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'Calling' pays tribute to J-horror

Apr 29, 2010

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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CallingAlthough it has faded from the mainstream consciousness, horror fans know that J-horror or the Japanese horror genre is still alive and well. Pillaging the genre for remakes like 'The Ring', 'One Missed Call' and 'The Grudge', Hollywood has had their fun and moved on as they always do but the scene itself is as chilling and inventive as it always has been.
 
"Chilling" and "inventive" is exactly how you would describe Hudson Games' J-horror inspired adventure game, 'Calling'. A psychological thriller at its core, the game weaves in all manner of J-horror trademarks paying a courteous tribute to the genre. Like all good contributions to the genre, the plot is rooted in folklore and urban myths which is a clever away of inspiring our imaginations to playfully blur the line between fiction and reality.
 
CallingLike 'One Missed Call' with its cursed ringtone or that troublesome videotape from 'The Ring', turning everyday objects into the stuff of nightmares is what drives the horror elements home and makes our skin crawl. 'Calling' plays off our fascination with both the Internet and cell phones. A strange Web site and its special chat room draws in the curious and is the starting point for a very creepy tale involving poltergeists, a disturbing netherworld dimension, living dolls, a father and his dead daughter.
 
Playing as four different victims transported to various locations fraught with paranormal activity, the one item that ties everything together is their cell phones. In a neat piece of development work, the makers have turned the Wiimote into a cell phone taking advantage of the controller's internal speaker. Throughout the course of 'Calling', you will use the Wiimote to answer calls and text messages, make calls, record sounds or even transport yourself to other locations in order to solve the game"s puzzles.
 
CallingTrying to dial a number while an apparition rips and tears at you or answer the "phone" only to have a 'Scream' like scenario play out with a disturbing caller on the other end, are some of the game's impressive moments.
 
The other interactive elements using both the intuitive Wiimote and nunchuck work well too. You will slide open doors, pull open drawers, twist and turn things to operate them. Where things don't really gel right is during the ghostly encounters. To escape any of the unearthly creatures, you must wag the Wiimote back and forth like a madman to shrug off your attacker(s) and stop the "scare metre" from "overloading". After about the third time, the encounters just become a big, big nuisance.
 
Calling'Calling' makes great use of atmosphere. The lighting and sound are especially eerie. The creature encounters are jarring and fun. Regrettably, it appears the developers spent too much time on the effects and not enough on the story itself. The complicated and convoluted plot is made even more exasperating when you discover that beating the game will not fill in all the blanks for you. You must replay the adventure and go through new chapters to uncover all the clues. That's not cool. That's not cool at all.
 
Even with its shortcomings, horror fans are bound to appreciate 'Calling' as an authentic and enjoyable homage to the films they love. 'Calling' will be their virtual haunted house on the Wii. Others may find the pacing sluggish and the eventual payoff not worth the time and effort they have invested.

 

Calling'Calling'
Format: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Hudson Entertainment
Developer: Hudson Entertainment
ESRB Rating: Teen
Official Site: http://bit.ly/cIzdcb

Rating: 7 / 10

 

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.