Sweet Home

released on Dec 15, 1989
by Capcom

Thirty years prior to the story in 1959, famous artist Ichirō Mamiya hid several precious frescos in his huge mansion before he mysteriously disappeared. In the present day, a team of five documentary filmers seek to recover the paintings from the abandoned, dilapidated mansion. Upon entering, they are trapped inside by the ghost of an unknown woman, who threatens to kill all trespassers. The team decides to split up and find a way out, but the mansion is both in danger of collapsing and is occupied by countless monsters.

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The grandfather of the Resident Evil series, Sweet home lays down the foundation of survival horror while standing on its own as a horror jrpg. It certainly has its faults though: menuing can be really shitty to navigate and managing each character and their items can be quite tedious. I found myself accidently pressing the wrong menu button multiple times. The difficulty scaling is quite abysmal; once your characters reach level 3 and onwards none of the enemies will ever truly pose a threat. The quick events are usually just some object falling down on a character and you can probably select the same dodge option the whole game and not die once. Really a lot of the game's mechanics are undermined by easy the game is. The story is good too but a lot of the revelations fall flat in presentation.

Despite its faults though, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the progression of exploring the house. The soundtrack is pretty good, the basement and fresco themes being highlights. Overall an entertaining title to play from start to finish that gives me much more appreciation of Resident Evil.

The game has a pretty good atmosphere and an interesting enough story, but it's rather tedious item management/character switching system serves neither. Because the game is pretty damn easy, they're rarely any risky decisions that need to be made, decisions that you'd think would be taken into consideration when implementing such a system. Who you choose to team up with, who you give an item, and who you send into a room/battle; none of these choices matter. The various frescos' "hints" ruin most of the game's "puzzles", and needing the permission of a note on the wall to advance is pretty lazy game design. On the bright side, the titular home's design is well thought out, and the majority of the accompanying music is pleasant on the ears. The enemy sprites are also well done, even though the designs are lacking in variety. A solid title overall.

Barnstorming proto-survival horror RPG with some genuinely scary moments, rare for an early NES game which is probably why it never made it to Western shores. Based on the barking mad movie Hausu, take control of five young explorers trapped in a spooky mansion by a vengeful spirit. Unlike most RPGs each character is relatively unique, only able to hold one special item essential to progress. It's a major challenge juggling the items and switching between characters but well worth it. Track down a fan translation if you can.

When it comes to some of the most important titles from the third generation of video games, the ones that pop up to most folk’s minds would be ’Super Mario Bros’ and ’The Legend Of Zelda’. I feel one game that gets overlooked from this time period for its influence is ’Sweet Home’. The reason for this is due to it being the biggest inspiration for the ’Resident Evil’ franchise. Being the title to essentially birth survival horror is incredibly important and I feel it deserves a lot more credit for that. I think it ends up falling short from getting all that credit due to this game also being an adaption of a movie that’s not so popular. Oh, and the game was never released outside of Japan. Due to this, I ended up playing through a fan translation of the game by Gaijin Productions and Suicidal Translations. So thanks to those folks, we can play the game.

Now mind you, this game is influential as hell and incredibly important, but I don’t think it’s necessarily good. There are a few reasons for this, but I think it has to be due to conflicting ideas that can make the game frustrating at times. The entire game, you spend in the mansion doing the thing you’d expect from a survival horror game. You find key items and solve puzzles while slowly, but surely unlocking more of the mansion to uncover a mystery. This part of the game is actually really satisfying and well constructed. I thoroughly enjoyed every time I figured something out on my own. There were a few moments where I would look towards a guide for a helping hand since some of the puzzles can lean into the “how was I supposed to know that?” territory, but that is an exception. Most of them are well thought out and made sense to me otherwise.

