Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lost doujin games (NSFW)

Doujin = Japanese indie game (loose translation)

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for months now, ever since Megaupload went down, and have kept meaning to put it up. A look at how archives of doujin magazines were lost in the FBI raid, and some interesting homebrew titles which no one seems to have an archive of. Also, anyone who has seen these Doujin Soft magazines will know that a lot of them contain nudity – well there’s none in this blog entry... OK, so maybe there’s a little, but I censored it, and I only include it because there’s a non-existent Atlus connection.


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There’s an almost unimaginable quantity of magazines and books in Japan, documenting every facet of gaming in all its minutiae. DiscoAlucard of HG101 picked up several RPG bookazines while on his previous trip there, and posted scans on the HG101 forums. Some of the console releases will be familiar to those who import, but a lot of the game are mysterious and poorly documented – and so of course they hold a special allure. What I enjoy most about games isn’t the big titles everyone knows are great, but rather the adventure of digging deep to find something legitimately good, and then sharing it online with all three of you who still read my entries.


Here’s something I wrote previously on doujin games. The world of Japanese homebrew is terribly documented in the west; the games extremely difficult to source, and are often available through piracy. So when discovering that there were large bookazine type publications titled “DOUJIN SOFT” parts 1-3, detailing work from the 1980s, I was curious to see what gems they possibly held. Just think about this: 1987 was 25 years ago, a quarter of a century away. These magazines with their photos and listings are likely the best historical archives we’ll ever have for those handfuls of obscure games which people knocked up in their spare time and sold at the Comiket conventions.

Just look at this photo, these hundreds if not thousands of people. The games they’re selling and buying – this snapshot in time existing only in grainy photos and faded memories.

Of course with Megaupload going down so too were the scanned archives of these magazines. Damn!

Anyway, someone PM’d me and pointing me in the direction of three new download links. Here they are (with permission from the gentleman who PM'd me).

Doujin Soft Dai Shuugou
同人ソフト大集合

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

pw: potato98

Word of warning, they contain A LOT of coverage of adult games, and are definitely not safe for work.

Not long after I also stumbled across this forum post from Macaw on the old (now closed) Tokugawa Forums:
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Theres a decent pack of PC88 doujins that have been floating around for years now, but here is a couple of more interesting ones still missing. If anyone can find them please let everyone know!

RaiseDead (1988, Tsukka Software)


Umi no Mukou (海の向こう) (1988, Tsukka Software) - aka海のむこう


Rack88 (1989, Tsukka Software)


AbnormalHour (1989, Tsukka Software)


Tenchiryu no Ken (天地龍の剣) (1989, Cherry Soft/Tomcat)

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Looking through the 3 magazine downloads, I found several of them, with photographs (mainly in part 3). Googling the names, even in Japanese, yielded little to nothing. It’s almost as if some of these games have ZERO internet presence.

My personal favourite is Umi no Mukou (海のむこう) by Tsukka Software. Just look at these screens. It resembles an Ys game, of which there can never be too many (one of the most satisfying gaming experiences I’ve had in recent years is actually working my way through the legendary Ys II Special, entirely in Korean). I’ve often gone through my PC88 archives, finding obscure games I’ve never heard of, and just messed around with them. Cryptic, mysterious, and hinting at a complex history which I can scarcely even imagine. It’s not the kind of top-down action RPG which will captivate the younger generation, but I can’t help but feel a fascination seeing it. How many developed it? Who were they? What were their goals and dreams, back in the mid-1980s? Would it prove as much fun or as mysterious as Ys II Special?

Tsukka Soft seems to have a website, but emailing them yielded nothing.

I also found a web-page (NOT SAFE FOR WORK) with emulated screens (it definitely IS emulated), so there are digital copies floating around for Umi no Mukou. The fun now is solving the mystery – will any of us find it?

Even more interesting is a game which Macaw never mentioned: Sorceriman.


There is NOTHING online for this name in English, apart from a single post by myself, on the HG101 forum. What is this game? It looks like a hack of Sorcerian for the PC88. Is it some kind of add-on disk? A homage? (More to the point, why don’t I just read the text?!) There appears to be a massive dude, instead of a party, walking through levels from Sorcerian. Here’s the Katakana: ソーサリマン. Googling it just brings up ladies dressed as Santa Claus. And more porn (FFS!).

This, for me, is what videogames are about (well, not the porn, obviously). Grainy screenshots and wading through foreign text trying to piece things together. I suppose it’s human nature to fight against the inherent entropy of the universe, by saving, archiving and perpetually trying to protect everything – regardless of inherent worth – from inevitable loss. Both piracy and Megaupload helped with this, allowing easy proliferation of material. There are other sources now that MU is gone, of course, and I was even chastised online for lazily relying on it too much. But it still bugs me that in the click of a mouse terabytes upon terabytes were wiped out.

There’s a lot of really, really interesting games out there, which have almost no documentation on them at all. We should talk about them.

Oh wait, I promised you nudity, didn’t I? Here it is! An advert for Penguin in Bondage, featured in the doujin books. And it has Prinnies in it. Given the year it came out, there’s obviously no real connection to Atlus or Prinnies in Penguin in Bondage, but the little blue fellows do have at least a slight, passing resemblance, right? Or perhaps this is just a typically stylised way of drawing penguins and I’m being deliberately obtuse...

11 comments:

  1. I read your blog and i pretty much spent several weeks this year reading through every article once I discovered your site. I especially loved the stuff on Capcom & Komani beat-em-ups. Keep up the good work!

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  2. Well, it certainly was NSFW alright, but I love the artwork scattered throughout.
    It's an interesting magazine, great to "thumb" through. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Yes, Megaupload's closure was quite a disaster, imagine all of the good stuff that was lost.

    While they're not Japanese indie titles, I've saved 2 old games that were published on the Internet as by small labels that died silently. I'm just searching for people who would care about them.

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  4. The PC88 and PC98 games are really like the Holy Grail. How many unknown gems were lost through the years (and especially when megaupload went down)?

    This makes them even more attractive than Next-gen games!

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  5. What the hell are you on, cool_boy_mew? Are you deliberately taunting, or is it that the HG101 community 'wouldn't care' about them?...

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  6. Depends, what's the policy on links to full games? Technically Uz is a demo (that ask for a serial number, which I've found on the net), but Dweep Gold is hacked into the full version. Both games haven't been published for years.

    Dweep Gold is fairly easy to find however not many people know about it

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  7. Hey, that first magazine in the RARs has a type-in BASIC program towards the end! I wonder what system it's for?

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  8. I would kill for a Penguin in Bondage t-shirt.

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  9. Someone should custom make that design...

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  10. I believe that in due time, we the people (historians and plebeians alike) will come to see the MegaUpload closure as our generation's destruction of the Baghdad Library.

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  11. As excellent as these publications look, it seems Mediafire have removed the links... Are these magazines hosted anywhere else?

    Fascinating article!

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