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Clock Tower: The First Fear
CTF
Developer
Human Entertainment
Publisher
Human Entertainment
Release date
September 14, 1995 (SNES)
March 28, 1997 (PC)
July 17, 1997 (PSX)
August 20, 1999 (PC ULTRA2000 reissue)
December 9, 1999 (Wonderswan)
August 3, 2010 (Wii Virtual Console)
November 9, 2011 (Japan PSN)
November 6, 2013 (Wii U Virtual Console)
Early 2024 (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox, PC)
Platforms
SNES
PlayStation
WonderSwan
PC (Windows 95)
PlayStation 3 (via Japan PSN)
PSP (via Japan PSN)
PS Vita (via Japan PSN)
Wii (via Japan Virtual Console)
Wii U (via Japan Virtual Console)
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 5
Xbox
PC

Clock Tower: The First Fear (クロックタワー 〜ザ・ファーストフィアー〜), originally known as Clock Tower (クロックタワー), is a point and click survival horror game and the first installment in the Clock Tower series. It was developed and published by Human Entertainment for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), or Super Famicom in Japan, on September 14, 1995 in Japan, and then ported to the PC on March 28, 1997. It was released on the Japanese Virtual Console for both Nintendo Wii on August 3, 2010 (Japan) and Nintendo Wii U on November 6, 2013.

Clock Tower: The First Fear is an enhanced port of the game, released for the PlayStation on July 17, 1997 in Japan. The First Fear was released as a PlayStation Classic on the Japanese PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3 on November 9, 2011. The subtitle The First Fear is often kept to distinguish between the sequel, which was released as Clock Tower outside Japan.

A port to the WonderSwan was released on December 9, 1999 in Japan, although this version is in black-and-white and is considered inferior.

The game was never released outside of Japan during its original run, but fan translations have made it available to a broader audience starting from 2001. Over the years, it has gained the status of a cult classic.

This game is set to be released in 2024 by WayForward under the title, Clock Tower: Rewind for modern consoles with additions such as a new vocal theme song performed by Mary McGlynn (Silent Hill series), a new animated opening, motion-comic cutscenes before and after the game, a bonus art gallery, border artwork, save states, multiple language options, and more.

Gameplay[]

Clock_Tower_gameplay

Clock Tower gameplay

Jennifer being chased by Bobby.

Clock Tower is a 2D point-and-click style game, where the player controls a cursor to direct the main character, Jennifer Simpson, and give commands such as investigating objects or opening doors. The player can only move Jennifer left and right through the environment, although there are some rooms in which an action requires Jennifer to step into the background. Clock Tower is different from other adventure games of the era in that it features a stalker pursuing the main character; this delays puzzle solving and requires the player to run in order to find objects or hiding places to fend off or avoid the attacker.

Ahhh

Scissorman attacks Jennifer.

The stalker is a slasher villain, Bobby Barrows (Scissorman), who wields a large pair of scissors. If directly confronted by Bobby, Jennifer is sent into a panic (shown by the background of her portrait flashing red and blue) and the player must repeatedly tap the "panic button" to struggle with the attacker. If the player does not tap the panic button fast enough, Bobby will attack Jennifer and result in a "Dead End".

Head

Jennifer dies. Note the red panic box in the bottom-left corner.

Although the game refers to it as Jennifer's health, the color of the background where her face is shown changes to represent her current fear level. Blue means she is in a calm state, while yellow means she is startled, orange meaning she is alarmed, and finally red, where she will begin to panic. In red, she is more likely to be attacked during a direct confrontation with Bobby. Additionally, while running away from Bobby, there is a chance Jennifer might trip over her feet, making her vulnerable if Bobby is close by and lowering her health by one level. To recover Jennifer's health, the player can make Jennifer crouch by not moving her.

Many of Bobby's appearances are triggered by the player inspecting certain objects, but there are some cases in which he will come out of a hiding place and chase Jennifer as soon as she enters a room.

Plot[]

Ct5

Mary tells Jennifer about her new home.

Jennifer Simpson, an orphan from Granite Orphanage in Romsdalen, Norway, along with her friends Laura Harrington, Anne and Lotte, are adopted in September 14, 1995 by a wealthy recluse named Simon Barrows and are escorted to his mansion by their teacher, Mary Barrows. The mansion is known as the "Clock Tower", named after its most predominant feature, and the girls are eager to live in their new home. The game immediately begins with the five of them walking towards the Barrows Mansion.

BarrowsGirls

Jennifer and the girls arrive at the mansion.

Mary and the girls settle in the main foyer. Mary instructs them to wait there in the foyer and leaves to find Mr. Barrows, but she takes an unusually long time. Jennifer offers to investigate, but upon leaving the room, a scream is heard from the main foyer. Jennifer returns to find the lights are off and the girls are missing. Unnerved, Jennifer begins searching the rest of the mansion.

Door

Scissorman stalking Jennifer.

She soon finds herself being stalked after finding either Laura or Anne killed by a murderous little boy with deformed features, wielding a giant pair of scissors. Laura's corpse would be found hanged at the bathtub, or found in a suit of armor in the second living room if the player dares to click on it, while Anne would die either by being impaled through a stained-glass ceiling, drowning in the pool of the courtyard, or being impaled through a window in Mary's office. The boy is Bobby Barrows, the Scissorman, who will be Jennifer's main stalker and tormentor for the rest of the game.

While exploring the mansion, Jennifer will need to find out Mary's true evil intentions. In order to do so, she must find the key to the west wing area of the mansion where she will find clues and information. Jennifer can find the key in a box on top of a dresser in the living room with a television, or by moving a box to reach a bird's nest on the second floor near the first storage room.

Jennifer then must either:

Drink

Mary giving Jennifer a drugged sleeping drink.

Simon4

Jennifer locked in the shed with Simon.

  • Be poisoned by a beverage and get locked up in the shed. There are two ways. The former takes place in the living room with a telephone, where Mary will try to "comfort" Jennifer by giving her a beverage, which poisons her and knocks her unconscious. The latter takes place in the kitchen. If Jennifer examines the cabinet with beverages twice, she will drink one of the beverages, which poisons her and knocks her unconscious. After waking up in the jail cell, she finds Simon Barrows (the man who adopted the girls in the first place) locked up with her as well. Jennifer attempts to talk to him, only for him to utter his want for food. If Jennifer has found a slice of ham inside the fridge in the kitchen and gives it to Simon, he will eat it and regain most of his rationality. If Jennifer doesn't have it, Simon will attack Jennifer and eat her. After regaining most of his consciousness, Simon will tell Jennifer about the "Cradle Under the Star", and how it watches Jennifer everywhere she goes. Shortly after, if Jennifer had found the green key located in a giant hole in the wall in the west wing library, she can use it to escape. Otherwise, Lotte will come to rescue Jennifer using the green key, but on their way out the shed, Lotte is killed by Mary with a shotgun. If Jennifer dares to run outside or hide in a big crate, Mary will kill her. Jennifer can escape by using a plank of wood to knock Mary out. Discovering Simon will despawn the contents of the secret room.
Walter Simpson

Jennifer finds her father's corpse.

  • Discover her father's corpse in a hidden room in the west wing storage room. Jennifer will find his memo, explaining his involvement in assisting Mary, who is really a Barrows, during her pregnancy and discovering that her twins, Bobby and Dan Barrows, are apparently demons. Mary thought that Walter knew too much to leave, so she held him captive in the room where he helped deliver the children for three days, until his death from suffocation on November 10, 1986. Finding Walter's body will despawn Simon in the jail. This also makes it impossible for Jennifer to get poisoned by Mary, as Jennifer knows she is evil. However, Lotte's shed death can still be triggered after discovering Walter via the bottles in the kitchen. Simon will not be there and the event will continue as normal.


CeremonyRoom

Jennifer discovers the ceremony room.

Jennifer must visit a small, Satanic church-esque area beneath the mansion if she is to defeat Mary, Bobby, and Dan (the last of whom she is still unaware of) and maybe even save one of her friends. However, to obtain the key to this area, Jennifer has to fight off a possessed doll in Bobby's nursery room to obtain a key and therefore start a chain of events that will lead to finding other items and clues; if the player has collected all the necessary items and clues, then Jennifer is able to gain access to the underground catacombs of the mansion through the discovery of either the Demon Idol or the Scepter, but the former is canonical as it appears in the sequel.

Lotte1

Jennifer mourns Lotte's death.

Jennifer sees a cloaked figure (Mary) walking ahead of her, and Jennifer follows it, wearing a disguise to fool the guard dog using Mary's perfume, which she found in the drawer in the bedroom, and a black robe found in a crate in the storage room near the bird's nest on the second floor.

