Most Survival Horror games consist of you, your gun, absurdly copious amounts ammo, and a plague of zombies. Or ghosts. But the point is, you have a gun, or at the very least a crowbar or something.Human Entertainment's Clock Tower series doesn't work like that.With the exception of a few sequences in the third and fourth games, your character is an utterly helpless girl going up against an unstoppable creature bent on killing you. In short, a slasher movie turned video game. If you want to live, you're going to have to keep your wits about you, and not do stupid things like play the piano noisily, or tempt fate by repeatedly returning to the scene of a Cat Scare.The series has four games:
Clock Tower — Released in 1995 for the Super Famicom, features an orphaned girl named Jennifer who is adopted along with her friends, but is pursued by Bobby Barrows, the manor's resident maniac with a huge pair of scissors. It was later ported to Windows 95 and PlayStation in 1997, followed by a WonderSwan version 1999. This installment was never released outside of Japan in any shape or form, however fan translations are available for the Super Famicom and Windows 95 versions.
Clock Tower 2 — A direct sequel to the first game, taking place a year later when the Scissorman suddenly reappears. Players can continue playing as Jennifer or her foster mother Helen, and can also control a few other characters for certain parts of the game. This installment was released in Japan in 1996, but unlike its predecessor, it was also released in North America and Europe in 1997 and 1998 respectively by ASCII Entertainment.
Clock Tower Ghost Head — Also known as Clock Tower II: The Struggle Within elsewhere, is the third game in the series released for the PlayStation in 1998 and has nothing to do with the first two gamesnote (well, apart from the fact that Alyssa and Bates are Bobby and Dan), but instead focuses on a high school girl named Alyssa Hale/Yu Midoshima with a male split personality named Bates/Sho. Who could use guns. Against the zombies and evil spirits pursuing you. It was released in North America by Agetec in 1999 whereas Europe didn't get this one.
Clock Tower 3 — The fourth and (seemingly) finally game in the series for the PlayStation 2 released, this installment focuses on a different Alyssa who, upon returning home, found that her mother is missing. Unlike the previous installments, this game was co-developed by Capcom and Sunsoft as Human Entertainment filed for bankruptcy at the turn of the new millennium, and instead of the series' staple point-and-click interface, players have full control of their character. It was released in Japan in 2002 and everywhere else in 2003.
Though not part of the series proper, Haunting Ground was initially developed to be a continuation of the series and shares the visual and play style of Clock Tower 3.The series went dormant for a decade, however Hifumi Kono, the director of the first two Clock Tower games, has unveiled during the 2014 Tokyo Game Show his new company Nude Maker are working a spiritual successor to the series under the working title Project Scissors, along with the help of Masahiro Ito of Silent Hill fame, Ju-on director Takashi Shimizu, and Metal Gear Solid 4 composer Nobuko Toda working on the project.Not to be confused with the trope, Clock Tower.
Abandoned Hospital: The Struggle Within's second part takes place in one. You also first confront the Scissortwins from 3 in one.
Action Commands: The Panic button. If an enemy catches up to you, the button has to be pressed rapidly to escape death.
Anachronism Stew: Despite being in Romsdal, Norway, very few names actually sound Norwegian at all, and this isn't because of a localization. Somewhat justified in that the Barrows are actually revealed to be a British family.
The second game brings it up a bit - with the characters bowing at each other like in Japan. This is in Oslo, too.
Androcles' Lion: If Jennifer frees a crow she encounters while wandering the manor, then one of the endings will involve a whole murder of them coming to her rescue.
The second game also features a counter for how many people survive the game out of ten. The most you can achieve is seven. Because Edward is Scissorman, Kay is always murdered, and either Harris or Prof. Barton is the decoy Scissorman.
Artificial Brilliance: If you use the same hiding place too many times, Scissorman will eventually catch on.
Artificial Stupidity: The Struggle Within has enemies that can never figure out a counteract to that one weapon Alyssa can pick up, and they can never figure out the hiding spots they can use. Partly justified with zombies, but almost inexcusable with Stephane and Maxwell.
The Atoner: After George Maxwell buried Alyssa, Alan dug her up again, although it's not clear if he did this to save Alyssa or just to spite George. However, he's definitely The Atoner for abandoning Shannon and making her jealous.
