Selasa, 31 Desember 2019

Crime Scene: Gloom (Part 1)

Ever since I started dwelling into retro games, I've always been fascinated in the Sega Saturn. Even although considered a flop by many, it has garnered a cult following within Sega fans. Then again, how can you say no to a console with two CPU's? Well yeah, its architecture is way, way too complicated that it caused many third-party developers to turn their back away in favor of the more successful and easier-to-program competitor PSX, but the console still has big potential. However, I am here not to talk about the console itself, but my experience with one of its games.

Around a week ago, a neighbor gave me his Saturn games for a rather inexpensive price. I, of course, accepted his offer. There were 9 games, only 3 of them original copies (Panzer Dragoon, Virtua Fighter Kids and Daytona USA CCE). However, before I went home to play them all, a little girl handed me yet another one game. I assumed her sibling must've forgotten that one, since they also had to clean up their house for more new stuff, or so I assumed, since I'm not so close with my neighbors and don't know much about them.

I eventually came home and fired up my Saturn, ready to spend my four-day-long weekend (my teachers had important meetings on Thursday and Friday that week, giving us no option but a long weekend) with my new 10 games. One of these games, Crime Scene: Gloom, fascinated me, as I'd never even heard of its existence before. Could it be a cancelled game? Or a homebrew game? Whatever it was, I must get to know about it once I've played the rest. Here's a list of the games in case you're curious, starting from the original copy ones.

1. Panzer Dragoon
2. Virtua Fighter Kids
3. Daytona USA CCE
4. Vampire Savior: Darkstalkers' Revenge
5. Doom
6. Gex
7. Crypt Killer
8. Hang-On GP
9. Wipeout XL
10. Crime Scene: Gloom

By the time the sun started setting, I've already played the first 7 games. I took a break to have a dinner. After finishing a plate of fried rice and a glass of chocolate milk, I continued playing my Saturn. Only about 15 minutes later did I grow bored playing Hang-On GP and Wipeout XL. I saved Crime Scene: Gloom for the last.

Like some of the other pirated games, it only had a black case with white paper and a handwritten name of the game in place of a cover art. Nothing about it seemed weird. I skipped the Saturn's start-up part out of my curiosity and waited for a while. There, I was greeted with a loading screen with what appears to be a hand-drawn empty detective office in white background with two glowing red lamps on a table, as well as a medium-sized Loading in the Times New Roman font below. I think it was about 15 seconds before the screen moved to the title screen. I could see some of the more detailed parts of the loading screen. Whoever made that loading screen, I applaud their skills. Not too many developers can pull off neat tricks on Sega Saturn, and this counts as one.

The start screen is another hand-drawn stuff, this time depicting a pistol and a few small blood drops nearby it at the right, and the game's title to the left. Below is a red, flashing Press Start text. No copyright information whatsoever. Must've been a homebrew game in its early phase. By the time I pressed Start, I realized that it was actually a hack of The House of the Dead, from the way the game options slid. Cool, making a game for the Saturn is already a challenge, let alone hacking one. The first thing that strikes me as unusual, however, is the lack of music in the start screen. Or could it be a hacked HotD prototype? As far as I remember, the prototype also lacks music in the start screen.

I left for a while to grab my Saturn light gun and as I returned, I was greeted with an attract screen, like what you'd get when you leave the game in the start screen untouched for a while. However, instead of the usual December 18th, 1998 date you usually see in the original HotD game, I got a text that reads "In an unknown, lifeless autumn, truth unveils its cruel self...". I had no idea what it meant. The background itself looked like its original counterpart, in that it had a jerky transition like what you see in a still from an old film. The screen then transitioned into a scene with the table from the loading screen, now in 3D. As the Saturn's hardware is pretty limited, many of the details have now looked incomprehensible. The two glowing lamps could still be seen there. The voice has now been changed. In the original, a phone rings and reveals Sophie's warning message for Rogan. Here, a man narrates what seems like the story of this hack, as the camera's focusing on the table's papers. It showed a file consisting of a photo of a man and indecipherable text. I noticed the file had a red mark in its lower right position (upper right position in the scene). The narration said,

"In this world, no mistake is left unpunished, and one's guilt leads to an answer. Bitterness is a necessity in such a-"

with a gruff voice, then abruptly ended, followed by the original game's attract screen song and another white flash. The new attract screen shows a horde of what appear to be new enemies; human thugs. Despite their unchanged behavior and voices, it's obvious that they're humans. Which made me wonder, why would the hacker opt to hack HotD instead of Virtua Cop if they wanted to pit me against normal humans?  Oh well, I'll find out about that later. Hostages remain the same, but this time they are dressed entirely in white. Basically, they look almost the same like the original DBR hostages, but here their costume's details are gone but just a few. The places are also new. Instead of places from the Curien Mansion, I got what seem like new places that look like real places you'd see in cities. This is so cool! I've always wanted to play HotD in places set outside of the Mansion. I wondered what these new places might entirely look like.

