Another Code: Recollection

Another Code: Recollection

Ashley has aged wonderfully. Her games, not so much...

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The DS and the Wii enjoyed a huge success in the mid-2000s not only thanks to Nintendo's evergreen franchises and, more so in the case of the former, a fantastic catalogue covering pretty much every genre and even some experimental projects, but also because they hit an important mainstream target by betting on the so-called "Touch Generations", games for all audiences that took advantage of the more intuitive controls the systems provided for a more laid-back experience. One of the main exponents of that approach was Another Code, which was released on both systems with DS's Two Memories in 2005 and Wii's R: A Journey Into Lost Memories in 2009.

The games were created by now-defunct studio CiNG by combining two genres: the very Japanese visual novel and the traditional point-and-click adventure we're more used to in the West. The fact that the two games (again, mostly the former) gathered a significant cult following among both gamers and newcomers alike didn't have so much to do with their exciting plots or their elaborate puzzles - they weren't either to be honest. The key to their success was mostly about the tone, the art, the interesting way they used controls, and above all, Ashley Mizuki Robbins.

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Another Code: Recollection arrives on the Nintendo Switch as a HD remake/compilation of the two entries, which tries to both satisfy old fans and perhaps gather some interest from old-school adventure lovers, in the way Famicom Detective Club attempted (and failed) not so long ago.

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What this means is you get sharper, more beautiful graphics and a consolidated experience for the two tales, but at the same time you lose most of the original puzzles or see them heavily modified. This might be a bummer for the original fans, but it just makes sense when you think about the new game's approach. The Nintendo Switch is meant to be played on the TV or as a handheld device, as it isn't suited to the dual-screen type, nor does it include a microphone, for example. And what about the 'touch' and pointer features? Well, it does use the tilting sensors of either the device or its controllers occasionally, but for some reason the developers didn't want to utilise the touch screen or the cursor capability of the hardware.

So this is purely buttons and sticks for the most part, which takes away a good portion of the "hardware magic" the original had. And in terms of presentation and exploration, for those who played on the Wii, think of it as very similar to the third-person perspective that game used indoors, but now everywhere and with full 3D camera movement.

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Now, camera movement is precisely one of the biggest issues here. Perhaps in an attempt to be more accessible, it's incredibly slow by default, so much so, we recommend you turn up its speed to at least 60 right upon starting the game for the first time. And even there it feels a tad sluggish... And the same can be said about the laggy menus and the game's performance overall, as well as about some of its poor textures and geometry, which clearly make it look like a very small and limited project.

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On the contrary, I appreciate the additional writing and the expanded collectibles, which actually add to the lore in interesting and even exciting ways (you fans won't expect some of the twists there). And even if I miss some of the puzzles for nostalgic reasons (let's face it: they were pretty simple anyway), a few of the new additions are obviously fresh and for the better, and you no longer collect so many useless items.

Other than the slooow camera, there are a couple of newcomer-focused features worth mentioning: Navigation Assist and Puzzle Hints. The former tells you where to go or what to inspect next, whereas the latter gives you first some piece of advice, then a more blatant solution to the puzzle at hand. This is great for journalists who already played the originals and want to go faster people who want to be introduced to the genre in a very relaxed way.

Another Code: Recollection

Elsewhere the HD graphics elevate the art and prominently Taisuke Kanasaki's character designs, so if you fell in love as a teenager with 14 and 16 year old pixelated Ashley, more so can happen to teenagers of today, because she pretty much sustains the whole experience alone, as other characters, including the loveable-at-first D., end up being shallow or uninteresting, despite the aforementioned additional writing.

This has the same effect it had so many years ago when you compare the two games: the first one's six hours feel tighter and better-packed than the sequel's thrice-long events. The stories are just okay, dealing with your typical coming of age tropes, side topics such as addiction, and the mild sci-fi overarching mystery.

One could look at Another Code as some sort of precursor to the style Life is Strange made popular some years ago, with the slow-paced narrative, the contemplative angle, the arty touch, the loveable teenager main character, and the paranormal twist to the stories, but with the 2000s hardware trick gone, not even the added voice acting (in English or Japanese only, sadly) manages to make the experience more engaging for today's audiences, as everything feels a bit too dull, low-fi, foreseeable, and rudimentary.

As things are, I'd only recommend this to lovers of the originals for nostalgia and fan service alone, and with a couple of caveats at that. If you're looking for way more intricate and engaging anime stories dealing with the mind, you have a great alternative in the two AI: The Somnium Files games on the same platform. That being said, I now can't help but wanting CiNG's own Kyle Hyde saga (Hotel Dusk and Last Window) to get the Switch HD treatment, just with a bit more care and polish.

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06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
Added writing and Easter eggs for fans. Ashley looks fantastic and remains just as likeable. Cohesive experience.
The hardware magic gimmick is gone for the worse. Poor outdoor environments and performance. Can get soporific and silly.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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