Sorry about the delay folks. I guess you’ll agree when I say Time is one thing that’s about as hard to come by as money. This is my first video game review in a while, so please excuse me if it reads a bit sketchy.
Konami and Tenky released Time Hollow for the Nintendo DS just recently (Japan version was released last March, while North America got its version just last September 23). I barely follow game releases anymore, but since I heard about this game from two other people, I decided to give it a whirl.
After the prologue, I locked myself in my room for five solid hours to play this particular game. First, it’s an adventure point and click title and second, it covers a very interesting topic for me, the concept of time.
Story and Gameplay
Here’s a quick rundown of the story: You play as Ethan Kairos and on your seventeenth birthday, you receive your inheritance, a Hollow Pen. Of couse, you have no idea what the Pen’s for since you’re busy figuring out how you became an orphan overnight. Imagine this, one night, you’re having dinner with your parents. You wake up the next morning to find that you’ve been living with your uncle since your parents disappeared 12 years back. It gets more confusing, let me tell you.
Not only confusing, but confounding as well. How exactly do you stay sane under those types of circumstances? Somebody meddles with one thing in the past and everything just goes out of whack. Of course, your meddling with time also has its consequences.
The Hollow Pen, Ethan soon discovers, allows him to open portals to the past and lets him fiddle with events that happened at a certain point in time. Certain conditions must be met before Ethan can open the said portals, like exact time and date of a particular event. Clues come in the form of flashbacks and you can manipulate the stuff through the flashbacks you get. Gameplay in Time Hollow is generally point and click, the staple in most puzzle adventure games for Nintendo’s little dynamo, mixed with a little “draw a circle here” gameplay.
ichi. The supporting characters’ last names are numbers, particularly, hours. There’s a Mr. Onegin, a Mr. Twombly, a Threet, and so on. In the Japanese version, they’re Ichi-, Ni-, etcetera, etcetera. All of the names are a play on stuff time related.
ni. You’ll find that the game follows some parts of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
san. This was created by screenwriter Hata Takehiko and Kawano Junko. Kawano Junko created the PlayStation 2 (PS2) video game Shadow of Memories (or Shadow of Destiny for the US release), which also delves on time travel.
Time Hollow made me remember Groundhog Day and several other sci-fi flicks that delved into the messy and confusing world of time travel and time in general. Also, it made me think of that book Jessica Zafra mentioned in (I think) Twisted 7. If memory serves, the book’s called Einstein’s Dreams. (Note to self: Find that book.)
Whines and Good Parts
The annoying sound effects during the game (yes, it’s supposed have something that sounds like a clock, I get it) can be muted, but you’d want your volume up when the anime-ish cutscenes kick in. Also, you might find yourself lost the first time you encounter “change one thing and everything changes” and the changes your nefarious opponent makes but you’ll get the hang of it eventually.
I just finished playing Time Hollow and I loved it. Sure, it made me want to hurl my DS across the room a couple of times but it was all worth it. My frustration with it stemmed from the emo-ish dialogue of one particular character (is it a coincidence that he sports an emo hairstyle too?) and from the Groundhog Day feeling the game gives. Remember that movie where the guy’s trying to prevent his girl from dying? He changes something everytime he goes back in time, but the girl still ends up dying. Place yourself in that guy’s shoes and I’m sure you’d feel like throwing stuff or bludgeoning the girl in the end, too. (After a couple of minutes of searching, I found that this is from the 2002 flick, Time Machine.)
You’ll soon realize Ethan’s not alone in the Hollow Pen business. I’m not going to spoil the fun. Go and play it. Note: WAIT FOR THE CREDITS TO END.