Another Code: Recollection Review: Tracing over lost memories

Nintendo has unearthed a hidden gem from its vaults and remade it from the ground up.


Sometimes a game comes out and, regardless of how you think of it by the end, you’re just glad it exists. I was shocked when Another Code: Recollection was announced during a recent Nintendo Direct. Younger gamers may have no idea, but Another Code was a series of adventure games, the first released as Trace Memory in North America for the Nintendo DS way back in 2005. Developer CING, also responsible for cult classic Hotel Dusk, shut down over ten years ago at this point. I figured we’d never see this series again, and yet here we are.

Another Code: Two Memories (Nintendo DS, 2005) is about Ashley Robins, who has arrived at the mysterious Blood Edward Island after being contacted by her presumed dead father. It doesn’t take long after docking for things to get weird, and you end up getting involved in a plot weaving together post World War trauma, wacky science fiction, the nature of memories, and a murder or two on top.

Another Code: R – A Journey into Lost Memories (Nintendo Wii, 2009) picks up right where the first story leaves off, with Ashley finding herself at a former camping resort that just so happens to be a crucial part of her past. Another Code: Recollection (Nintendo Switch, 2024, the game we’re talking about today) puts the two stories together into one, with brand new visuals, voice acting, gameplay, controls, and pretty much anything else you could think of.

Recollection, because memories, get it? That's deep, yo

Dialogue between two characters in Another Code: Recollection

I can’t speak to the circumstances around Recollection or its development. But I can speak to how great it feels that such an obscure work was given a nod to this degree, and that the work done by the original creators is being acknowledged instead of forever relegated to the history books. It’s a good feeling in our current time of risk-aversion and instability in the games industry that we can still make time for projects outside the dotted lines.

What’s really fascinating though, is how different this version is compared to the originals. Another Code: Recollection is no mere remaster, or remake that seeks to recreate the originals with higher-fidelity visuals. It’s more like CING’s titles were used as a foundation for a completely new experience. While the story and characters are consistent and hit the same major beats, everything else from the basic controls to the entire design and structure of the puzzles and connective tissue is brand-new.

This makes plenty of sense for updating a DS game, but the sequel (which was never released in NA but was localized for Europe) was on the Wii. And even then, the second half of the story (they’re kind of woven together with very light seams) is just as different. The cool part of that is the two parts feel like a whole story, and you wouldn’t know there were technically two games here if you weren’t told. The less cool part is, if you look back at the originals, this new take feels like all the edges were sanded off. It almost feels too neat and tidied up.

It feels that way in both Recollection’s aesthetic and in most of its gameplay moments. The original games had more of a comic book drawing style, with stark colors and harsh shadows defining the character art, painting the mystery with a moody vibe. Here everything is bright and colorful, with the 3D character models feeling more sterile in comparison. Things like characters having more emotive animation work is appreciated, but the dramatic moments feel muted.

Vocal discord and puzzle problems

An example of a puzzle in Another Code: Recollection

It doesn’t help that the voice acting is tragically bad, with characters often failing to sell the moments of higher intensity. The Japanese audio is slightly better, but still often sounds like people are just reading a script. It’s a bummer! There’s so much melodrama in these games that feels cut off at the knees. I think I would’ve preferred just reading the text quietly. Unfortunately, while the visuals are upgraded in a technical sense across the board, something feels lost in translation. The story is still interesting and there are still remnants of CING’s fascination with mundanity driving Another Code’s vibes, but here these aspects are more like echoes.

My problems with the gameplay felt like an unavoidable conundrum at first. Another Code’s DS and Wii versions were very much hardware-reliant when it came to puzzles. The DS game utilized the touch screen constantly, and the Wii sequel of course leaned on everything the Wiimote could do. So even if a puzzle was not very puzzling at all, there was still an element of engagement.

In Recollection you almost never run into any gimmicks, with the occasional exception of tiling the Switch. Most of the puzzles practically solve themselves as soon as you encounter them, which makes the guardrails provided with the (optional) hint system feel superfluous. Overall the game feels like, from a remake perspective, a choice was made to shift more to a visual novel-like structure. There are moments that look like puzzles and quack like puzzles, but require little to no brain juice to pass.

Sure, I’m thankful I didn’t have to relive my 2005 nightmare of asking my mom for help with sliding puzzles. I hate sliding puzzles, y’all. Especially twenty years ago. But when the replacement is something like, “oh no it’s a locked door! Oh hey, the key’s right here,” it’s a little deflating. It would be like Hotel Dusk coming out without its whole scribbled drawings aesthetic, and all the wacky DS hardware-specific puzzles replaced with “press these four buttons to solve the mystery.” It’s a bummer.

It's hard to put a number on this one, folks

Ashley's new sequel look in Another Code: Recollection

At this point we’re circling back to the beginning. I think it’s super awesome that Another Code: Recollection exists. A deeply underrated classic I thought was, due to the literal expiration of its dev studio, never going to see the light of day again has come back. It’s also the first time the second half of the story is available outside of Japan and Europe! Unfortunately, I’d probably prefer to actually revisit and play the originals because of how the remakes sand the edges off. Between the middling voice acting undermining the story, the barely-there puzzles, and the sterility of the visuals, it feels like the magic of adventure games on Nintendo’s older, gimmicky hardware hasn’t been recaptured. But I still had a great time taking it all in. Weird, huh? That’s what being a history nerd feels like.

Another Code: Recollection is available on January 19, 2024 for the Nintendo Switch. A code was provided by the publisher for review.

Contributing Editor

Lucas plays a lot of videogames. Sometimes he enjoys one. His favorites include Dragon Quest, SaGa, and Mystery Dungeon. He's far too rattled with ADHD to care about world-building lore but will get lost for days in essays about themes and characters. Holds a journalism degree, which makes conversations about Oxford Commas awkward to say the least. Not a trophy hunter but platinumed Sifu out of sheer spite and got 100 percent in Rondo of Blood because it rules. You can find him on Twitter @HokutoNoLucas being curmudgeonly about Square Enix discourse and occasionally saying positive things about Konami.

  • One of the deepest cuts Nintendo has made in a while
  • Respectfully ambitious remake
  • Sequel available in my region for the first time
  • The vibes are off - the new visual style feels too clean and almost generic
  • Bumbly voice acting ruins drama
  • Brainless puzzles
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