MIRRORS (PC-88 CD / FM-Towns)
Genre: Visual Novel / Adventure Game / Horror
Year: PC-88 1990 / FM-Towns 1992
Software House: Soft Studio Wing
Playable by non japanese speakers? yes
This strange visual novel game is maybe Soft Studio Wing’s most ambitious effort and it’s best game.
Mirrors tells the story of David, leader and singer of a famous rock
band named Elleno Vision. David is being haunted by nightmares,
nightmares in which he is pursued and murdered by a mysterious maniac.
After one of these nightmares, David watching the TV news, finds out
that the band’s manager has been murdered. Elleno Vision are at their
peak and are about to start their first world tour, so David along with
his bandmates decides to go on despite the tragic death that occured.
However, the nightmares and the horror won’t stop, and so David has to
investigate the mistery behind this and to face what he’s going to find.
The story itself may sound not too original, but this game (and the
story it tells) really shine thanks to two important factors.
First of all, the way the story is told: the focus is on the sudden and
shocking irruption of the bizzarre, the macabre, the paranormal in the
everyday’s life.This gradual descent into the abyss of the irrational
and the paranormal isn’t an easy voyage, on the contrary it uncovers
unpleasant and shocking secrets and truths that have been hidden in the
dark for a very long time. In order to achieve this, Soft Studio Wing
employs a lot of references to buddhism, classic old japanese myths and
legends and do so in a very coherent and appealing way. The fusion
between the modern, rational world and the irrational world of the
ancients really works fine and the blend is fascinating and charming.
The game isn’t all gloomy and doomy tough: in some parts of the game
you’ll play as a police inspector which investigates on the strange
happenings that occurs in the game. This part is characterized by more
relaxed and ironic tones and it’s a clever choice to distribuite the
tension in the game well.
The other ace that this game holds is atmosphere.This is achieved
trough a clever combination of outstanding and very atmospheric CD music
and eerie, melancholic photo-like static graphics. The PC-88 version
has a darker look compared to the FM-Towns version, and in my opinion
this is a more suitable choice.
Mirrors also contains a lot of references to classic thriller and
horror movies. For example, David’s fiancee looks are based on the
gorgeus Nastassja Kinski, daughter of Klaus Kinski, a very controversial
but also very talented actor (check out the documentary “Mein liebster
Feind – Klaus Kinski” translated into english as “My Friend” by Werner
Herzog if you are curious to learn more about him. You won’t regret the
choice :) ).
Other obvious references and homages can be found in the FM-Towns
version’s title screen, which quotes the ending shot for Dario Argento’s
Deep Red, and in the little piece of one of the Friday the 13th movie
that David catches on the television at the beginning of the game. I
won’t spoil the fun to you to find other references in the game :)
Mirrors has multiple endings, based on the choices that the player
takes in the game. It seems that the PC-88 version has an extra ending
that is lacking in the FM-Towns version, and it seems that this ending
is the “true ending” of the game. Sadly PC-88 CD emulation is very
primitive and often problematic.
To run the game you’ll need to install ASPI drives and to actually
burn the game into a real CD. However, M88 emulator is open source and
the emulator, the files needed to run CD emulation and it’s source can
be found here, under the PC-88 section. If you are a programmer and want
to improve it, you’re welcome and you’ll surely do a big favor to the
little, but strong, j-retro community on the internet. Being able to run
CD emulation on IOCTRL instead of ASPI would be a big improvement
UPDATE: Latest M88 build (20 November 2012) features non ASPI Cd driver. However, there still may be problems with CD Audio tracks.