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Rule of Rose
RuleofRose.jpg
Developer(s) Punchline
Publisher(s) JP Sony Computer Entertainment
NA Atlus
EU 505 GameStreet
Distributor(s) EU Ingram Entertainment
Composer(s) Yutaka Minobe
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Release date(s) JP January 19, 2006
NA September 12, 2006
EU November 3, 2006
(no UK release)
Genre(s) Survival horror
Mode(s) Single-player
Rating(s) CERO: C
ESRB: M (Mature)
PEGI: 16+
Media 1 DVD

Rule of Rose (ルールオブローズ Rūru obu Rōzu?) is a survival horror video game for the PlayStation 2. The game was developed by Punchline and released in 2006.

England, 1930, the plot revolves around a nineteen-year-old girl named Jennifer, who becomes trapped in a world ruled by young girls who have established a class hierarchy called the Red Crayon Aristocrats.[1] The game has been compared to survival horror games Silent Hill and Haunting Ground, due to the psychological horror used throughout and because the main character is accompanied by a canine companion.[1][2]

Rule of Rose garnered mixed reviews from many publications upon its release. The game was also the subject of a moderate amount of controversy due to its use of violence and sexuality amongst some of its underage, female characters.

Contents

Gameplay

The player explores the game environment looking for restorative items, furthering the plot by accomplishing tasks and experiencing cut-scenes whilst sporadically encountering enemies and bosses. Early in the game, the player encounters and rescues Jennifer's pet dog, a Labrador Retriever named Brown.[3] Brown accompanies Jennifer throughout the game and will respond to the player's commands.[4] Brown can be ordered to track items by scent, be commanded to 'stay' and be called to Jennifer's side. Brown cannot attack enemies, but will growl, which distracts some imps and bosses, allowing Jennifer to retreat or land a few blows without fear of retaliation.[5] He can be injured to the point of collapse, however, causing him to stop distracting enemies or tracking an item.[3]

Brown's ability to locate items is an integral part of the game, used in every chapter of Rule of Rose to progress further.[6] The same system allows the player to find health restoratives and other items which, whilst not essential to complete the game, can help the player.[3] Players select an item from the inventory for Brown to locate, which is then connected to the 'find' command until changed or removed.[7] Every item selected this way can be used to find at least one type of item. When tracking items this way, Brown will lead the player through the game environments, scratching at doors in his way for the player to open.[4]

Most health restoring foods and all tradeable items are hidden and must be uncovered by Brown, though the player can choose to avoid searching for these items in order to progress quickly. Restorative items are snack foods, candy and chocolate. The different types heal varying amounts of health. Bones and other items can be used to restore Brown's health if he becomes injured. Other items such as marbles and ribbons have no immediate use, but may be traded with the Aristocrats in order to obtain food, rare items and weapons.[3]

Combat is almost exclusively melee, with a variety of improvised weapons available, such as kitchen knives and pipes. Jennifer is a timid character,[6] her melee attacks are neither powerful nor long-ranged. Evasion of enemies is often used instead of fighting. With the exception of a handful of bosses, all enemies in the game are imps - skinny, doll-like creatures the size of small children. Different animal-headed imps appear throughout the game, alongside regular imps.[8]

Plot

Players control Jennifer, a young woman who is led to an abandoned mansion by a small boy. After experiencing a traumatic event, she wakes up on a virtually abandoned airship that is ruled by a cruel group of children known as the Red Crayon Aristocrats. Under the threat of death, Jennifer must appease the Aristocrats by finding an offering for them each month.[9] Whilst doing so, she must piece together clues and recall forgotten memories which will ultimately allow her to escape their clutches. Each chapter of the game is introduced with a storybook that loosely describes what said chapter is about and which of the characters it focuses on.

As the game continues, it is revealed that Jennifer's parents died in an airship accident when she was young, though she had forgotten all this after the tragedy. She was the sole survivor of the accident and was rescued by a man named Gregory, a farmer who liked to write storybooks. Gregory had become somewhat unstable after the death of his young son Joshua, and he had begun drinking. He took to dressing Jennifer like his son and calling her by his name. Jennifer notes that he was kind to her, but wouldn't let her leave.

Eventually, a girl from the nearby orphanage discovered Jennifer, initially mistaking her for a boy. This girl was Wendy. The two began exchanging letters, with Wendy calling herself a "Princess" and Jennifer her "Prince". Wendy convinced Jennifer to leave and helped her escape, but not before taking the gun Gregory owned. It is not clear whether they intended to stop him from using it on them or himself. Though she left, Jennifer felt guilty for abandoning the man who had saved and cared for her.