And, of course, Maxwell himself, who buried his children in the first place.
Audio Adaptation: Each game from the second onward has its own drama CD. The first two are just adaptions of their respective games, while the third is a Prequel about the protagonist's mother, Nancy.
Awesome, yet Impractical: The reason why you can't stick to Sho/Bates. Although he's one bad dude and can use guns, he's really a psycho and won't use mundane objects. He is also responsible for over half of the bad endings in the game, some of which are caused by his own stupidity.
Captain Ersatz: Scissorman is very similar to the character Cropsy from the slasher movie The Burning. Even using a similar weapon.
Cat Scare: In The First Fear, there's two boxes in which either a black cat or Bobby can pop out.
Chekhov's Gun: Several items in the second game, most notably the Demon Statue and a note in Jennifer's route which has the Door Spell written on it, are eventually used in some way to enable you to seal away Scissorman in the A and B endings.
Also, in the first game, the crows come to rescue Jennifer if she frees them.
That suit of armor in Struggle Within? If you don't examine it at a certain point, it will come back to bite you, hard!
Cower Power: Your only defense in the game is hiding, or attacking with mundane objects, even that can fail if used twice. Confronting your stakers may slow them down, but for a few seconds. The chase is still on until you find a new hiding spot.
Creepy Child: Bobby from first game, and Stephanie in The Struggle Within.
Cultural Translation: The third game had its title changed, characters were given American-sounding names, and the location was changed from Osaka, Japan to Salinas, California. Interestingly, this is completely irrelevant to the rest of the series: it didn't take place in America or Japan, it took place in Norway. But since that's in Europe, America is probably a better setting choice.
Unbuilt Trope: Clock Tower (1995), is the very first horror game that introduced a helpless protagonist, even before survival horror became a genre. The sequel continued this tradition until The Struggle Within / Ghost Head derailed it.
In SW/GH, In the best ending Alyssa Hale lives, but her father the only person she truly cares about is dead, along side her uncle and cousins. Before that her father also revealed she's the cursed daughter of George Maxwell. Oh, and the zombies have escaped and is running around in the city. While, Alex Corey leaves her alone at the street and swears he'll take care of the zombies. Subverted in the drama cd, where the whole story makes more sense and is played more realistically.
In CT 3, In the end Alyssa Hamilton is left homeless, her mother is dead and her grandfather turns out to be an incestious wannabe entity. It is also implied that since rooders cannot kill entities permanently, Alyssa Hamilton can still be hunted down by them. Horrifying, since it is revealed her powers will wane as she age and completely disappear on her twenties. Yeah, happy ending indeed.
Dropped A Samurai Suit On Her: Ending G in The Struggle Within. To make matters worse, it's not even important to the plot, save for who may be inside it...
Also, if you saved at any point after the part where you are suppose to examine it, you are locked into this bad ending! Time to start over...
It's possible for this to almost happen in First Fear, too. Although, if it does happen, your friend's corpse will be stuffed inside.
Driven to Suicide: In the first game, the second to worst ending said that Jennifer was found dead. It's implied that she may have killed herself.
The Struggle Within has Nurse Cook, who decides that she wants to kill herself so she won't become a zombie. She can be stopped by Alyssa, however.
Dude, Where's My Reward?: Your reward for exorcising all the ghosts in 3? Absolutely nothing, not even an acknowledgment that you did so.
However, every single exorcised ghost gives you something useful for freeing them, so it's not entirely this trope.
Drop-In Nemesis: This series has a habit of having its resident killer kill off the player should they make that one foolish mistake.
Enfant Terrible: Bobby in the first, Edward in the second, and Chinatsu/Stephanie in the third.
Both Nolan (26) and Harris (35) are in love with Jennifer, who is only 15. In Nolan's case, it's more like he's charmed by her, while Harris has an unhealthy infatuation. The game does take place in Norway, though, where the age of consent is 16.
Also, in 3, it's strongly implied that the Big Bad is motivated by a rather unwholesome, obsessive interest in the teenaged main character. For extra creepy, he turns out to be the lead character's grandfather.
Evil Gloating: Every villain in 3. Sometimes for ten seconds, sometimes for five minutes.
Fake Boss: The second game in Helen's scenario, this is Professor Barton, who was masquerading as Scissorman. If you haven't found the Door Spell by this point in the game, Helen concludes he was the real culprit and the game ends.
