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Video Game / Clock Tower (1995)

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Don't cry, Jennifer.

Clock Tower is the first entry in the Clock Tower series of Survival Horror video games. The plot features Jennifer Simpson, a teenager living in the fictional Granite Orphanage in Romsdalen, Norway. She and her friends (also orphans), Laura, Ann, and Lotte, are adopted by a wealthy recluse named Mr. Barrows, who lives in a mansion known as the Clock Tower, named after its most predominant feature. The game was made available via SNES, Wonderswan, Playstation, PC and the Nintendo Wii via Virtual Console in Japanese. Versions with new/updated graphics are known as Clock Tower: The First Fear.

The game immediately begins with Ms. Mary, an employee of Mr. Barrows, leading the four girls up towards the Barrows Mansion. She leaves them in the main foyer to go and tell her employer that his new adoptive daughters have arrived and takes an oddly long time of it. After the girls begin to worry, Jennifer offers to go see what's taking them. However, no sooner does she leave the main foyer than one of the girls screams. Jennifer returns to find the room dark and abandoned. She begins to explore the mansion in search of her friends, but soon finds herself hunted by a deformed, murderous little boy who wields a huge pair of scissors. The boy is Bobby Barrows, aka The Scissorman, who will be Jennifer's main stalker and tormentor for the rest of the game.


The game is well-known for its effective jump scares; every time you enter a room, there is a random chance you are either assaulted by Bobby or are faced with some environmental hazard. Sometimes, however, these events do not trigger straight away, or they might even not happen at all, which serves to very effectively build up the tension.

This game has examples of:

