Friday, April 3, 2009

Not-So-Classic Classics, Vol. 2, Or: Home, Sweet Home

SweetHomeMansionAs we all know, there are a few games in the community that go almost completely overlooked despite being incredible. Last time we looked at The Magic of Scheherazade, a great game with a nearly unpronounceable title. Today, in tribute to Team Suck’s foray into Resident Evil 5 we’re going to talk about Sweet Home, Capcom’s first venture into survival horror.

Sweet Home was released back in 1989 for the NES (or Famicom for all you Japanophiles), a full seven years before the Resident Evil craze swept the gaming community. In fact, Sweet Home was the patient zero of the survival horror outbreak: much of RE’s formula was taken from it.







See? The resemblance is uncanny.

Sweet Home follows the exploits of a documentarian as he and his associates try to survive a haunted mansion. Each character has special skills and attributes that can be exploited to solve puzzles or kill monsters. Some skills, like the camera, come off as a little gimmicky or even derivative, but the game manages to pull them together into a moody aesthetic that had rarely been attempted prior. Characters suffer permanent deaths, areas seem huge and yet claustrophobic, and items are limited and difficult to come by.

There’s also a nice little movie tie-in that was released in tandem with the game, with items in the movie supposedly resembling those in the game. Of course this begs the question: did the game have awesome graphics or did the movie simply have terrible props?

Sweet Home is a little like a black-and-white movie: you’ve seen so much of it in other, more modern fare that you may feel that it’s a step backward. Even I felt like this was an 8-bit mockup of Resident Evil when I first played it. Once you get past that, however, the game is solid, engaging, innovative, and fairly spooky for something that came out 20 years ago. Give it a shot if you can find it.