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Retro Fire

Written: 1.7.11
Acquired: 4.18.10
Status: Cart only
Price: $47.50

Pub: HUMAN EntertainmentSeptember 14, 1995
Dev: HUMAN Entertainment25 MEGS  (YES, 25!)

As I write this, it's Friday morning, January 7, 2011. That means one thing to me: four glorious years ago RVGFANATIC was launched into cyberspace madness. It's crazy to believe four years could fly by this fast, yet here we are on the Anniversary of this little retro site. I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to dish out my 40th SNES game review. Now we need a special game for the 40th review. I'd say this game definitely qualifies. Never officially released in the US, this is a fan translated copy of the Japanese game. But before we get into it, I want to quickly reminisce. When this site opened four years ago the first SNES game review was Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen. I grew up loving Godzilla. Another thing I loved growing up: horror movies, Michael Myers (he was my favorite out of all of them) and the 16-bit Super Nintendo

Clock Tower in many ways combined a lot of my childhood favorites. It resembles a horror film, it had a wonderfully frightening villain named SCISSORMAN (I almost like him as much as Michael Myers) and it was on my favorite system of all time: the SNES. What more could I ask for, right?

Unfortunately, the game never received an American release. I guess by the time it came out in Japan (9.14.95), the SNES was getting to be old news quickly on the way out in favor of the brand new 32-bit machine warhorses. Well that, and NoA!  After all this isn't your typical cutesy SNES game. What a shame it never saw American soil, because this is one of the most unique and original efforts one could play on their Super Nintendo

Thankfully, some fine fellow took measures into his own hands when an English translated copy hit the SNES scene. At long last, Super NES gamers could finally play this game as if it DID come out stateside!  Man, you gotta love fans who labor to do this kind of stuff as it's such a blessing to the community!  I liken it to finding buried treasure in your attic. Any time I can play a Super Nintendo game I thought was previously unplayable, I'm a happy camper  ^_^

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the HALLOWEEN series. Uncle Jimmy let me rent the first one back in 1989. I spent more than half the movie hiding behind the sofa with one hand over my eyes. I even had a nightmare of Halloween's iconic madman, Michael Myers, later that night. And I was hooked. For life. Go figure. I had dreamed about someone turning the Halloween concept into a video game. I mean, how awesome would it be to take complete control of a protagonist who is constantly being chased by a masked maniac?  That every room you enter... you JUST don't know if he's lurking in the shadows... watching and studying your every move... waiting for the right moment to jump out and slit your throat wide open?  It's a rush watching a well made horror movie, and I always thought to myself, heck I DREAMED, what a rush it would be to PLAY a well made horror game. Yes, Resident Evil was dope no doubt, but I'm talking about a horror game where you don't have guns and bazooka's. Jamie Lee Curtis (AKA Laurie Strode) sure didn't have a glock. I'm also talking about a horror game that doesn't saturate you with a million zombies. Michael Myers didn't have friends with him. Dude worked alone. It's much scarier when you have no weapons and one memorable madman stalking ya. And Clock Tower, folks, achieved that in spades!

                                                     Check out the English fan-translated cartridge!


My first exposure to Clock Tower was in 1997. I actually thought the PlayStation game was the first one ever. I didn't know about the SNES version being the first one until years later. I'll never forget PSX Clock Tower. From the moment I read its splendid three page ad in EGM #97 (August '97), I was hooked. Seriously the best advertisement ever. I knew I had to buy the game, and it was the only PSX game I ever bought! The ad is so awesome, lemme replicate bits of it
For my money, Clock Tower was my favorite PlayStation game

                                                            CRIMSON FOUNTAINS OF GORE

A bright plume of warm crimson rain erupted as the giant scissors rent the flesh of his next victim... this is certainly not the game for the timid or weak of stomach! From corpses at your bedroom door to half eaten bodies in the restroom, ASCII has packed Clock Tower to the belfry with some of
the most gruesome and spectacular graphics of the year!  Watch in horror as the limping gait of the immortal Scissorman approaches your present hiding place -- only to see the bright fountain of your own blood if he happens to find you!  Any horror fan will quickly recognize the brilliance of the programmer's virtuoso performance in the lighting, shadowing, angles, and sheer volume of gruesome content!  Lots of animation and full 3D polygons were used to bring the bloody, murderous surroundings to life. This, in conjunction with the well detailed backgrounds and characters, will have you at the edge of your seat -- praying that
you make it through the night!


