Video Game: Wonder Project J
Wonder Project J: Mechanical Boy Pino
(released in 1994 for the Super Famicom
) is a point-and-click raising sim
utilizing 2D art, a strong Osamu Tezuka
-inspired aesthetic, plus a bit of Studio Ghibli
thrown in for good measure. Neither this game nor its sequel were officially released outside of Japan
, but both have been fan-translated
Stop us if you've heard this one: This is the story of an eccentric craftsman who built himself a boy
. The boy's 'conscience' would follow him around and help out when needed
, and together they would embark on a great adventure when the boy's creator-father is taken away. But then the boy starts kicking your dog, eating plates of food whole, and worshiping gardening tools
. And suddenly you're completely overwhelmed, and nearly broke from repair costs, since the little deviant can't help but jump into the wishing well for no explicit purpose...
Developed by former Technos staff who were also responsible for E.V.O.: Search for Eden
, Wonder Project J
has you controlling a fairylike robot, Tinker, to look after another young robot (known as a Gijin) and teach him what it means to be human. In order to raise the mechanical boy to be more human-like, you need to improve his stats. Similarly to the Princess Maker
games, different actions will raise some stats while lowering others; for example, kicking a football is great for leg power, but lowers intelligence. You have to be sure to tell Pino if he's doing the right thing or not by either praising or scolding him. If extreme action is necessary, Tinker is armed with a correctional
device. Which happens to be hammer shaped
. And to think this was never localized!
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot / Good Is Dumb: Geppetto made a mistake in concentrating on #4646's intelligence first, rather than teaching him love. The result was Messala, a Ginjin driven entirely by a pursuit of power.
- Adorkable: While yelling at a door to open may not seem like the most efficient way of getting through it, this does work. Some of Pino's other actions are even further on the curious side (bowing before the almighty the garden hoe, anyone?).
- Artificial Stupidity: Justified by the young boy you're in charge of raising. He's rambunctious, irascible and prone to eating everything, including the very expensive items you buy to tutor him with (Goddamit, he ate the encylopedia again!)
- Attack Its Weak Point: Giryuu's weak spot is its head. However, as players can't control battles, one must rely on Pino's own cleverness to figure this out.
- Badass Cape: Pino wears a billowing red cloak tied around his neck. Symbolically, Messala also wears a cloak as part of his uniform.
- Beard of Barbarism: If Pino does beat Jeane in the colosseum, then a one-eyed and bearded swordfighter named Gardy will face Pino — and he's even tougher.
- Beard of Evil / Blond Guys Are Evil: The Prime Minister of Corlo, Messala.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: See "Golden Ending".
- Boomerang Bigot: Exploited by Messala to turn the subjects of Corlo against his fellow Ginjin. In actuality, his goal was to rile up the Ginji preparatory to a worldwide Ginji rebellion.
- But Thou Must: Inverted - All of Messala's plans hinge on Pino completing his objectives. Lose in the Colosseum, and Messala enjoys the rare experience of egg on his face.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: With no time left to extract Circuit J, Messala zaps Pino and leaves. Pino, his circuits dying, is encouraged to stay awake by the voices of the friends he made over the course of the game. This lends Pino enough energy to activate Circuit J and kill Messala.
- Chekhov's Skill: The very first task Pino is instructed to perform, to Messala's later surprise.
Messala: Have your circuits finally fried?
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Pino's parameters.
- Continuing Is Painful: A permanent Game Over is rare, but repairing Pino is costly and can result in a Game Over by bankruptcy. If Pino's health or energy dips below zero, it costs 3000 bucks to revive him. Add to that the annual cost of Pino's sleep, and Tinker can wind up deep in the red if you're not careful.
- Cutting Off The Branches: Pokko is a returning character in Wonder Project J2, implying that the Golden Ending and Pino's death is the true canon.
- Disappeared Dad: Geppetto inexplicably vanished not long after Pino was 'born.' Apparently, Geppetto's research has not gone unnoticed by the government...
