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Clock Tower

26 June 2002 - Reflection by Gideon Zhi

Reflection

Clock Tower holds an interesting history with me. I first learned of the series when what we got as Clock Tower for the Playstation was still a few months away from a US release. ASCII, the company that published the game, was pegging it as a Resident Evil clone, or at least that’s what it looked like at the time. A friend of mine ended up purchasing the game, and whenever I asked him about it, he swore it was cursed. He claimed it wasn’t like Resident Evil at all, that it was much more frightening. Of course, stupid me, I didn’t believe him at all. So I borrowed it from him and gave it a spin late that night when I got home.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well that night. Or any night for the following two weeks or so. Clock Tower was one of the most profoundly frightening games I’d played in a -very- long time. I enjoyed the game quite a bit, and felt compelled to complete it, unlock everything, get all the hints, and what have you, but that doesn’t change the fact that it scared the bloody shit out of me.

Some time later, I learned of an SNES version of the game. This was… probably anywhere from half a year to a year before Aeon Genesis got its first lurching start. It turned out that the SNES version was a prequel, the PSX one a direct sequel in every way, and of course I wanted to learn more about the game’s story. So, come May of 1999, I decided that it’d be fun to try to hack it. Clock Tower was the third game I’d ever tried to hack, and as such, the third mistake I made in a row :p As I’m sure you can imagine, the project didn’t get very far. It didn’t get very far at -all- for two years or so. Then Tsama showed up.

A Japanese speaker who had very rudimentary knowledge of romhacking, Tsama managed to find the script which I immediately got dumped. It only took him a few days to get it translated, I think – I don’t remember that phase of the project all that clearly. Disnesquick showed up and rigged up some DMA hacks like the ones I’ve used in recent patches (see Accelebrid and Gundam Wing Endless Duel) to work around the compression which is apparently an evil LZ/Huffman hybrid. The rest, as they say, is history. The whole ordeal took about two or three months from start to finish. If it were today, of course, I probably could have gotten it done in a week or two. But that’s another story!

For those of you who haven’t played it and want to know more than that “Clock Tower is a game” as Spinner 8’s piece of crap outstanding review tells us, Clock Tower is a point-and-click adventure game, along the same general lines as King’s Quest. It’s a -short- game, but what it lacks in length for a single playthrough it makes up in replay value. Clock Tower has better replay than Chrono Trigger for chrissakes. A good half of the Barrows family mansion is randomly rearranged each time you start the game. The underlying puzzle of how to escape from the mansion changes as well – there’re actually two of those puzzles, but you’ll only solve one each game. There are also a whole slew of cause and effect events, where if you do one thing or see one thing, another event changes (or doesn’t happen at all.) All of the events that you see add up and determine your ending, and each ending is ranked from A-H, with a special S ending that you can get if one of your friends manages to survive. There’s a LOT of stuff to do in it. Of all the games I’ve worked on, Clock Tower still remains very unique, and it is easily one of my favorites.