The chilling sound of the Banshee's scream itself couldn't have been more dreadful than the sound of the sheering scrape of sharpened steel blades sliding past each other -- not to mention the wonderful effect of pure silence in some of the most chillingly tense scenes of the game. There's something terribly dreadful in the sound of your own two feet echoing through some of the most profoundly evil halls ever wrought, and I couldn't agree more with the programmers when they spoke of the "Terror of Sound" which they labored for in this game! ASCII's purpose in the sound scheme of this game is fairly easy to understand... with sounds that aren't there when they should be, sounds in impossible places, the chilling music of the chase, and the haunting scrape of the Scissorman himself as he stalks you with inhuman determination... they want to scare you out of your skin!

Of course, the voice-overs and sound effects of the surrounding environments are a beautiful addition to the already impressive audio display. The tightly knit unison of background noise, voices, sound of movement, music and silence create a living auditory atmosphere that will
draw you into the world of terror on the screen right before you


In a game where one false move could easily mean the difference between escape and grisly death, control is of paramount importance. This is another area where Clock Tower excels! From fleeing down dark corridors and hiding in shower stalls, to hurling chairs and brawling with your would be assailant, the full range
of movement offered by Clock Tower will leave you breathless with the fight or flight instinct. For those who like to hide, just try to avoid hiding in the same spot too many times in a row. Scissorman has a limited IQ, but he's not that stupid!

Also remember to check every nook and cranny for items that you may be able to use later. With a little help, you might just live to see the light of tomorrow

Many horrific death scenes await...

A series of brutal murders have signaled the return of one of the most terrifying killers in the history of Romsdaaren, Norway -- Scissorman!  Terror gripped the hearts of the mixed party of ten as they finally reached the unholy walls of the Barrow's family mansion in England. No one could have imagined the unspeakable horrors that lay behind the infamous Scissorman case when the malevolent butcherings had begun. Now, the dreadful search for the answers had culminated into a lynching party that brought them all here, to the very doorstep of Hell itself. Would they finally find the key to send this twisted soul back to the nether regions of death that had so maliciously spat him into their lives?  Only time will tell....

I remember reading this one page preview over and over again!

                                        EGM gave Clock Tower scores of 8.5, 8.0, 8.0 and 6.0 in ish #98

Then in issue #99, they ran this Clock Tower vs. Enemy Zero feature

                                        Their clowning of Scissorman pissed me off I can vividly recall!

Ah, there EGM... that's more like it :)

I have such great and fond memories with this game. As I said it was the only PSX game I ever bothered to buy. For a while there in '98 I was eating, drinking, sleeping and crapping Clock Tower. Heh, I used this game to scare the living daylights out of my then 10-year-old cousin David (yes, the same cousin from BUON COMPLEANNO!). Uncle Jimmy, the one who rented Halloween for me back in '89, used to visit us a lot back in the late '90s, and David would always come only to run out screaming whenever Scissorman gave chase. Ahhh, the good old days eh? ;) So, when I found out about Clock Tower ORIGINATING on the SNES, I simply had to get my hands on it. It took a long time, but when I finally got around to buying it, it felt like, as I popped the game into my SNES, that I was saying hello to my best friend's little bro. Sad, isn't it?  [Oh if you only knew... -Ed.]  I'd heard VERY good things about the SNES game, so I couldn't wait to fire that baby up. Without further ado, let's take a closer look at the game shall we?


                                                 For some reason that sentence gives me the creeps...

"Oh Lotte, I just want to admire the trees for a bit can't I?"

                                                                Would I ever lie to you, Jennifer?

Ooooh, here's another scene that just sends chills down my spine. Old Ms. Mary pointing like some sinister witch... the way the screen scrolls to reveal the mansion looming in the distance. GOOD STUFF. Clock Tower's intro sets the mood nicely for one twisted ride!

And surprise surprise, one by one, each one...

                                                       Despite being restricted to 2D, it still works

Seriously, what kind of parents would name their kid Lotte???

                                                     Clock Tower relies on building up the suspense

And now, the REAL fun begins!  Mwahahahaha....

