Kowloon High-School Chronicle is out this Friday in Europe, providing us with the opportunity to enjoy a cult PS2 classic on a modern platform for the first time!
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys having pretty, shiny physical versions of games on your shelf, don’t forget you can still order a lovely limited edition version of the game featuring a collector’s box and acrylic standee — click here to find out more.
If you’re new to Kowloon High-School Chronicle, here’s the deal. It’s a hybrid of first-person dungeon-crawling RPG, adventure and life simulation that originally came out for PlayStation 2 in Japan — it never got a North American or European release on its original platform. This new release is a full remaster in HD for Nintendo Switch, allowing English-speaking audiences to enjoy this cult hit for the first time.
In Kowloon High-School Chronicle, you take on the role of a treasure hunter — an adventurer who searches for buried treasures scattered around the world. Posing as a normal high school student at Kamiyoshi Academy, you’ll have to work alongside your new friends to discover a mysterious ruin buried deep beneath the campus and uncover the mysteries of an ancient civilisation.
It won’t be easy, though — not only are the dungeons filled with traps and fearsome monsters known as “Kehito”, but you’ll also have to contend with the deadliest threat of all: the student council!
Kowloon High-School Chronicle features a number of interesting elements that set it apart from other games that share similar concepts. Notably, during the visual novel sequences where you engage in as normal a school life as you possibly can under the circumstances, you respond to situations not with specific dialogue options, but with a choice of nine different emotional reactions to the situation. Will you express grief at what is happening? Anger? Or maybe even joy? The way in which you react to the things the characters tell you will determine how they feel about you. It’s like being a YouTuber, but with more fighting for your life.
The dungeon-crawling segments of the game are less about exploring massive labyrinthine mazes as in many other games that share Kowloon’s first-person perspective, and instead are about exploring a room at a time, giving a strong “adventure game” feel to proceedings. That doesn’t mean you won’t be engaging in any combat, however; the game’s tactical turn-based combat allows you to spend action points in order to move, use weapons and perform various other moves while fending off your foes. This is a strong contrast to the typical “line up in two neat rows and kick the snot out of each other” combat from many other dungeon crawlers.
Despite originally hailing from 2004, Kowloon High-School Chronicle’s blend of gameplay styles feels innovative and fresh today. There’s nothing quite like it out there — and the game’s rerelease is intended to gauge whether or not the public would be open to the idea of a sequel.
The game didn’t do that well back on its original release, you see; it ended up having what marketing types like to refer to as a “long tail”, whereby it sold poorly shortly after it first came out, but as word of mouth spread about it, it gradually and persistently sold more and more copies until it became something of a cult hit with a strong fan following over the years.
Unfortunately, the people who hold the purse-strings tend to primarily be interested in immediate sales on release — so those weak initial figures precluded the developers from being able to make a proper sequel back in the day. As such, this rerelease is giving the game a much-needed and well-deserved second chance at success. And worldwide this time around!
Preorder yourself a copy of Kowloon High-School Chronicle’s limited edition here. You deserve to treat yourself, after all; you’ve been really good this month, and you look very pretty today, too. Also, y’know, the game’s good and all.
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