In the meantime, I'm just a guy who writes about videogame theory and how the medium can achieve better cinematic emulation (while keeping its own indentity). Though, if that's too boring, you can always find something delightfully fluffy in the following:
If there's one thing I miss about the PS2, it's probably...no definately, the weird little gems in its back catalogue. Every now and again, a publisher would take a chance on something relatively obscure and just throw it out on the European market for what must have been a drunken bet. There's no way they thought money was to be made with the likes of Gregory Horror Show.
I just got to say the cover to this game is genius. You've got swirling vortex, a creepy lazy eyed rat, various characters all looking perplexed but equally resigned to the fact that they're in a cheesy horror game cover. All that was enough to make me buy it back in the day. It summed up the absolute barking madness that you experienced inside in the most simplest way possible. Isn't that what boxart is all about, right?
I remember this game being in our local store for like months, maybe even a year. Nobody bought it, along with Glass Rose (another game for another Gamer Obscura) and Psychonauts. They all went for £5 in the end; that's how much Game wanted to get rid of these titles! I didn't know anything about the show at the time; which is something I liked about this tie-in. Everything was explained to you like it was an original game idea. My initial assumption was that I was going to play a cutesy Japanese puzzler that nobody else knew about; like that Hamtaro adventure game for the GBA. What I got was an intense game of cat and mouse, where the odds kept getting stacked against me and the majority of my time was spent bricking it in the shadows; hoping a pink lizard nurse with huge syringe, a Mexican bandito cactus or any host of twisted guests didn't catch me after I pissed them off. All because I'd been a massive douchebag to them.
Gregory Horror Show is basically what can only be described as 'Fawlty Towers in Hell'. That's pretty much the premise. It's a jet black comedy that sucker-punches you below the waistline; all with an innocent smile. You're a guy (or girl) who loses their way one night and stumbles upon a hotel run by the creepy perverted rat Gregory. As you get a room (and a new body) for the eternal night, you're visited by the cutest representation of Death ever. He even has a laid back Caribbean accent.
"Forget about all dem worries!" he tells you. Which is fine and dandy, until he gives you the task of stealing captured souls from the other hotel guests. No point in arguing though; this is the only way you'll be allowed to leave the hotel. So you're left to your own devices; spying on on the weird collection of guests and patiently planning the very moment you'll steal the souls. But you have to be careful, since the guests will hunt you down to exact their own brand of justice in the form of a Horror Show (a sort of weird dark comedy showcase where you're the grim victim to their charming attack). The plot gradually thickens and eventually you'll stumble across a clever twist that confirms that this game really wasn't for kids.
There's something bleak underlying the entirety of Gregory Horror Show. Strip away the appealing artistic design and the game reveals its ugly voyeuristic edge. You're constantly stalking characters who have their own psychological problems - a cowardly gunslinger, a mummy dog who can't figure out why he gets headaches (it's because of an axe in his head), a lizard nurse with an unhealthy sexual appetite, a hotel owner who loves pornography, a zombie cat who's being tortured, a doll who's practically lost herself...the list goes on. Your only true friend in the entire game is Death himself, while you have to make an uneasy alliance with Gregory's sociopathic nephew. The only other person who can advise you is tied up and gone completely nuts in a room next door. Honestly, the only sane one in the game is a gypsy frog who saves your game.
You're not much of a hero either. You basically run around a hotel being a complete dick; just so you can pull someone out of a routine and steal their soul. Sure, your goal is ultimately a good thing (the souls go to heaven instead of staying in Gregory's purgatory hotel) but the way you go about things is pretty mean spirited to some of the more sympathetic characters.
The gameplay is really simple and can be split into two halves. First, you wander around the hotel, picking up on the guests' quirks from afar (and through keyholes) or by asking everyone questions (as long as they're friendly). As a nosy parker, you collect clues to fill in a daily planner. From this, you can deduce when to strike (along with timing it with the routines of other irate guests). Usually, you need something extra like a banana skin to trip up your guest, a doll to distract another, etc. Something specific to that character. At its heart, the game is a simple puzzle adventure. Find the solution from elsewhere, then put it into practice.
Secondly, once you get the soul, be prepared for an escape route, since the guest REEEEEALLLY wants that soul back. Once you get a Horror Show, you lose the soul. Get caught enough times and you permanently nuts, with a side order of Game Over. So you got be careful and reach your room (a recharge station and drop-off point) without the slightest hitch. This is probably where the game gets really intense. I dare anybody not to jump when the doll girl goes completely batshit crazy on you. I remember playing this the first time around and realising that horror games didn't need uber-realism to scare the crap out of you. All you needed was a pissed off cartoon clock-shaped man entering the very room where you cowered in a wardrobe. Of course, the more guests you steal from, the harder it is to move freely around the hotel. Like I said before, the odds get stacked against you right up until the entire hotel wants your blood...soul or no soul.
I'm suprised Capcom didn't give this game a better push back in the day. Maybe they just didn't know what to do with a game that was schizophrenic in its approach to gameplay and aesthetics; but then they must have already been familiar with the cartoon's theme's to even warrant a game for it. Damn, it's confusing to say the least! At least they got it out there for maybe three people in the world to enjoy. I've probably oversimplified the game here (I didn't even go into the power-ups and collectables), but Gregory Horror Show really was something unique in design but didn't come off as forced or unnatural, unlike a few popular games that I wont name.
Now to make a pun about wanting to extend my stay or something...