Saturday, June 19, 2010

Deadly Premonition – for Japanese players on PS3

With the fantastic Deadly Premonition only available in English region locked for American 360s, there are those considering the Japanese PS3 version, which is region free and £20 on eBay from Korea/Hong Kong. But without any knowledge of Katakana there will be some sticking points. Well Zach, do you think we should help them? Yeah, me too Zach, we just have to be sure not to spoil anything.

A lot of people have complained about needing to drive everywhere in DP, despite there being an item in Chapter 2 which allows fast-travel. It’s entirely in Katakana though, so I’ve done a quick translation chart to make life easier if you’ve imported the Japanese PS3 version. If you just want that, scroll down, but if you want to hear me rant about Heavy Rain and explain why everyone should play Deadly Premonition/Red Seeds Profile, keep reading.

For me, after hearing the Simon & Garfunkel style guitar music with vocals (I've searched Youtube and found NOTHING on this), an opening scene debating the sadomasochistic relationship of Tom and Jerry, and then a car crash ending up on a lonely road surrounded by forest, with the objective being to walk that long road to town, I knew Deadly Premonition was something special. It wasn’t playing by anyone’s rules but its own, and the sheer scale of things was impressive, even if the texture mapping on the trees was not. I felt isolated and cut-off from the rest of civilisation.
Seldom in over 20 years of gaming have I seen a game so divide people. The METACRITIC page attests to that. My reckoning though is, those who criticise it the most are probably younger reviewers still struggling to grow real MAN BEARDS like myself and Francis York Morgan have. Anyone from back in the day who played the games of Kenji Eno, from the 32-bit era onwards, should take a liking to DP. It’s also comparable to some of Suda 51’s works. Both of these men created games brimming with interesting, non-conventional design and story ideas. They were almost always heavily flawed as a result, and barely playable in the case of some of Eno’s work, but they were always interesting enough to persevere with and I ended up loving everything their studios created. SWERY of Access Games, the guy behind DP, is definitely a worthy successor to Kenji Eno’s legacy, now that WARP is dead, and DP follows a similar route of being conceptually and narratively really interesting, but without the expensive production values to back up the ideas.
DP has the same kind of bent appeal that D2 on the Dreamcast had – even down to almost Dreamcast era visuals in places. You need to eat, you wander vast expanses, and the story gets increasingly crazy. DP though has much better characterisation, perhaps the best I’ve seen in a game. Which leads me on to Heavy Rain.
Jim Sterling not only gave DP a perfect score of 10, he also said it was better than Heavy Rain. At first I thought his tongue-in-cheek piece was trying to get people to notice DP through gross exaggeration – but the more I play it, the more I think he was absolutely right, at least in terms of scripting and character development. David Cage tried so hard, too hard in fact, and HR ended up a pretentious, sophomoric overworked mess which telegraphed what it expected you to be feeling long before the fact. I loved it, but not for the reasons anyone else did. All the characters suffered from overwritten flaws: the grieving father. The drug addict. The rape victim. The prostitute mother trying her best. The psychotic bad cop. And so on. They were all surreal, exaggerated pastiches of characters from cheap films. Though extremely entertaining, none of them felt sincere to me (“oh Shaun, SHAUN, I LOVE YOU SHAUN! Hey, Maddison, want to have sex? My finger’s a bit shorter and I just killed a man, but that won’t affect my performance, honest.”).

This is SWERY, the guy who made Deadly Premonition... I think... I found the picture on Insert Credit.

In contrast, the character development of Emily Wyatt and the professional relationship between her and York (especially over improvised meals) is played out beautifully and subtly. When first discovering George’s secret I was moved far more than the personal troubles the characters in HR had. Every single DP character has such a colourful history, all of them portrayed with convincing subtlety, that it was a joy uncovering them through the side missions. Oh, and DP is also bloody hilarious in a lot of places.

I’ve not finished the game, I’ve not even reached the areas people have described as being the best, but there’s a charm and richness here which I seldom see in games. And contrary to the criticisms people make, the gameplay isn’t quite a deal breaker. I enjoyed the combat. At worst it’s a boring though easy obstacle, at best it’s some mindless fun (get the flamethrower for the Wall Woman by collecting all 7 bones on the map and giving them to Brian - it makes things much easier).

What I did especially like though was needing to eat food and buy gas and sleep. It reminded me of STALKER. In fact I wish you needed to eat more often, and that you couldn’t simply get a new refuelled car using the flares. I wish you had one car, and when it ran out of juice you had to walk to the gas station or catch a lift. I also wish the driving sections played like Tokyo Bus Guide, with penalties for not using your signal lights. And when you reload your gun, wouldn’t it be cool if any bullets still in your current clip were lost, forcing to think about reloading? I think SWERY could have taken the realism to even crazier heights.

Furthermore, DP isn’t an example of a game held up only by its narrative – it simply wouldn’t work as well as a book or a film. Frank Cifaldi aptly put it when he said: “the game tells you its story in the interactive way that only a videogame can.” DP works so well because it is a game, where you can choose to speak with characters and explore the expansive game world at your leisure. If you’re impatient, then acquiring the radio and the infinite machinegun via side-quests (plus selecting easy mode) should make the game much easier and quicker.

BONUS: WAHP podcast episode with SWERY interview.


