Another Code: Recollection Review
I remember Another Code on the Nintendo DS as a game I knew of. I would see the box art but never played the game. I knew even less about the sequel Another Code R: Journey into Lost Memories; turns out that it never got an actual release in Australia despite having a PAL release in Europe. Now that Nintendo has remade both adventure games, it’s time to make new memories with Another Code: Recollection.
Across both games, you play as Ashley Mizuki Robins, the daughter of two brilliant scientists. In Another Code: Two Memories, Ashley has been summoned to Blood Edward Island by her previously thought-dead Father. Joined by her aunt, it’s not long before Ashley is caught up in a search for her father and what he’s been doing on the island. Additionally, Ashley encounters the spirit of the mysterious D, a boy who has remained on the island following a shooting decades earlier. D cannot be seen by most, let alone be able to move on. Ashley and D agree to help each other to piece together their memories and uncover the mysteries of Blood Edward Island. Another Code: Journey into Lost Memories follows years after the events of Two Memories, with Ashley invited to Lake Juliet a ,site where her mother and father previously visited. Teaming up with a non-ghost boy, Ashley has another mystery to solve.
Given that the series is now just shy of 20 years old, there will be plenty of people who haven’t played the originals, especially given that the sequel wasn’t available here. You are locked into playing through Two Memories first, and given how intrinsically linked the mysteries are, there are no complaints there. Initially, I thought these games were more about puzzle solving within an adventure/point-and-click style game, but I was wrong. Another Code Recollection is story first, with puzzles almost as an afterthought. Now, I love a good visual novel or point-and-click adventure, but I struggled a little with Another Code. Dialogue between Ashley and almost anyone else feels double the length they should be. When dialogue options come up, they aren’t really options, just the illusion that you could steer the conversation at all. I tried to keep from rushing through them as often as possible because I wanted to hear the added voice-acting. By Journey into Lost Memories I got a lot more liberal with skipping the dialogue.
Now if you’re going to have your games so focused around telling a story then one of the main things is making sure you have a story worth sticking it through for. Another Code’s overarching story about the murder of Ashley’s mother and her estranged relationship with her father is definitely interesting. Ashley as a character is also the anchor point for the whole series, between the games she starts as an adolescent who feels abandoned by her father, and working through those feelings over the course of the game. By Two Memories, she has become a teenager who still is dealing with abandonment and absence in a different form, with the extra frustrations of being a teenager. Of course, throw in a murder mystery, a ghost boy only you can see ano,ther boy who stole your personal belongings, and, to top it off, a mysterious machine your parents both built that people would murder for.
Two Memories isn’t an overly long game, for me exploring every nook and cranny to uncover every interaction and paper crane it was just over five hours. That included getting lost at times or hitting my head on one or two of the puzzles. Now for a game built around solving puzzles to advance the story, there doesn’t feel like there is much in the way of puzzles. Even then, the majority of the puzzles are quite easy. The only ones I got stuck on were due to the game not communicating important information.
For the purpose of the review, I had to do some research on the original versions of the two games. This is when I quickly found out that these aren’t just remasters, Another Code Recollection is very much a remake. If you’ve played the previous games, then there’ll be plenty that are the same. However, the game no longer relies on the DS touch controls or the Wiimote for puzzles. The game does now have motion controls to solve some of the puzzles. They can be fun in their implementation, but if you aren’t able to use motion controls, there doesn’t seem to be an option to use the buttons instead.
I don’t know if this would have been the same nearly 20 years ago, but the puzzles found within these games are not going to leave you scratching your head for long. Puzzles are fairly straight forward and the only time I really struggled was when I hadn’t triggered part of a puzzle properly. It didn’t help that the game wanted me to solve a puzzle with a mechanic it had never explained or used previously.
While the puzzles might not be too taxing, I know not everyone will likely find them as easy. Fortunately, there are the options to have hints turned on and a guidance compass that will point you where to go next. The guidance option is definitely handy, as the game isn’t always clear on where you should be going or what you should be interacting with. As always, it’s good that these options are there, especially if you just want to follow the story and not worry about finding your way around.
With the complete overhaul to the visuals, both games look pretty nice. Most characters still retain the feel of their stylish character art. The voice actors add to the story, helping to make the hours of talking more enjoyable. Instead of using the top-down DS look from the original game and the side-scrolling exploration of the sequel, it’s all been remade into a 3D third-person game. This mostly works, although I recommend changing the camera movement speeds in the options as they are super sluggish. I did find that for an adventure game, it was hard to move Ashley towards multiple interactive items as it would regularly highlight the wrong interaction. After a few hours, it got pretty annoying as you could wind up exiting the area accidentally, going through the same wrong item dialogue over and over, and it just feels unintuitive for a game of this type.
Overall, it feels that the collection has been streamlined to the point that it can feel a little disjointed. I was actually surprised when going through some areas where they looked like there would be something I’d have to come back to, only to never return. Other sections feel like there had been an interaction there in the original game, with only some descriptive text left as you stroll on by.
Another Code: Recollection is an interesting remake of this now older series. Both games within the collection have been updated, making use of updated hardware, voice acting and general streamlining. It’s good to have these games accessible for newcomers and fans of old, although the games don’t come without their own issues. The required motion controls are limited for a game that could have included physical alternatives. The dialogue feels like it needs some trimming, and the streamlining of exploration and puzzles has made the game feel disjointed.
If you have fond memories of Another Code, there is definitely value in re-experiencing the original and its sequel. Unfortunately, it feels like a missed opportunity to have made this classic, lesser-known series shine.
+ Ashley’s story is interesting throughout both games
+ The remake completely overhauls both games and makes them accessible to a new generation of gamers and a new experience for old fans
- Unavoidable motion controls
- Feels like it was streamlined too much and can feel a little disjointed