- Doomed Hometown: Gijin #46 has nothing but bad luck. He starts out getting harassed, then shows up later on when humans raid the Gijin village. #46 is killed when humans raid the settlement and wreck everything in sight.
- Drop the Hammer: Tinker's mallet.
- Dynamic Entry: During Pino's rescue of Mimi, Messala corners him in a cell and proceeds to gloat. Luckily, Lynx (who had been tangling with guards at the castle case), is ready with a Smoke Out.
"This is why I hate working with amateurs!"
- An Entrepreneur Is You: No such thing as a free lunch, even for robots. To pay for Pino's education and maintenance, you can make some extra money by farming or singing at your local Ginjin bar. Unfortunately, the bar is later shut down by the government as part of Messala's crackdown.
- Evil Chancellor: Messala is working overtime to turn the King and his daughter against the Ginjin population.
- Evil Laugh: Messala.
- Evil Overlooker: Messala on the Super Famicom box art.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Corlo's Castle looms over the poor sections of the island.
- Exposition Fairy: Tinkey, a fairy that you control directly. In effect, an anthropomorphic mouse-pointer.
- Expressive Hair: Pino's hair sticks out like Stu Pickles' when startled.
- Extreme Omnivore: You might not think it, but apparently a soccer ball is delicious, and Pino knows it. Laugh as you will, but that's a $2,000 ball lodged in his mouth. This would be a good time to have Tinker whack Pino on the head with the mallet (If Tinker is slow on the draw, that item is gone for good).
- Faux Affably Evil: Messala is impeccably polite and never loses his cool, even when he's placed under arrest. Tiffany unwisely accepts his offer to "come along quietly", and Messala finds himself with a new hostage.
King: Bah! You're a traitor to your country and yet you still stand there trying to be eloquent!
- Girl in the Tower: The spire of Corlo Castle (where the Princess' room is) is completely inaccessible by foot, requiring a hover-bus to reach it. Pino will have to find other means...
- Golden Ending: A rare instance of the perfect ending actually being sadder than the other endings. Pino doesn't recover from his wounds, and Tiffany marries a lord from the neighboing kingdom. However, Pino is reincarnated as her infant son.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: All that's left to complete Pino is to fill his 7 heart circuits and awaken Circuit J.
- Guide Dang It: Geppetto wasn't kidding when he said to always check your stats. Otherwise, players will be floundering trying to figure out how to boost Pino's more obscure attributes, such luck or confidence.
- Hint System: Ginjin #46 hangs out in the robot shantytown. He dispenses advice to Tinker if you ever find yourself stumped.
- Hyperactive Metabolism: If Pino gets upset, feeding him pudding will restore his mood, while special batteries will restore his HP and mental energy.
- I Owe You My Life: Gijin #4630, aka Giryuu, has devoted itself to Messala ever since he rescued it from the scrap heap.
- Inelegant Blubbering: Pino crying over Ginjin #46's body.
- It Has Been an Honor: King Corlo, when it seems like all is lost. As Messala trains his gunsights on the Island, His Majesty intones, "Corlo, may you live forever."
- Just Like Robin Hood: The Lynx gang.
- Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: There's only one shop in the game, and the prices can get prohibitive. You can sell some of the duplicate items you find on your quest, but the resale price is cut in half.
- Lad-ette: Jeane.
- Lean and Mean: Prime Minister Messala.
- Lost Forever: If you let Pino gobble up Geppetto's cat. The same goes for the hen. (Though you don't incur a penalty if this happens.)
- Morality Chip: Circuit J.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Messala is the Shakesperean name for a supporter of Brutus' murder of Julius Caesar. It is also the name of Ben Hur's main antagonist.
- New Game+: Upon completing Act 10, the game rewinds to Act 2, this time with Geppetto grading your progress. Pino gets better grades if he completes all his task without sleeping too much.
- Nintendo Hard: The boss battles, particularly the duel with Gardy, require that Pino's stats and health are totally maxed out. And even then, there's an element of luck involved.
- No Endor Holocaust: Messala's crippled airship misses hitting Corlo Castle by just a hair, smashing into the island outskirts instead. No word on whether anybody is killed in the giant explosion.