The two girls made a promise - "everlasting, true love, I am yours", - and Jennifer gave Wendy her bear, while Wendy gave Jennifer her brooch. Wendy took Jennifer to the orphanage, where she was forced into the twisted game they were playing. It's not entirely clear how much she knew, but she suffered a lot at the hands of the other orphans.

Eventually, Jennifer found and grew close to a dog she named "Brown". The sickly Wendy grew jealous, especially as her friend spent more time with the dog than her. She could not go to her while stuck in the sick room, and Jennifer rarely sent her letters. When she did, they always went on and on about Brown. Wendy made things harder on her friend, as she was the leader of the Aristocrats, but with Brown, the girl pulled through everything. Frustrated, Wendy forced her friend to choose between her own life or Brown's. The scared, timid Jennifer let Brown be killed. After the shock of his death set in - and possibly after learning Wendy was behind everything, - she beat up Wendy and cast aside the brooch she had given her. She yelled at the girls and said she hated them, but she hated herself most of all, for not having the courage to stand up to them. After this, Wendy runs off in tears.

Wendy, who had often spoken of the Stray Dog to scare the others into doing her bidding, had secretly begun dressing up as Joshua and messing with the already unstable Gregory-torturing him into fulfilling that role. After Jennifer stood up to her, she lost her position as leader and was mocked, with her Stray Dog being called a lie. She brought Gregory to the orphanage. When the other orphans saw her outside, all but Jennifer ran to make fun of her. Either in retalliation or because Wendy ordered it, Gregory killed them all. Jennifer happened upon this horrible sight.

It is not entirely clear what happened next and some of the following is fan speculation, but Wendy was killed as well at some point, possibly after apologizing to Jennifer and giving her Gregory's gun. Jennifer had been initially scared of Gregory and had returned to being a timid little girl, but the memory of Brown gave her courage. She gave the gun to Gregory, who seemed to realize something, then took his own life. The police escorted her away, and she forgot everything once more. After it was discovered she was the lone survivor of not only the orphanage massacre but the airship crash that was thought to have no survivors, the murders were pushed into an obscure corner of the newspaper.

Through her journey into her twisted subconscious, Jennifer is able to make peace with her past and regain the lessons those painful memories had taught her. Keeping Wendy, Gregory, and Brown close to her heart, she vows to never again forget her promise.

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Characters

Nicknamed the "Unlucky Girl", Jennifer is a nineteen-year-old girl who finds herself forced to play the Aristocrats' game. Assisting Jennifer is a dog named Brown that she rescues on the airship; Brown helps Jennifer locate items and he distracts the monsters she encounters.

Led by the Princess of the Rose, the Red Crayon Aristocrats serve as the antagonists of the game. Diana, dubbed "The Strong-Willed Princess", is the highest ranking of the children and is cruel even towards the other members of the Aristocracy. Second in rank to Diana is Eleanor, nicknamed "The Cold Princess", who is shown as distant and emotionless and constantly carries an empty bird cage with her. Meg, nicknamed "The Wise-Looking Princess", is portrayed as intelligent, but inflexible; she invents the devices used to punish members of the hierarchy such as the "Torture Chair" and the "Onion Bag", and holds the third highest spot under the Princess of the Rose. The lowest ranking of the children before Jennifer arrives is "The Small-Hearted Princess", Amanda, who, while initially thankful to Jennifer for lessening the ill treatment she receives, begins to harbor hatred for Jennifer. The only Aristocrat to show Jennifer kindness is Wendy, "The Lonely Princess", who is later revealed to be the Princess of the Rose. Other children in the orphanage include Olivia, "The Tearful Princess"; Susan, "The Impetuous Princess"; Nicholas, "The Sloppy Prince"; Xavier, "The Gluttonous Prince" who is often seen with Nicholas; and Thomas, "The Mischievous Prince" who obsesses over trains.

The Rose Garden Orphanage is run by Mr. Hoffman, the Headmaster, who is often seen with Clara, "The Frightened Princess", a quiet sixteen-year-old girl. Martha Carol serves as the housekeeper and cook at the orphanage, earning her the nickname "The Queen of Cleaning". Another adult in the game is Gregory M. Wilson, a farmer and Jennifer's adoptive father, who is revealed to be Stray Dog.