If she did not need to rescue Jennifer from the jail cell, Lotte can be found slowly dying at an altar, having been part of a sacrificial ritual. With her last words, she tells Jennifer that if she is to defeat Bobby, she needs to activate the switches in the Clock Tower. Lotte dies seconds later, while Jennifer mourns her death. If Lotte is killed in the shed, Jennifer will not know how to kill Bobby, so beforehand she has to find a religious study depicting the church area from before, and will learn about the Clock Tower switches through a cryptic note.

DanCradle

Jennifer runs from Dan Barrows.

Jennifer enters an area of the cave, where she discovers the humongous Dan Barrows, hidden within curtains - this is the "Cradle Under the Star". At that point, the awakened Dan chases down Jennifer to a steep cliff. She successfully climbs over, but accidentally knocking down a can of kerosene which splashes onto a nearby candle. This triggers an explosion and burns up Dan, and Jennifer rides an elevator in the catacombs.

She ends up defeating Bobby and Mary as well (or around, depending on prior actions) in the Clock Tower. If Anne or Laura had not died yet, then this survivor would reunite with Jennifer at the Clock Tower, but either be thrown down the tower by Mary shortly after in Ending A, or join Jennifer for the credits in Ending S, depending on prior actions. These actions would lead to one of Endings S, A, B, or C - all except Ending S could be canonical according to the events of the next game. Because of the game's open-ended nature, the player can also discover a number of other endings.

Endings[]

Clock_Tower_Snes_All_Endings

Clock Tower Snes All Endings

All nine endings.

Clock Tower has nine multiple endings named alphabetically. Although it is unknown which ending is canon, it must be either Ending A, B or C. It is most likely C though, as Jennifer learns Dan's name which she references in the sequel.

  • Ending S: Upon reaching the top of the Clock Tower, Jennifer finds Anne/Laura lying down on the floor, unconscious. As Bobby shows up ready to strike at Jennifer, she flips the two switches on the tower. Bobby hears the bells ringing and, unable to bear the sound, falls into the gears of the tower below. After he dies, Jennifer walks over to Anne/Laura, only to hear Mary tell Jennifer from the shadows what a terrible daughter she's been. She proceeds to run after Jennifer, choking her from behind and triggering a Panic. Suddenly, if the player succeeds, a flock of crows (including the one Jennifer saved earlier) come out and begin to peck at Mary, pushing her over the edge of the tower entrance. Jennifer then wakes up Anne/Laura as they proceed outside of the tower, watching as the rain stops and the sun rises in the distance. This ending is obtained by only seeing Anne or Laura die, seeing Lotte die/learning about the Clock Tower switches, freeing the crow, seeing Walter's corpse, and choosing the 3rd floor on the elevator. Jennifer and Anne/Laura were the survivors of the incident. This ending is non-canon as the sequel reveals that Jennifer and Edward were the only survivors of the incident.
JenniferClock

Jennifer on the Clock Tower after all of her friends are dead in Ending A.

  • Ending A: Same as above, but instead of Anne/Laura lying on the ground, they run towards Jennifer after Bobby is killed, only for Mary to come out of the shadows and throw Anne/Laura into the Clock Tower gears, killing Anne/Laura. Jennifer then struggles with Mary before the crows push her off the tower. Jennifer stands atop the tower alone, watching the sun rise in the distance. This ending is obtained by encountering Simon Barrows in the jail cell, seeing only Anne or Laura die, seeing Lotte die/learning about the Clock Tower switches, freeing the crow, discovering Mary's evil intentions, and choosing the 3rd floor on the elevator. This ending is one of three endings that can be considered canon to the series.
KillYou

Mary before being electrocuted in Ending B.

  • Ending B: Same as Ending S and A, but Anne and Laura may both killed at this point or presumed dead, depending on prior actions. After Bobby's death, Mary comes out of the shadows and struggles with Jennifer, only for Jennifer to force her into the generator that she used to activate the tower, electrocuting Mary to death. Jennifer stands atop the tower alone, watching the sun rise in the distance. This ending is obtained by seeing all friends die and/or failing to free the crow + seeing Lotte's death/learning about the Clock Tower switches, discovering Mary's evil intentions, and choosing the 3rd floor on the elevator. This ending is one of three endings that can be considered canon to the series.
MaryLadder

Mary chasing Jennifer up the Clock Tower in Ending C.

