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Although Kamaitachi no Yoru is arguably the most famous of Chunsoft’s “Sound Novel” games it’s actually the second one they released; Otogirisou came out two years earlier in 1992. Both the Sound Novel series and Kamaitachi no Yoru would prove to be popular with gamers, spawning numerous sequels and remakes across multiple platforms. Sound Novels themselves are very much like visual novels – a story is played out using a combination of text and images and at key points the player is presented with a selection of choices on how to proceed which in turn effect the overall outcome of the game. This particular game almost always uses transparent blue silhouettes to represent characters instead of more traditional images or art – this was a stylistic choice and reused in later games in the series.
Kamaitachi no Yoru is a murder mystery set within a Japanese ski lodge; the main character Toru (both he and his potential girlfriend Mari can both be renamed) has to not only survive but also work out who the culprit is before more people die. The game doesn’t make this easy though and deliberately tries to throw the player off the scent with misdirection and multiple suspects. When it comes to naming the suspect the player has to type in their name rather than pick from a list – and even if they know exactly who did it they still need to find enough evidence to prove it. To help the player somewhat you can re-read any text encountered so far at any time, and the later Playstation port added a proper visual flow chart to make it more obvious which “path” the player was on.
There are many routes through the main game and once that has been completed five new scenarios open up – these are entirely unrelated to the main story and each other and vary greatly in both length and tone, ranging from comedy to ghost stories and even something of a parody of Chunsoft’s own Torneko series!
In total there are six ports of the game:
Playstation (1998) – This version includes two extra scenarios not present in the original
Game Boy Advance (2002) – Omits the PS1 extra scenarios
Flash (2002) – Called “Kamaitachi no Yoru Internet”, required payment to play the full game. Website remnant here
Mobile (2002) – Each scenario was a paid-for app, meaning it was possible to play hidden/side stories independently of the main game
Android (2010) – Again has each scenario as it’s own paid-for app.
There have also been two sequels – Kamaitachi no Yoru 2 came out on the PS2 in 2002, mobile phone (not Android/iOS) in 2004 and finally on PSP in 2006. Kamaitachi no Yoru 3 was again on PS2 and mobile phones in 2006 and 2007 respectively. The latest game in the series, Shin Kamaitachi no Yoru: 11ninme no Suspect, came out in 2011 on the same day for both PS3 and Vita.
Almost all background images in the game are digitized photos of a real ski lodge in Nagano, you can see comparisons between the game and the current (well, 2010) layout here.
(This video is of the Playstation version, I couldn’t find a good SFC one without commentary – sorry!)