[VR Review] The Only Good Virtual Boy Games, Part 4: Innsmouse no Yakata

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Ever wanted an H.P. Lovecraft themed Virtual Boy game? No? It wasn’t even on your radar? Nobody else’s either. What an exotic combo, right? Japan, Virtual Boy and H.P. Lovecraft. We must be living in the bizarro timeline. Anyway this was the only proper horror title for the Virtual Boy.

I guess it’s more accurate to say that it’s based on a Japanese horror movie, which itself borrowed elements from H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Shadow over Innsmouth’ which for whatever reason translated into “Innsmouse”. The game itself uses the same pseudo 3D maze movement as titles like The Silent Debuggers for PC Engine.

You move in “steps”, advancing suddenly by increments of one cubic unit of the maze. You turn abruptly 90 degrees at a time. Many old dungeon crawler RPGs also worked this way. It’s a good solution for a system that couldn’t muster two measly polygons to rub together.

You have a gun, but ammo is extremely scarce, so you’ll be running from and avoiding monsters most of the time. There’s a key to obtain, with which you exit each level, and you advance floor by floor in a level progression similar to Wolfenstein 3D (sans the elevators).

It’s simplistic, but does its job. It’s legitimately scary at times, though “startling” might be a better word. You really can’t go wrong with VR horror, almost no matter how rudimentary it is. There’s just something about being pursued through dark mazes by monsters, when you’re unable to look away.

I am probably biased here as I love VR, I love horror and naturally combining those things is like adding peanut butter to chocolate in my book. But on a title with no other entries in this genre, I can say that Innsmouse no Yakata is a hair above decent and worth checking out if you’re as much of a VR horror fanatic as I am.

I’m giving Innsmouse no Yakata a 7/10. It’s better than average on its own merits, but as the lone horror game for the Virtual Boy it occupies a special place in that system’s library, and in gaming history.

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