Gregory Horror Show | Cult classic PS2 game is 20 years old today

Gregory Horror Show PS2 cover

Based on an experimental Japanese CGI anime series, Gregory Horror Show is one of the weirdest games on the PS2.


The massive user base of the PlayStation 2 meant that developers and publishers were more open to taking risks with weird, experimental games, knowing that even the oddest release would probably find a market. This openness resulted in celebrated classics like Katamari Damacy, along with less well remembered oddities such as Mr. Mosquito – but perhaps the oddest of them all was Gregory Horror Show.

Released in Japan exactly 20 years ago today on 7 August 2003, Gregory Horror Show was based on a Japanese CGI animation of the same name about a businessman becoming trapped in a mysterious hotel which acts as a kind of purgatory. Its visual style was a huge departure from traditional Japanese anime, all blocky, square heads rather than moe eyes, and it featured a sinister plotline where the malevolent mouse Gregory gradually erodes away the identity of the main character.

The PS2 game takes a slightly different approach. It begins with the player character stumbling through a forest with no memory of how they got there. They discover a hotel, which is run by Gregory, and after falling asleep they’re visited by Death in a dream, who tells them that they must collect 12 souls from the residents of the hotel in order to escape. Each guest carries their soul in a jar, and it’s up to you to work out how to steal it from them.

Neko Zombie helps you to steal souls from other hotel residents.

The game centres on observing the routines of the guests, then engineering situations whereby they leave their soul unguarded, giving you the chance to nab it. You can watch them through keyholes, or hide in cupboards, and as you collect more souls, more guests arrive at the hotel, and more rooms open up. But once you’ve stolen a guest’s soul, they remain in the hotel and will pursue you on sight, making it harder and harder to avoid the angry residents – like the giant-syringe-toting Catherine.

Following its launch in Japan, Capcom released Gregory Horror Show in Europe in December 2003, but the game never made it to North America, and it was never ported or re-released on another system, despite receiving glowing reviews (Edge magazine gave it 8/10). It remains a much sought-after cult classic, with original PAL copies changing hands from anywhere between £40 and £150.

It also remains fairly unique – the only game I can think of that comes even close to replicating its corridor-creeping gameplay is Tequila Works’ The Sexy Brutale from 2017, where players patrolled the hallways of a mansion trapped in a time loop. Similarly, your role was to observe the non-player characters and learn their routines, although in that case the aim was to prevent guests from being murdered rather than steal their souls.

Catherine the syringe-toting nurse gets hopping mad when you steal her soul. Understandably.

Gregory Horror Show was developed by Capcom Production Studio 3, one of several studios set up by Capcom in 1999. Studio 3 also co-developed The Glass Rose with CING, another cult classic that was released in 2003, but the division was restructured out of existence around a year later. However, the main game designer, Shino Okamura, would remain at Capcom, later working on games such as Monster Hunter: Generations and Monster Hunter: World.

If you can track it down, I urge you to try Gregory Horror Show, as it remains one of the most unusual and fascinating games on the PS2 – and a reminder of a time when Capcom was at its most experimental.

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