The Game With No Name (Nanashi no Game) (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 10.09.2008 9

When the name 'Square Enix' is uttered, the safe assumption is usually that the term 'Role Playing Game' is set to be slid into the sentence as well. However, when it comes to Nanashi no Game (The Game With No Name) the company has decided to take a break from the norm and turn its hand to the illustrious J-Horror genre. But the question has to be can the developer manage to translate what works perfectly well in movie format into not only a videogame in general, but one on an underpowered portable system such as the DS? Let us delve deeper into the mysterious project to find out...

The premise of the game is based around a rumour that when people start playing an old 8-bit title by UTASOFT they will die after seven days, rather like the idea behind The Ring where people watching the video tape die after the same period of time. As it turns out, a small girl, killed by her father's colleague who was jealous of the man's situation, has been going on the rampage, slaughtering anyone connected to the game since she sees that as the reason her father neglected his family so much. The plot is developed considerably as the game progresses, with the investigation led by yourself and your researcher friend leading to the uncovering of numerous deaths, the reasons behind them all and, eventually, the solution to preventing more fatalities in the future.

Screenshot for The Game With No Name (Nanashi no Game) on Nintendo DS

Rather than taking things down the traditional role-playing game route, Square Enix has moved away from its usual forte to dabble in the realm of the 'First-Person Horror Point-and-Click' genre. Players hold the DS on its side like a book, akin to when playing the likes of Hotel Dusk or Brain Training, and must control the protagonist using the stylus on the touch-screen, moving around detailed 3D locations that are represented in widescreen, spread out across both screens for more of an atmospheric effect. The pace of your character may seem slow, but early on players are given the ability to up the tempo ever-so-slightly. Whilst initially annoying, the reason for the slower speed becomes quite obvious the more the game progresses, with that aspect mixed with the first-person viewpoint helping to ramp up the chill factor considerably, since the only way to see what is chasing you down a corridor at times is to turn full circle at almost a snail's pace, at which point death will likely await as a ghostly apparition will suck the life out of the main character, resulting in a restart from a certain earlier point and severe heart palpitations!

Upping the ante in the fright stakes even more is the fantastic soundtrack, which is delivered in glorious (for DS, anyway) 3D surround sound that definitely benefits from attaching external speakers or using a decent set of earphones. Between the moody, haunting tunes that roll on in the background to the eerily catchy, yet equally disturbing 8-bit tune that adorns the UTASOFT game and plenty of gruesome voice clips, sudden screeches and various others distinctive sound effects to bring a sense of J-Horror to the dual screen, The Game with No Name sure does give gamers a scare on numerous occasions.

Screenshot for The Game With No Name (Nanashi no Game) on Nintendo DS

The game is split into various chapters, each taking place in a different location, such as hospital institutions, underground passageways, an abandoned house, a dark, deserted road and plenty of other distinctive locales that leave lots of room for jump-out-of-the-shadows moments to increase the thrill of the experience. At the start of each section there is an overview report where you and your friend discuss what has previously been discovered (all in complicated Japanese!). Then, most of the time, the objective is to wander around and try to reach the heart of a place in order to uncover information on UTASOFT and the reason behind the deaths that have been taking place, whilst avoiding any spirits that wander around or randomly pop out from nowhere. At other times it will 'simply' be a case of getting deep into an area and then having to run like hell to escape before your life promptly expires at the ghostly hands of some vexed spectre.

Screenshot for The Game With No Name (Nanashi no Game) on Nintendo DS

Whilst the action may sound exceedingly mundane to some, the whole game is actually so gripping throughout that the slow pace is hardly noticed on the whole due to gamers always waiting with baited breath for something to transpire, never quite knowing if something is about to leap out at them, or even if some other startling happening is about to occur (such as lights unexpectedly switching on with a boom of electric noise, chairs rolling towards the player or shutter rattling loudly). And to top things off, Square Enix gets the length just about right, with the game likely prone to becoming tiresome if the formula had been repeated for too long. However, in its current bite-sized chapters and overall roughly ten-to-twelve hour game length, players will be left feeling thoroughly satisfied once the final credits roll. In addition, those with a penchant for more scares can go back through the game on a harder difficulty and try to aim for achieving the slightly different second ending...With news of Nanashi no Game becoming scarce in Japan due to higher than expected demand, hopefully Square Enix will give Western gamers the chance to play through this highly impressive adventure as it definitely deserves to reach a wider audience.

Screenshot for The Game With No Name (Nanashi no Game) on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Square Enix has definitely struck gold with this thriller effort, bringing out the best of the J-Horror world and transplanting it cleverly into an extremely atmospheric and haunting Nintendo DS experience that will leave gamers chilled to the core on many occasions and definitely hungry for more. With any luck this will get a Western release so the entirety of the story can be appreciated more.

Also known as

The Game with No Name


Square Enix


Square Enix





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (3 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   


Wow, fantastic review/score Adam - and a great sounding game to boot!

Just love the interface, really does go hand in hand with the DS. Hopefully it'll get a Western translation; there seems to be a growing number of fans eager for this Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer


The game took me under 5 hours to complete...

It's a game where you're essentially thrown into a maze, with the occasional zombies...and you have to work your way through. I thought it was okay...but not amazing. Smilie

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

Really? Did you just blast through in one sitting then? I played it bit by bit and made sure I was alone each time so I could fully immerse myself to get the most out of it...and it really gripped me, despite my lack of Japanese knowledge!

And I loved how the 8-bit game became more and more corrupted as you played through. Great little touch...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Yup I got it in the morning...and had it complete by the evening Smilie

But you're certainly right about the sound!
Playing with headphones on, and on your own in your room is 100x scarier than playing it without sound in the living room. Smilie

Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++

Well then, there you go folks - the perfect way to NOT play this game Smilie Smilie

It's all about the if you remove that, then yeah, it probably drops to a 6 or 7/10. Play it in the right conditions, taking your time to absorb everything, and it's much more fun Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Play it in the right conditions, taking your time to absorb everything, and it's much more fun Smilie

Like Fapping SmilieSmilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I really want this Smilie good original horrors are rare <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

I'm surprised S-E didn't go full-out with a restock to meet the surprise demand in Japan. Hopefully it won't stop the company from bringing it Westwards...J-Horror stuff is still very popular over here.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
James Porter. (guest) 08.07.2010#9

I WISH that this game would come over here. I would have played this.

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