Much of the conflict in Another Code: Recollection comes in moments when protagonist Ashley Mizuki Robbins is filled with self-doubt over the accuracy of her memories. Ashley is haunted by the foggy recollections of her past and driven forward by the promise of finally gaining clarity on those intangible moments she can’t escape. But it's a strong possibility Ashley — and all of us — can never be certain about just exactly how the past played out.
Fresh off the remake-heavy year that was 2023, Nintendo keeps the trend going into 2024 with Another Code: Recollection, coming to Switch on January 19. Recollection is a remake and bundle of two fairly obscure games from the DS and Wii respectively, with the second title in the series getting its first American release.
By remaking both games in one convenient package, Recollection offers a streamlined and beautiful update on two games that were mostly forgotten but remain fairly distinct from each other. The series' core themes surrounding memory extend to Recollection itself, leaving the lingering questions of how we remake games, what we choose to remember, and how that threatens to rewrite the original memory of a game entirely.
A Tale of Two Memories
The Another Code series began in 2005 with the Nintendo DS title Another Code: Two Memories (or Trace Memory in North America). The puzzle adventure game was met with a tepid response but managed to get a sequel in the form of Another Code: R – A Journey into Lost Memories for the Nintendo Wii in 2009. However, Journey into Lost Memories was never released in the Americas. Over time, both games gained a reputation as underrated gems from their respective consoles. That sentiment was enough to earn a top-to-bottom remake of both titles in the form of Another Code: Recollection.
Recollection intertwines Two Memories and its sequel much more than most remaster collections. Rather than a start menu that lets you choose which game to play, you must start at the beginning of protagonist Ashley’s journey in Two Memories. Once Two Memories reaches its conclusion, no credits roll and you will not return to the start menu. Rather, the game continues directly into the story of Journey into Lost Memories, almost as if it were a second connected chapter. Both games now also share a ubiquitous art direction, homogenizing the experience even more.
The story of Two Memories follows Ashley on her 14th birthday as she explores an abandoned island populated by a spooky mansion in search of a father she thought was dead. Ashley’s mom and dad were both scientists studying memory, but a terrible night on Ashley’s third birthday broke the family apart and left the child full of questions.
Journey into Memories continues Ashley’s journey on her 16th birthday (never a boring celebration with this one). It turns out the mysteries of her parents’ work were solved two years ago, and during a vacation near a mysterious research facility, Ashley has to keep unraveling her family’s past. Overall, the story is passable enough, but the combined playtime, which gets up to 25 hours, drags in the lengthy sequel’s extended sections where nothing of note happens.
A surprising result of combining both games into a single experience is the clear unevenness between the two. While the gameplay and graphics of both are now essentially the same, the writing and stories of each section remain mostly as they were in the original releases. In this aspect, A Journey into Lost Memories shines above Two Memories, especially in the sequel’s characterization of Ashley, which offers much sharper and funnier writing. She’s just a grumpy 16-year-old in a band, and the game portrays her as exactly that in the best way possible.
Journey into Lost Memories
While Recollection’s art direction retains some of the original designs of both Two Memories and Journey into Lost Memories in its 2000s anime aesthetic, the gameplay is a more noticeable departure. This is also where the remake loses much of the charm that made its source material cult classics in the first place.
The specific challenge Recollection faces lies in translating a DS and Wii game to the Nintendo Switch. Both consoles had unique methods of play that are questionably adapted, if not outright ignored, in Recollection. The dual-screen of the DS was an integral part of Two Memories that allowed top-down navigation of the world as well as a touchscreen interface for puzzles.
This touch screen allowed for a surprising variety of challenges, but Recollection homogenizes puzzle-solving to a simple loop that typically only involves picking up items and placing them in the right receptacle. The Switch’s touchscreen is never utilized in the same way because the game has to work in docked mode. Similarly, the unique Wii remote mechanics of Journey into Lost Memories are simplified for Switch.
There is an understandable design mentality behind making the art and gameplay of both titles more in line with each other for the bundled presentation of Recollection, but it often sacrifices the charming mechanics of the originals. Instead, the puzzle-solving and exploration of Recollection can often feel like a chore rather than an exciting new challenge to unravel.
Both Two Memories and Journey into Lost Memories boast a somewhat cult status, but they’re also often forgotten. A remake of the two serves to bring these games to modern audiences and preserve a piece of art that could easily be lost to time. It’s about preserving memory.
But just like the human mind, the memory of video games is a subjective and malleable thing. The versions of Two Memories and Journey into Lost Memories presented to players in Recollection are not replications of the original releases. The writing is ever so slightly off, puzzles are shuffled into new orders or outright deleted, and there are even some sizable sections added for the remake. Just like a memory repeatedly called to the front of your mind, over time, Another Code has changed into something else, with additions and obfuscations all its own.
With no easy way to (legally) play Two Memories or Journey into Lost Memories on modern hardware, Recollection will now supplant the games it remakes as the definitive version of the Another Code series. This is the memory crisis at the heart of all remakes. A new audience only remembers the updated iteration, and thus over time, the recollection of the original is supplanted by something that may not resemble what came first. This is why the preservation of games is so vital, whether it be through access to physical media or projects like The Making of Karateka. Memory must be preserved.
Another Code: Recollection is an acceptable game in its own right, if an unexciting one for the majority of its playtime. However, it serves as an excellent case study for the video game remake phenomenon at large and the purpose it serves, reminding the industry of the importance of memory.
Another Code: Recollection releases on January 19 exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
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