Corpse Party and the Psychology of Horror

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Corpse Party and the Psychology of Horror
Corpse Party and the Psychology of Horror

We love to be scared. There’s something so primal and universal about fear, and a good horror story can really bring out the best of it, making our hearts race and our minds veer toward the darkest recesses of the human psyche. And we just keep going back for more!

Yet by the same token, horror has become so passe that we barely even react when we encounter imagery of skeletons, zombies, witches, bats, vampires and ghouls. True primal fear is hard to come by in the modern world, and this applies to video games as well. When you hear the term “horror game,” what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Probably “zombies” since that seems to characterize much of the horror genre nowadays. Most modern horror games assault you with wave after wave of zombies, and you can typically one-shot them back to their graves. They may look scary, but when’s the last time you were actually frightened in a zombie shooter game? Maybe you had an exciting time playing one, and jumped at a handful of startling moments, but the mere fact that you’re able to defend yourself – that you have a means of fighting back – makes just about every entry in the genre less horror than action.

In many ways, classic Japanese horror is much purer. For movies, think The Ring or The Grudge. For games, think Clock Tower or Haunting Ground. They’re all about unavoidable, inevitable death. You can run, but you can’t not die. You have no weapons. Your foes are immortal. All you can do is struggle in vain to survive, and pray that each door you open – each corridor you traverse – isn’t your last.

Most of each of the aforementioned movies and games achieve true terror through sheer anticipation. You know something horrible is lurking nearby… but you have no idea when or where it will strike. When nothing happens for an extended period of time, your anxiety grows until you reach that point where you begin to think you’re out of the woods. And then — BAM! — that’s when it hits you.

Corpse Party for PSP

Corpse Party is one such horror experience. It plays out like the best of Japanese horror films, locking your nine main protagonists in an inescapable, otherworldly school building where vengeful spirits seek to end their lives in the most grisly, inhuman ways imaginable – all the while directly infiltrating their minds to drive them to paranoia, madness and suicide. The longer your characters stay in Heavenly Host Elementary School, the more utterly exhausted, certifiably insane and ravenously hungry they become, causing students to turn against one another, resort to cannibalism, hang themselves or simply suffer nervous breakdowns. Death is inevitable.

Any hope of rescue becomes less and less likely with each passing second, causing some to resign themselves to their fates and simply accept the first chances at sweet release that come their way – which usually take very unpleasant and deeply disturbing forms.

Corpse Party for PSP

Make no mistake, there is a way out – for some, anyway. But finding it takes more time than you have, and more effort than you can reasonably expect most high schoolers to muster under such ludicrously taxing circumstances. There will be casualties, no matter what choices you make. The question is, how many will live, and how many will die? With over 20 endings (most of which are aptly-named “wrong ends”), you can expect to see (and hear) every single character in the game suffer greater cruelty than you’d ever considered possible… and try as you might to be disgusted, you will be morbidly intrigued. These deaths are so creatively sadistic, so drawn-out and convincingly acted, that you’ll hang on your unfortunate protagonists’ every knell – and will never forget the horrors to which you are subjected.

Oddly enough, Corpse Party’s 16-bit-style 2D visuals contribute to the terror. This visual style provides a sense of distance between you and the characters under your control, which has a rather chilling consequence. Effectively, you’re given more than adequate visual feedback to comprehend the exact situation that’s occurring, but since most everything is shown through animated character sprites, you’re left with the task of envisioning the gory minutiae on your own. And as any true horror fan can tell you, the human mind is capable of imagining pain and torment far more potent than anything a screen can display.

Corpse Party for PSP

Sound plays a major role in this as well. Every line of dialogue is expertly voice-acted in Japanese, and many of these lines were recorded binaurally – using two microphones instead of one, to create the illusion of a 3D soundscape. Play with headphones, and you may suddenly hear the spirits of long-dead children whispering directly into your ear. Some scenes relish in killing the lights, too, playing out entirely through squishy, unsettling noises and screams of indescribable agony that sound all too believable.

Corpse Party is scheduled for release on the North American PlayStation Store this November as a PSP download. We’re sorry to have missed Halloween, but we wanted to make certain everything was perfect before unleashing this demon upon the English-speaking world.

If you’re a fan of true horror, Corpse Party will most definitely be worth the wait. But do prepare yourself: This is no hayride.

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17 Author Replies

  • PSN only, shame but understandable.

  • Sounds good! PSP isn’t dead yet! :-)

  • OMG i loved it. i wanted play it bout u dont have a psp ( ;w; ) . Anyway it looks awesome.

  • *dam bad gramar for write fast.