Fake Difficulty: 3 has this at times, with the panic mode being the biggest offender.
Interestingly, the rest of the series doesn't have any major Fake Difficulty besides enemies sometimes appearing without warning.
Fan Remake: The First Fear originally had one planned as Remothered by Chris Darril (seen here) until the idea was scrapped and became an entirely different game inspired by The First Fear.
Fetch Quest: The fourth game has enough of these with such frequency, designed with such clear malevolence towards the player, as to render the game almost unplayably aggravating.
Final Girl: Arguably subverted, in that there's usually at least one character left alive, other than the heroine, at the end. Then again, the canon ending for the first game only has Jennifer left alive, so it's played straight as well.
Only for the sequel to subvert that too. Edward - or should we say Dan - was the other survivor.
Five-Bad Band: The Subordinates in the third game can be seen like this:
Genre Shift: Ghost Head/The Struggle Within goes from creepy supernatural thriller to purely scientific zombie invasion. It honestly feels like they slapped two wildly different games together.
He Who Fights Monsters: Barton in the second game. Starts out studying Scissorman and then ends up being a fake one in Helen's scenario.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The Scissorman Ralph in the third game is impaled by the giant cleaver trap he almost used on Dennis earlier.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Played straight, but averted for a single fetch quest in 3, where only one of three emblems can be picked up at any one time, making what could have been a two minute diversion into an eight minute reason to play a different game.
Immune to Bullets: Scissorman is shown to be immune to bullets in the second game, mostly due to the fact that he uses his scissors as a shield.
Improbable Weapon User: In 3, Sledgehammer wields a hammer that appears larger than your heroine, Corroder has a sulfuric acid-firing... device, Chopper has axes that he can throw like boomerangs or somehow fuse together and throw like a boomerang, the Scissortwins have two blades that they hold together to emulate scissors, the final boss has a Final Fantasy-esque broadsword, and your heroine uses magical arrows appearing out of nowhere which she fires using a magical bow (minus a magical bowstring, mind you) that sprouts from a vial of holy water.
Then there's the giant scissors that the first two Scissormen use.
To clarify: The first had 9, the second 10, and the third 13. The (currently) final game has only one.
To clarify further, a lot of the endings are just different ways of the lead characters getting killed. It's especially egregious in the third game; most of those 13 endings just show Alyssa/Yu getting murdered in different ways by the Creepy Child.
Nothing Is Scarier: The first game is built around this. For the longest time, you aren't really in any danger or under attack from anything. Most of the time, there's no music, either. The only things you're going to hear for most of the game are Jennifer's footsteps and the creaking of the house. And it is absolutely terrifying. Because you know, sooner or later, something's bound to come at you. But when?
Not Quite Dead: One of the villains from the first game, who you see burst into flames, comes back in the second. He does it again in two of that game's bad endings.
Happens in The Struggle Within/Ghost Head. Bates stabs the girl in the chest, presumably killing her. She gets right back up and either stabs him if he just stands there (therefore granting you a bad ending), or prepares to stab Alyssa (which gives you a game over).
Again at the end where Maxwell is shot in the back by Alyssa's father. Then he gets right back up at the very very end to attempt to kill Alyssa again, unless you manage to perform the QTE for Alex to intervene.
Novelization: There are two novels of the second game, one from Jennifer's side and the other from Helen's.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: In Struggle Within, Sharron only helps Alyssa in the hospital just so she can let her suffer before killing her later on. She kills her early if Bates talks to her in the next chapter, and will succeed in strangling her if she still had her amulet on later. Also, she ultimately kills herself.
Overcrank: Near the end of the second game, when Helen shoots Scissorman.
Panty Shot: Mainly in 3, where Alyssa's short skirt causes her to expose her pink panties quite a lot; in fact, you can pan the camera to view up her skirt. Alyssa also occasionally exposes her panties when she is killed; most of the time her body lies down with her legs tucked over each other when she dies, hiding her panties. But when the purple ghosts kill her, they will lift her body into the air, causing Alyssa to arc her back with her thighs spread, allowing you to pan the camera around to view her crotch. They will then brutally snap Alyssa's spine, killing her instantly and causing her body to fall back down onto the ground and lie spread-eagle.