                                                   Use the cursor to check every inch of every room

That is seriously one demonic looking tree. Reminds me of the ones from DOOM

                                              [Shoot, you had better think of saving YOURSELF!  -Ed.]

And, the legend is born ^_^

                                            Sometimes you can't help but feel you're being watched...

I mean, what's the worst that could happen, right?

                                               The repeating "I'll get chu!" voice-over is pretty creepy

I hope there are no crazy bird lovers reading this right now

                                       These dreadful moments always bring me to the edge of my seat

That pretty much sums it up, yeah..

                                                                    No rest for the WICKED eh!

This is most definitely not a game for little kids -- a rarity for SNES!

                                           This is TOTALLY Jamie Lee Curtis-Michael Myers circa '78!

[I wish it would!  -Ed.]

                                                Scissorman pulls a page out of Michael Myers' book

Aw poor Jennifer. She's pretty much screwed here

                                             If you're already in the red zone, you're in the dead zone

Then again, neither does hiding. Sometimes even then he'll get ya

The "puzzles" in Clock Tower are quite elementary  [Good thing for you!  Ta!  -Ed.]

[No Jennifer. That's just a pile of steaming crap!  -Ed.]

                                                          A bit dark here... let me turn on the light...

Dang that's quite a big pocket you got there Jenny!

                                          Looks like some kind of meat locker, but what's that inside?

Scissorman isn't the only threat in this accursed mansion...

                                                  Hmmm, you'll need a special item to kill the bugs...

Something shiny can be seen on the bottom...

                                      Or maybe... it's all a premeditated trap?  Only one way to find out!

Could be worse. They say man's the biggest monster of all...

                                                          Ah, young naive Jennifer, bless her heart

Ms. Mary is a creepy old wretch in an effectively subtle way

                                           I knew something was wrong with that witch from the intro!

[OH NO YOU DIH-ENT!  *removes earrings*  -Shaniqua]

                                                  Yes Jennifer, take it AND SPLASH IT IN HER FACE!

[Uh, let's just return to the movie -Ed.]  [MMMM-HM -Shaniqua]

                               Ah Jenny. I sure hope you have a character arc like Laurie Strode did!

Not two feet away from her sat a deranged and unkempt savage...

                                          And could IT, whatever it is, be even WORSE than this guy?!

One of the most cryptic messages in SNES gaming history!  ^_^

                                                   I promise I'll never make fun of your name again!

Lotte: Yeah, I saw a mad man limping around with HUGE shears!

                                                        YES!  FINALLY!  JENNY'S CHARACTER ARC!

Laurie Strode, er, Jenny, has grown up before our very eyes  *sniff*

                                                  [THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' BOUT GIRL!  -Shaniqua]

What happens next?  Find out on your own!  What secrets are tucked away in this mansion of unspeakable horrors?  What's the deal with Scissorman?  Is someone pulling the strings?  Was it Ms. Mary, or something far more demonic?  Will you survive the grisly night to see the light of day?  CLOCK TOWER awaits!  Turn off the lights, crank up the sound and say a prayer!


Quick!  Get that shoulder outta sight, Jen!  Here comes the Scissorman...

                                Like John Carpenter's Halloween, the music makes Clock Tower work

Simply put, there's no other SNES game that offers this kind of tension

                                                                         [Do I get a vote?  -Ed.]


Normally here is where I'll put the game's scores according to the "Super Three"  (EGM, GameFan and Super Play Magazine -- if applicable), but for this game, being a special fan-translated version and all, I thought I'll just cite some fan comments instead. Seems fitting enough, eh?  The following comments come from various gamers who have encountered Scissorman's wrath over the years...

  • Clock Tower creates an underlying wave of fear throughout the game's course, and there are certain scenes in the game that may act as a proverbial moon to bring in this terrifying tide. Clock Tower doesn't pull any punches, and the horrifyingly... well, real atmosphere of the Barrows' mansion had me paranoid for at least a week!  In fact, one of my friends who I first played the game with noted that the scariest part of the game was that almost everything in it can easily be connected to real life. Compounding off this, my first play through of the game was at a small party I held for six or seven close friends, and with the exception of one (she's oddly impervious to that sort of shock value), we were all scared out of our wits. Clock Tower's just cool that way  -Amai Yuuwaku