The main sticking points in the Japanese version are the radio item, and using the map, since both require Katakana reading ability. This also affects side quests, since while the objective is often spoken in English, actually finding the people can be tricky when using the map and side-quest list. Hopefully this translation table makes things easier (CLICK it for a bigger version).
Once you’ve acquired the radio from George in Chapter 2 (make sure it’s the first thing you do), you can select it via your items menu. Places you’ve visited are added to the list over time (though not always), so it continues to grow. It’s easy if you can read Katakana, since the script is used for foreign loan-words in Japanese. If you can’t, then it’s a case of trial and error. This probably isn’t a full list, since I’m only up to Chapter 13, but it’s good enough to ease you in and get to most important places. If you’re REALLY keen, you can also use the above list when reading the in-game map, which is also in Japanese.
Make sure to grab this Greenvale map too, which has everyone’s house name in English on it. Thanks to the guys on GameFAQs who put it together (I think it was Sinister XIII and some others).

There’s a FAQ on GamesFAQs, and also THIS forum topic for quests, and THIS forum topic for getting all the cards. With a little help and perseverance, DP is one awesome ride.


  1. Deadly Premonition... all I know about this game is that The Spoony One is doing a hilarious Let's Play of it on the internet.

    Seriously, you should look it up and watch it.


  2. Thanks for this. I'm from ireland and was hoping for this game toget a PAL release but failing that I would have to get the PS3 version from asia but felt if I did I would be missing out but thanks to this it seems I won't. Also a release date for the game has mysteriuosly appeared at HMV priced at 24.99. Hopefully it does come out and I don't have to go the import root. Someday I might be able to experience the joys of finding FK in my coffee.

  3. the video ~bobby was talking about is somewhere here:

    Personaly, crazy weird games are always fun, even if they suck (Illbleed on dreamcast and LSD on PS1 come to mind)

  4. Hmmm...I haven't heard of this game, but if you say it's better than Hard Rain, which I found HUGELY entertaining, I guess I better give it a shot, yea?

  5. Hold on there Steve, the story, acting and characterisation are brilliant. The production values though are budget at best and the gameplay is sucky in places.

    Your mileage might vary!

    It's been scored from 2/10 up to 10/10, so be aware that a lot of people hate it.

  6. I love Deadly Premonition, and have beaten the game at least twice, along with collecting every trading card and doing every single side mission (many of them multiple times). I have a couple things I'd like to contribute to what's been written in this article:

    1. The list of locations you can fast-travel to depend on what areas you've had the game load up at least once before. Essentially, whenever you enter a building, or peep through the windows of a place, the game remembers this happening, and that location will appear on your list of selectable maps from that point onward. Because of this, I recommend going around to every notable location in the city and either entering it, or if it's not open, peeping through the window so that when you get the walkie talkie, you can fast travel almost anywhere you need to go. Not every place is open like this in the beginning, but I recommend doing this for the majority of locations in Greenvale sooner rather than later, since when you replay an old chapter, you'll only be able to fast-travel to places that have been loaded into the game up to the start of that chapter. Also, "certain" locations (like the lumbermill) don't show up, because they aren't technically part of the game overworld. I don't want to go too in-depth as to why in case someone finds the reason spoilerific, but if you've gotten at least a couple chapters into the game, you can probably figure out why this is.

    2. You can pretty much always ignore the time limit in the corner of the screen, with the only exception being chapters that start with you in York's car, and the option to exit the vehicle is grayed out. Every other time, you can ignore the time limit for the next story objective, and just wait for it to come up the next day if you want to focus on card collecting or side-questing.

    3. When you get all seven bones, make absolutely sure you take them to Kaysen first so you can have his quest happen. When you go to retrieve all seven bones, you'll get an infinite-ammo magnum along with them. This doesn't happen otherwise, and if you take even one of the bones to Brian first, then you miss out on the infinite magnum, which is unfortunate.

    4. You don't have to worry about dying in your sleep of hunger. When your hunger meter goes to zero during regular play, you start to steadily lose health. But when you sleep, even if your hunger meter is at zero, your health will be recharged, so you can sleep however long you want until your desired sidequest opens up, then immediately pause to eat a tomato or whatever and you'll be fine.

    5. This is rather minor, but while certain animations such as door-opening and picking up items can be boring and time-consuming, you can either speed them up or skip them entirely if you're impatient. When opening a door, make sure you're running into the door while you open it, and York will thrust the door open in a second, saving a ton of time in the process. When you pick up an item, or enter/exit a car or anything else, you can press the Start button to skip the sequence so you can get back to gameplay much more quickly. Also if text is scrolling too slowly for your liking, hold down the B button to make it scroll faster (I suppose the Playstation equivalent might be the circle button, though I'm not positive on that).

    I hope this advice helps :)

  7. Yes, that advice is excellent! Also, to add:
    after collecting all the bones, and having done the Keyson quest, hand them to Brian the grave-keeper. He'll give you the key to his house, which if you visit and go round the back of (and up the ladder to his roof), you'll eventually get the flamethrower. I've found this to be the best weapon for dealing with the "wall woman" enemy you encounter later on.

    ALSO: if playing on the PS3, choose the easy option, since I don't think it affects trophy acquisition and you don't lose out on anything.

  8. I beat this game awhile back, and ranked 74th on Xbox Live. I remember thinking, either I am pretty damn good or almost no one else bought and beat Deadly Premonition. I loved it since the style reminded me of a quirky Shenmue/Silent Hill with a little GTA mixed in. I also enjoyed the really odd soundtrack.

  9. I've been waiting oh so long for an update to the Final Fantasy series article! I just like the voice whoever's been writing that uses.

  10. Sure thing :) I also just remembered another tip that helped a lot when I figured it out:

    When the game asks you to rotate the left analog stick in order to run away from something, that tires out most anyone's arm quickly. But I've found that you don't actually need to rotate it. Simply moving the stick from left to right, at a decent pace, will move you just as quickly as rapidly rotating the stick would. It's still not perfect, but it makes those escape sections a little more bearable.

  11. Dude, I couldn't help anyone with Katakana even if I wanted to...