Parental Incest: Averted in 3 with the aptly-named Dick Hamilton, who was so obsessed with his daughter that he ignored his wife, murdered his son-in-law, and abducted his daughter. Later, he transfers his obsession to his granddaughter, the heroine Alyssa, who's the very image of her mother. She manages to stop him though.
Point of No Return: Once you enter the cave in the first game, you need to use perfume and a robe to pass a guard dog. The perfume wears off after you're past him, and there's only one bottle — your ending is set and you can only advance.
Once you miss the armor in the beginning of SW/GH, you are locked into a bad ending for the rest of the playthrough.
The Profiler: Professor Barton and all of his assistants are criminal psychologists working on the Clock Tower case. Slightly subverted in that Prof. Barton originally just views the Scissorman as "some nutjob."
Psycho Strings: Used for effect when you uncover nasty things; for example, body parts in a meat locker.
Also heard in 3's Panic Mode music.
Rank Inflation: Ending S is the best ending you can get in The First Fear.
Reincarnation: Bobby and Dan become Alyssa and Bates some time before The Struggle Within. As to which is which, well, Alyssa and Edward (Dan with a fake name) both wear something resembling a school uniform and are shy yet determined, and Bates and Bobby are both murdering psychopaths. Apparently, this is a regular thing for the Maxwell family.
Sanity Meter: 3's panic meter, which goes up every time something (like a ghost or one of the Subordinates) surprises Alyssa. If it fills up all the way, she panics.
The first game had a panic meter too, but in the form of Jennifer's portrait. It didn't do much except make her more likely to be killed by traps, cause her to trip more often, and flash when you should be mashing the panic button.
Schrödinger's Gun: In the first game, your friends are only considered to be dead by the game if you actually see proof of their death. This has actual gameplay implications; it means that the only way to get the S-rank ending, where one of your friends survives, is to never ever investigate any strange sounds you hear and never look in any place where a body could be found, because if you do, the game will take the opportunity to declare one of them dead.
Near the beginning of the game, not investigating a strange noise will trigger the death of one of your friends.
3 has a villainous cast consisting entirely of these, save for the final boss.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The two worst and, more poignantly, two of the near-endgame endings in the first game. One ending in the second game in which everyone dies horribly and Scissorman gets away scot free.
Shotacon: Word of God is that Kay from the second game was a repressed pedophile and Edward was able to exploit these feelings to control her. This couldn't actually come up in-game because of censorship laws.
Shout-Out: The game seems to take a lot of influence from the 1977 horror movie Suspiria, including the background music resembling the movie's iconic theme by horror musician director Goblin, the design and feel of the mansion, and the design of Bobby Barrows heavily resembling Creepy Child Albert.
Shmuck Bait: C'mon, get in the car! Look, the keys are right there!
Also in the first game, investigating certain things (like a closed shower curtain, a suit of armor, or a scream outside) triggers bad events (mainly, the deaths of your friends).
Spell My Name with an "S": Is it Barrows or Burroughs?* Hifumi Kouno once used Burrows in a response to a fan's e-mail, although that might have just been his translator. Laura or Rolla? Ann or Anne?
The name Barrowsnote is a fan translation, is a mistranslation of Burroughs. バロウズ the Japanese name is the same as that of the first two games. In short the two families are the same.
Spiritual Successor: Haunting Ground is a spiritual successor to this series. At one point, it was intended to be an actual sequel, but the Clock Tower name was dropped during development. Another successor is in the works by Nude Maker under the working title "Project Scissors".
Split Personality: In Ghost Head/The Struggle Within, there's Yu/Alyssa and her male alter ego Sho/Bates.
Spooky Silent Library: The Library in the second game, especially with the threat of Scissorman, who happens to be inside the building too.
Summoning Artifact: The Demon Statue is implied to be this. Possibly subverted by the Golden Statue, it may just be a cheap ornament. It was Allen's excuse to poison his colleague.
Super Title 64 Advance: The Windows 95 port of the first game was has been dubbed Clock Tower for Windows 95 on the package and the opening FMV scene.
Survival Horror: The series will make you feel like your a helpless victim being hunted down by a crazed killer when your only have your wits to save yourself from seeing the Game Over screen or one of the bad endings.