  • Ending C: Same as Ending S, A, and B, but around in an alternative way. As Jennifer exits the elevator, she encounters Mary. Having seen her father's corpse or having been confronted by Mary in the shed, Jennifer asks the deranged mistress why she is doing this to her and her friends, only for Mary to pull out a knife and attempt to kill Jennifer, thus trigger a Panic. Jennifer escapes Mary's clutches and dashes past her, running towards the balcony outside as Mary screams for Bobby to kill Jennifer in order to avenge Dan's death. Jennifer climbs up a ladder leading to the top of the Clock Tower as Mary follows close by, grabbing one of her legs, thus triggering a Panic. If the player succeeds, Jennifer will kick her off and Mary falls off the tower to her death below. As Jennifer reaches the top, Bobby closes in behind her and tries to avenge the deaths of his brother and mother. However, Jennifer activates the switches to the tower. The noise starts affecting Bobby as he throws his scissors to the ground and stumbles off the tower into the gears below, killing him. Jennifer walks outside and watches as the rain slows and the sun rises in the distance. This ending is obtained by choosing the 2nd floor on the elevator, seeing Lotte's death/learning about the Clock Tower switches, and discovering Mary's true intentions. The fate of Anne/Laura does not matter. This ending is one of three endings that can considered canon to the series, and is the most likely to be canon.
MaryD

Mary kills Jennifer with a knife in Ending D.

  • Ending D: Jennifer exits the elevator on the second floor, only to find Mary waiting for her. Mary comforts Jennifer by telling her that she's safe. Having not realized Mary's true intentions, Jennifer runs over to hug her. However, Mary brandishes a knife and stabs Jennifer in the chest with it. With her last dying breath, Jennifer asks "Why...?" and falls to the ground, while Mary stands before her with an evil expression. This ending is obtained by not discovering Mary's true intentions, seeing Lotte's death/learning about the Clock Tower switches, and choosing the 2nd floor on the elevator. The fate of Anne/Laura does not matter.
  • Ending E: Same requirements as above, but choose the 3rd floor instead. Inside the elevator, Jennifer presses the button for the third floor, but the elevator suddenly halts halfway through and the lights go out. Bobby is heard laughing and breaks into the elevator through an overhead vent. Jennifer screams as the screen fades to black.
ElevatorClose

Jennifer dying in the elevator.

  • Ending F: If Jennifer does not see Lotte die and never learns about the Clock Tower switches from Lotte or the religious study, she will continue the game normally until the elevator sequence. Upon entering the elevator,  Bobby breaks into the elevator through an overhead vent once the doors close and kills Jennifer off-screen, before blood starts seeping from under the elevator doors. After the credits end, Bobby can be heard laughing inside the elevator.
  • Ending G: Jennifer stumbles upon a car in the mansion's garage, and finds a key on a nearby crate. Having seen two of her friends die, Jennifer starts the car and escapes, driving through the wall of the shed. A post-credits scene states that Jennifer was found dead in her room, three days after the incident. The cause of her death is unclear; the most common theories are that Jennifer was killed by one or more of the Barrows, or that she killed herself over the loss of her friends. However, Clock Tower series creator, Hifumi Kono, in a question and answer response, confirmed that Mary was directly involved in Jennifer's death, although he did not elaborate on how.[1]
RearviewMirror

Jennifer sees Bobby's scissors behind her in Ending H.

  • Ending H: This ending is considered the worst, and it is obtained after seeing only one friend die. Jennifer stumbles upon a car in the mansion's garage and finds a key on a nearby crate. Jennifer is unable to leave her friends in the mansion, but after three attempts to start the car, she eventually gives in and escapes, driving through the wall of the shed. In a post-credits scene, Jennifer looks at the mirror and sees a giant pair of scissors emerging from the back seat. Jennifer appears shocked, screams, and the screen fades to black.
TAS_SNES_Clock_Tower_by_ruadath_in_01_57.97

TAS SNES Clock Tower by ruadath in 01 57.97

The game beaten in under two minutes.

  • Alternate Endings: There are two endings that can be obtained through a glitch in the game in which Jennifer quickly crosses the courtyard before Anne's pool death occurs to reach the other side of the mansion so the player won't encounter Bobby for the first time. In the first alternative ending, if the player then decides to exit the mansion in the car (the pathway to Ending G and H), Jennifer escapes the mansion and only the credits display, concluding that Jennifer "successfully" escaped. This automatically results in the completion of Ending D in the endings menu of the game. In the second alternative ending, if the player decides to follow the steps leading to Endings S, B, or C without watching Anne or Laura die, Lotte will not be found in the altar, thus resulting in Ending F if the player continues to play. Even if the player wants to follow the steps leading to Endings A or B by witnessing Lotte killed by Mary in the shed would still result in Ending F.

