Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jul 102024

I thought we’d be talking about the Radiant Tale fandisc today, but instead we’ve got something much darker and weirder to discuss.

Without any explanation, Nintendo shared a mysterious new teaser trailer across social media today.

Titled only “Emio” in English and “The Smiling Man” in Japanese, the teaser is only a few seconds long and shows a man standing with a bag over his head that depicts a smiling face, with quick glimpses of other faces as well. Everything about it appears to be a teaser for a horror game, and the trailer shows that it’s rated M.

The Japanese trailer’s description includes a link to the official website. There aren’t any more details there yet, but that supports the idea that this is either developed or at least published by Nintendo.

As you can imagine, this has resulted in a ton of speculation. Many people have suggested this could be related to Eternal Darkness or Fatal Frame, but there isn’t much evidence for that besides those being the horror games Nintendo is most closely associated with. I would love to see a new Eternal Darkness game someday, but nothing in that teaser suggests the Lovecraftian atmosphere of that game.

Fatal Frame is a closer match since it has that sort of Japanese horror styling and presentation, but it doesn’t feel like a teaser for a story about ghosts. I’m also inclined to think a new Fatal Frame would be teased as Fatal Frame.

A few people have guessed a new Famicom Detective Club game. While I’d love that, this feels like it’s going too much in the horror direction to fit with that series (although I have to admit, “The Smiling Man” would be a title in the vein of “The Girl Who Stands Behind”).

All of that makes me inclined to think this mysterious “Emio” game is either a new IP or something obscure.

Rumors started circulating shortly after that it might be developed by Bloober Team, but there’s no basis for that beyond Bloober Team saying they were working on a game for Nintendo platforms. It’s not even remotely confirmed that their game is Emio, certainly not enough for people to be arguing about it as much as they have been.

Whatever the case may be, I’m excited at the potential of a new Nintendo horror game. What do you think Emio is?

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Oct 132023

Last month, we talked about the announcement of a Dementium: The Ward remaster for the Nintendo Switch.

At the time, I said that as part of this October’s celebration of spooky games, I might play either that or the 3DS version I already had. Well, I decided to play the 3DS version, Dementium Remastered.

My first thought upon starting up Dementium was, “Oh, this game will benefit from having a right stick to control the camera,” since camera controls were otherwise relegated to either the face buttons or the touchscreen on my old 3DS. Nevertheless, I eventually got used to using the stylus to aim.

You also use the stylus to write notes in your notebook, and that’s one of its best features. I loved actually writing down notes about puzzles, lock combinations, etc. in the notebook, so it’s a shame that mechanic is presumably cut from the new remaster. It’s a small touch, but one that makes the game feel a bit more unique.

Combat in Dementium plays like a first-person shooter, with several weapons you obtain along the way. You can’t hold a flashlight and a weapon at the same time, so a considerable amount of tension is added from needing to quickly switch to a weapon when you see an enemy approaching. I found it beneficial to avoid certain enemies, especially since you can only use healing items right when you find them.

Bosses are especially dangerous. Without being able to bring healing items to a boss fight with you, you really need to stay alert. One boss fight was so frustrating it nearly soured my view on the whole game.

Click for Dementium boss spoilers
I’m talking about the wheelchair boss, of course. I looked up a guide, only to find advice that seemingly didn’t work in the 3DS version, and the only other major piece of advice was to look up the code for obtaining the sniper rifle to get it earlier than you should. I finally beat him by adopting a very aggressive approach of shooting him and chasing after him instead of playing it safe, but it was a very frustrating fight.

Dementium is split into chapters, and the chapters are pretty much separate from one another. At first, I assumed I would be revisiting areas often, but that’s not the case. Backtracking is minimal and mostly occurs within the same chapter. You might see a locked box at the start of a chapter, and then spend the chapter finding what you need in order to unlock it, before moving on to a different area for the next chapter.

The backtracking can be somewhat annoying, though, because the map doesn’t mark blocked hallways. It was common for me to follow what looked like a path back to where I wanted to return to, only to find it blocked and need to take a long way around.

This factors into another flaw – the level design is kind of boring. There are a lot of areas where sections are blocked off so there’s only one way to go, and the small number of puzzles means most rooms are either empty or contain only health and/or ammo. The story is minimal and difficult to follow, too.

While this might sound like I’ve done nothing but complain about Dementium all this time, I actually had a decent time with it. The gameplay wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t bad, either. And the audio design was great; I often could tell what enemies were in a room with me just from the sounds I heard, and could plan accordingly. That aforementioned frustrating boss also had me using audio cues to determine when I should act.

Dementium is the sort of game I found to be just fine. I’m not jumping up and down to recommend it to people, but I still enjoyed playing it. Maybe someday we’ll take a look at its sequel, Dementium II.

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Sep 292023

Yesterday, the first-person shooter survival horror game Dementium: The Ward was announced for the Nintendo Switch.

Dementium was a DS game later brought to the 3DS as Dementium Remastered.

It’s also one of the games I picked up ahead of the 3DS eShop closing, since at the time there was no sign that it would get a port.

The first hint of something happening came in April, when Dementium director Jools Watsham tweeted that his company Atooi had the rights to make Dementium sequels and ports.

Now that’s coming to fruition with the announcement of Dementium: The Ward for the Nintendo Switch. It will be out on October 12, right in the middle of the spooky season.

In an interview with GameXplain, Watsham discusses adapting the game for a single-screen system, along with quality-of-life additions and other adjustments for the Switch version. It’s a good video to watch if you’re interested in how the new remaster will compare to the previous versions.

Since I never played the Dementium games before, maybe I should put the remaster on my list to play this October… or maybe I’ll play the 3DS version, since I already have it. Either way, it’s exciting to see a niche horror series like Dementium make a return!

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