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Video Game / Mansion of Hidden Souls

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There's a tale that, beyond a certain elm tree, under a full moon, a mystical mansion can appear to those who look for it. But beware, if you don't get out in time, you're trapped inside.

So goes the backstory of Mansion of Hidden Souls (also known as Tale of the Dream Mansion in Japan), an adventure game by System Sacom for the Sega CD in 1993 which spawned a sequel, Real Dream Mansion: Someone Behind the Door, a year later for the Sega Saturn. Nowadays, they're mostly notable for being "those The 7th Guest rip-offs with the butterflies."

In the original game, you play as Jonathan, whose sister has been lured to the titular mansion by a butterfly, and he must find her and escape before the mansion vanishes from the earth.

The Saturn version flips the viewpoint around, with the player character being one of the butterflies inside. As an entity named June, the moon has suddenly turned blood red, and you must work together with the mansion's other residents to uncover why.

The original game was selected to be among the Sega CD offerings included in the Sega Genesis Mini 2 in 2022.

These games provide examples of:

  • All for Nothing: The sequel reveals that though Jonathan saved his sister, she died in the war and thus he spent his life bitterly believing that if he'd only let her stay in the mansion, she would still be alive.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Lampshaded by the female butterfly in the ornate bedroom.
    Butterfly: Don't you think it a little impolite to search a lady's room?!
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Most of the butterflies snark at Jonathan and refuse to help beyond a vague direction on what to do. But then, they are trying to convince you to stay.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: One of the first examples in media localized in the west.
  • Covers Always Lie: The copy on the Sega CD version's back cover plays the game up as though it were harrowingly frightening and scary, when it's actually a fairly low-key mystery adventure game with very scant horror elements.
  • Curse Escape Clause: A person newly transformed into a butterfly will have red wings. They must get out of the mansion before the wings turn blue in order to change back to human form.
  • Eldritch Location: The titular mansion.
  • First-Person Ghost: Jonathan. Even mirrors just show a dark blob in lieu of a reflection.
  • Guide Dang It!: The Sega CD version is positively straightforward compared to the obtuse maze that is the Saturn game.
  • Hint System: The black painting in the first game, which shows you a glimpse of where you need to go next when examined. It's actually required to use to solve the very first puzzle.
  • Inn of No Return: The mansion appears to be this way, but it's averted. With the permission of The Hunter, you may re-enter the outside world, but you remain in the form of a butterfly—with a butterfly's lifespan—rather than the eternal life promised within.
  • Justified Save Point: The diary.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Hunter. The sequel makes him more of a positive figure.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle: Most of the Sega CD game is just trying to get past locked doors.
  • Lunacy: The magic of the moon is responsible for the butterfly transformations as well as the mansion coming into and fading from existence.
  • The Maze: How Jonathan finally gets out of the mansion.
  • No Antagonist: It's just you exploring a big ol' mansion. Then the Hunter mixes things up.
  • Our Souls Are Different: According to the Saturn game, the butterflies can see each other's human forms... or at least their heads.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Elder in the second game turns out to be Jonathan, the protagonist of the first game. He rescued his sister, but regretted it after she died in the war, grew bitter towards humans, and stays in the mansion to find any memory of her.
  • Recycled Title: Although the Saturn game adds "The" to the title, so they're not quite a complete match.
  • Starting a New Life: The sequel reveals that this is the true purpose behind the mansion—allowing those who wish to escape the world to leave their human forms and live in peace within.
  • The Unintelligible: Good luck understanding the Hunter in the original game thanks to the excessive reverb effect on his voice.
  • Wallbonking: Possible in the foyer, complete with the comical sound of your character thudding into the wall/locked door.