Clock Tower for Windows 95 & 98[]

A port of the game that isn't mentioned often is the Windows 95 & 98 version of Clock Tower. The port was originally released in March of 1997 as a Big Box release. It's very faithful to the original SNES release & lacks much of the extra additions present in the PlayStation port that would release in the following months. A big draw to this version of the game is Mouse support being that it is a point-and-click game that made its way onto a computer.

The Big Box first print of the game is said to be the rarest release of the game known to exist & like the the other ports of this game, was only ever released in Japan, though English translations exist as well as a room & item randomizer mod.

The port was re-released under MediaKite's "Ultra2000" series in 1999 in a standard Jewel case with Windows 98 branding showing that the game was supported on computers with Windows 95 & 98, but the port is exactly the same as it was in 1997, with none of the additions found in The First Fear, despite the additions being present in the WonderSwan port that would release months after the MediaKite re-issue.

PlayStation's The First Fear port[]

TFF

Clock Tower: The First Fear boxart.

On July 17, 1997, a Sony PlayStation port of the game was released under the title Clock Tower: The First Fear. This version took the advantage of the newer 32-bit hardware of the Sony PlayStation, and added new sounds, scenes, and FMVs to enhance the experience. This version is Japan exclusive, but was fan-translated into English. Some of the additional content was available in the Windows 95 PC Port, and all of it was included in the WonderSwan port.

  • In the den, the scene of the TV turning on by itself and making strange noises (with a vague image of Dan being visible) is now a cutscene.
  • There is an additional cutscene of the parrot Jennifer can interact with in the bedroom.
  • There is a random event in the bedroom with the parrot: either an arm will come out of the mirror and choke Jennifer (like in the original version) or the mirror will shatter upon inspection and frighten her.
  • Creepy music plays when Jennifer inspects the photo of baby Bobby and Dan.
  • When Jennifer examines the crow's corpse in the Hutch Room, a cutscene shows the crow having been decapitated with a cleaver.
  • In the Taxidermy Room, when going to the far left and examining the closet, the mummified corpse Jennifer finds will come to life and chase her; it can kill her in one hit. In order to get rid of the corpse, Jennifer must find the green dagger located in the box before opening the closet and stab the corpse with it, causing it to fall apart. This is required to release the crows in the Hutch Room, as the corpse drops the Hutch Key.
  • In Bobby's nursery room, the small French mannequin is not the only doll that will attack Jennifer, as the red clown doll can also attack.
NewRoomTFF

The new room.

  • In the original version, there is a door in the West Wing hallway that Jennifer cannot enter. In The First Fear, the room can be entered and is just like the bedroom but has a shattered chandelier, with broken remains on the beds. The mirror in this room can randomly be found intact or shattered; this does not have any impact on the rest of the game, but Jennifer will touch her hair (if the mirror is intact) or wonder what happened to the mirror (if it is shattered) upon inspection. The left bed can also be used as a hiding place.
  • There is a new scene explaining how Edward (Dan) was able to become the new Scissorman in Clock Tower. Shortly after being incinerated, after Jennifer escapes the room, an ashen faced boy rises from Dan's ashes.
  • In the original SNES version, it was still possible to save Anne if the player heard her scream, as long as Jennifer did not inspect the window. In the PC, PlayStation and Wonderswan ports, however, Anne cannot be saved if the player hears her scream, even if Jennifer does not inspect the window. Due to this, it becomes impossible to achieve Ending S without either crossing the hallway quickly or restarting the game if her scream is heard.

WonderSwan port[]

Ws1

WonderSwan port paused while speaking to Laura in the opening sequence.

In 1999, the PlayStation version of The First Fear was ported to the WonderSwan. This version is considered inferior and was neither released outside of Japan nor translated. Due to the system's small black-and-white screen, aesthetic changes had to be made to the game; the graphics are not as detailed, text appears in the upper-left-hand corner on top of the game, and Jennifer's health is monitored by three dots on the side of the screen rather than a portrait, which is not present. The player cannot view their entire inventory at one time; they must push a button to scroll the cursor through all the items. This version of the game does include a pause function as well as a quick transition when walking up and down stairs to compensate for the slow speed of this version.

