.

In Nerima, Japan, when a housewife is murdered, her dying grudge manifests as a more powerful curse than anything that's been seen before. Unfortunately for the Yamada family, their daughter Erika enters the warehouse where the housewife was murdered.

You start off as Erika, searching for her missing dog in an abandoned warehouse. The Wiimote doubles as a flashlight, allowing you to illuminate rooms by pointing it in real time. As you progress through the game, you move on to play as the other members of the Yamada family, as they search for a method to somehow survive the curse.

Ju-On: The Grudge is only about eight to 10 hours long, so Xseed is currently discussing releasing it at a lowered price point, ranging from $19.99 to $29.99. It's simple, but even playing it in a quiet, well-lit office on the E3 show floor, it managed to make me jump a couple of times. Horror fans who are interested in a truly bleak experience, albeit one that's going to depress you for the rest of the day, should keep an eye out for this.

 


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