Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Retroulette Special: Mansion of Hidden Souls

20 years ago today (well, as of this writing) the Sega CD was unleashed upon the world (well, North America). It....was not a massive success. It is largely remembered today for the ill-fated attempts at real life graphics™ achieved through low quality FMV. Like any system though, it has some hidden gems.

In the spirit of both the platinum anniversary of the Sega CD's release and of Halloween, I'm going to check out one of the Sega CD's few horror titles. Is this one of those aforementioned hidden gems, or is this game simply another Night Trap?

Then again, maybe that wouldn't be so bad....

The game begins with an FMV because of course it does.

A brother and sister are watching a butterfly landing on a flower at night, because....


"Margery, cancel my 10:30, my 11:45 and my 12:25......Because a butterfly just landed on a flower......Margery. Right on it."

The sister suggests following it, because butteries are known for their captivating lifestyles. Maybe, she says, just maybe it'll lead them to a flower garden under the old elm tree.

"Nope. Just another rave."

Hell no, the brother says. Grandma is going to be so mad when she finds out they were looking at butterflies. And also the elm tree is haunted by ghosts that turn people into butterflies.

By this point, it appears to me that butterflies are going to be a major presence in this game. It's not exactly what comes to mind when I think of Horror, but I guess they can be pretty scary sometimes. They're practically spiders with wings, right?

What's that? Not at all? I think I still made my point.

The sister shrugs off all the persuasive arguments made in favor of not spending the entire night looking at a damn bug, and in fact says she wants to be a butterfly. It's at that point that she runs off. It's pretty fortunate that this happens during a prerecorded video, because if I was in control at all I wouldn't make any attempt to stop her. Anyone who would voluntarily find some ghosts to turn them into an insect deserves it. And I'm sure she would find that other butterflies are more on her level, intellectually.

But her brother tries to chase her for some reason. After running around 20ft the young lad finds, not an old elm tree at all, but a spooky mansion. He remarks in wonder at the presence of the mansion, stating that it was never there before. Somehow it avoided his notice as he played with a bug right in the front yard.

"Whoa. A stick! Let's follow it."
We enter the mansion with no resistance and....hey...

This all seems very familiar. I walk around using the tank controls attempting to open locked doors for a few minutes before something occurs to me.

"Dammit Chris. Always chasing butterflies."

Yes. This is the Spencer Mansion. In fact, all of this is Resident Evil. It's the same pre-rendered mansion walkin', , item collectin', puzzle solvin' action that you find in Capcom's classic. Only, the zombies are butterflies, and it's in first person. Far from a rip off though, this game predates Resident Evil by a few years.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The first thing I do is check every door I see. The method by which my character checks the doors is with a swift headbutt. If it's locked, he's left only with regrets.

The dumbass sister's voice comes from nowhere in particular to tell me that she's "over here". I ignore her, because that's less helpful than a French Army Knife.

The first door I can actually open leads to a living room.

There's not much going on in here. There's a bunch of things I can look at but can't interact with, and a fireplace that for some reason groans like the entrance to Hell but also will not let me interact with it. After a bit of searching I find a Diary. Ooooooh, what juicy details are we going to find!?

"Dear diary, today I found a butterfly landing on a flower! I think I'll follow it!"

Upon opening up the diary in my inventory, I'm met with this.

Three pages, numbered one through three in giant writing.

These people need fucking TV.

After headbutting a few more doors, I find another unlocked room upstairs.

As soon as I enter the room, I hear a woman with a thick eastern European accent. She tells me that my sister was here, and that I would never find her and that I suck. Also she's a talking butterfly.

I've only had cause twice in my life to call a butterfly a "little bitch", but seriously, this butterfly can kiss my ass.

She's got balls though. I would hesitate to provoke anyone three billion times my body mass when my own body is the consistency of paper-mache .

There's fuck all to find in this room right now though. I can only look at everything in the room while Tinkerbell flies around and bitches at me. So I get my ass out of there and go down the hall.

The next unlocked room looks like Barbie's Dreamhouse made sweet, flowery love to a Hello Kitty doll.

There's another butterfly in here. This one's nice though. She invites me to a tea party.

Again. Doesn't exactly scream Horror.
Poking around the room a bit more, I find a key under a couch. That seems to anger her a bit, and she says she won't tell me what door it opens.

Luckily, it unlocks the next door over. So suck it, butterfly.

In this room, there's a sassy butterfly gent who flies a bit too close to me as I walk around the room. He helps me find another key. As I leave the room I stare at painting. The screen fades to black to the sound of some demonic titters.

I wake up in some dungeon filled with candles and shit.

There's nothing I can do in here for now, so I leave through a little trap door. This room exits into a library. An Australian butterfly chap in here is excited to show me his collection of--

--Oh God. He's the butterfly equivalent of Leatherface.

He assures me these butterflies were once people, so there's no reason to worry. I manage to back my way out of there and examine some of the bookshelves around the library. Some book tells me that to solve the dungeon/candle puzzle I have to match the candles to some darts on a dartboard in the game room. I'm hesitant to go back there, because that butterfly is a dickbag.

Long story short, this puzzle takes me forever to solve. The best part is that as soon as I solve it and open the secret door, the game freezes. Better yet, I never found out any way to save it. So....shit.

Not enough butterflies.

This is the charming story of the evil Parasol Corporation kidnapping people and doing experiments on them, turning them into deadly Butterflies of War (or B.O.W). I recommend it for both of you that still have a Sega CD.


  1. Gorilla With Bow-TieOctober 17, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Well, I can do without the profanity. But other than that, the review was fine. Let's strive to set short term goals next time.

  2. Never trust the butterflies. Or the Australians. Or the butt-flies.

    Cover art doesn't have enough didgeridoos.