Translations[]

The game never received an official English release prior to Clock Tower: Rewind in 2024, prompting fans to create translations in their native tongue. As such, there are many variant spellings and terms. Some of these include:

  • Barrows/Burroughs/Burrows (as seen in Clock Tower, Clock Tower 3 and a Hifumi Kono Q&A, respectively)
  • Laura/Rolla (the latter as seen in the guide books)
  • Anne/Ann (the former as seen in the guide books)
  • Rock/Stone
  • Scepter/Staff
  • Black Robe/Black Cloak

The first translation patch for the SNES version originated from the hacking group Aeon Genesis. Some of the later fan releases were based on this English script instead of opting for a translation from the original Japanese.

Version Target language Source language Hackers Translators First released
SNES English Japanese Gideon Zhi, Tsama Tsama September 8, 2001
SNES German English Conn RedScorpion, Stormfather, Spartaner November 29, 2010
SNES Portuguese English TheNewSon (Denver) May 9, 2012
SNES Korean Japanese Cyjzero May 22, 2013
SNES Turkish English knighTeen87 November 23, 2013
WIN95 English Japanese maddjakkal, Silanda August 7, 2014
PS1 English Japanese arcraith Enetirnel, Lullaby May 2, 2015
PS1 French English arcraith Tsuna June 27, 2015
PS1 Spanish English arcraith R41D3R July 26, 2015
PS1 Hungarian English arcraith The_Reaper_CooL August 10, 2015
PS1 German Japanese arcraith IaGeu December 14, 2015
PS1 Portuguese English Zungle, NodeNotJS Jv132, Zeraaman14, Zungle November 3, 2023

Clock Tower Comedy[]

Another unofficial (albeit notable) translation of the game is "Clock Tower Comedy", which turns the game into a black comedy. Clock Tower Comedy originated from a contest held by moderators on the "Don't Cry Jennifer" forums between April 14th, 2007 and June 1st, 2007. The participants would use a tool called the "Clock Tower Text Editor" to edit the dialogue in a ROM of the SNES game, and whoever had the funniest translation would get to be a moderator of their own channel on the forums. Only two entries were submitted and placed to vote. Entry B won and was briefly distributed on the forum. The translation is extremely rare, as no patches of it exist. Only Entry B's screenshots are featured in this section; there are no known screenshots of Entry A. Not all of the game's text was changed, and the humor could be considered dated. It was only available for the SNES version.

Music[]

CollectOST

Clock Tower 20th Anniversary Sound Collection.

Main article: Clock Tower 20th Anniversary Sound Collection

An official soundtrack, Clock Tower 20th Anniversary Sound Collection, was released in 2016. It contains music from both the SNES, PS1 and PC versions.

Development[]

Clock Tower was the third game in Human Entertainment's "Cinematic Live/Disaster Series" trilogy of games for the SNES, following Septentrion (セプテントリオン) which released in 1993 for Japan and 1994 in the United States under the title S.O.S., & The Firemen (ザ・ファイヤーメン) which released in 1994 for Japan and Europe and 1995 for Australia.

According to an interview with the game's director, Hifumi Kono in Retro Gamer Magazine Issue 218, when Kono joined Human Entertainment prior to Clock Tower's creation, sports games had priority over other game ideas as sports games were guaranteed to sell. Kono, however, wanted to create a totally different kind of game. A competition was held by employees at Human to pitch game ideas and the winner's idea would get produced into a full game. Kono was a fan of horror films, and wanted to make a horror game that could capture the tense feeling of hiding from a stalker. Kono submitted his ideas & won the contest, beginning the development of Clock Tower.

Kono: "All of my game designs are based on a series of logical steps, so my process is pretty much solidified at the proposal stage. So once development started, I only had to focus on things like the flow of the story, creating the map, and event production. However, there was only one problem. Outside of the text adventure genre, the idea of not being able to attack or defeat your enemies was a very foreign concept for games back then."

One of the graphic artists for the game, Hanashingo, recalled seeing the pitch for Clock Tower appear as early as Summer of 1993. He described the initial pitch for Clock Tower as being a simple horror game pitch, with no solidified protagonists at that point and the antagonists being "zombies." Hanashingo described the pitch as being "like playing Splatterhouse with a cursor." Hanashingo personally believes that it was Art Director & Graphic Artist Akiyoshi Ijima who introduced the Argento films and worldview to the game's development.