The best aspect to the game is the five protagonist system. Throughout the game, you will need to switch between characters and use them to get past certain areas. You can rename them if you’d like, but I decided to keep their normal names. Kazuo has a lighter, Taguchi has a camera, Akiko is the doctor with a first aid kit, Asuka has a vacuum, and Emi is our “master of unlocking” with a key that can open most doors. All these items are very important throughout your journey to progress. This doesn’t mean the game won’t punish you harshly though. If a character dies, they are dead for good. That means you lose their special item and you’ll lose all their inventory slots permanently. This makes the game tense as hell and actually gives death some real weight compared to other games. You’ll be able to find replacement supplies for all of the major ones, but that is a huge hassle and inconvenience compared to having the main item. You can save whenever you’d like, but if you’re like me, you’ll end up forgetting to save often and deciding against it to add some challenge. This is an amazing system and I thought it was the best aspect of the game. Keeping all the characters alive isn’t too difficult, but knowing the punishment for letting them die is stressful enough and does a good job keeping you worried throughout the game.

Overall, so far I’ve been fairly positive. What is my issue? I do not like old JRPGs. I don’t like having to deal with randomized fights specifically because it constantly makes me feel like i'm being taken away from the game I want to play. If you are into this sort of game, then you may end up enjoying this aspect, but I’ve never been into these kinds of games. There are elements with it I take issue with here though besides “it’s not for me”. I feel it gets in the way of the slow tense atmosphere when their version of the ’Jaws’ theme starts playing and you’re thrown into a combat encounter. It doesn’t have the same feeling as the encounters you’d have in ’Resident Evil’. The other issue is it is really really frequent. There are moments where I would have three steps between encounters and that would frustrate me because I just wanted to go back to exploring the mansion. It isn’t completely bad. I do like the giant armor guys that walk around and you hear their giant footsteps as you try to avoid them. Those are pretty spooky! I just wish random encounters weren’t such a frequent occurrence. You don’t need to grind experience points though which is a good thing.

The story of ’Sweet Home’ I won’t go too far into it because of how much of it is left up to your interpretation and I don’t want to take that part of the experience away by explaining every detail from my playthrough, but for simple thoughts, it does a decent job adapting the movie into game form and trying to remain faithful while having enough changes to feel fresh. I enjoyed my time with it, but I never was hooked into it. I do think it does a better job at giving a mysterious feeling than the movie does, but not by a lot.

’Sweet Home’ is artistically, in its presentation, one of my favorite NES games. The game has so much detail put into its world that I really enjoyed it. The first thing is how every room gives off a unique atmosphere and feeling. Not only is this good for the tension of never knowing what’s next, but also gives you a good idea where you are at all times since not many rooms look the same. As much as I disliked the combat in the game, I did like plenty of the enemies and the designs of them when they showed up on screen. Some of them are quite grotesque as well which surprised me, but other times, the enemies can be very silly such as a face inside of a wall and when the enemy shows up it just yells “Wall!!!” which never failed to make me laugh. The music here is pretty fantastic as well and is some of the better chiptune music I’ve heard out there which is neat.

’Sweet Home’ is an intriguing title due to its importance, but nothing more than that to me personally. The game has plenty of really good ideas that we would see be fully fleshed out in ’Resident Evil’, but the game is held back by its JRPG elements, at least to me. I don’t see myself ever replaying it, but I still recommend it to others especially if you are into these types of games! It was neat seeing all the ideas that would go into making something I love and I’m thankful for this game.

Game Review - originally written by (wraith)

This is a really nifty RPG by Capcom that is precursor to Resident Evil. What makes it interesting is that the game places a greater emphasis on puzzle-solving than fighting, which makes for an interesting change of pace. Actually, you are far more likely to die in the game itself than in a battle. Wandering around is what you’d expect in any Nes RPG: over-head, tile-based movement. You use a variety of items to solve puzzle in this environment, while randomly encountering enemies. The graphics are really nice, too. The overhead graphics almost remind of Quest of the Avatar for some reason, and the battle graphics and portraits look really nice for the Nes. It’s a great game.

haven't played it yet but i watched the original movie with some friends yesterday and one asked the mydramalist link but i sent them the mobbygames one by accident