Irisu Syndrome (untranslated name: Irisu Shoukougun) is a charming little Japanese freeware physics-puzzle game featuring four cute, anime-styled university students who don’t look old enough to be in university, as well as bunnies and cats!
Wait a minute. Who am I trying to kid here?
Let me start again. Irisu Syndrome is a game about an insane, murderous bunny-witch girl named Irisu Kyouko who goes on a trip with her three ‘friends’ and, well, let’s just say they go missing, one by one… There. Much more accurate! At any rate, if you can somehow ignore the strange cats and bunnies in the background during play, as well as Irisu staring at you, it proves to be a very enjoyable (read: addicting!) game.
The gameplay consists of shooting at coloured shapes with your mouse to ‘activate’ them, and then guiding them to other shapes of the same colour to make them disappear. Left-clicking releases medium-speed, white squares, while right-clicking releases faster, grey ones. The aim is to stay alive for as long as possible – you have a constantly draining health bar at the bottom of the screen and the further you progress, the quicker it drains. Matching shapes of the same colour gives you more health, but failing to do so takes massive chunks out of the bar. It’s a pity that nowhere in the game are you actually told how to play; you have to figure it out yourself.
The storyline is fairly short, and is told both in-game and also in text files that the game generates in its folder (I don’t remember there being an installer; I think it just comes in a zip file). I thought that was pretty nifty, but it can confuse some people. There’s a picture in the folder as well, which changes as you progress. Once again, that’s not something you see every day. After the story, which runs through twice (so you can hopefully get both the failure ending and the good ending), you can just play to your heart’s content, without needing to worry about being scared out of your mind. (Note: If you get the good ending, try reopening the game afterwards. ;) )
Possibly one of the best things about Irisu Syndrome is the music. The tracks range from melancholy and sober piano music to sweet and catchy computer-generated pieces. You can change the track playing at will by clicking on the title while on the title screen. The names of the pieces are fitting, too – names like ‘Zero Communication’ and ‘I Didn’t Talk To Anyone Today, Either’ fit in with the storyline perfectly.
The last thing I probably need to mention is the unlockable mode, Irisu Syndrome Metsu (‘metsu’ meaning ‘destruction’), which gives you insights into Irisu’s past. It’s pretty hard to unlock, requiring you to gain over 40,000 points… or you can just cheat and enter a certain code at the title screen. It features slightly changed gameplay in that not only are shapes falling from the top of the screen, but there are ones rising from the bottom. Otherwise, everything works the same way.
Okay, I’ll stop now. I’ve spoiled enough already. I strongly suggest you play this if you can handle the twistedness of it all – the art style is great, the music is brilliant and the gameplay is seriously addictive… It’s just the horror elements you need to watch out for (unless you like them, like me!). Overall, this is a great game, and it’s free too! If you don’t like it, you haven’t wasted any money, so that’s always a plus. Get the original (in Japanese) here: http://www.vector.co.jp/soft/win95/game/se463417.html And the English patch is here: http://www.mediafire.com/?nlujzb91wjl0bu7