Technically, Ju-on isn't an on rails shooter – because you're excruciating slow instead of on rails and instead of a gun, you get a flashlight.
Even so, there's a bit of the nostalgia to Ju-on that you sometimes get form on rails shooters. The Japanese horror movie craze in America seems to have died off quietly right around the time the direct-to-DVD Grudge 3 was announced. So if you want to hearken back five years to when The Ring was in theaters and the imagery of a white-clad Japanese girl with long black hair wasn't played out – this "haunted house simulator" is your ticket to 2004.
What Is It?
Ju-On: The Grudge is a haunted house simulator for the Wii. Players take the role of Erika Yamada and potentially her other family members, too, as one by one they are exposed to a curse.
What We Saw
I played through the early level where Erika comes into contact with the curse in a haunted warehouse while looking for her dog.
How Far Along Is It?
The game is already out in Japan and due for an October release in the US, just in time for Halloween.
What Needs Improvement?
Run, Bitch, Run! Erika's speed is set to slower-than-glaciers-in-nuclear-winter. Even when she's jumped by a ghost, she still seems to be carefully walking down the stairs for fear of breaking a sweat. It's like the frustration you feel while watching a horror movie when some dumb character runs upstairs to hide in a closet instead of going for the phone to call 911. Only multiplied by about 100 times because unlike the movies, you ostensibly do have control over this character.
Nothing Really Happens: Erika can only walk and shine her flashlight at stuff. She can't run, she can't attack anything and there's really no story to pad out the endless, yawning stretch of dark hallways.
Can't You Get Another Dog, Erika? Really, you have no business in a gore-splattered warehouse with the power shut off. Either the dog will come back on its own, or you could go get a new one.
What Should Stay The Same?
It Can Get Scary: Sadly, the circumstances under which I saw this game weren't ideal for getting into the atmosphere (noisy club, nearby lamp interfering with Wii Remote sensor, etc.) – but there were some moments when the ghost boy Toshio jumps out at you or when Erika's cell phone rings that are genuinely unnerving or alarming.
Interesting Concept: I understand how having an average character with no weapons walk through a threatening environment would make for a good horror game. I like the idea of a haunted house simulator – and it's kind of cool to have a flashlight be your hit point gauge such that when it runs out, you die.
Second Player Functionality: When playing the game, someone with a second Wii Remote can press A to trigger a ghost-jumps-out-at-you moment. It's a dick thing to do, but it does change the pace of the game up and it could be turned into a great drinking game.
This is one of those titles that challenges the word "game" – "game" implies that you can win, that Erika can find the dog and save her family from the curse. But if the movies to which Ju-on is trying to be true are any indication, you can't escape the curse. The best you can do is not die – and not punch your friend in the mouth when they find out where you've hidden your other Wii Remotes and start mashing the A button.
Here, have a trailer: