Clock Tower: The First Fear, known as Clock Tower (クロックタワー) in Japan, is a point and click survival horror game and the first installment in the Clock Tower series. It was developed and published by Human Entertainment for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), or Super Famicom in Japan, on September 14, 1995 in Japan, and then ported to the PC on March 28, 1997. It was released on the Japanese Virtual Console for both Nintendo Wii on August 3, 2010 (Japan) and Nintendo Wii U on November 6, 2013.
Clock Tower: The First Fear is an enhanced port of the game, released for the PlayStation on July 17, 1997 in Japan. The First Fear was released as a PlayStation Classic on the Japanese PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3 on November 9, 2011. The subtitle The First Fear is often kept to distinguish between the sequel, which was released as Clock Tower outside Japan.
The game was never released outside of Japan, but fan translations have made it available to a broader audience starting from 2001. Over the years, it has gained the status of a cult classic.
A port to the WonderSwan was released on December 9, 1999 in Japan, although this version is in black-and-white and is considered inferior.
Clock Tower is a 2D point-and-click style game, where the player controls a cursor to direct the main character, Jennifer Simpson, and give commands such as investigating objects or opening doors. The player can only move Jennifer left and right through the environment, although there are some rooms in which an action requires Jennifer to step into the background. Clock Tower is different from other adventure games of the era in that it features a stalker pursuing the main character; this delays puzzle solving and requires the player to run in order to find objects or hiding places to fend off or avoid the attacker.
The stalker is a slasher villain, Bobby Barrows (Scissorman), who wields a large pair of scissors. If directly confronted by Bobby, Jennifer is sent into a panic (shown by the background of her portrait flashing red and blue) and the player must repeatedly tap the "panic button" to struggle with the attacker. If the player does not tap the panic button fast enough, Bobby will attack Jennifer and result in a "Dead End".
Although the game refers to it as Jennifer's health, the color of the background where her face is shown changes to represent her current fear level. Blue means she is in a calm state, while yellow means she is startled, orange meaning she is alarmed, and finally red, where she will begin to panic. In red, she is more likely to be attacked during a direct confrontation with Bobby. Additionally, while running away from Bobby, there is a chance Jennifer might trip over her feet, making her vulnerable if Bobby is close by and lowering her health by one level. To recover Jennifer's health, the player can make Jennifer crouch by not moving her.
Many of Bobby's appearances are triggered by the player inspecting certain objects, but there are some cases in which he will come out of a hiding place and chase Jennifer as soon as she enters a room. He can also appear randomly if Jennifer has not triggered him for a certain amount of time.
Jennifer Simpson, an orphan from Granite Orphanage in Romsdalen, Norway, along with her friends Laura Harrington, Anne and Lotte, are adopted in September 14, 1995 by a wealthy recluse named Simon Barrows and are escorted to his mansion by his wife, Mary Barrows. The mansion is known as the "Clock Tower", named after its most predominant feature, and the girls are eager to live in their new home.
The game immediately begins with the five of them walking towards the Barrows Mansion and settling in the main foyer. Mary instructs them to wait there in the foyer and leaves to find Mr. Barrows, but she takes an unusually long time. Jennifer offers to investigate, but upon leaving the room, a scream is heard from the main foyer. Jennifer returns to find the lights are off and the girls are missing.
She soon finds herself being stalked after finding either Laura or Anne killed by a murderous little boy with deformed features, wielding a giant pair of scissors. Laura's corpse would be found hanged at the bathtub, or found in a suit of armor in the second living room if the player dares to click on it, while Anne would die either by being impaled through a stained-glass ceiling, drowning in the pool of the courtyard, or being impaled through a window in Mary's office. The boy is Bobby Barrows, the Scissorman, who will be Jennifer's main stalker and tormentor for the rest of the game.
While exploring the mansion, Jennifer will need to find out Mary's true evil intentions. In order to do so, she must find the key to the west wing area of the mansion where she will find clues and information. Jennifer can find the key in a box on top of a dresser in the living room with a television, or by moving a box to reach a bird's nest on the second floor near the first storage room.
Jennifer then must either:
- Be poisoned by Mary and get locked up in the shed. There are two ways. The former takes place in the living room with a telephone, where Mary will try to "comfort" Jennifer by giving her a beverage, which poisons her and knocks her unconscious. The latter takes place in the kitchen. If Jennifer examines the cabinet with beverages twice, she will drink one of the beverages, which poisons her and knocks her unconscious. After waking up in the jail cell, she finds Simon Barrows (the man who adopted the girls in the first place) locked up with her as well. Jennifer attempts to talk to him, only for him to utter his want for food. If Jennifer has found a slice of ham inside the fridge in the kitchen and gives it to Simon, he will eat it and regain most of his rationality. If Jennifer doesn't have it, Simon will attack Jennifer and eat her. After regaining most of his consciousness, Simon will tell Jennifer about the "Cradle Under the Star", and how it watches Jennifer everywhere she goes. Shortly after, if Jennifer had found the green key located in a giant hole in the wall in the west wing library, she can use it to escape. Otherwise, Lotte will come to rescue Jennifer using the green key, but on their way out the shed, Lotte is killed by Mary with a shotgun. If Jennifer dares to run outside or hide in a big crate, Mary will kill her. Jennifer can escape by using a plank of wood to knock Mary out.
- Discover her father's corpse in a hidden room in the west wing storage room. Jennifer will find his memo, explaining his involvement in assisting Mary Barrows during her pregnancy and discovering that her twins, Bobby and Dan Barrows, are apparently demons. Mary thought that Walter knew too much to leave, so she held him captive in the room where he helped deliver the children for three days, until his death from suffocation on November 10, 1986.
Jennifer must visit a small, Satanic church-esque area beneath the mansion if she is to defeat Mary, Bobby, and Dan (the last of whom she is still unaware of) and maybe even save one of her friends. However, to obtain the key to this area, Jennifer has to fight off a possessed doll in Bobby's nursery room to obtain a key and therefore start a chain of events that will lead to finding other items and clues; if the player has collected all the necessary items and clues, then Jennifer is able to gain access to the underground catacombs of the mansion through the discovery of either the Demon Idol or the Scepter, but the former is canonical as it appears in the sequel.
Jennifer sees a cloaked figure (Mary) walking ahead of her, and Jennifer follows it, wearing a disguise to fool the guard dog using Mary's perfume, which she found in the drawer in the bedroom, and a black robe found in a crate in the storage room near the bird's nest on the second floor.
If she did not need to rescue Jennifer from the jail cell, Lotte can be found slowly dying at an altar, having been part of a sacrificial ritual. With her last words, she tells Jennifer that if she is to defeat Bobby, she needs to activate the switches in the Clock Tower. Lotte dies seconds later, while Jennifer mourns her death.
Jennifer enters an area of the cave, where she discovers the humongous Dan Barrows, hidden within curtains - this is the "Cradle Under the Star". At that point, the awakened Dan chases down Jennifer to a steep cliff. She successfully climbs over, but accidentally knocking down a can of kerosene which splashes onto a nearby candle. This triggers an explosion and burns up Dan, and Jennifer rides an elevator in the catacombs.
She ends up defeating Bobby and Mary as well (or around, depending on prior actions) in the Clock Tower. If Anne or Laura had not died yet, then this survivor would reunite with Jennifer at the Clock Tower, but either be thrown down the tower by Mary shortly after in Ending A, or join Jennifer for the credits in Ending S, depending on prior actions. These actions would lead to one of Endings S, A, B, or C - all except Ending S could be canonical according to the events of the next game. Because of the game's open-ended nature, the player can also discover a number of other endings.
Clock Tower has multiple endings. Although it is unknown which ending is canon, it must be either Ending A, B or C.
- Ending S: Upon reaching the top of the Clock Tower, Jennifer finds Anne/Laura lying down on the floor, unconscious. As Bobby shows up ready to strike at Jennifer, she flips the two switches on the tower. Bobby hears the bells ringing and, unable to bear the sound, falls into the gears of the tower below. After he dies, Jennifer walks over to Anne/Laura, only to hear Mary tell Jennifer from the shadows what a terrible daughter she's been. She proceeds to run after Jennifer, choking her from behind and triggering a Panic. Suddenly, if the player succeeds, a flock of crows (including the one Jennifer saved earlier) come out and begin to peck at Mary, pushing her over the edge of the tower entrance. Jennifer then wakes up Anne/Laura as they proceed outside of the tower, watching as the rain stops and the sun rises in the distance. This ending is obtained by only seeing two friends die, free the crow, visit Walter's room, and choosing the 3rd floor on the elevator. Jennifer and Anne/Laura were the survivors of the incident. This ending is non-canon as the sequel reveals that Jennifer and Edward were the only survivors of the incident.
- Ending A: Same as above, but instead of Anne/Laura lying on the ground, they run towards Jennifer after Bobby is killed, only for Mary to come out of the shadows and throw her into the Clock Tower gears, killing her. Jennifer then struggles with Mary before the crows push her off the tower. Jennifer stands atop the tower alone, watching the sun rise in the distance. This ending is obtained by encountering Simon Barrows in the jail cell, seeing only two friends die, free the crow, and choosing the 3rd floor on the elevator. This ending is one of three endings that are considered canon to the series.
- Ending B: Same as Ending S and A, but Anne and Laura are both killed at this point, depending on prior actions. After Bobby's death, Mary comes out of the shadows and struggles with Jennifer, only for Jennifer to force her into the generator that she used to activate the tower, electrocuting Mary to death. Jennifer stands atop the tower alone, watching the sun rise in the distance. This ending is obtained by seeing all friends die and/or failing to free the crow, and choosing the 3rd floor on the elevator. This ending is one of three endings that are considered canon to the series.
- Ending C: Same as Ending S, A, and B, but around in an alternative way. In addition, Anne and Laura are presumed dead at this point, depending on prior actions. Even if the player hasn't seen Anne/Laura die, they won't appear in this ending, presumably killed by Bobby or Mary off-screen earlier on. As Jennifer exits the elevator, she encounters Mary. Having seen her father's corpse or having been confronted by Mary in the shed, Jennifer asks the deranged mistress why she is doing this to her and her friends, only for Mary to pull out a knife and attempt to kill Jennifer, thus trigger a Panic. Jennifer escapes Mary's clutches and dashes past her, running towards the balcony outside as Mary screams for Bobby to kill Jennifer in order to avenge Dan's death. Jennifer climbs up a ladder leading to the top of the Clock Tower as Mary follows close by, grabbing one of her legs, thus triggering a Panic. If the player succeeds, Jennifer will kick her off and Mary falls off the tower to her death below. As Jennifer reaches the top, Bobby closes in behind her and tries to avenge the deaths of his brother and mother. However, Jennifer activates the switches to the tower. The noise starts affecting Bobby as he throws his scissors to the ground and stumbles off the tower into the gears below, killing him. Jennifer walks outside and watches as the rain slows and the sun rises in the distance. This ending is obtained by choosing the 2nd floor on the elevator, under any of the previous circumstances. This ending is one of three endings that are considered canon to the series.
- Ending D: Jennifer exits the elevator on the second floor, only to find Mary waiting for her. Mary comforts Jennifer by telling her that she's safe. Having not realized Mary's true intentions, Jennifer runs over to hug her. However, Mary brandishes a knife and stabs Jennifer in the chest with it. With her last dying breath, Jennifer asks "Why...?" and falls to the ground, while Mary stands before her with an evil expression. This ending is obtained by not getting locked up in the shed with Simon Barrows and not discovering the secret room in the west wing storage room, seeing all friends die, and choosing the 2nd floor on the elevator.
- Ending E: Same requirements as above, but choose the 3rd floor instead. Inside the elevator, Jennifer presses the button for the third floor, but the elevator suddenly halts halfway through and the lights go out. Bobby is heard laughing and breaks into the elevator through an overhead vent. Jennifer screams as the screen fades to black.
- Ending F: If Jennifer does not see Lotte die, she will continue the game normally until the elevator sequence. Upon entering the elevator, Bobby breaks into the elevator through an overhead vent and kills Jennifer off-screen, before blood starts seeping from under the elevator doors. A post-credits scene has Bobby laughing inside the elevator.
- Ending G: Jennifer stumbles upon a car in the mansion's garage, and finds a key on a nearby crate. Having seen two of her friends die, Jennifer starts the car and escapes, driving through the wall of the shed. A post-credits scene states that Jennifer was found dead in her room, three days after the incident. The cause of her death is unclear; the most common theories are that Jennifer was killed by one or more of the Barrows, or that she suicided over the loss of her friends. However, Clock Tower series creator, Hifumi Kono, in a question and answer response, confirmed that Mary was directly involved in Jennifer's death, although he did not elaborate on how.
- Ending H: This ending is considered the worst, and it is obtained after seeing only one friend die. Jennifer stumbles upon a car in the mansion's garage, and finds a key on a nearby crate. Jennifer is unable to leave her friends in the mansion, but after three attempts to start the car, she eventually gives in and escapes, driving through the wall of the shed. In a post-credits scene, Jennifer looks at the mirror and sees a giant pair of scissors emerging from the back seat. Jennifer appears shocked, screams, and the screen fades to black.
- Alternate Endings: There are two endings that can be obtained through a glitch in the game in which Jennifer quickly crosses the courtyard before Anne's pool death happens to reach the other side of the mansion so the player won't encounter Bobby for the first time. In the first alternative ending, if the player then decides to exit the mansion in the car (the pathway to Ending G and H), Jennifer escapes the mansion and only the credits display, concluding that Jennifer "successfully" escaped. This automatically results in the completion of Ending D in the endings menu of the game. In the second alternative ending, if the player decides to follow the steps leading to Endings S, B, or C without watching Anne or Laura die, Lotte will not be found in the altar, thus resulting in Ending F if the player continues to play. Even if the player wants to follow the steps leading to Endings A or B by witnessing Lotte killed by Mary in the shed would still result in Ending F.
PlayStation's The First Fear port
The game was ported to the Sony PlayStation in 1997, titled Clock Tower: The First Fear. This version took the advantage of the newer 32-bit hardware of the Sony PlayStation, and added new sounds, scenes, and FMVs to enhance the experience. This version is Japan exclusive, but was fan-translated into English. The content is not available in the Windows 95 PC and WonderSwan versions.
- Content added:
- The TV in the Den will turn on by itself and make weird noise with a vague image of Dan, just like the original, but this time it's included as a cutscene.
- In the bedroom with the parrot, there will be a cutscene showing the parrot.
- In the Hutch Room, when examining the crow's corpse, there is a cutscene that will show the crow decapitated with a cleaver.
- In the bedroom with the parrot, the mirror now features the random chance of either having an arm come out and choke Jennnifer (just like the original version) or instead shatter and scare Jennfier upon inspecting.
- The photo of baby Bobby and Dan in the same room can be inspected, just like in the original version, but creepy music plays this time.
- In the Taxidermy Room, when going to the far left and examining the closet, Jennifer will find a mummified corpse (this can be seen in the original version, but will not come to life) which will come to life and chase Jennifer. In order to get rid of the corpse, Jennifer must find the green dagger located in the box before opening the closet and stab the corpse with it, causing it to fall apart. This is required to release the crows in the Hutch Room, as the corpse drops the Hutch Key. The corpse can kill Jennifer in one hit.
- In Bobby's nursery Room, the small French mannequin is not the only doll that will attack Jennifer, as the red clown doll can also attack.
- There is a new room. In the original, there was a door in the West Wing hallway that is uninteractable. In The First Fear, the room is just like the bedroom but has a shattered chandelier, with broken remains laying on the beds. This one has a mirror, too, which can randomly either be found in one piece or shattered. Depending on what status the mirror is in, Jennifer will touch her hair or wonder what happened to the shattered mirror. Either way, nothing happens. The left bed can also be used as a hiding place.
- There is a new scene explaining how Edward (Dan) was able to become the new Scissorman in Clock Tower. Shortly after being incinerated, after Jennifer escapes the room, an ashen faced boy rises from Dan's ashes.
In 1999, the PlayStation version of The First Fear was ported to the WonderSwan. This version is considered inferior and was neither released outside of Japan nor translated.
Due to the system's small black-and-white screen, aesthetic changes had to be made to the game; the graphics are not as detailed, text appears in the upper-left-hand corner on top of the game, and Jennifer's health is monitored by three dots on the side of the screen rather than a portrait, which is not present. The player cannot view their entire inventory at one time; they must push a button to scroll the cursor through all the items. This version of the game does include a pause function.
The game never received an official English release, prompting fans to create translations in their native tongue. As such, there are many variant spellings and terms floating around the Internet: some of them include:
- Barrows/Burroughs/Burrows (as seen in Clock Tower, Clock Tower 3 and a Hifumi Kono Q&A, respectively)
- Laura/Rolla (the latter as seen in the guide books)
- Anne/Ann (the former as seen in the guide books)
- Black Robe/Black Cloak
The first translation patch for the SNES version originated from the hacking group Aeon Genesis. Some of the later fan releases were based on this English script instead of opting for a translation from the original Japanese.
|Version||Target language||Source language||Hackers||Translators||First released|
|SNES||English||Japanese||Gideon Zhi, Tsama||Tsama||September 8, 2001|
|SNES||German||English||Conn||RedScorpion, Stormfather, Spartaner||November 29, 2010|
|SNES||Korean||Japanese||Cyjzero||May 22, 2013|
|SNES||Turkish||English||knighTeen87||November 23, 2013|
|WIN95||English||Japanese||maddjakkal, Silanda||August 7, 2014|
|PS1||English||Japanese||arcraith||Enetirnel, Lullaby||May 2, 2015|
|PS1||French||English||arcraith||Tsuna||June 27, 2015|
|PS1||Spanish||English||arcraith||R41D3R||July 26, 2015|
|PS1||Hungarian||English||arcraith||The_Reaper_CooL||August 10, 2015|
|PS1||German||Japanese||arcraith||IaGeu||December 14, 2015|
- Main article: Clock Tower 20th Anniversary Sound Collection
An official soundtrack, Clock Tower 20th Anniversary Sound Collection, was released in 2016. It contains music from both the SNES, PS1 and PC versions.
Because Clock Tower was never officially released outside of Japan, it remained a rare classic for a long time. However, when the Internet developed and SNES emulation too, the game was fan-translated, thus the game gained its popularity online on the Internet and through emulation.
Clock Tower is considered a relic and classic of early survival horror video games and gained a cult following.
On the positive side, many enjoyed the game's horror atmosphere and the multiple endings added a lot of replayability value.
On the negative side, some of the game's hallways aren't unique and it can become easy to get lost. In addition, Jennifer walks up and down staircases agonizingly slow. Due to the age of the game, it has retro-style low-resolution 2D pixel graphics which may be a bit ugly looking for some players. It also has no voice acting except for certain screams.
Remake or Western Re-Release
It is unknown if The First Fear (or its sequels and spin-offs) will receive a remake or western re-release someday. The game could be remade with 3D graphics and voice acting on par with Haunting Ground level of quality.
The game's official developing company, Human Entertainment, is defunct, so who owns the Clock Tower license is questionable and who owns the rights to a Clock Tower remake is questionable. However, if a Clock Tower remake is created, it may be published by Capcom or Sunsoft, who published Clock Tower 3.
Remothered: Tormented Fathers
A re-imagining and spiritual successor, titled Remothered: Tormented Fathers, is in development by Italian developer and artist Chris Darril for PlayStation 4 and PC. It will be developed by Darril Arts, Stormind Games and published by Darril Arts. It is intended to release in 2017.
When Remothered was first announced, it was originally intended to be a Clock Tower: The First Fear spiritual successor and potentially, by Clock Tower fandom community, a re-imagining remake. Later, the characters were modified with different appearances and names. In addition, the concept art and vision of Remothered has been overhauled and revamped due to Chris Darril's changing and expanding vision of the game.
Remothered went on hiatus due to the production of NightCry and Forgotten Memories, both video games which Chris has worked on. Chris Darril meanwhile formed his own publishing and software house called "Darril Arts". Once NightCry and Forgotten Memories were completely finished, development on Remothered has been resumed. The composer of NightCry and for famous sagas such as Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Halo and The Evil Within, Nobuko Toda, also listed Remothered as her new music work.
- The story is loosely based on and inspired by Dario Argento's 1985 film Phenomena which stars Jennifer Conelly as Jennifer Corvino, who heavily inspired the character and look of Jennifer Simpson.
- One major reference in the game is that the setting takes place in September 14, 1995, the same day the game was released.
- Along with Project Firestart (1989), Alone in the Dark (1992), Night Trap (1992), The 7th Guest (1993), Jack in the Dark (1993), Alone in the Dark 2 (1993), Doctor Hauzer (1994), Alone in the Dark 3 (1994), D (1995), Phantasmagoria (1995), The 11th Hour (1995) and Resident Evil (1996), Clock Tower was one of the first survival horror games.
- Clock Tower ~The First Fear~ Prologue - short manga
- Clock Tower ~The First Fear~ - Method to capture victory - short manga