January 19, 2024
Another Code: Two Memories and Another Code: R — A Journey of Lost Memories are apparently hidden gems on their respective consoles; The DS in 2005, and the Wii in 2009, respectively. I can certainly agree with the “hidden” part — I had never heard of the series before. The first game, renamed Trace Memory for North America, was released worldwide, but its sequel was only released in Japan and Europe. If for no other reason, this is why I’m glad Another Code: Recollections exists. More than a simple port or remaster, both games have been completely remade and combined into one experience, with a new art style, full voice acting, and a revised story. But for all those updates, they don’t fix what actually needed to be fixed, and in some ways make the remake less appealing.
Another Code is a narrative adventure that follows Ashley Robins, a 14-year-old who travels to the abandoned Blood Edward Island to meet her father, whom she has thought dead for 10 years. After her aunt, who was travelling with her, mysteriously disappears on the island, Ashley teams up with a lonely ghost boy called D to find her and to get to the bottom of why her father had to leave, and how D died. The second part adapts the sequel, which is set two years later and follows Ashley as she finds out the truth behind her mother’s experiments with the “Another”, a machine with the power to change and erase memories.
The gameplay consists of exploring the mansion and solving the occasion puzzle to progress. At the beginning of the game, Ashley’s father sends her a device called the DAS, styled as a Nintendo Switch (in the original, it was a DS, of course). This device is used in a few of the puzzles and is tied to the story, but otherwise functions as a collections screen of sorts.
The puzzles are so few and far between that it’d be more accurate to call this game a walking simulator with puzzle elements. Of the few, most of them are so simplistic that even a child will likely not have to think too hard. I don’t have a problem with this per se, as long as other elements of the game pick up that slack, but even with the beautifully remade graphics and full voice acting, it just wasn’t hitting the spot.
I started to wonder why it was considered a hidden gem on the DS. Curious, I pulled up some gameplay footage of the original game on DS… and I instantly understood.
Another Code: Two Memories on DS has a unique look and feel. While part of it – the dual screens – could never have been replicated by the Nintendo Switch, there is a lot of subtle atmosphere that hasn’t made it to the remake. On the top screen, an eerie static camera shows Ashley’s surroundings in a manner almost reminiscent of Myst. On the bottom screen, the player controls a top-down 3D view of Ashley and her ghost friend D as they explore the abandoned Edward Mansion. The puzzles are controlled by the stylus, so even simple actions like rotating a key in a lock become a bit more involved. The fact that the 3D looks a little janky just adds to the atmosphere.
Such a small change, but what a difference it makes! The updated graphics are certainly easy on the eyes; characters are far more expressive and lively in Recollection, and everything is fully voiced too. But something is lost in the smooth lines and bright lighting effects now present in the game. The remake’s brand new graphics certainly look nice, but the soft shading and bright colours convey a completely different feeling – not one of anxiousness and being alone in an old creepy mansion, but one of a light-hearted adventure where nothing too bad is going to happen to our hero. I am not immune to nostalgia goggles, so I can’t discount the possibility that the original’s graphics and control scheme are simply tapping into my inner 2005 gamer child and making me think it’s better, but I don’t think so. I think these were important elements that made the game the hidden gem people remember it as.
The biggest mark against the game is one that the original games were criticised for: the narrative pacing is awfully slow. You’d think that a complete remake of the game was the perfect time to fix this issue, especially since a lot of the story has been changed. Since the pacing is as slow as ever, I can only assume it is an integral part of the developers’ vision, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. Part 1, being shorter in playtime, doesn’t have as much time to waste on waffle, but the same cannot be said for the adaption of the second game.
Two Memories: R – A Journey into Lost Memories kicks off with Ashley, now 16, visiting her father at his new workplace near a local valley campsite. Her arrival kickstarts a new adventure about the secrets her mother kept and why she visited the valley 13 years ago. Like with the first part’s plot, the story itself is fine enough, but the time it takes to get there is far too long, delayed by protracted conversations with side characters that hold little relevance to the plot at hand.
If you’re a fan of the original, the pacing might be no issue to you, so you will likely still enjoy this game. There are definitely things to appreciate about the remake; it’s always great to see another female protagonist, for one, and Ashley is a likable girl easy to root for. To allow it some extra credit, the mild nature of the adventure makes it a fairly realistic tale for a teenage girl, so there’s nothing to strain your credulity at (beyond, you know, ghosts). One can easily imagine themselves at Ashley’s age doing all the same things as she does. But personally speaking, I’d choose something more dramatic and constantly exciting every time.
If you’re a fan of the original games, I might still recommend it, but not as a replacement for the originals. Due to the extensive story changes, especially in the last half, it’s essentially a completely new tale. If that idea excites you, you may still find something to like here.
- Great to see a full remake of a niche series
- Fans of the original are getting a new version of the story
- New graphics look nice, even if it's different in tone to the original
- Too light on puzzles
- Story pacing slow, especially in the second half
- Some of the original's unique atmosphere has been lost
Remaking an older series that never got much limelight is always a good thing, and Another Code: Recollection has gone above and beyond updating its look and feel for the modern day. The problem is that those updates have removed everything that made the original games unique, and have re-invented the story in a way that is not to its benefit. It might still be a nice time if you’re in the mood for something simple and slow-paced, but it’s certainly no replacement for the originals.