Kono stated that Clock Tower was an "experimental" project, with a small budget & small team that constantly doubted its success. Kono was with Human for 2 years by the time of Clock Tower's development, and said that it was hard asking some people for help because there wasn't an established leadership system within Human. Out of this it was unclear who'd make the final calls.

Kono mentioned that there was one team member who had openly called Clock Tower "boring" as development progressed, but after the game started selling, the team member would go on to brag about his work on the game, amusing Kono.

Kono took influence from the works of Dario Argento like Phenomena & Suspiria, specifically, the environments, threats & scenarios within both films, and the single lone protagonist. The design for Jennifer was based on Jennifer Connelly's character, Jennifer Corvino in Phenomena. Many have also connected the likeness of Jennifer to the actress, Mariko Ishihara. The concept for Bobby and his scissors were influenced by Cropsy, the killer from The Burning & The Eroded Scissors from God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand. Exploration & atmosphere were also inspired by "Alone in the Dark." Additional influences include Deep Red, The Exorcist & House (1977)

Jennifer's sprites were done by recording movements from a real-life actress (likely Yasuko Terada) on-site around Inokashira Park. Her motion reference was recorded entirely in one day, & the graphic artists in charge of sprite work would then adapt the video reference into the sprites for Jennifer in the game. This actress was an intern at Human's Planning Division and the exact outfit she was wearing became the official outfit for Jennifer.

The codes for locations in the game imply that around 12 rooms were cut during development. This might be why there's a rubble room in the West Wing similar to the one found earlier in the game. Though the assets are 2D, the Barrows mansion was developed with a 3D space in mind. SFC mouse support was considered for the game but due to the small team and small work time, the feature could not be implemented. Connecting the Super Famicom Mouse or Multitap will result in a unique message screen that tells you that the controller isn't connected properly, followed by Bobby's laughter. The Windows 95 & PlayStation ports of the game would implement mouse support in addition to the button controller option.

The original SFC version of the game would not receive mouse support until Clock Tower Deluxe, a fan mod aimed to reinsert extra content from the ports of the game.

There are many unused assets & animations within Clock Tower that were partially repurposed in the ports. The mummy from the Trophy Room was meant to attack, as well as the Clown Doll in Bobby's room; both of these were restored in the 1997 First Fear port. An unused audio clip for the clown also appeared in the 20th Anniversary OST. Unused animations also exist for Jennifer running up and down stairs, as well as Bobby being able to walk up and down stairs.

Koji Niikura & Kaori Takazoe were in charge of the sound design for Clock Tower. Much of the game is silent as Jennifer's footsteps sweep the halls, until Bobby's chase theme kicks in. Roland libraries, as well as the Sound Ideas library helped cement the game's identity.

The game takes place the same day of its release, on September 14th, 1995.

Release[]

Clock Tower released for the Super Famicom on September 14, 1995 in Japan for 11,400 yen, which comes to around $105 US Dollars. The game hasn't decreased in value on seller sites online over the years, and has seen two reissues. The game was reissued in 1996 and 1997 for the same price, and was made available as one of the games you could save on a blank Super Famicom cartridge via Nintendo Power or a local game kiosk for 1,000 yen.

When Clock Tower: The First Fear was making its way for a July 17, 1997 release on the Playstation, it was advertised with a 3,800 yen retail price.

The Windows 95 version of the game was sold in a Big Box on March 28, 1997 for 6,800 yen and saw an Ultra 2000 re-release on August 20th, 1999 for 2,100 yen.

The WonderSwan version of the game released on December 9, 1999 for 3,980 yen.

The SNES version was re-released on the Wii Shop Channel's Virtual Console section in Japan on August 3, 2010 for 800 yen/800 Wii Points.

The First Fear version was re-released on Japan's Playstation Network store on November 9th, 2011 for 600 yen.

Clock Tower: Rewind was announced in July 2023 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam, pending a fall release in the same year. A collector's edition was also announced, including the original soundtrack, a sticker sheet, a double-sided poster, art by Shintaro Kago, a Clock Tower statuette, acrylic standees of Jennifer and Bobby, a ham enamel pin, a Demon Idol keychain, and a Dan Barrows-shaped stressball.

Reception[]

Because Clock Tower was never officially released outside of Japan, it was considered a rare classic. Emulation and fan translations boosted the game's international popularity, and it gained a cult following as a survival horror classic.

On the positive side, many enjoyed the game's horror atmosphere and the multiple endings added a lot of replay value.