Themes

A major theme in the game is the difference between a child's and an adult's way of thinking and how children might treat adults if they were given power over them. Players are helpless to prevent their adult player-character being bullied by the children.[10]

The game's graphics are heavily stylised, incorporating a series of visual filters similar to those used in the Silent Hill series.[8]

Soundtrack

The musical score was composed by Yutaka Minobe, who also composed the music of Skies of Arcadia and some tracks from the Panzer Dragoon Orta soundtrack. The entire score was created without electronic instruments - most of the music was produced by musicians, the Hiroshi Murayama Trio, using string instruments. According to the game's developers, the music was intended to bring a human element to the atmosphere in the game.[10] A 6-track promotional soundtrack CD was produced by Atlus, which was issued to customers from certain retailers when Rule of Rose was pre-ordered.[11]

The theme song of Rule of Rose, "A Love Suicide" was performed by The Hiroshi Murayama Trio, with Hiroshi Murayama on the piano and the vocals provided by Kaori Kondo, Hiroshi's wife.[citation needed]

Controversy

At E3 2006 Atlus announced that it would be releasing Rule of Rose in the United States,[12] following Sony's decision to pass on a U.S. release.[13] This was on the grounds of the game's erotic undertones involving a cast of female minors. The developers disagreed with this, saying that the sexual themes are only a small part of the game.

Rule of Rose raised controversies in Poland, where the Ministry of Education raised questions concerning its appropriateness for minors (the game was rated 16+) because of the themes of child violence and sexuality. The Ministry informed the official prosecutor's office of possible crime.[14]

European Union justice minister Franco Frattini attacked the game as containing "obscene cruelty and brutality". He also called for changes to the PEGI rating system in place across Europe and for government officials to engage in discussions with industry representatives.[15] According to news site The Register, Frattini received a letter from Viviane Reding, commissioner for the information society and media, who criticised Frattini's actions: "It is...very unfortunate that my services were not pre-consulted before your letter to the Ministers of Interior was sent out," Reding wrote, reminding him of the commission backed self-regulating ratings system called PEGI that has operated across the EU since 2003. The PEGI system of classification, according to Reding's letter, offers "informed adult choice" without censoring content. "This is in line with the Commission's view that measures taken to protect minors and human dignity must be carefully balanced with the fundamental right to freedom of expression as laid down in the Charter on Fundamental Rights of the European Union,".[16]

On 7 March 2007, a group of MEPs presented a Motion for a European Parliament resolution on a ban on the sale and distribution in Europe of the game and the creation of a 'European Observatory on childhood and minors'.[17]

The publisher has chosen to cancel the release of the game in the UK following complaints by Frattini and other EU officials, and "largely misleading"[18] commentary from the UK press.[19] It will be released in the rest of Europe. Review copies of the title had already shipped to UK journalists when this was announced. The UK body which had granted the title its 16+ PEGI rating (the Video Standards Council) responded to the press and Frattini's comments:

I have no idea where the suggestion of in-game sadomasochism has come from, nor children being buried underground. These are things that have been completely made up. [...] We’re not worried about our integrity being called into question, because Mr Frattini’s quotes are nonsense.[15]

In November 2006, 505 Games' Australian and New Zealand distributor Red Ant Enterprises confirmed that the game had been cancelled in both territories. Red Ant stated that the game had not been submitted to the Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification for approval, without which the game cannot be sold in Australia. Rule of Rose was scheduled for Australasian release in February 2007.[20]

Critical response

Critical response to the title has been average. The game has obtained a Metacritic metascore of 59/100[21] and a Game Rankings average ratio of 61%.[22] It is generally agreed that the title has an interesting plot, with The AV Club observing that "aside from a few deep curtsies and an unlockable Gothic Lolita costume, the characters are more sinister than sexualised".[23] However the gameplay is widely lambasted as clumsy, archaic,[24] and unrewarding.[4][7] The press was generally divided upon how much the gameplay detracts from one's ability to enjoy the story itself. Edge magazine found neither plot nor gameplay appealing: "It’s just a murky brew of meaningless, exploitative dysfunction filling an empty game, and it leaves a bitter taste".[21] GamesRadar described Jennifer as "a cringing, passive non-entity" and stated: "There's no denying that Rule of Rose is extremely pretty, atmospheric and disturbing.... but as an adventure game, Rule of Rose just sort of wilts."[8] Acegamez, on the other hand, not only admired the game's plot but also found the gameplay appealing if slow, "a wonderful psychological thriller that will draw you in with its bizarrely compelling narrative, atmospheric presentation and thoughtful story-based gameplay".[5]