    *I wanted play it but I DONT have a psp. fixed

  • As a LONG time fan of the Horror game genre, this has really gained my attention. The 16bit aspect brings back old-school memories of some of the best games, and throw in the Horror genre and its one hella good combo.

    But what is a shame, is that its being released as a PSP title so close to the launch of the Vita and it might not get the proper attention it should. (Even though it should run on Vita being digital and all)

    XSEED picked a great title to bring to NA, so KUDOS for that.

    Any updated news on the price though? “Affordable” is a very broad word.

    • Unfortunately, we haven’t announced the price yet, so I can’t really comment on that. It will definitely be nice and affordable, though, you can trust me on that! ;)

      Thanks for the kind words, and as a long-time horror game fan myself, you may rest assured that Corpse Party will not disappoint!

  • Well they still make madden every year for the PS2 so that means PS2 is not dead yet ether hugh. PSP is still dead they just don’t have monster titles for it any more. Happy Halloween everyone!!!!

  • I always thought this was an RPG, a horror adventure? I might give it a try.

    The voices are only in japanese?

    • It plays out kind of like an RPG, but without any standard RPG battle scenes. As a result, it feels more like a point-and-click adventure, but with direct control over your characters instead of pointing and clicking. Think Shadow of Destiny/Memories, or the new Back to the Future games from Telltale, but with a horror bent.

      And yes, the voices are Japanese-only, though they are of course subtitled in English. Even if you’re a fan of dubs, I think you’ll be pleased with the original voices in this game — the Japanese voice-actors are incredible, and the emotion conveyed in their voices crosses all language barriers.

  • You may be missing Halloween, but not by too much. I will definitely be getting this whenever it releases. I’m eager to play the game.

  • Sounds great.. PSP games should be playable on PS3 too..

  • So there are good endings, but not for everyone? A damn shame
    Also, what is the price? The fear tends to start there before the game arrives.

    • Can’t comment on the price yet, but I can assure you that there’s no need to fear in that regard. With the winter holidays right around the corner, we’re well aware that people won’t have as much money to spend on games as they might during other times of the year, and we’ve taken that into account. The asking price for this game will be quite affordable.

  • Too icky for my tastes but good luck with the release all the same! You already have trouble with the “anti-digital only” crowd so make sure Sony doesn’t snub the game on the week of its release with their “The Drop” post!

    *insert obligatory Second, Third, Fourth, etc Chapter plea*

  • It looks interesting but I don’t have a Psp. Will this be available for Vita?

    • The Vita will be able to play most PSP downloads, so you should indeed be able to play this game on your Vita.

  • Getting really excited about this, can’t wait to see it released! Thanks Tom and XSEED for bringing this over, looks really unique.

  • I don’t buy downloadable PSP titles (proponent of physical media) so I guess I’ll be missing out on this, but for those that don’t mind it really reminds me of something like Final Destination or Saw. People trapped in a situation they can’t escape inevitable deaths and anticipation. There’ve been a few Anime series recently that have used the concept effectively nice to see videogames taking similar risks. Good Luck!

    • I’ve seen a few people say that they wouldn’t be buying it due to its release as a digital-only title, and to that I can only ask… why? I mean, I understand the desire to own a physical copy — I really do, as I’m a collector myself — but in the end, the purpose of any video game is simply to have fun, and just as much fun can be had with a digital title as with a physical one. It’s the same game, after all!

      It just seems a shame to avoid buying something solely because of its release format. For niche titles like this one, digital is the only option available to us — and that’s just going to become more and more common as time goes on. If you continue to avoid buying digital titles, you may find yourself missing out on one of the most varied and unique corners of the industry… and if enough other people also avoid buying digital titles, that corner of the industry may eventually cease to exist altogether.

      I’m not trying to pressure you into buying the game, I’m just genuinely curious as to what your reasons may be, and if there’s anything that might eventually convince you to give digital a try.

  • I was hoping there would be a video showing some gameplay, I really have no idea how this plays. Your reply to Monetep gives an idea though.

    I’m a turn-based RPG fanatic, like serious fanatic …. so consider this a poke towards giving us some news on next Trails in the Sky =p

    Really makes me sad that handhelds are the only place you can find those anymore :( So take that as a hint and consider making a PSN game for the PS3 ;) You wouldn’t have any competition in the turn-based RPG genre! Easy win =)

  • I would buy this if it were playable on the PS3. When I think scary I don’t think portable gaming. Guess I’ll just buy it when the Vita comes out, at least it’ll be discounted by then (maybe?).

  • Looks good, But if it’s coming out tomorrow, I’m sorry that day is saved for Nathan Drake.

