Laplace’s Demon (Laplace no Ma)

Laplace is a curious game.  It came out on the TurboDuo in 1993, and then the SNES in 1995.  There was a MSX version in 1989, but I haven’t seen much information about it.  I believe there’s a side story game called the Sword of Paracelsus on the PC98 that came out in 1994.  There’s some stuff in the SNES game pointing to missing areas or planned quests that were never finished.

As the game goes, it’s an unusual attempt at a horror game.  The game is set in the 1920s, and you’re playing an investigator trying to find out what’s going on in a mysterious mansion.  The intro dramatically warns you that Benedict Weathertop’s plan must be stopped.

You're not the first investigators trying to stop the evil.

When you begin the game, your investigator replaces one of the premade characters.  You quickly get a quest to find a missing girl and the rescuers who vanished.

There's a very hard boiled Lovecraft feel to the characters.

The manor is dark and ominous.  Your MP is basically your sanity and there’s many monsters that attack with terror to try to reduce it.  There’s areas you can search that purely exist to terrify your investigators.  Other areas are haunted.  An early boss is a demon guarding a servant’s room.

Here, the investigators find a haunted door.

There’s some clever ways the game handles money and the like.  A Journalist exists in the game to earn money via taking photographs.  She or he can also use the flash to blind an enemy.  The photographs can be turned in at the hotel for money.  Blurred or vague photographs get less or no money at all respectively.

The door demon is expensive.

Late in the game, the quests drag out and are confusingly obtuse to figure out.  Still, the ominous music and the 1920’s atmosphere is interesting.  The attempts to make the game terrifying sometimes leans more on the fustrating side of things, but there is some glimmers of potential.  There’s cutscenes throughout the game, and they have a strange artstyle.  It looks very loose and sketchy compared to the ingame sprites, or the character portraits.  Below is a cutscene when the investigators find the ghost of a tortured man.

Supposedly, he's a Japanese medium.

The battle system is turnbased and has a limit break system that unleashes special attacks.  There’s also a talking system to try to persuade demons to step down.  Mostly, your characters will not have the stats to do much against monsters.   That’s really a lot of the game. You can, for example, get a lizard man to help you, but usually you don’t have the stats to do it.  You can explore the dungeon, but it’s difficult enough to send you out a lot to power up.  Due to the difficulty curve, it never really feels like you’re amazingly powerful.  While that is good for a horror game, it does make the slow pace feel slower.

  1. albatona’s avatar

    As I just read on a forum thread (http://dreamdawn.com/sh/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1278&start=0), Laplace’s Demon seems to be part of a trilogy called “The ghost hunter trilogy” which comprises:

    – “Rapurasu no Ma” for SNES
    – “Paracelsus no Maken” for PC98
    – “Kurokishi no Kamen” for 3DO

    Although I don’t know if I’m wrong because I’ve only played (and finished) Laplace’s Demon, but I’d love to find some more information about this strange trilogy 🙂

  2. Rav’s avatar

    http://www.saturn.dti.ne.jp/~dastard/ – If you run this website through google translate, and then hit up the section usually translated as “Occult Game” there’s information about the Paracelsus game. That’s all I know about the game, I fear.

    I did try the MSX version of Laplace no Ma. It’s a pain in the neck to get working, and has an odd disk system where you can create your own characters (which have jobs relating to their stats.) In the mansion, there’s a different layout and little cutscenes when you find interesting desks or the like. Battle is pretty similar to the SNES version. The art style is – less fluid than the SNES cut scenes, but fairly close to the SNES in game portraits and look to things.

    As best I can tell, the Kurokishi no Kamen game may be related to the Elvira adventure games, and may not have a direct link to the Laplace series, but I’m pretty sure I’m completely wrong. I’ve never seen the game before.

    One thing I thought was very interesting was when people tried to hack the SNES and Turbo Duo versions of Laplace no Ma to find out how some of the late game quests work. Apparently, the Turbo Duo version in particular has text strings and fragments of lost questlines – almost like the game was very hurridly put together, or was cut down at the last minute. In the SNES version, I’d frequently see a person walking around in the shops suddenly glitch out and head furiously off into nothingness through a wall.

    Still, I agree that it’s a neat series. I love the “MP loss represents your sanity” elements, since it has a unique feel to the game. I wonder what the game would’ve been like if they had the time to add all they wanted.

    Thanks for your comment, albatona.

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *