I've always been fond of The Grudge film series. Sure, each film got worse with each sequel, but they had this unique charm to them. A malicious force where people killed in a fit of rage come back as a violent spirit. It's a curse that grows more and more powerful and spreads like a disease. No one is safe, it cannot be killed, it doesn't stop. If a character becomes involved, they're going to die. As shown by the films, there isn't a protagonist in the series that survives. In honor of the 10th anniversary of the JU-ON series, a video-game was created exclusively for the Wii. So just how does it fare?
You'll explore a well-known location from the film
To be totally honest, it doesn't fare too well. Although as a budget title, you could probably pick it up at the cost of a DVD or less, so if you're a fan of the series you might get a kick out of it if you consider it an expansion to the series, but as a game it definitely falls short. JU-ON: The Grudge is made up of four episodes with an unlockable fifth episode once you find every item throughout the first four. It has to be by far one of the shortest games I have ever played, with it being finished within two hours.
Don't underestimate how creepy this part is
JU-ON: The Grudge tells the story of four different members of the same family as they encounter Kayako. In case you hadn't noticed the trend of the previous films, every character you play as inevitably dies. As a part of The Grudge series it makes sense, but as a game it feels a bit cheap and it's a bit confusing when you get a game-over by dying early on in an episode, only to die at the end anyway. The story barely there either. Most of it is via a short explanatory blurb and through the eyes of the character you're playing. There are no cutscenes or anything of the sort, so it's all very simple. The game is linear though, you'll be spending most of your time chasing clues down a straight path, with the odd backtrack, and running after the violent ghosts like a typically stupid film character. Where JU-ON: The Grudge truly excels in is the overall creepy atmosphere of the locations you visit. The odd scuttling of feet, bloody hand prints appearing along walls and shadows and objects creeping in the distance can make your hair stand on edge.
This is what happens when you don't clean your house
As creepy as the environments are, the game generally tends to resort to cheap scares. The odd hand grabbing you when you reach for a door handle gets a bit old when it happens at every second door. Not to mention that the scares aren't randomized so if you want to go back through to collect items you missed, you'll know when and where scares are about to happen. JU-ON: The Grudge also has a multiplayer function. It's actually barely worth mentioning, but if a friend grabs a 2nd remote and hits a button on it, it triggers a scare on the screen. Seems kind of funny in theory but it's actually pretty annoying, not scary in the slightest and sometimes nonsensical. There are around four or so "scares" that trigger randomly, the lamest one probably being where blood envelops the screen. It does have a cool-down but it's never that long, so there's nothing stopping your mate from being a pain.
Chase scenes like this require precise flailing
Speaking of pain, the characters you control move so slowly and the controls are so cumbersome that it's almost as if the protagonists are hobbling their way through environments. You move the torch with the wiimote sensor, and oddly enough you hold B to walk forward. It's pretty unusual, considering the nunchuck isn't required whatsoever. You don't actually fight the ghosts, instead you run away. It's mostly a hassle because you have to follow on screen cues with your wiimote, if you get it wrong it's a game-over. Another problem I found was when you ran out of batteries, your flashlight went out and you got a game-over. Usually this wasn't a problem, but it meant if you stalled for too long without carrying on, you'd fail. When you get a game-over, you go back to the start of the level. It's unforgiving, and the controls aren't very sensitive. Moving around is so slow, that on more than a few occasions I actually missed scares because I turned too slowly to see them. I still knew there was a scare due to the audio cue. The sound is pretty good though. Just like the atmosphere, it's pretty creepy. Everything was recorded in real-time to feel authentic.
Yes, lets examine the bloody hand-prints up close, that's smart...
All-in-all, it's a pretty poor game. As an experience, my friends and I had a great time playing it for the time it lasted. Not because it was scary, but because it was so cheesy and so comedic that it's actually worth dishing out the cash for a laugh with some friends. Whether you're a fan of The Grudge series, or you have some cash to blow on something amusing, grab yourself a copy of JU-ON: The Grudge now.
Neoseeker JU-ON: The Grudge user-review