Yumemi Mystery Mansion


"Dare to enter the dark and dingy halls of the Mystery Mansion.  Search its musty chambers for your captive sister.  Will YOU break the curse of the butterflies... before it's too late?"

Game Information
Developer Sega Enterprises
Publisher Sega Enterprises
Copyright Date 1994
Players 1
Age Rating(s) None given
Save Type None
Cart Version No

Part Numbers
Game 4430
Front Cover 670-5105-50
Back Cover 670-5107-50
Manual 672-1880-50
Spine Card 670-5106-50
CD 1 670-5104-50
Bar Code 4 974365 644307


Your younger sister goes running after a butterfly and ends up trapped in the mansion of hidden souls, and it's up to you to rescue her.  The atmosphere of the game is probably best described as Resident Evil without the zombies - the overall feel of the game and nature of the puzzles are very similar to Capcom's hit, though the execution is rather different.

The whole game is viewed from a first person perspective and is nearest in nature to a point and click adventure.  Sega hasn't done a bad job of transferring this to a joypad, though it does sometimes become frustrating.  You rotate left and right on the spot and press forwards to move between predetermined points that line you up with other routes (such as doors or the end of a set of stairs) or alongside a piece of scenery you can examine.  Pressing up twice acts as a double click, moving you through doors or towards that object, where another double click will let you interact with it where possible. This doesn't take much getting used to, but does lead to you having to unceremoniously bounce off closed doors in order to determine that they are locked and you need a key (in fact at one point you have to bounce off a particular wall to reveal a key that you need).  Thankfully you don't have to crash into every item of scenery - if you can't do anything more than look at it then the view pulls back so you can move on.  You can also save your game at any time in one of three slots - so long as you find and pick up the diary.

The puzzles are sometimes challenging but never too obscure, once you get into the routine of examining everything you come across (the fact that the game stops your movement when you're in line with such an object is a big help).  However, the mechanics are sometimes rather obtuse.  In the games room is a dark mirror that will reveal where you need to go next if you look into it.  Whilst this is a fantastic hint system, on at least two occasions the game won't let you pick up the object you need unless you look in the mirror first - even if you're on your second run-through and you know it's there.  This includes the first key in the game, meaning a frustrating ten minutes running round the few open rooms at the start before taking the hint (the mirror is mentioned in the manual), thinking "I'm sure I checked there", going back and suddenly discovering you can grab what you need.  In the middle of the game you need to pick up a pocket watch which starts a one hour timer (that runs about one and a half times real time speed) before you're trapped forever.  This would be fine except for the fact that the watch serves no other purpose - it isn't used in any other puzzles and has no other use than to give you that countdown - but once again you can't pick up the next item you need until you've collected the watch, at which point the item you do need for the next puzzle appears on a table you've examined before.  Whilst I don't have a problem with the game running on a timer, and it's a good idea to introduce it once you're familiar with the mansion layout, the way it is introduced is totally artificial and spoils the immersion.  As dieing is pretty much impossible for most of the game the timer does add an extra tension to proceedings.

Graphically Yumeni Mystery Mansion was never going to be able to stand up to the likes of Myst on the PC but the scenes are mostly well drawn.  Strangely it's areas of moderate detail that look the best, whereas those primarily made up of one colour suffer a little not due to the number of colours on screen, but because of the limited palette the MCD has to use - out of 512 colours there are only so many shades of pink to work with and occasionally some blockiness can be seen.  Your own movement is smooth, but the opening movie and those within the game suffer from a certain amount of jerkiness.  This doesn't seem to be due so slowdown as the frames move at the same pace throughout - but that pace is about one frame per second.  Given that it's all pre-rendered this is perhaps intentional and it doesn't look as bad as I've made it sound, but it does begin to grate.  Most rooms have a resident soul (butterfly) that will talk to you when you enter.  These speeches don't really give you any clues (they're mainly taunting you), though there is variety and you'll only hear each one once, but it's irritating to have to spend fifteen seconds or so watching it slowly fly out of frame before you can carry on.

The speech in the game is clear and the music CD quality, although the most important speech in the game from the "Hunter" is quite difficult to hear over the music.  Spot effects do what they have to do without being intrusive and everything from the ticking grandfather clock in the main hall to sudden changes in tempo works to add atmosphere to the game.

Once you know what to do Yumeni Mystery Mansion is actually quite a short game, and can be run through in 45 minutes or less with the aid of an FAQ.  There's no bonuses and nothing to unlock so once it's done it'll probably end up back on the shelf forever.  It is, however, a moderately rare title that doesn't cost the earth, and once you get used to the controls there's a well thought out and atmospheric, if short, adventure to be enjoyed.

This game was released under the title of "The Mansion of Hidden Souls" in the US.  No-one seems to be able to explain the name change, but the disc's internal name of "Yumeni Mistery Mansion" (sic) suggests that it was perhaps done in a bit of a rush!  A graphically superior Saturn version (with identical puzzles) was also released in 1995, this time called "The Mansion of Hidden Souls" on both sides of the atlantic.