Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dark Age of JRPGs (8) - Do Dutch Wives Dream of Electric Eels? (オランダ妻は電気ウナギの夢を見るか?) - PC-88 / FM-7 (1984) (NSFW)

Most computer RPGs in the early days (and even in the modern era) are based around some fantasy or swords and sorcery universe. Yet that wasn't entirely the case - see Danchizuma no Yuuwaku, previously featured in this column. This game here, Oranda Tsuma wa Denki Unagi no Yume Wo Miru ka? (オランダ妻は電気ウナギの夢を見るか?), is the successor to that game, another entry in Koei's "Strawberry Porno Game Series". It was released in November 1984 and both developed and published by Koei.

The title of this game translates to "Do Dutch Wives Dream of Electric Eels?" Two things to note: "dutch wife" is the Japanese term for a sex doll, and the title is a reference to the Phillip K. Dick story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", the basis for the movie Blade Runner.

The game is half RPG, half adventure game. The story is that some advanced sex dolls, code name North Pole #6, have become sentient and are masquerading around the city as real women. Your goal is to find them.  At least, that's inasmuch as any internet guide can figure out, which mostly consist of listing very vague memories from when the game was released.

What follows is NSFW.

The game begins with a dice roll to determine your stats: Strength, Agility, Intelligence, Physical Strength, and Vitality, as well as an indicator which determines how often enemies will appear.

The setting is Kabuki-cho, in Shinjuku, the major red light district in Tokyo. The area is divided into nine screens on a 3x3 grid. You begin in a different spot in the city every time you play, but the layout is the same. You can walk around with the numeric pad. Most actions are carried out by the function keys. You can press Enter to get a summary of what they all do. So let's do that.

So the options include Look, Talk, and...Rape? Yikes. Yes, this is that type of game. Since you're supposed to be finding a human-esque sex doll, one of the easiest ways to do this is by testing them first hand. You can do this to any of the female characters, which include schoolgirls and call girls. This will bring up "Fuck Mode".

Here, the function keys determine your actions - F1 is lick, F2 is massage, F3 is pinch, F4 is to use a toy (if you have one) and F5 is to move your hips. An indicator in the upper right corner indicates the sexual intensity of you and the women. If you perform poorly, you'll prematurely ejaculate, and the woman will get pissed off. This means she'll take some of your cash and then leave. It seems to imply that the "rape" option is really closer to "proposition", since all women in this game seem to be hookers, and are okay with anything you do as long as you can pay up. If not, you'll usually get attacked afterwards by someone else.

Of course, you can't just run around doing this willy nilly either. There are cops and yakuza around too, and they can and will engage you in combat. Here, again, the functions act as different attacks. I've never beaten anyone in combat, actually. Sometimes I end up facing the old guy cops, who seem to go down easily, but then more keep popping up and eventually wear me down.

You can also try to have sex with the male characters. On the map screen it'll just call you an idiot. Try it on one of the male sex shop workers though and they'll attack you.

Most of the stores in the city are either love hotels or sex toy shops. The game operates on a timer - one minute per move - and certain shops are open at different times of the day. Other areas include cafes, fast food joins and flower shops. The function keys also perform different commands. F2, F3 and F4 all determine the tone in how you talk to someone - carefully, normally, or threatening. F5 will seduce, F6 will fuck them (this is exactly what the help command reads - "fuck suru"), F7 to attack, F8 to run away, F9 to take (or eat) something, and F10 to give a present. You can buy flowers at the flower shop, or regain stamina buy eating food. Randomly, you'll find a naked waitress at a cafe, whom you can also engage in coitus, if you'd like.

There are also telephone booths and banks scattered about. Apparently actually winning the game requires calling certain people at certain times. You can also get a PIN code to use at the bank, though inputting the wrong one four times will get the cops called on you.

You can only enter love hotels by calling a certain phone number, which are found on certain phone booths. This will schedule an appointment, but the location of the love hotel is randomized every time you call. You only have thirty minutes to reach the hotel, and considering there are eight across the entire city, it's impossible to reach most of them in the time limit. So, you have to keep calling and calling them until they schedule a meetup at one of the hotels nearby.

The visuals were created by Yoichi Erikawa, one of the founders of Koei. According to a 2007 Forbes report, him and his wife (and co-founder) Keiko Erikawa have a net worth of $780 million. It probably says something about the early PC gaming industry that one of the richest people in Japan found their start developing games focused on raping random people in the streets. Nonetheless, it's regarded as something of a bizarre cult classic amongst the Japanese PC gaming retro scene.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kickstarter Alert - Chatbox Shamus: From Sloth to Sleuth

It's been a long time coming, but I've finally elected to go live with the Kickstarter campaign for my visual novel, The Chatbox Shamus: From Sloth to Sleuth. TCS is a detective mystery set in 1984 that follows 25-year-old Bastion Crowley, a failed college student who runs his amateur investigation service from a university BBS. He investigates everything from insurance fraud, to kidnapping, to drug distribution, and eventually even organized crime. Not all of it goes as well as expected, given Bastion's amateur nature.

For those who want something tangible to show that this is not just me blowing smoke, you can download Case 1 here, though it is missing character artwork and music. If you would prefer to get more information first, read on.

