We all know Resident Evil was inspired by Alone in the Dark. Some may even be aware that Capcom's own NES game, Sweet Home, had some influence as well. Few would cite a fully 3D Japanese exclusive game for the Panasonic 3DO.
Released in 1994, Doctor Hauzer by Riverhill Soft was a marvel for the time. Full 3D environments were rare for the time, let alone for a game of this type. It wouldn't be until Silent Hill and Dino Crisis in 1999 that polygons would replace the pre-rendered backgrounds, and a lot longer until it would become the norm. That's some legacy for a little known game on a failed console found in a single country.
The year is 1952 and a young journalist named Adams Adler is to interview a world renowned but reclusive scientist Doctor Hauzer. He makes the trip to his huge mansion only to find it filled with death traps and secret rooms. Being an ambitious fellow, he doesn't flee; he stays, exploring every room in the process.
Even though I'd class Doctor Hauzer as a survival horror, it doesn't have some of the tropes that would later be associated with the genre. There are no enemies to attack or a limited inventory to manage. What it does have is tank controls. Choppy ones at that. On the original 3DO hardware, the framerate is atrocious, never appearing to go above single digits though tweaks with the emulation has somewhat improved this. Adler's movements are deliberate and precise which could frustrate some players, but the lack of enemies and twitch gameplay alleviates it somewhat.
You have a basic inventory by pressing the P button on the 3DO controller. Each item is scrolled trough individually by pressing left or right, while tapping down will switch what you can do with it: Examine or Use. It is through here where you can look at the floor layout if you have a map or save your game. Where you can save is seemingly chosen at random. I was baffled as to why some rooms will allow you to save and other won't but after some thought I believe it's technically motivated. I've noticed there are more moving parts in rooms where you cannot save.
No matter where you are, don't forget to save even if it means a little backtracking. It is very easy to fall into an unforeseen trap. Doors open up on top of bottomless pits, chandeliers fall, or boulders races towards you Indiana Jones style - the dangers in the mansion are frequent. In some cases, a change in camera angle will help. By default the view is that familiar cinematic look found in Alone in the Dark or Resident Evil, but a single tap of the left shoulder button will cycle through a first-person and bird's eye view. The former allows you get up close and personal with your surroundings and whatever artwork adorns the walls. Pay attention to them as they often hold clues. The bird's eye view is extremely useful during the simple platforming sections. Don't fret too much, there are only ever small gaps to conquer, but it is more of a challenge outside of this view.
Ultimately, Doctor Hauzer is a very short and easy game. I spent about an hour and a half with it, but if you know where all the keys are located and how to avoid traps, I can't imagine it taking longer than half of that. I still enjoyed my time with it. Though I cannot find any direct mention of it by Resident Evil's creator Shinji Mikami (though Silent Hill's Keiichiro Toyama cites it as an inspiration), the links are obvious when you play it. It is undoubtedly an important step in the evolution of the survival horror.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses Retroarch with a Opera core to emulate it on PCs. Keyboard controls are mapped to my preferred optimal specifications. Xbox 360 controllers supported. Tested on Windows 10.