References

  1. ^ a b Spencer (2006-06-16). ""Atlus explains Rule of Rose"". Siliconera. http://www.siliconera.com/2006/06/16/atlus-explains-rule-of-rose/. Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  2. ^ Sheffield, Brandon (2006-06-07). ""Thank Heaven for Little Girls: Why Rule of Rose May Be 2006's Most Controversial Game"". Gamasutra. http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20060607/sheffield_01.shtml. Retrieved 2007-04-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d Aya (2006-09-12). ""Rule of Rose Review"". Just Adventure. http://www.justadventure.com/reviews/RuleOfRose/RoR.shtm. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  4. ^ a b c Lachel, Cyril (2006-09-12). "Rule of Rose Review". Gaming Nexus. http://www.gamingnexus.com/Default.aspx?Section=Article&I=1190. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  5. ^ a b Litten, Matt. "Reviewed - Rule of Rose". Ace Gamez. http://www.acegamez.co.uk/reviews_playstation2/Rule_Of_Rose_PS2.htm. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  6. ^ a b Speer, Justin. ""Rule of Rose Preview"". GameSpy. http://uk.ps2.gamespy.com/playstation-2/rule-of-rose/722939p1.html. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  7. ^ a b Kasavin, Greg (2006-09-23). "Rule of Rose for PlayStation 2 Review". Gamespot. http://uk.gamespot.com/ps2/action/ruleofrose/review.html?sid=6158385. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  8. ^ a b c Reparaz, Mikel. ""PS2 Reviews - Rule of Rose"". Games Radar. http://www.gamesradar.com/us/ps2/game/reviews/article.jsp?articleId=2006091215566473049&sectionId=1000. Retrieved 2007-04-23. 
  9. ^ ""Atlus USA Inc. Announces Rule of Rose"". Atlus. http://www.atlus.com/cgi-bin/press?press_release_id=14. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  10. ^ a b Brudvig, Erik (2006-05-11). ""E3 2006: Rule of Rose Hands-On"". IGN. http://ps2.ign.com/articles/708/708106p1.html. Retrieved 2006-08-24. 
  11. ^ Dwyer, Travis (2006-07-14). "Atlus Announces "Rule of Rose" Soundtrack". Gaming Age. http://www.gaming-age.com/news/2006/7/14-7. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  12. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (2006-05-11). ""E3 06: Rule of Rose headed to USA"". GameSpot. http://www.gamespot.com/news/6150968.html. Retrieved 2006-06-09. 
  13. ^ Anderson, Nate (2006-06-08). ""Citing its underage eroticism, Sony America pulls plug on Japanese video game"". Ars Technica. http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060608-7018.html. Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  14. ^ Waglowski, Piotr "VaGla" (2006-11-18). ""Rządy Róży - kontrowersyjna gra na Play Station 2"" (in Polish). http://prawo.vagla.pl/node/6819. Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  15. ^ a b Jenkins, David (2006-11-24). ""Rule Of Rose's UK Release Cancelled"". Gamasutra. http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=11838. Retrieved 2006-11-24. 
  16. ^ Ballard, Mark (2006-11-27). ""Euro commissioners swap slaps in video game row"". The Register. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/24/reding_said_to_frattini/. Retrieved 2006-11-20. 
  17. ^ "Motion for resolution at the EP website". 2007-03-08. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+MOTION+B6-2007-0023+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN. 
  18. ^ Wales, Matt (2006-11-24). "Rule of Rose Plucked From UK Shelves". IGN. http://uk.ps2.ign.com/articles/747/747530p1.html. Retrieved 2006-11-27. 
  19. ^ Ingham, Tim (2006-11-24). ""505 Games pulls Rule Of Rose release"". MCV. http://www.mcvuk.com/505-Games-pulls-out-of-Rule-Of-Rose-release. Retrieved 2006-11-24. 
  20. ^ Ramsay, Randolph (2006-11-29). ""Rule Of Rose canned for Australia"". CNN. http://www.cnet.com.au/games/ps2/0,239029672,339272418,00.htm. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  21. ^ a b "Rule of Rose Games Homepage". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/ruleofrose?q=rule%20of%20rose. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  22. ^ "Rule of Rose Reviews". Game Rankings. http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages4/930042.asp. Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  23. ^ Dahlen, Chris (2006-09-11). "Rule of Rose Review". The Onion. http://www.avclub.com/content/node/52675. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 
  24. ^ Gallaway, Brad (2006-09-20). "Rule of Rose Review". Game Critics. http://www.gamecritics.com/review/ruleofrose/main.php. Retrieved 2007-03-12. 

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