Synchronization: Alyssa/Yu herself shares this attachment to her amulet, without it she's helpless against her brother's influence. Downplayed, as it only happens when she's really stressed or scared. Bates is linked to his sister, he can awaken once the amulet is gone. If he happens to get her killed, he dies as well.
There Are No Therapists: Averted in the second game; not only does Jennifer go into therapy after the events of the first game, her adoptive mother is an assistant to a therapist.
Though said therapist is one of two possible "fake Scissormen."
Bates can be this too if you choose to interact with Sharron or Maxwell as him. Bates then decides it's a good idea to threaten them, despite knowing earlier that she has a gun, and he has a big sword.
Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Jennifer understandably suffers from this after the events of The First Fear, and spends the majority of the sequel remembering nothing other than running for her life from the sound of giant scissor blades scraping against each other.
The Unreveal: In The Struggle Within / Ghost Head, the game vaguely implies that Bobby and Dan is the reincarnated Alyssa and Bates. Along side the ritual Mary did in First Fear to summon them. Your only clue is the golden statue and the mention of George Maxwell's magic powers in Allen's letter to Phillip. This game actually makes sense if you ignore the zombies.
Updated Re-release: The first game was re-released on PC and PlayStation with new scenes, new sounds, bugfixes, and new FMV sequences. The PlayStation version also featured support for the PlayStation Mouse where the original Super Famicom version lacked support for its own mouse peripheral.
Video Game Caring Potential: In Struggle Within, Chief Nurse Cook has gotten suicidal during a zombie outbreak in the hospital. You will have to use Bates to talk to her in order to advance, only making her more depressed — enough to want to commit suicide. Come back to the area as Alyssa after completing a certain event and she'll stop her from committing the act. The next time you see her (if you explore a bit in the next area), she will give you a shotgun for your troubles (not that it's necessary, since there is a spot where you will always get a shotgun either way).
In the first game, Jennifer can choose to rescue a crow from a cage. If you have done so, a flock of 'em can come to her rescue in the good ending.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: You get the single worst ending in the first game by fleeing the mansion in the car without knowing that your friends are dead. Hey, you're the one who ditched the people you care about in order to save your own skin, you deserve to suffer. (The ending for escaping in the car after learning that your friends were murdered is still bad, but not quite as much, since you know you can't save them now.)
Bates can kill Alyssa's father, who is completely helpless. Doing so will simply give you another bad ending.
Villainous Incest: Dick Hamilton towards both his daughter Nancy and granddaughter Alyssa (who looks like her mother). The Scissortwins to each other.
Vomit Discretion Shot: When Helen sees a horribly murdered corpse for the first time in the lady's bathroom of the university research building, she vomits in the corner of the room, but nothing is shown.
Voices Are Mental: In CT SW/GH, when Bates takes over Alyssa/Yu's body the voice coming out from her mouth is his.
Weapon of Choice: In the third game, each subordinate has one, though they'll change to a similar weapon if the game is played on "Hard". (For example, Sledgehammer will now wield a spiked mace instead).
A minor example with Alyssa and Bates in Ghost Head. Alyssa will use chairs and other mundane objects. Bates prefers guns.
When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Used in the third Clock Tower game. As the clock strikes twelve, it signifies Alyssa Hamilton is fifteen and will be ritually sacrificed so her grandfather will become a powerful entity.
Which Restroom Dilemma: Alyssa/Yu will refuse to enter the male restrooms. Bates/Sho (Alyssa/Yu's alternate male personality who shares her body) similarly will refuse to enter the female restrooms. You can make Bates/Sho examine the urinal to have him just sort of stare blankly at it for a moment.
This can be subverted if clever players lay down the amulet in the women's restroom and get attacked to force Bates inside. Not that it accomplishes anything, though.
Bates/Sho won't hesitate to shoot, or stab, a little girl - in chest. Justified that the girl is in a frenzy state and is quick to recover.
The first thing the Sledgehammer does onscreen? Smashing a poor little girl with his humongous weapon and gloating about it.
Mary doesn't hesitate to try strangling Jennifer or throw her last living friend into the gears of a clock tower.
She's not above shooting or stabbing them either.
Yank the Dog's Chain: The A-rank ending for The First Fear, wherein Jennifer discovers one of her friends waiting for her at the top of the Clock Tower, and runs toward her... only for Mary to pop up and kill them right in front of her, before trying to kill her as well.