While TCS shoots for the style of a traditional film noir (monochromatic backgrounds, general moral ambiguity), it's not all dark and depressing. I've aimed for more of a deadpan humorous style throughout the story. It's not madcap zany like a Phoenix Wright game, but it's not dead serious like an episode of Perry Mason, either. Even though Bastion has spent a large chunk of his own life absorbing detective mysteries from books and movies alike, he really isn't as professional as he thinks he is.

TCS's planned five cases involve quite an array of unique people, but here are some of the recurring cast members and a little bit about them.

Bastion "Bass" Crowley
"That's 'bass' as in the fish. I swear, I spent all of high school trying to shake that stupid nickname."

Our protagonist (most of the time); Bastion was born a few years before the beginning of the Vietnam War, to which he lost his father. Since then, he grew up with a high respect of his father's military career, but mostly spent his school years watching Hitchcock and reading Hammett and Chandler. He never managed to get accepted into the local college, and spent the early portion of his twenties doing odd jobs and barely keeping on top of his rent. Somehow, though, he managed to scrape together enough money to purchase a Radio Shack TRS-80 home computer (already some years out of date by the time this story takes place) and a modem, which he uses to connect to the bulletin board of the college he failed to attend.

Antonia "Ruby" Travaglia
"Bastion, you dumbass! I spent two hours out here yesterday waiting for you to wake up, and you were already gone!"

Born to an Italian mother and an absentee father of dubious origin, Ruby works at the Pacific Daily News office as the editor of the police-blotter section. She has known Bastion since high school, even though she has not seen him since going away to college up-state. She is quick to anger and possesses quite a foul mouth, but she can show compassion when it counts, and is often more helpful to Bastion's investigations than either of them really want to admit. Despite the friendship, Ruby and Bastion reject the idea of a romantic relationship between them, as both of them realize that it would never work out. That said, though, Ruby does have some feelings for Bastion, though she would never confess to it.

"The cheese is fresh today, hon, it came from that farm down the freeway. Y'know, their cows are the only herd left in the state that don't have tracking devices on 'em?"

The owner and operator (and most of the time, sole employee) of Irma's Diner, a holdover from the 1950's in more ways than one. Although Irma cooks a mean grilled cheese with bacon, it's really her dinner theater (i.e. constant rambling about conspiracy theories) that keeps her customers coming back. She doesn't quite realize that she has become the butt of a few jokes, but her heart is at least in the right place, which is more than can be said for her understanding of social cues. Bastion is a frequent patron of her diner; neither he nor she can quite figure out why Ruby doesn't enjoy the diner.

Albert Cervantes
"You know work starts at seven, right? The chief doesn't like it when his people are tardy."

Ruby's arch-nemesis and the editor of the Pacific Daily News obituary column, Albert represents all that is wrong and unjust in the world of office ethics. Albert constantly defers his work to other employees in other departments, in addition to demanding that his co-workers fetch his coffee. He is especially harsh towards Ruby, who is the only Daily employee to ever actively resist his domineering personality. As Albert is the only qualified obituary writer in the Pacific Southeast, he is practically impossible to fire, a fact that he becomes increasingly aware of as the story stretches on. Although Bastion's primary career is investigation, Ruby "hires" him to observe and keep logs of all of Albert's behavior toward her.

Detective Greg Standish
" there, state your business. I got a nap to get back to."

Since becoming a police detective, Standish has been relegated to the most boring desk in the entire department: Missing Persons. He is all too content to spend his on-duty time sleeping or working on crosswords in his office, until Bastion practically solves one of his cases for him. From that point on, Standish becomes a vital contact to Bastion, who does not always have the needed authority to order searches or seizures. That said, Standish's job is dead-end in more ways than one; there are avenues that even he cannot hope to enter, and he tends to be a victim of bureaucracy and red tape within his precinct. He does, however, possess a reasonable knowledge of most of the Pacific Southeast's defense lawyers, which Bastion finds useful on more than a few occasions.

The art style primarily consists of greyscale photo backdrops, though I plan for all characters to be represented on screen by sticky notes with portraits sketched on them. The above example is my crude attempt at it.

TCS's development has been progressing nicely; I currently have two cases finished with a third about half-done, and a further two planned. My major obstacles, however, are art and music, which is why I have set up a Kickstarter campaign. My funding goal is only $5,000 USD, but this will go entirely towards the hiring of a character artist and a musician to give the game the style it needs. Again, here is a link to the Kickstarter pitch, and if you'd rather play the first case beforehand, here is a link to that as well. I look forward to any feedback and suggestions.

Yours sincerely,
Corwin "wildweasel" Brence

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

GC9X wishes you a Happy New Year!

We here at the GC9X crew would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year! And what better way to start off 2014 than to watch us fumble around with games for 3 hours? Presenting the first GC9X livecast of the year:

Nintendo Power Retrospectives - Part 23

This time on the Nintendo Power Retrospectives, we take a look at the Best of the Rest of the Nintendo Power Top 30 for the magazine's second year.

Games Reviewed:
  • Adventures of Lolo
  • Baseball Stars
  • Battle of Olympus
  • Back to the Future
  • Ghostbusters
  • Goal!
  • Nobunaga's Ambition
  • Jordan Vs. Bird
  • Wheel of Fortune