Calling Ju-on a haunted house simulator is a very good description. This isn’t a game as much as it is an interactive movie. Nothing you do will impact the way events play out, nor is there any way to avoid the inevitable end to this game.
Ju-on is very faithful to the movie series, with appearances by freaky little girls common, and an atmosphere very reminiscent of the movies. Ju-on is split into 5 episodes, each of which has you playing out events from the perspective of a different character. The bulk of the game is comprised of exploration of grisly, eerie, or abandoned environments with nothing but a flashlight, broken up frequently by cheap scare tactics. Cheap though they may be, they worked on me…I’m not a horror fan and this was a very scary game to me. For those who play horror games, this may be more tame or run-of-the-mill for you. There are also interactive attack sequences in the game, but they consist of simply waggling the wiimote quickly in order to shake off whatever it was that attacked you this time.
The graphics are decent for the Wii. Nothing is really detailed, but the atmosphere is fittingly eerie and freaky. On the other hand, the sound design contributed a great deal to the feeling of being in a horror game. The surprisingly apt sounds hint at grisly and ghastly things awaiting you in the darkness that your flashlight hasn’t revealed.
The controls are a pain though. They are sometimes laggy and imprecise, while other times they work perfectly. Similarly, the camera will sometimes lag, while other times working perfectly. This all adds up to an experience that is very uneven from start to finish.
In the end, Ju-on is not a game I would recommend for fans of horror games in general, as there are already several horror games on the Wii that are much better, such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil. However, if you are a fan of the Grudge movies, or you’ve played the other horror games and are still hungry for more, you may enjoy Ju-on.
ESRB: M for violence and blood
Plays Like: An interactive horror movie
Pros: Faithful to the films; pretty darn scary
Cons: Controls are very laggy and imprecise; camera is a pain; less a game than a virtual novel