Box Shot
Platform: NES
Publisher: Kemco/Seika
Designer: ICOM
Genre: Graphic Adventure
Players: 1
Published Date 1992
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

Not content with simply translating Shadowgate and Deja Vu, two computer adventure games, Kecmo-Seika went the extra miles to make a NES conversion of Uninvited. Instead of taking place in medieval times or a 30's mystery, this title takes place in the modern day and concentrates more on supernatural horror than anything else.

The whole shebang starts off when you and your sister are driving on this old country road. Wouldn't you know it, something darts out in front of you and the car crashes. After regaining consciousness, you find yourself alive behind the wheel, but your sister is missing. Presumably she has entered that large spooky house that is conveniently located very close to the crash site for help. Even though entering houses like this is obviously one of the top-ten stupidest things to do, you've gotta find your sis and get out alive.

That's just the beginning. After exploring the mansion, you'll learn something is not quite right (the infamous ghost dressed as a Southern belle that tears your face off is a rather good indication.) Do some exploring and diary reading, and the back story will come into view. An old magician apparently owned this mansion and was training students, until one of them got too greedy and started to go nuts with his power. Actually, this whole plot takes the forefront to finding the kidnapped girl, which really comes into fruition at the end of the game.

If you've ever played the other two ICOM/Kecmo-Seika NES games, you know exactly how the interface works, as nothing has changed. A variety of commands appear at the bottom of the screen that allow you to explore the mansion, pick up stuff or interact with the environment. The inventory pages appear in the right side of the screen, with the first-person view cramped on the left side. A little navigational map appears that shows you the exits, in case you're having trouble finding the doors. Standard stuff really.

The game structure is quite a bit different from the others in the series. Instead of being linear (like Shadowgate) or even giving you a vague sense of where you're supposed to go (Deja Vu) instead you're left to explore most of the house without much of a purpose. Only the observant who carefully inspect items and readings will learn what must be done with what items. For instance, you learn that you have to find a certain item hidden in a chair (according to one of the many diaries lying around), so your task is to find a knife and attempt to carve up every piece of furniture in the place. This can be frustrating at the beginning, as close attention must be payed to descriptions. The puzzles are rather difficult, but make sense once you figure out how to solve them. However, there is one really annoying thing at the beginning: there's this one ruby that you find that will kill you if you don't get rid of yet. Yet, the game never tells you the ruby is the cause of your death...you simply fall over dead. How is one supposed to know you're not supposed to get the ruby? There's not even a clue!

There are other little annoying things. There's a nasty maze that must be navigated, which tend to be irritating to map out. Also, the way the mansion is laid out can be confusing. If you left in one room, you assume that going to the right will take you back from where you started. But from the way the perspectives seems to constantly change, this is not the case. In a case like this, you'd need to move north to return whenst you came. Huh? You'll get used to it after awhile, but it doesn't make sense when you first start. The number of items to be found in this game is immense. You can pick up many different items, but the kicker is most of them are useless. There is a place to dump useless items, but having to flip through all of the pages in your inventory and even dropping the ones you don't need can get a bit annoying. Like Shadowgate, you learn spells, although most of them are given to you right at the beginning of the game.

The graphic quality has improved slightly, with a bit more detail in the pictures. Some of the death scenes are particularly nice, but the some of the animated baddies in the game look a bit corny (what the hell is that bouncy smiley face tomato at the end of the maze?) The music actually isn't as good as the other two games, but it's not bad. Some bits are annoying, others are enjoyable.

Overall, Uninvited is a worthy addition and final bookend to the trilogy. Though the PC version is superior as usual (funnier death messages there, as the suicide text when you stab yourself is incredibly lame in the NES version), at least you can carry unlimited items here. Once you've beaten it, there's little reason to go back and play it, but exploring the mansion can be fun, and the puzzles give you a good sense of reward once you figure them out. Worth getting.