    • Sadly, it won’t be until later in November. But at least that’ll give you plenty of time to finish charting Uncharted 3! ;)

  • “And yes, the voices are Japanese-only,”


    “I can only ask… why? ”

    -Humans by nature are collectors. Our brains wired to do it, to like touching things. A download can’t be collected, can’t be touched.
    -Hardcore gamers tend to be obsessive compulsive, we especially like having the packages on our shelves. (If you could offer a downloadable cover to print out, we could find our own spare case)
    -Downloads have more restrictions. ie: IF Vita is able to get UMDs like Sony is implying, my 5 PSP limit is up anyway. (I love PSP) If I decide to put a japanese PSN Account on it to import games, I can’t play american ones.
    -The cost of memory cards is stupidly stupid on Vita since they didn’t stick with SD/memorystick. They COULD have let the system format them to only be used in Vitas (Like Windows Mobile 7 phones do) but they chose to screw the customer over
    -It’s inconvenient to have to store a copy somewhere (PS3/PC) in case you need to swap games later on or it gets corrupted since flash does so too often.
    -Games have been removed from PSN before (loss of licenses, etc)

    It’d be better if this site would let us reply to replies/comments. Can you pass that up to the webmaster?

  • I am about as anti-digital as they come, but come on, this is XSeed…you guys have yet to let me down. I’m picking up a brand-new PSP mem card just for this game. Ever since you guys took on the Ys series (which I thought dead and gone in the States) I have been a huge fan.

    Now, if only you guys could port Ys IV and V over to PSP…even if they are just the SFAM versions!

    • That’s really kind of you to say — thanks so much!

      The original 1990s versions of Ys IV and Ys V are virtually inaccessible for localization at this point, but with a remake of Ys IV coming to Vita soon, that game offers a distinct possibility of western release. And I’m guessing Falcom will eventually remake Ys V as well. So Ys IV and V in English may not be in the immediate future… but I’d be willing to bet they’ll happen sooner or later!

  • Sonyfanboy ! Add me

  • This is a general thank you XSeed for the continued support for the PSP, I know many larger companies have been scared off the US market (for understandable reasons), but its great to see good games still being released.

    • Thanks for the kind words! We’re in total agreement with you — the PSP is a great platform with a ton of great Japanese games just waiting to be localized, and especially with the Vita supporting PSP downloads, we feel there’s really no reason to ignore them. You can count on seeing even more PSP titles from us in the future!

  • I’m definitely picking this up; looks like my kind of game. It’s a shame it won’t be a physical release though (I’m sure you’re getting sick of reading these comments Tom :P).

    Still, it looks great. Though I scare easily so I have no clue why I’m throwing my money at the screen hoping for something to happen.

  • I really get the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni feel from this game. So I have to ask, was that any inspiration for this game? As far as horror goes, that anime was freaky and I loved it, haha.

    Regardless of the answer, I plan on getting this game when its released, and another of my questions/worries were answered in earlier posts in that it’s playable on the Vita as well. So hurry up and release it and take my money!


    • Actually, if anything, I suspect Higurashi may have been partially inspired by Corpse Party, since Corpse Party is based on a game originally made in 1996.

      I can’t say for sure who was inspired by whom, but I suspect Ryukishi07 was probably at least partially inspired by the original Corpse Party, and then Team GrisGris (the development team behind Corpse Party) was later re-inspired by Higurashi to remake the game (and create its sequel, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, which has a real Higurashi Kai vibe to it).

      Either way, Corpse Party and Higurashi are very similar in atmosphere, so if you’re a fan of one, you will most likely also enjoy the other quite a bit.

  • @Tom Lipschultz – thanks for the heads up! I had no idea that there were plans for a Ys IV remake, so I am completely stoked about that!

    I’ll be downloading Corpse Party ASAP…thanks for everything you guys do; I doubt I would still be collecting in the modern generation if it weren’t for you guys!

  • I got to admire XSEED for still bringing psp games. With the Vita coming on February will you guys still localize psp games even if they are only digital(Half-minute hero 2)?

    • Can’t speak for Half-Minute Hero 2, but yes, we have every intention of releasing PSP games even after the Vita’s launch. No reason to give up on the system, especially with the Vita being backwards-compatible!

  • @Tom Lipschultz

    Oh I was not aware that Corpse Party was an older title. I thought it was a homage to the old 16bit horror titles of yore, lol.

    I can definitely see how Higurashi may have took some cues from the game you mentioned in 96 since it came out years before the anime. Either way, I’m very much looking forward to this fun looking title.

    Also thanks for dropping that bit of knowledge on me about the older title on which this game is based off of, as well as Higurashi. I loved that series.