  • Gloomy and ominous, Clock Tower is a wonderful experience for any fan of interactive horror, and well worth playing through whether as a longtime fan of the series or a wide-eyed newcomer  -Tachibana Ukyo

  • After playing through it for only a meager half-hour, I know that I am never going back to
    it! I am a bit tense when it comes to Hitchcock movies, and I must say, this game has a
    lot of Hitchcock-esque horror elements. Clock Tower doesn't make the game scary with
    blood and gore, no sir. It's just the sounds and sudden happenings that cause you to psychologically snap (a lot like Hitchcock movies!)  -Alain Garamonde

  • Clock Tower: the story of hope, betrayal and survival. The game revolves around Jennifer and a couple of her friends who get adopted by a family. They get to the mansion in the woods in hopes of a new, happy life. All seem well, until the group gets split up. That’s when they start to meet Scissorman. Instead of a happy life, what they got was a heart-pounding adventure. Their test was a test of wit and resourcefulness against the wrath
    of Scissorman  -xTurksx

  • I'm never scared by any horror video games. Never ever. So, my friend bet me $20 at my birthday that I would be scared by this game. I took that bet and I definitely lost that bet. This game is absolutely scary  -Windscar18

  • I didn't know what to expect when I tried this game out. I found myself in control of a teenage girl all alone in a huge mansion, so I figured I was meant to go exploring. I went walking down the nearby hall, passing a couple of doors when all of a sudden this creepy music starts playing!  Just like in a horror movie!

    So of course, like a total imbecile, I explored the door I was in front of when it began to play. I found myself in a hazy bathroom, and looked at the various fixtures. The only thing the cursor responded to was the closed shower curtains. So again like an imbecile, I went to look. The tub was full, but the person in it was hanging from her wrists from the shower curtain's bar. Apparently it was one of the girl's friends, but I didn't have long to think about that. Suddenly this figure jumped out of the bathtub, brandishing a huge pair of scissors!  It was a blue-skinned dwarfish being in a schoolboy's outfit, with a four-foot-pair of scissors. This was the beginning of my Clock Tower experience...  -The Manx

  • I hate this game. I can't tell you how much I do. That may be misleading, but I hate this game in a I'm-too-scared-to-turn-it-on way, not the I-don't-want-to-play way. I've played Clock Tower for PSX. Clock Tower for the SNES is 4 times as good. This game really messed with my mind, and it reminded me of Maniac Mansion in it's control scheme, but that's a good thing. The interface is easy to control and actually fun, as you run through rooms chased by the maniacal Scissorman, trying to find a place to hide, with his shears getting louder and louder as he dogs your steps, the clicking on objects getting more frantic as you realize he's just one room behind you... and then SNAP!  DEAD END!

  • I type this as I look out my door on Christmas Eve. He's coming. I can hear it. It's been about two whole days since I've played the game, but I am still rather leery -Lord Flamingo


My fellow gamers there said it best. I can echo many of their comments. Have you ever had one
of those special gaming experiences you'll never forget?  Perhaps it was, in addition to the game itself, the weather, the season in your own life, or the place where it happened. About two weeks ago it was Christmas night. I was sleeping over at my parents' HUGE two story house, and that was the first time I went through Clock Tower from start to finish. Playing til 4:30 AM, every bloody sound that emanated from either the game or the house, had me on the edge of my seat and peeking over
my shoulder with much trepidation. It's been a long time since I've been
a little kid, but that night, Scissorman sure made me feel like one. There's something special to be said about that!  Gloomy and ominous are two fitting adjectives to describe this game. You could also go with any one of: creepy, tense, spooky, unnerving, twisted, demented, deranged, scary, frightening, horrifying, terrifying, bleak, hopeless, depressing, dark, grim or stark. All these words fit Clock Tower to
a tee. With multiple endings, a sinister masked maniac and a simple yet compelling story, the game draws you in like few others and then spits you out leaving you feeling exasperated, a bit uneasy, and completely satisfied