On the negative side, the tower's layout may confuse players, and Jennifer's walk cycle up and down staircases has been criticized as slow. There is no voice acting beyond screams in some scenes, and the game has low-resolution 2D pixel graphics.

Remake or Western re-release[]

In page 293 of John Szczepaniak's book, The Untold History of Japanese Video Game Developers Vol. 2, published in 2015, some of Human's former members, including members who worked on Clock Tower, sat down to talk about their time at Human and the games they developed. When asked about the possibility of a Clock Tower re-issue/remake, the following conversation was had:

John: "Xseed works with fan-translators, but other companies won't talk with them. Given things like Virtual Console, it's surprising companies won't consider it."

Hifumi Kono: "Yeah... like SunSoft... Maybe it's because they don't have any programmers."

Masaki Higuchi: "They'd have to dump the ROM, reverse-assemble it..."

Kono: "That's a lot of work! And sometimes the old games were programmed in a very unusual way, depending on who wrote it. It would be nice to release them, though. As for myself, I talked to a certain publisher about doing a reboot or a re-release of Clock Tower, but they didn't agree to it, because horror games are difficult to market."

The game's official developing company, Human Entertainment, has since gone defunct, and Sunsoft currently owns the rights to Clock Tower. As of 2021, Sunsoft hadn't released anything related to the brand since the Sound Selection in 2016 (as part of the 20th Anniversary of the SNES game) and the mobile game, Clock Tower - Ready For the Next - for Android in 2021. Clock Tower remains listed on Sunsoft's website under their "Licensing Proposal" section.

In Fall 2023, indie game studio WayForward, responsible for well-known game franchises like Shantae, the Mighty Series, & River City Girls, announced during Limited Run Games' LRG3 announcement showcase that Clock Tower would be coming to the west after nearly 30 years of the game being Japan-exclusive. The game, now officially titled Clock Tower: Rewind, will offer the game's official localization into five languages: English, French, Spanish, German, & Italian. The game will be utilizing Limited Run Games' Carbon Engine in order to run on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox, & Steam.

This updated release of the game will include an enhanced version of the SNES game, along with an animated intro, a new theme song by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn & Dale North, an art gallery, motion-comic cutscenes & other bonuses. It is scheduled to release in 2024, reportedly before Halloween.

Trivia[]

Patua

Jennifer Connelly as Jennifer Corvino.

  • The story is loosely based on and inspired by Dario Argento's 1985 film Phenomena which stars Jennifer Conelly as Jennifer Corvino, who heavily inspired the character and look of Jennifer Simpson.
  • The game takes place on September 14, 1995, the same day the game was released.
  • Along with Project Firestart (1989), Alone in the Dark (1992), Night Trap (1992), The 7th Guest (1993), Jack in the Dark (1993), Alone in the Dark 2 (1993), Doctor Hauzer (1994), Alone in the Dark 3 (1994), D (1995), Phantasmagoria (1995), The 11th Hour (1995) and Resident Evil (1996), Clock Tower was one of the first survival horror games.
  • The cover of the Human Fun Club's final issue, published in March 31st, 1997, mentions a Clock Tower: Director's Cut on the cover. This was the early title for the Windows 95 port of the game, before it being changed to just Clock Tower for Windows 95. The reason for the name change is unknown.
BP Poster
  • During development, the 2018 game Remothered was intended to be a fan tribute/remake to The First Fear, although this was later redeveloped into an original storyline that takes inspiration from many classic horror games and films. The characters were modified with different appearances and names. The vision of Remothered has been overhauled and revamped due to Chris Darril's changing and expanding vision of the game, as seen in the various early versions. Remothered went on hiatus due to the production of NightCry and Forgotten Memories, both video games which Chris worked on, then resumed after their releases. Chris formed his own publishing and software house "Darril Arts". Remothered is planned to be a trilogy for PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One. The series is developed as a joint effort between Darril Arts and Stormind Games. The first installment, Remothered: Tormented Fathers, was released in Early Access in 2017 with the full release on January 30, 2018. The second installment, Remothered: Broken Porcelain, will likely be the closest in storyline to The First Fear, and is intended for release in 2020.
  • A patch of the SNES version titled "Clock Tower Deluxe" was released on ROMHacking.net in September of 2020 by user BobSchneeder45. It has various improvements, including most of the additional content from the PlayStation port, mouse support, the ability to run up stairs, and the ability to run directly to clickable objects by double-tapping on them.

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