  • Any news on a european release?

    • Yep, Europe’s getting the game too, again as a PSN exclusive. Release date is unknown, but it shouldn’t be toooo far behind the American release.

  • While I don’t always like some of the things you do (Sora No Kiseki SC issues, No RGC2, No Half Minute Hero 2)… XSEED is still one of my favorite companies. You guys take real chances on games that nobody else will, and you all seem to have such a passion for your fans which you don’t see much anymore.

    While I’m not too interested in Corpse Party. I’m still buying this just to support you guys.

    Now how about some Umineko?

    • Oh, we hear you on those issues you listed. They’re just as painful for us as they are for you, believe me! Sometimes, reality can just be a… well, you know. ;)

      But your support is greatly appreciated!

      Regarding Umineko, it’s certainly on our radar (I’m a huge fan of Ryukishi07’s work, as you might imagine!)… but I’ll admit, the chances of us doing it aren’t great. The sheer amount of text in that game is staggering, and even if we were to use the existing fan-translation text, we’d still have to edit it in-house, and QAing it would be a nightmare. So while it’s not completely out of the question, and I’ll certainly do what I can to push for it… I wouldn’t hold my breath!

      Thanks for the suggestion, though. Very cool to see other Umineko fans!

  • Some older games still give me the creeps like Eternal Darkness and Resident Evil for gamecube. I defenitely am checking it out. I love games that are hard to play by yourself because the give you the creepy crawlies or start making you feel like paramormals are in your backyard.

  • Seems like a really good game, that I would love to try. Sadly since the PSP doesn’t support multiply region content (all my DLC is from Japan) and since this is digital only, I will have to pass for now. If vita supports multiple regions like the PS3 does, then I will definitely have to try this.

  • I will buy this the second it’s released, download or not. I used to prefer physical copies of games but that’s probably due to being an old school gamer who still has an intellivision/SNES/gamecube/ps1, etc… in her closet. If download is the only way to get less commercial games lately then I’m in :)

  • Totally waiting for this game. Its good that its getting released on virtual format because that way it will work on the ps vita. I’ll keep busy with Fate/Extra which releases tomorrow. Xseed + Aksys + Atlus = The saviours of japanese games.

  • Well Tom Lipschultz ,
    to answer your previous interrogation about why people might want a physical copy of their games (me and all my psp owner friends) is the very limited storage we get.

    In my case i was able to get my hand on a 16gb memory stick, and to install Corpse party i’ll need to delete another of my game since its full of PS1 classics and other awesome psp titles. It’s way easier to switch disk than to redownload your games each time you wanna play :) just saying.

    Still, i’ll buy this for sure, digital or not ;)

    • You could always just buy a new 1 GB Memory Stick. They cost a mere $5-$10 these days, and 1 GB is plenty big to hold this game and all its savedata. And putting in a new Memory Stick when you want to play isn’t really that much more of a hassle than putting in a new disc — plus, it’s smaller!

      Nonetheless, I appreciate you giving this game a chance, despite your misgivings about its format. I hope it proves to be worth the sacrifice! Though I’m certain it will be. ;)

  • Wow… I think I’ve heard of this game before, but never looked into it until I saw the Kotaku article. I then decided to read scans of the first 11 chapters of the “Blood Covered” manga. Jeez, I haven’t felt this disturbed about the fates of innocent/moe-ish characters since seeing Higurashi… or was it Madoka Magica?

    You know, I might need to come back and read the comments more thoroughly, but will it ever be possible to play this on the PS3? I think I saw something in a comment up above saying it should be available on the Vita when that comes out… if that’s the case, could we be seeing a home console PSN download as well?

    • I don’t know what the future may hold, but at present, I’m afraid it’s only playable on a PSP. You can play on your television through your PSP, at the very least… but there’s no way to play directly from a PS3.

      I like the idea of being able to play PSP games on a PS3, though! It might be worth suggesting that idea to Sony for a future PS3 update. The likelihood of it happening may not be high, but it sure would be a cool feature to have, wouldn’t it?

  • I am completely shocked this is coming out here. I played the Japanese version and loved it. I will definitely be buying this

  • Is there any way you can tell us the price? Pretty pretty please? I’ve been dying(no pun intended) for this game, but I have other games I want, such as Sonic Generations and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Those take a back seat to this game, but I want to know how much money to set aside.

    Anyhoo, yeah, as someone who loves J and K-horror, and a survival horror junkie, I am totally anticipating this game. Also you guys made a good decision with going for the PSP.

