Q    How spoilerific are we talking here?

Full frontal spoilers. No mosaics. In fact, I’m just gonna keep typing until I fill up all the preview text for this post. Then we’ll get into all the good stuff.

Q    Seriously, how do I get Ending #24?

To reach Ending #24 (Chunsoft Party Conspiracy), you need to make it to the “good” ending path for the Cryptography route (by correctly identifying that the treasure is in the lounge, above everyone’s heads, in the cuckoo clock). Partway through that ending, Kobayashi mentions he also enjoys making cyphers using the first letter of third and fourth words, and that you’ve probably already seen one of these somewhere. He’s right: in the discussion immediately after finding the treasure, you’ll notice a bunch of text blocks with odd line breaks. By taking the first letter of the third word in each of those lines, you’l get the message “GO BACK TO HERE.” Immediately after that section is over, you can use the “Go Back” button in the game’s bottom nav to go back to one of the encoded lines, which will cause the screen to go black and whisk you away to the Conspiracy Ending.

Q    That’s a little obscure, innit?

Damn straight. This ending has always been well hidden, but Rinne Saisei makes it more frustrating in a bunch of ways. The new version uses ADV mode rather than NVL, so the message is broken across several screens, which makes it harder to notice and decode. It also leverages a button I honestly had never paid attention to until I hit this point in my read-through. Whereas earlier console versions were much simpler — e.g., the encoded message “PRESS START” was there on the screen, and all you had to do was press start on your controller.

Compounding the issue? The Gambs Doctrine — i.e., some things just don’t work in English. The conspiracy puzzle was built entirely around the mechanics of Japanese writing: that it can be read horizontally or vertically and that it’s typically laid out in a monospaced grid. For many Japanese readers, that moment when they realized the “cuckoo” answer had been staring them in the face all along — a neatly arranged column of characters amidst rows of horizontal type — was akin to that “aha!” moment at the end of 999. And it gets lost entirely in English. Even the mechanics of the puzzle become less elegant: rather than dealing with the second/third characters, we were forced to use substitutes like the initial of the second/third words, which is far less intuitive. In the TL, we hint at this with a fairly common acrostic clue — “Initially, search between one and three,” aka, look at the initial letter of the second word — but it’s just not the same.

Q    I heard there were some “issues” with the art in this game?

Rinne Saisei got savaged by gamers upon its JP release, and the art was one reason. Yes, it’s generic VN fare. Yes, it loses all the stylized charm of the original silhouettes. But even worse, there are some things the artists get just plain wrong. Biggest offender: when you find Tanaka’s corpse, the jumble of body parts has two right feet. A reader could easily see that and assume the body parts came from multiple corpses. Which is most certainly NOT the case.

two right feet

Another sin: giving Mikimoto the fakest looking facial hair ever. It’s already easy enough to figure out the culprit, but the art makes it 10x easier. It’s like someone told the artist the character had a fake beard, but forgot to tell them it’s supposed to be a secret. Then there’s Haruko, who’s an elegantly sexy trophy MILF in her mid 30s, yet her character art ends up looking like a prissy librarian in her late 50s. You’re left wondering why everyone seems to think she’s such a stunner. She and Kyouko end up looking the same age, even though there’s a 20-year gap between them. There’s also the “chubby” Keiko, who appears to be exactly the same weight as her two friends. And so, so much more. TL;DR: Mistakes were made.

Q    Bruh, there’s no mention of tai chi in the original game. What gives?

The game-within-a-game PlayStation route hinges on a groan-worthy Japanese pun: changing the rendering of “Kamaitachi” from “かまいたち” (sickle weasel) to “鎌井達” (the pluralized name Kamai), then having the meta-game end with a bunch of folks named Kamai all partying in the Spur lounge. The intended takeaway: at that point, the game is clearly fucking with you. Obviously, this play on words doesn’t work in English, so the team needed to come up with a solve that played nice with the existing art and VO. After kicking through a few possibilities (Kamaitachi NO YUO, Night of the Sick Old Weasels, etc.), we landed on “Night of the Kamaitaichi,” which was a close soundalike for the original title AND dovetailed neatly with an impromptu gathering of people named Kamai (who, in our case, decide to get drunk and do group tai chi). As an added bonus, the English pun works by adding an extra “I” to the title, which mirrors the inclusion of additional first-person narrators to the game.

Q    When’s the game supposed to take place?

Both the original game and Rinne Saisei are set in the early-to-mid ‘90s. There are a few inconsistencies scattered throughout, however, such a big flatscreen TV on the lodge wall in the OP video. Also, while no date is given, the “Limbo” route is assumed to take place in the 2000s, a good decade or two after the boiler accident at Spur Lodge. An interesting side note: the iOS “Smart Sound Novel” version of the game (the basis for Banshee’s Last Cry) shifted the whole story to the 2000s in an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. Skiers became snowboarders, complaints about in-room TVs became requests for internet access, etc. Thankfully, they reverted these decisions for the remake.

Q    What’s with all the goofy deathtraps in that one “Labyrinth” room?

Yet another thing that’s been lost in translation. A giant duck? A long-necked demon? Rice? While the deaths seem random in English, they’re all actually number (or symbol) puns based on whichever door was opened. So that’s why a sword-wielding Toshiro Mifune (三船敏郎) is hiding behind door #3 (三), for instance. We try to make a passing reference to the number in the English description of each death, but honestly, it’s no substitute.