Rule of Rose
(Atlus for PS2)
by Mike Delano
Ah, earned media. They say that even when it’s negative, it’s better than the attention you can buy from advertising. But, as Sony learned this past year with the Lord of the Files fiasco that was the PS3 launch, sometimes bad press just means bad press.
Not if you’re an obscure shock rap duo in clown makeup from Detroit, however. Remember how the Insane Clown Posse were just a couple of unknowns before it was discovered through some far-off connection that they were on a record label owned by Disney? The company was quick to drop ICP in an attempt to distance itself from the group’s explicit content, but the ensuing media storm ensured that the pair laughed all the way to the bank (and an inexplicably long career).
It doesn’t look like instant success will befall Rule of Rose, a survival horror game for the PS2, but in this case, you can’t blame the outraged politicians (who’re always reliable for creating unwarranted media frenzies) for not trying. After it was met with a universal shrug of indifference from critics and consumers across the U.S. in fall 2006, out of nowhere, the Mayor of Rome starts getting all “hot coffee” on the deal as the game prepared to launch in Europe. Among the byproducts of his generous grandstanding were proclamations that the game (an unexceptional but fairly serviceable dark tale about a sinister orphanage) would corrupt Italy’s youth and never see the light of day in his proud nation. He got his wish: The game’s European release was cancelled, followed soon after by cancellations of the Australia and New Zealand releases.
Despite the (highly entertaining) fact that some high-ranking Italians got all hot and bothered over it, Rule of Rose remains a fairly average game that just doesn’t have the presentation or solid gameplay to stand alongside the Resident Evils or Bullys (the two games it admirably tries to blend) of the world. But for sheer international drama points, add a raised eyebrow to that indifferent shrug.