Banshee's Last Cry or known in Japanese as Kamaitachi no Yoru (かまいたちの夜 — The Night of the Sickle Weasel) is a Visual Novel franchise made by Chunsoft (now known as Spike Chunsoft) on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan on November 25, 1994. It was marketed as a sound novel, where players need to rely on the sound effects in the game to help them visualize while playing it. Due to the game's success, selling more than a million copies, it was ported to the PlayStation as Kamaitachi no Yoru Tokubetsu Hen on December 3, 1998, Game Boy Advance as Kamaitachi no Yoru ~Advance~ on June 28, 2002, on the PC has Kamaitachi no Yoru internet on July 1, 2002 and various mobile phones (J-PHONE as Kamaitachi no Yoru mini on April 1, 2002, i-mode on January 30, 2004), including Apple's iOS, the latter receiving an official English localization and release by Aksys Games. The game also included a radio drama and 2-hour TV adaptation, the latter released by the Tokyo Broadcasting System.
The game is followed by Kamaitachi no Yoru 2 and by Kamaitachi no Yoru 3, forming the KNY trilogy.
A modern take on the game, known as Kamaitachi no Yoru: Rinne Saisei, was released for the Play Station Vita on February 16, 2017 by 5pb. Unlike the first incarnation of the game, it takes an actual visual novel approach with character illustrations done by G-senjou no Maou and Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo's Alpha, and additional scenarios by Higurashi: When They Cry's Ryukishi07.
The game takes place in Nagano (For the English translation, it takes place in Whistler, British Columbia) where an ordinary college student named Tōru Yajima is invited to go to a ski lodge by Mari Kobayashi, a girl he has a crush on. The two were enjoyed their vacation when suddenly, a huge snowstorm took place. Afterwards, one of the lodge guests was killed. What makes things worse is that due to the huge snowstorm, no one can make contact to the outside world for law enforcement assistance, forcing the guests to find out who's the culprit and the person's motive before everyone is killed.
The game contains examples of:
- All There in the Manual: The official website, press releases, guidebooks and in-game dialogue gives out information on the characters involved.
- Anyone Can Die: If you go down one path to solve a case, expect a few characters to die along the way. Other characters can die if you play a case from another angle. Including Toru too if he goes mad over hearing/seeing Mari die.
- Earn Your Bad Ending: If you're a completionist, you need to something stupid to earn some of the endings that can get you killed.
- Guide Dang It!: If you're not fluent in Japanese, are not good in visual novel gaming or are having trouble getting all the endings, you will need a guide to help you out.
- Kamaitachi: The eponymous sickle weasel in the Japanese title.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: How Toru treats the case if there's a reason to believe in the supernatural.
- Multiple Endings: There are multiple endings in the game, most good, some bad, and a few parody endings.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Especially if you're investigating the case that has a supernatural angle.
- Real After All: If you play through the supernatural endings.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: In most cases, this will be the answer for the reason why the murders took place.
- Shown Their Work: The production team used images of a ski lodge in Hakuba, Nagano.
- Survival Horror: One of the game's themes if a supernatural angle is played out. Since it's a visual novel, you need to make the right choice so that Toru and anyone else in the lounge can defend themselves.
- Urban Legend: During the game, a guest talks about the infamy of the Kamaitachi with Toru and Mari listening in.
- You Can't Thwart Stage One: Averted. You must thwart stage one. Early in the main (mystery) route, after the first murder victim is found, you're given a chance to guess who the culprit may be and how they did it. Getting a good ending requires you to guess right at this earliest point. If you guess wrong, or choose not to guess in order to gather more clues, the story goes on, and from that point onward you can only ever obtain bad endings.
The English adaptation contains examples of:
- Dub Name Change: The names/locations were changed from Japan to Canada as part of a localization effort by Jeremy Blaustein. He justifies this by saying that not everyone would be familiar with Japanese mythology and even if he were to translate the title, the gamer may be confused on whether a sickle weasel is supposed to be menacing or not. For instance, Toru and Mari are known as Max and Grace.Blaustein: When I asked myself if the idea of small weasels with scythes strapped to the legs would resonate with a Western audience that has no such myth, I had to answer no. Furthermore, even the word "weasel" brings to mind shifty Steve Buscemi-like personalities as opposed to something supernatural and scary. In trying to make a true localization that would capture the essence as opposed to the trappings of the story, I decided Banshee would be more in keeping with the original SPIRIT of the game. From that POV, I feel that I am actually closer to the reproducing the feel of the original for a Western audience than I would be if I had kept it Japanese. It is hard perhaps to explain, but I feel strongly about it.
- Shown Their Work: The production team used images of a ski lodge in Whistler, British Columbia.
- Urban Legend: During the game, a guest talks about the infamy of the Banshee with Max and Grace listening in.
The radio drama adaptation contains examples of:
- Far East Asian Terrorists: The main plot involves terrorists trying to acquire WMDs in Nagano.
The TV drama adaptation contains examples of:
- Loony Fan: A plausible reason why one of the cast members enacting scenes from the game is killed off.