  • Action Commands: The Panic button. If an enemy catches up to you, the button has to be pressed rapidly to escape death.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The crows may seem a bit too convenient, saving Jennifer at the last moment. Turns out crows can recognize faces and hold grudges.note 
  • Anachronism Stew: Despite being in Romsdal, Norway, very few names actually sound Norwegian at all. Lotte is the most Norwegian, Jennifer is uncommon, but used (though her last name definitely doesn't pass).
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  • Androcles' Lion: If Jennifer frees a crow she encounters while wandering the manor, then one of the better endings will involve a whole murder of them coming to her rescue.
  • Anyone Can Die: Duh. In the S Ending, Jennifer can escape with either Laura or Anne, depending on her actions; Lotte, unfortunately, can't be saved. However, the canon ending is that only Jennifer survives.
  • Ax-Crazy: A whole family of 'em!
  • Bittersweet Ending: Every ending where Jennifer lives through the ordeal.
  • Cast from Sanity: Early releases of the game had Jennifer's panic meter drain if she ran for an extended period of time.
  • Cat Scare: There are two boxes in which either a black cat or Bobby can pop out of.
  • Chekhov's Gun: See Androcles' Lion above.
  • Clever Crows: The intelligence of crows is demonstrated when they come to Jennifer's rescue after she previously saved one of them, and attack Mary, who was ritualistically killing them. This is Truth in Television; crows can recognize human faces and have been known to befriend and hold grudges against people depending on how they treated the birds.
  • Creepy Child: Bobby the Scissorman, and Dan, his brother. Not that their mother was any better.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: While Anne or Laura can survive, the sequel establishes Jennifer as the Sole Survivor of their ordeal. In said ending, though, one of your friends not dying is considered your reward for doing everything in the game properly and is not considered canonical.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Many of the potential deaths of Anne and Laura. Some of them involves stumbling onto the scene just as they are killed, or their body after the ordeal. Then Scissorman reveals himself and they are forgotten about. By comparison, Lotte gets more dignified deaths (Heroic Sacrifice or Died in Your Arms Tonight) at the expense of being doomed no matter what. Given the genre, this is understandable as their characters exist only to be killed.
    • Endings E and F. You get them by advancing the plot far enough without seeing Lotte die, or choosing the wrong floor in the elevator. While ending D has a logical explanation for why Jennifer dies in that ending (Jennifer doesn't uncover information that reveals Mary's true colors and therefore still trusts her), E and F just abruptly kill the player off as punishment for having missed too many plot-critical scenes. In ending F, Jennifer is even Killed Offscreen.
  • Downer Ending: The two endings where Jennifer reaches the top and dies, and the two where she takes the car back to the orphanage.
  • Fan Remake: Originally had one planned as Remothered by Chris Darril until the idea was scrapped and became an entirely different game inspired by The First Fear.
  • Feathered Fiend: The parrot in the cage you come across. Stay away from it if know what's good for you.
  • The Foreign Subtitle: A rare inversion for the game's PlayStation port, as it was subtitled The First Fear to distinguish itself from its internationally released sequel.
  • Game Mod: A text editor is available for the game.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The game always fades to black whenever Jennifer is about to die in any number of gruesome ways.
  • I'll Kill You!: Said by a parrot that Jennifer encounters in one of the bedrooms.
  • Implacable Man: Bobby stalks Jennifer through the mansion and randomly appears every now and then to attempt to murder her. He cannot be defeated until near the end of the game; until then he can only be hindered at best.
  • Interface Screw: When Jennifer's panic meter is blue, she's normal and can probably take a hit from most traps (not counting instant kill ones, or any member of the Burroughs family). As her panic meter changes color (from blue to yellow to orange to red), she becomes weaker. Once it's red, not only is she likely to die instantly from the different traps in the mansion, she also starts tripping when she runs. If Bobby is near when this happens...
  • It Came from the Sink: When the faucet in a bathroom found early on is examined, it will pour blood or maggots on Jennifer's hands.
  • Kill the Cutie: Some or all of Jennifer's friends can be killed. Lotte will always die, while only one of Laura or Anne can be saved in the best (non-canon) ending. Jennifer herself dies in endings D-H.
  • Knight's Armor Hideout: One of the jump scares you can find is if you investigate a suit of armor. It falls over and the body of Laura, your friend, is in there. Either she was shoved in there by Scissorsman or she tried to hide in it. It was most likely a decorative suit of armor and not fitted for a human being. She dies as her chest is compressed and she couldn't breathe. It most likely wasn't quick either.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Oh, too many to list.
  • Mighty Glacier: Thanks to the size of those scissors, Bobby can end up moving hilariously slow.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on whether or not you make Jennifer figure out the malicious intent of Mary, discover Laura or Anne dead, among others, you'll get one of 8 endings.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The 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?
  • Point of No Return: Once you enter the cave, 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.
  • Random Event: A core part of the gameplay and what serves to make the game so nerve-racking. Several items, rooms, and events are shuffled around so that one may have an entirely different experience each time they play.
  • Rank Inflation: Ending S is the best ending you can get.
  • Recurring Boss: After a certain point, Bobby has a chance of randomly appearing in every room, and he can be quite hard to get away from again.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Too many to count.
  • Sanity Meter: We have a panic meter, 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.
  • Schmuck Bait: There are a lot of interactive objects that either do nothing, or bring danger upon you. Like looking in a mirror with a reflection that might attack you, or loudly playing a piano that will likely draw the Scissorman's attention.
    • C'mon, get in the car! Look, the keys are right there!
    • 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).
  • Schrödinger's Gun: 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. However, near the beginning of the game, not investigating a strange noise will trigger the death of one of your friends.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The player can have Jennifer escape the Barrows Mansion almost immediately by using the car in the garage. Jennifer will at first hesitate to drive away, being worried about her friends who are still in the house, but the player can prompt to her to just leave there and then. Needless to say, the endings that result from this aren't the happiest ones: In the first, Bobby is in the backseat. In the second (which happens after a friend is found horribly dead)... Bobby kills Jennifer a few days later. There is a third outcome to this scenario: Should Jennifer head for the car through the courtyard before Anne's death triggers and then leave the mansion with it, the credits will roll and no epilogue appears like in the previous two car endings, implying that without ever coming face-to-face with Bobby, she managed to escape and left her friends behind to die. The game marks this as Ending D, though it far differs from the actual Ending D.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Laura is the only blonde girl in the group of orphans and although she can survive, she dies in the canon ending.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Is it Barrows or Burroughs? Laura or Rolla? Ann or Anne?
  • Super Title 64 Advance: The Windows 95 port of the game has been dubbed Clock Tower for Windows 95 on the package and the opening FMV scene.
  • Updated Re-release: The 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: 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 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.)
  • Violation of Common Sense: In order to save one of the other girls and get the best ending, you have to ignore someone in danger. Specifically, when you hear a scream from outside in a hallway early in the game, looking out the window will show the girl falling from the second floor to her death. Do not look out the window, and she will inexplicably be unhurt.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The game is basically the plot to the horror movie Phenomena, even down to Jennifer having the same first name and looking very similar to the main character of said movie. (Except in the game, Jennifer is not the daughter of a movie star who gets sent to a decrepit boarding school, nor can she talk to insects.)
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The A rank ending, 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.

Alternative Title(s): Clock Tower The First Fear


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