Note 1: This game was played on a consolized Virtual Boy that outputs through an HD-retrovision component cable. It was connected to a 40-inch HDsmart-tv that has component inputs (and accepts the 240p signal).
Note 2: This consolized Virtual Boy console has a button that allows you to switch between multiple different colors (red is the default). Hence, the pictures are different colors because I pressed the buttons when I entered different environments (some colors simply look better than others in some areas, and it mixes things up a bit nicely by changing colors).
Note 3: This is a really different game, so forgive me if this not my best review. I’ve played through this game multiple times, and I’m trying to keep this review simple. Also, I don’t want to totally spoil this game for those who may want to play it, so I want to be careful about what I include.
Game: Red Square
Genre: Horror/Adventure/RPG (it’s tough to categorize this one)
Brief History: Red Square is a game that was created and developed for the Virtual Boy in just 6 weeks by only two people, Kresna and Nyrator. The game is a Yume Nikki game created for something called the 2019 Dream Diary Jam. Now, I had never heard of any of those things, I just wanted to play something that looked extraordinarily different from anything else – and this is certainly that! Thank you, game creators!!! If you want to read more about Yume Nikki, I included the wiki link.
Story: Nina, the game’s protagonist, is on a mission to get just one thing out of life: Red Square. What is that, exactly? The game seems to use this term interchangeably with Pizza, which she is constantly on the hunt for. Is the ‘Red Square’ the box the Pizza comes in? Or is it a metaphor for something more sinister? Nina falls asleep in her bedroom, and she can enter six ‘Dream Worlds’ where she must collect four items. Do so, and she can awaken ready to fulfill her life’s mission – to pursue the Red Square.
Control: There’s a handy ‘what buttons do what’ screen at start – up, but basically, you move Nina with the left control pad. Start pulls up your simple Menu (when in the Dream Worlds). Button A interacts with objects (you can ‘talk’ to the different items that you find, as well as a few other things in the game). Button A also is what enables you to crawl into bed, which allows you access to the Dream Worlds. Button R is your ‘action’ button. You can equip any of the four items that you find by pulling up the Menu, scrolling to the item, and pressing A. Once you’re equipped it, you can ‘use’ the item by pressing R. Using the items doesn’t actually serve any purpose, but it does provide a different animation for Nina. Button L ‘awakens’ Nina from a Dream World (returns her to her bedroom).
Items: The Bicycle, 3D Glasses, Pizza Server, and Bishounen Magazine are the four objects you must seek. *Others may know what it meant, but I had no idea what ‘Bishounen’ actually meant, although I could guess from the game. It means ‘a young man of androgynous beauty, or an effeminate yet handsome man.’ The Magazine in the game seems to be a Celebrity-type magazine. You must collect the items by searching the six Dream Worlds (four are dead ends). Once you have, you return to Nina’s room, then head down to her balcony for the ending.
Life Bar? Experience? NPCs? No, no, and no. While you do collect the four items and explore the small but unique Dream Worlds, you will not encounter another person, fight any bad guys, or do any of the other traditional RPG type-stuff.
Where’s the music? No music! Evidently, there wasn’t time for the developers to include it. However, I didn’t miss it at all, and I think the game almost worked better without it because of it’s extremely bizarre and eerie nature. Silence is just as effective as sound in this one.
How long does it take to beat? No time at all, once you learn the locations of the four items.
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade: Wow, Red Square drew me in. There’s a warning at the beginning of the game that it includes ‘mature content’; however, I wonder about that. There is some vague innuendo, but no foul language. The ending, which I will not spoil here, and it’s events, seem to be the cause of this warning. Yet, to me, the ending was ambiguous enough to be open to interpretation. Is it a joke (I seem to recall reading elsewhere that this game is a ‘parody’ game)? Is it serious? Half-serious? Not knowing exactly what I was looking at at the end was part of the game’s enticement and intrigue. The game seems simple and lighthearted enough, and yet, disquieting. I remember playing a bizarre game called Limbo a few years ago, and this was about as close to that experience as I can recall. But overall? I loved Red Square – it is simply unsettlingly, and very slightly humorously, different. A+