    And this is completely off topic, but since it’s XSEED, I have to mention my love for Retro Game Challenge. :3

    • We should be announcing the price soon. Sorry to keep you waiting, but the wait is almost over, I swear! ;)

      And thanks for the comment on RGC. We’re pretty big fans of that game too, as you might imagine!

  • I’m getting more and more excited for this game by the minute. Just so glad that you guys are still supporting PSP games at this point.

    That said, may I ask if you guys are interested in bringing “Ore no Shikabane wo Koete Yuke” (the PSP version, of course) over here? I mean, the game is such a wonderful gem but for some reason it manages to evade the Western shore ever since its original PS1 version was released back in 1999 (what is it that kept SCEI from localizing this game?) I desperately need the game to come over here, man. Seriously, you can handle it the same way you did with “Corpse Party”, only translate the texts and release it as a download-only title (it won’t require a big budget that way.) Also, since the Vita is coming out soon, I prefer getting digital copies of PSP games anyway.

    Also, here are a few more games that I would like you consider bringing over:
    – Tokyo Mono Hara Shi: Karasu no Mori Gakuen Kitan
    – Tsukumonogatari

    Bring those over here and I’ll buy them in a heartbeat and I would seriously pay $60 for each of them, too, if that’s what it takes. Seriously, language is the only reason why I haven’t imported those yet, and you know how costly those importing fees are.

    • Ahh, “Over My Dead Body.” I’m very much aware of that game, and very much a fan of it as well. It’s definitely on our radar, and will be seriously considered. (I’ve actually had the theme song from it, “Hana,” stuck in my head for the last few days at this point. Such a beautiful song!)

      I’m aware of the other two as well, though admittedly nowhere near as familiar with them (I’ve played Over My Dead Body, but have not played the other two). I know that both HAVE been recommended to us before, however, so they’re definitely on “the list.” (That being the long, long list of great games we need to seriously evaluate for localization prospects!)

      No guarantees on anything, of course, but do rest assured that we’re aware of all three titles you’ve listed, and will definitely look into them.

  • That’s fine, Tom. I can wait. I certainly can’t control my tingles of anticipation though!

  • @Tom Lipschultz: Thanks for the clarification…. actually, not too long I posted that, I went back through a couple other blog posts by you regarding Corpse Party and their comments, and found you telling many others that NO IT’S ON PSP OKAY? (heh) Sorry for adding to the pile of questions… I suspected that this would be the case, since the resolution would probably have to be improved to look more suitable for the HD screen. Would most of the dirty work for a hypothetical PS3 version have to be in cleaning up the sprites and backgrounds? Or would there have to be a major over-haul/ up-scaling of the character portraits, drawn stills and dialogue boxes as well if you wanted to do a good port? Because if so, then not doing a PS3 PSN version is understandable.. But heck, I don’t even have a PSP, and my limited student spending account won’t allow me to get any handheld in the near future, so I think I’d be really okay if it showed up on the PS3’s PSN in any form. Even if it’s just a port-job that’s on the same level as Capcom’s WiiWare release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney, I’d still get it.

    Still, whether or not I’m able to buy the game in the near future, I wish you guys at XSeed all the best of luck! :-)

    • Well, remember, we’re just the publisher! If the game were to receive a PS3 upgrade, it would have to be handled by 5pb and Team GrisGris. And I have no idea what all would be involved!

      If such a thing ever came to be, though, we’d be very happy to work on it. 5pb was a pleasure to work with, and we’d gladly do it again.

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, and here’s hoping that one way or another, you’re able to experience this game sometime in the future!

  • Party…! Party…! Join us….! Join us…!

    @32 – Woot! Intellivision II, here. Just wish I knew what happened to Shark! Shark! and the BurgerTime inserts.

    Right now, my biggest misgivings about digital distribution is availability in general (between making backups, corrupted or otherwise befouled data, DRM limitations, no longer downloadable from the provider*), and specifically that if Sony pulls through on a program for providing players’ UMD games as downloads at a discount, those discs will act as a snazzy, shareable backup themselves, I’m all over DD (?); heck, my Steam list is ridiculous. As mentioned elsewhere, the Black★Rock Shooter PSP game may come out with a physical deluxe edition, but as a download-only game, which fits nicely into swag-hounding for a new age.

    But, thinking like that… Just WHAT would a Corpse Party’s swag be like? *ick*

    *Though I can thankfully still nab Brave Story and SHIFT extended out of the unwieldy Download List (c’mon, Sony, even Microsoft has sorted out theirs).

  • If I get this on the psp will I be able to play it on Vita also by transferring from one to the other or does it have to be purchased separately for each? Or will it even play on Vita?

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