Simply put, there is no other game quite like Clock Tower on the 16-bit SNES. That alone makes it noteworthy. Throw in the fact how well done it was all executed, and what you have here... is one uniquely special game all serious SNES gamers must play. Scissorman is easily one of the most memorable villains in SNES history. He waits in the shadows and pops out at the most (in)opportune moments. Grisly and horrifying deaths, high tension cat and mouse chase scenes, and not knowing for sure where Scissorman lurks makes Clock Tower great!  The graphics are well done and give the game an ominous atmosphere. The sound will raise the hair up on the back of your neck. The game is so simple a non-gamer could play it. It's not too long, but the nine endings and the fact that it's just a great game assure I'll be breaking this one out every Halloween season. After that night at my parents', I met up with my cousin David the following day. Yes, the same one I scared with PlayStation Clock Tower more than a decade ago. I told him how I spent much of last night playing the original Clock Tower on Super Nintendo, what an AWESOME experience that was, with the whipping rain outside, and I swear, just the mere mention of SCISSORMAN gave poor David a horrid flashback. Heck, I don't blame him. Just saying Scissorman out loud gives me some of the heebie-jeebies. Do what you gotta do to play this game, and be sure to turn off the lights, lock your doors and pray for mercy!

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Longevity: 7

Overall: 9.0

Gold Award

[Hey, Scissorman just called... he wants to wish you a happy 4th Anniversary, and wants to know when you wanna do lunch?  -Ed.]

Um.... tell him I'll be outta the office for a few... years

[*HOPEFUL*  Really?!  -Ed.]

*sigh*  The people I work for...

[Just kidding. Happy 4th!  -Ed.]

Thank you to all, and to all a GOOD NIGHT!  ^_^

NOT SO FAST!  Have you heard of...


In 2007, those sick, sick Japanese folks released
a horror film based on a rumor that ran rampant throughout early 1980s Japan... the Slit (AKA Severed) Mouth Woman!  This horrible disfigured lady apparently roamed the streets of rural Japan looking for children to answer her one simple, deadly question: "AM I PRETTY?"  The wrong response was met with grave consequences. Through comic books and magazines this became a popular urban myth. It became such a hysteria that ALL students were forbidden to go home alone and groups were formed for safety. There was even an incident where a lady chasing some kids was struck
by a car. Her mouth was revealed to have been slit from ear to ear!  Was it the Slit Mouth Woman?

Imagine trying to take her home to Mom!

This mysterious deranged woman wore a surgical mask to cover her scar. In addition, she carries with her a giant lethal pair of scissors, much like the Scissorman himself. Was Clock Tower influenced in any way by the Severed Mouth Woman urban legend of 1980's Japan? We don't know for sure, but I can tell you this, the 2007 movie is creepy as hell!  I saw it with my cousins (again, poor David) and they could barely finish it!  As most Japanese horror films tend to be, and much like Clock Tower the game itself, the movie is a bit slow at times but stick with it -- when it gets going IT REALLY GETS GOING!  Some of the scenes from the film still haunt me to this day. The imagery is all disturbing and demented. The lady kills children!  That is just wrong. We were watching it at 2 AM with the lights off, and my cousins were sitting far far away from the TV. Even I felt a little uneasy... there's something about the movie that just makes one feel uncomfortable, yet you can't help but continue watching (with one eye!)

The movie is known as "Carved." There was also a sequel made not too long ago. It wasn't too bad for a sequel, but much like Halloween ('78) itself, the original will always be the best. I highly recommend this film to horror buffs out there. It's sick, twisted and if you happen to love Scissorman as much as I do, this is the closest we might ever get to seeing Scissorman in movie form. Who doesn't love a good old fashion ghost story urban legend?  Japan is such a creepy place. I don't know what it is about it, but any movie taking place in rural Japan is automatically 50 times scarier and creepier than any American horror film. Those Japanese artists are some sick, SICK people. Carved is an excellent "slasher" movie and the fact that it's based off a real Japan urban legend "Kuchisake Onna" makes it all the more unsettling and spooky. Plus the Severed Mouth Woman is easily one of the genuinely scariest horror movie villains to come around in the past ten years. Don't miss it!

                                    Just one of the many, MANY disturbing twisted scenes in CARVED!

"AM I PRETTY???"  [Sweet dreams tonight eh?  -Ed.]

Some cool links to check out:

Severed Mouth Woman urban myth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy7LnTznkks

Carved trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZFTs8ujxrE

More on the Slit Mouth Woman: http://www.scaryforkids.com/kuchisake-onna/

And for more on my Christmas 2010 Clock Tower experience: Christmas Memoirs

NOW I BID YOU ALL A GOOD NIGHT!  If that's possible... =P