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CONSOLE: Game Gear DEVELOPER: Japan System Supply PUBLISHER: Sega
RELEASE DATE (JP): March 8, 1991 GENRE: Tarot
// review by Jeff

Less fattening than tarot cake.

A very long time ago, long before the sands of time, I reviewed Taboo: The Sixth Sense for the NES. It is primarily a tarot card reading game, set out to illustrate your current state of mind and where you could possibly be headed in your journey of spirituality and overall advancement in life. It was a very odd experience, one clearly designed solely for entertainment purposes and not to be taken seriously. I had also hoped that Taboo was the only tarot game around, as it's not exactly a game I'd be willing to put down a significant amount of money for. After a bit of research, I've been proven wrong. Outside of the many applications and online tarot websites, there are actually many more which roam the plains of the video game world. One such game is House of Tarot, a Japan-exclusive little cartridge for the Game Gear.

It's not fun.

Developed by Japan System Supply, who later produced Phantasy Star Gaiden for the Game Gear, and very little else of note before sailing to the Island of Lost Developers, and published by Sega (surprisingly), House of Tarot literally involves you going to a house and having a tarot reading. House... of Tarot. I think I get it now! House... of Tarot! Tarot House! Yeah! ... When you enter the house, you select your clairvoyant of choice: a cute young lady with big red hair, a mysterious cloaked temptress, or the fortunetelling industry's oldest and possibly ugliest old man. They'll take you to their private meditative quarters, where you input your zodiac sign. She'll deal out cards over a hexagram (a bit of a notable rarity among tarot gaming enthusiasts), and you get to pick some for use later. As the chosen cards are spread among the hexagram, they'll be revealed one by one, and your fortune shall be decided.

It's still not fun.

Looks like my fortune involves flying out of a breadstick palace.

I'm no tarot expert, so I don't really know what's going on. I was shown seven cards (a few of which were upside down, and I don't know why) depicting various imagery: a minotaur with a Satanic pitchfork, an angel with a wagon wheel, a child flying toward me as a castle deteriorated in the background. This is downright wacky stuff. After seeing all my cards, the game reset back to the title screen and that was it. I managed to play the entire game in under five minutes. That's great for players with extremely short attention spans who want a brief escape from reality, but I like a little meat in my game. But this isn't even a game. Wikipedia refers to its genre as a "Non-game". So there you go: a non-game... for the Game Gear.

There isn't much else to say about this game, er, NON-game that hasn't already been said. The graphics and sound are as bare-basic as they came at the time. And why can say anything about a game that has no need for solid controls at all? House of Tarot is clearly for those who believe in the art of fortunetelling AND have a Game Gear. I have no idea how many people meet both criteria, but it's definitely no one I know. I'd like to say House of Tarot is fun for about five minutes, but even that's difficult to do.

I wish it was House of Taro. Then it would be delicious.

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