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Corpse Party review

The blood is old, and yet, still so fresh

Just over three years ago here on EGMNOW I reviewed Corpse Party, a strange little horror game released by XSEED for the PSP. In a year when Dark Souls had reawakened my mind to what I knew (or thought I knew) about gaming, and redefined what I did and didn’t want going forward, Corpse Party came along and punched me square in the gut. It was a brutal, visceral tale of despair and agony, giving me a taste of excitement in the genre similar to what I’d experienced from the original Silent Hill.

In returning to that original offering from Team GrisGris in Corpse Party 3DS—I’m attaching the platform to help avoid confusion in which version I’m talking about—it would be near impossible to express again the thoughts, feelings, and emotions I was left with after playing the game for the first time. So, if you need to catch up, I implore you to go read my review of the PSP version of Corpse Partybefore continuing on.

Going back to the game at this point, this is still a story that’s so wonderfully told and so deliciously decadent to progress through. While the plot twists and unexpected occurrences that crop up for the group of seven friends (and one teacher) as they become trapped in the demonic remains of Heavenly Host elementary school can’t surprise me any longer, they’re moments that continue to hold serious impact. Sure, Corpse Party still looks like an adventure cobbled together in free “build your own game” software, but this is a tale where the characters, the narrative, the mysteries that unfold, and the fantastic audio design all collaborate to horrify you in ways you didn’t think a game like this could. I know many of you out there missed Corpse Party in both its PSP and PC releases, so hopefully this is finally the version that’ll help fix that.

So what about folks like me who have already played Corpse Party? Well, another excuse to give the game a second (or third, or fourth) run is never a bad thing, but there have been some welcome improvements done here. One of my bigger complaints for the PSP version was that character sprites were horribly low resolution—leaving them annoyingly blurry—and didn’t always look like the cast members they were supposed to be representing. Corpse Party 3DS has been given an entirely new selection of character sprites, and while they still very much resemble retro-era graphical assets, they’re now crisper, better detailed, and look more properly how they should. The problem? The game still retains and uses some legacy sprite work, so when your sharp new Seiko and Naomi sprites walk over to the skeletal remains of an unfortunate student, the pile of bones comes across even more as an ugly, blurry mess. Why all of the work to fix the characters, and not go that little bit further to upgrade all of the sprites? Stuff like that should have been trivial, and takes something away from the game when the contrast between old and reworked artwork is now even clearer. My one other visual complaint is that the game’s 3D support might as well not exist for how often it’s present. It’s really not that big of a thing, but more use of the handheld’s 3D function—even on simpler levels—would have been nice.

That isn’t the end to the new content, however. Mixed in with what already existed are some new additional story pieces. Honestly, they weren’t needed—I never once thought the original game didn’t give us enough—but they’re fun little extras that flesh things out more for new players while providing actual surprises for longtime fans.

Finally, the soundtrack has seen some new mixes and arrangements compared to how the music sounded in the PSP version. In my original Corpse Party review, I said that the game had a “surprisingly excellent soundtrack”; three years later, I realize that I should have said it had a “soundtrack so fantastic and beautiful that it’ll permanently have a place on my iPhone.” Corpse Party 3DS’ arrangements range from stellar to slightly over-produced, but nothing that’s been done takes away from or ruins how simply fantastic of a score you’re in store for here. The game’s “Back to School” limited edition not only comes with two adorable Corpse Party figures, but also a 41-track CD compilation of that soundtrack—so while I usually don’t care about limited edition packages, I’d actually recommend this one.

Though in my heart I probably still prefer the original PSP release of Corpse Party—partially because it was my first experience with the game—I’d say that Corpse Party 3DS is now the most definitive version of the game you can get on these shores. This is a horror classic that is a must-play for all fans of the genre, and the changes made—along with this being the first time Corpse Party has been released here in physical form—make this a version that series fans should also have in their library.

★★★★☆

A weird, niche, visually out-of-date little game from a Japanese team you’ve probably never heard of became one of the best horror games to be released in America in years back in 2013. Now, it’s being given new life on the 3DS, and the changes it’s received make for a better experience—mostly.

Developer
Team GrisGris
Publisher
XSEED Games
ESRB
M - Mature
Release Date
10.25.2016
Corpse Party is available on Nintendo 3DS. Primary version played was for Nintendo 3DS. Code/hardware was provided by XSEED Games for the benefit of this coverage. EGM reviews on a scale of one to five stars.

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