- No-One Could Have Survived That: Messala returns as a minor villain in Wonder Project J2, reduced to a disembodied robot head.
- No Indoor Voice: This is what Pino sounds like when his Sensitivity rating is low. "GIMMIE A JOB!!!"
- The Plan / Turned Against Their Masters: Once the human-Ginji civil war is underway, Messala plans to use to a giant version of Geppetto's amplifier to send out a signal to all Ginjin, changing their parameters to all-Red and driving them into a killer frenzy.
- The Power of Love: Circuit J, which Messela neither fully understood nor saw coming. When it finally activates, a pinkish Wave Motion Gun erupts from Pino's body and engulfs Messala's airship.
- Precision F-Strike: Pino arriving on Messala's doorstep. "Messala... WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!"
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Princess Tiffany.
- Prisoner of Zenda Exit: Lynx and Pino elude Messala in the prison by leaping from a ledge. Rob and Ber catch them with their plane.
- Psycho Prototype: Messala was Geppetto's original attempt to build a Ginjin who looks exactly like a human. His initializer is a giant replica of the version found in Geppetto's lab.
- Punny Name: Doro and Bou. This is Anglicized in the translation as "Rob" and "Ber".
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Geppetto's various models of Ginjin. The majority of Corlo's Ginjin are clunky robots who vaguely resemble human beings.
- Robotic Reveal: Pino is so lifelike, the only way to convince people that he's a Gijin is to rotate his head. (This is deceptively important, as teaching Pino to spin his head is essential during the last mission.)
- Sequel Hook: The best ending depicts the birth of Pokko, who is Pino reincarnated. He appears in Wonder Project J2.
- Shonen Hair: Pino is actually referred to as the "boy with messy hair" by Messala's cohorts.
- Shout-Out: The whole thing heavily channels the Carlo Collodi classic of Pinocchio, with the boy's default name being Pino and his creator called Dr Geppetto (though the player can rename Pino should he/she wish).
- Pino sometimes yelling "GOJIRA!" when kicking an object.
- Speaking of which, the Ginji dragon lurking in the mine is named Giryuu. This is similar to Kiryu, better known to the west as Mecha Godzilla.
- Trap Is the Only Option: Messala's invitation for Pino to meet him at the castle; no tricks, he says. Tinker thinks it's a bad idea, but Pino (displaying newfound maturity) isn't about to run away.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Late in the game, there are moments where you need to "unteach" various actions by scolding the poor Pino for doing something previously taught as correct. For example, whereas an early task requires he master throwing a ball, later on he needs to unlearn this otherwise he'll throw it at a policeman with disastrous results.
- Unhand Them, Villain!: Tiffany, still under the impression that Messala answers to orders, demands to be let go. Messala replies that he'll be happy to — once they're airborne.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: For a setting which starts out light-hearted, it has some dark undertones. For the last 50 years humans and Gijin have lived uneasily together, with increasing bigotry directed at the robots. Gijin sympathizers are arrested, innocent Ginji are murdered by human mobs, and the King even orders our boy sentenced to death because of his origin.
- We Can Rule Together: Messala, at a loose end, offers Pino a chance to rule alongside him in the upcoming Ginji revolution (To which Pino retorts with a Big "NEVER!").
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: Who knew a kickball could be so deadly? Pino hurls one at Messala's head before the villain can traipse off with Tiffany.
- Xanatos Gambit: Messala is very difficult to thwart, with numerous contingency plans filed away in case of any setback. He also has a number of bribed guards and a weaponized airship on stand-by.
- You Are Number Six: Each of the Gijin are designated by their number. In the prologue, Dr. Geppetto has just finished his latest creation, Gijin #4649 — otherwise known as Pino. Messela eventually reveals himself as Geppetto's original model, #4646.
- You Gotta Have Pink Hair: Jeane, a Royal Guard at the castle, and one of the fighters in the Coliseum. She may look cute, but she will beat the snot out of Pino if he isn't polite enough.