The character introduction part is where it all began to make me feel uneasy. No, not because it became hyper-realistic like what many creepypasta authors like to misuse in order to make their story oh-so-spoopy, but because the characters now look like people I know pretty closely in my daily life. Rogan is now Carl, G is now Evan, Sophie is now... my cousin Inez!? And finally, Curien is Uncle Joseph, while what should've been Magician is now shrouded in black... I could be wrong, though. Then again, the Saturn has a limited hardware, and these new characters might actually depict somebody else. It could just be coincidental. Other than those, the voices remain intact, untouched. Still, I wondered why the hacker chose to cover Magician in black. A new boss with even more than meets the eyes, I guess? As for the people I've mentioned before, I'll elaborate once I've reached a certain point of this story.

The screen later showed the game's main setting location, title, and a text that reads "Only wise persons will ever accept truth in its rawest form. Come play to reveal it if you dare!". Keeping my eyes keen on the screen revealed that the place had a big building not unlike Curien Mansion, only taller, and what seemed like a graveyard to its right side. I think there was one broken angel statue among its tombstones. Nervous, I decided to keep seeing the attract screen. The tutorial part was still the same, except for the stage. Instead of a barren forest with empty, light sepia sky, it was now an empty factory (judging from the buildings) with a dark grayish sky, still with no clouds. This only fed up my uneasy feel more, but I decided it's too late to leave. The screen eventually changed to a demo screen, where it took place in a room with a somewhat similar structure to the first room of Curien's Mansion. I assumed it was the tall building's first room as well. What made it different is the giant angel statue in the middle. Even with such unfortunate details, it still looked impressive. The hostage and the 2 Saruzou zombies (now replaced with human thugs, of course) are now on the statue's arm, instead of the ladders. And apparently I would later go inside the statue after determining the hostage's life.

As the demo ended, I was sent back to the start screen, this time with a screen that says Psychoanalisa instead of the usual Sega screen. I recall the screen's text had an old typewriter-like font and the background consisted of several small photos of random people. I later started the game in Arcade Mode.

As with other previous parts, the chapter screens have now also been changed. Instead of The First Chapter - Tragedy, I now got Crime I - Deadly Pleasure. What startled me was an outlined image of a person in a fetal position. Their face buried beneath their knees, I could somewhat feel the person's depression. Didn't help that the background was black and everything else was white. I also noticed that, unlike some previous changed screens, it had no animation at all. No jerky old film-like transitions, not even a single dot, none moving. I think it was around 10 seconds that I had to wait for the game to actually start. And as it did, I saw the usual beginning scene of a DBR researcher– er, a hostage, being attacked by a Nail zombie– er, a human thug resembling him. The voices remain intact, while the game's stage has been overhauled. The scene itself took place in the old factory from the tutorial screen, while not far away is the tall building. The new Rogan kicks in, this time riding a bulked motorcycle instead of a car. Finally, another awesome change instead of freaky ones. I was slightly relieved and started shooting my first enemy, not aware of what's to follow.

One enemy down. Now let's hear what our poor hostage has to say for his final words.

"You have no other option. Just let them know, Carl!"

...Yes. The new Rogan really is Carl. Now let me tell you about him; Carl is my senior since I was 7. We have been always going to same schools and university as of now. He's 2 years older than me, and we're pretty close, much to the point that some people think we're paternal brothers. Although very kindhearted to me, he is not without flaws. Every now and then, he has made enemies with some people, even occasionally fighting with them. Last time I heard he had a fight with Marvin, his love rival. Whenever I ask Carl why, he refuses to elaborate, even with his own family. "You'll find out when you're an adult," is what he always tells me. Could this hack have something to do with him? be continued...

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