Tuesday, August 30, 2011


A) 一旦部屋に戻って着替えると、玄関脇の談話室で落ち合った。
B) 一旦部屋に戻って着替えて、夕食までどちらかの部屋で話でもしようということになった。

有野: いや、でもちょっと、いろんな人がおるところにいって、ぼく結構社交的な面あるんですよって真理にみせる方がいいと思う。ちょっと『ときメモ』風の考えですけど
『ゲームセンターCX』 #113

A) went to back to our rooms to change our clothes and met at the lounge next to the entrance.
B) decided to go back to our rooms to change our clothes and talk in one of our rooms until dinner
("The Night of the Kamaitachi")

Arino: Wait, but, I think it's better to go to a place with all kinds of people, to show to Mari that I'm pretty sociable.  That's kinda more like TokiMemo though...
(Game Center CX #113)

It's funny if you think about it, but the only Choose Your Own Adventure books I have are of Super Mario Bros. Why would I need a gamebook of a game?  I had fun with them though, reading the stories, collecting items and going through all the possible endings. So it's not strange I enjoy Chunsoft's sound novels. 'Cause they are basically CYOA-esque games: interactive fiction accompanied by images and audio where you advance in the story by making choices, with as goal finding the best ending. These sound novels are usually a lot more complex than your average CYOA book though, with countless of multiple choice decision points that affect the way the storyline will develop. Especially Chunsoft's 428 ~ Fuusa sareta Shibuya de ("428 ~In a Sealed Shibuya") is amazing, with five seperate storylines that intersect at certain points, with the decisions made in one storyline affecting the other storylines.

Kamaitachi no Yoru ("Night of the Kamaitachi") is one of the more famous sound novels (maybe the most famous?) and the second sound novel Chunsoft made.  It was a big hit when it first hit the Super Famicom and has been ported to other systems like the PlaySation and GameBoy Advance. And the series is still going strong apparently, with even a new entry announced for the PlaySation Vita. At any rate, Kamaitachi no Yoru is considered a pretty important title in the Japanese game world.

And the fact that I discuss the game here pretty much gives it away, but Kamaitachi no Yoru is basically nothing more or less than an orthodox mystery sound novel.  The scenario was penned by Abiko Takemaru, a mystery writer who seems to have a very close connection with Chunsoft (he also contributed to 428 ~ Fuusa sareta Shibuya de and Trick X Logic). The story is a pretty basic one: protagonists Tooru and his sorta girlfriend Mari are on vacation, staying at the ski pension of Mari's uncle. One night, during a snow storm, one of the guests, or to be exact, many pieces of one of the guests are found in his room. A murder! In a secluded ski lodge in a snow storm? Who would have expected that?! But the more important question is: Who did this? Someone from outside? Or one of the people in the pension? Or are the titular kamaitachi to blame?

As this is still considered a game, it is expected that the player solves the mystery himself (taking up the role of Tooru). And it's here where the sound novel feels superior to 'normal' books. As you control Tooru, you get to choose what actions to take. Do you suspect someone in the pension? Do you make your suspicions clear to the other people, or  do you wait until you can get some more information? At certain points in the story you are offered the choice what to do next and this has influence on the rest of the story.

Although the basic premise (people locked up in a snow lodge with a murderer) seems pretty standard and not particularly exciting, it's fun to see how the story changes by the little choices people make.There are literally dozens of decision points in the story and more importantly: one choice can completely change the story. With every decision point, the story changes a little, making it possible to play through the game dozens of times and still experience a totally different story everytime. In fact, there is a flow-chart included in the game to show what choices you have made and how your story is developing.

And it's really needed, as there are many, many endings. One time, my story ended with the death of everyone in the pension (including myself!) except for the killer. Which is not a good ending. In another ending, I ended up outside the pension before any murders happened, only to come back to find everyone killed.Which isn't a good ending either. In another, more light-hearted ending, I ended up as the director of a small firm, apparently having left the ski pension before the murders happened.

In one of my better endings, I did solve the murders (plural), but it was also possible to solve the case earlier in the story, resulting in fewer casualties. So the reader/player has direct influence on the developments in the story. With the changes in the story, the tone of the story also changes in the latter half of the game: the more murders happen. the more the story changes into a horror-flick, with everyone afraid of an unknown assaillant.

It might sound boring having to wade through a load of endings in search of the true ending, but it's actually really fun. Bad endings are just as amusing as the good endings, so coming across a bad ending doesn't really feel bad: it's just another variation on the same basic story. And while you might know the basic story, the changes that lead up to the various endings do prevent the story from becoming boring. In fact, even the bad endings contain little clues to the real murderer, so bad endings really aren't that bad.

As a mystery game, Kamaitachi no Yoru is awesome and the plot penned Abiko Takemaru (including the variation endings) is pretty interesting, even if it's a bit standard. The 'true' ending is not too difficult to deduce for a more experienced reader of the genre (making use of some rather 'standard' tropes), but the whole concept of mystery novel in such a form is really neat. Sound novels combine the ease of a written story with the interactivity found in games (as well as being more attractive audiovisually) in a very effective way IMHO.

And yes, this probably works best in a videogame setting. While I wouldn't mind CYOA mystery novels, the complexity of such a plot is best done in a videogame. I mean, without the big flow-charts to show every decision point and the way the story nodes are connected and instant jump-functions, Kamaitachi no Yoru (and other sound novels) would probably be less appealing

Original Japanese title(s): 『かまいたちの夜』


  1. I don't understand this game.
    The first time I played I got the bad ending where everyone got killed, including Max (I played the english version)
    Then When I finaly got the good ending, the culprit was revealed to be


    Faberge. But how is this possible since he also died in the bad ending???
    Also, we don't even know why he killed that man at the beginning...

    1. ***** SPOILERS ********
      It's been a while, so I don't remember all the endings, but I am pretty sure you never see the real culprit die (with confirmation) in any of the bad endings: it's usually you getting killed by either the real culprit, or by someone in a panic, or you panic-killing someone else. Basically if you don't solve the murders on time, everyone gets in a panic and starts to kill each other (not on purpose, usually).

      Also did you get the good, good ending (with only the first victim?) I can't remember whether the culprit explains more about the first murder depending on the ending, but it might...

      Anyway, Mikimoto/Faberge killed his partner in crime because they had a row about how to split the money they had robbed from the bank. Nothing more than that.

  2. I played the game 2 days ago, and I still don't know

  3. (Deleted some old comments with unmarked spoilers)