Visual Novel / Policenauts

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"Is it a challenge from man to space? Or a challenge from space against mankind?"

Spiritual Successor to Hideo Kojima's interactive cult classic Snatcher, Policenauts is basically what you get when you let Konami's resident sci-fi author retell the story of Rip Van Winkle using the characters from Lethal Weapon... then forget to tell America for about a decade until Comrade Slowbeef and pals whang the fandom upside the head with the digital equivalent of the Rosetta Stone.

In the year 2010, the United Nations handpicks five police officers from around the world to undergo astronaut training and become Policenauts, specially trained to bring law and order to Earth's first orbital colony Beyond Coast. But tragedy strikes in 2013, when LAPD representative Jonathan Ingram (above, with mullet) has an accident with his "Yuri" spacewalking vehicle and spends the next 25 years drifting in low Earth orbit thanks to his suit's emergency cold sleep system. Upon finally being recovered by the probe Propaganda, he returns to Earth and sets up a floundering Private Detective agency after developing a severe case of cosmophobia.

Fast forward three years after that, to 2040. Jonathan's ex-wife Lorraine, having exhausted all her options on Beyond, turns to him for assistance in finding her new husband, high-ranking Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals scientist Kenzo Hojo. Shortly after bequeathing to him the only clues to his absence - a cut leaf and some pills with a defaced watermark - Lorraine is killed by a white-bleeding motorcyclist's car bomb. Convinced that this is much more than a simple missing persons case, Jonathan must put aside his cosmophobia and return to Beyond - a radically changed place where the Policenauts are a faded memory, their BCPD replacements utilize Powered Armor and in-vitro-fertilized "Frozeners", and the Tokugawa conglomerate runs enough of the show that Ingram can only draw upon the resources of the long-obsolete Vice unit, headed up by fellow ex-LAPD ex-Policenaut Ed Brown. The good news is, the Vice unit also includes Meryl Silverburgh, temporary FOXHOUND tattoo and all.

Building on many of Snatcher's strengths (the Visual Novel interface with shooting segments sprinkled in for good measure), Policenauts was first released for the NEC PC-9821 computer platform in 1994, with console ports for the 3DO, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn following soon after. Konami announced an English localization of the Sega Saturn version in 1996 (two years before Metal Gear Solid), but ultimately chose to cancel it when the developers allegedly (according to an interview with Kojima in the official strategy guide) found themselves unable to properly sync the English dialogue to the game's pre-animated FMV cutscenes. The Fan Translation linked above is actually of the PS version - an ordeal in itself, voice recording notwithstanding, as translators ran up against a variety of oddly compressed graphics and sequences that would go outside the grain for only one or two parts of the game. The patch finally came out on Hideo Kojima's 46th birthday (August 24, 2009, which is also the date of Jonathan and Lorraine's wedding in the story), though, in what Something Awful forumer slowbeef (the "Comrade" part was appended following a Russian site catching wind of the project) calls a Beta release: aside from the Japanese-only audio, the game is not only completely playable in English but is polished enough to be considered as good as any official release could have been.

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  • Acronym Confusion: At one point on his space flight to Beyond Coast, Jonathan sees a news report by Beyond Coast Broadcasting that abbreviates itself to BBC, and immediately confuses it with the British Broadcasting Corporation. Redwood sets him straight.
    Jonathan: BBC? The Brits?
    Redwood: No, that's a program from Beyond. The "BBC" stands for "Beyond Coast Broadcasting." Another BBC.
  • Adventure Duo: Following the lead of Gillian and Metal, Jonathan is the Chivalrous Pervert and Ed is the straight man.
  • Alien Blood: The "Frozeners" carry white blood, which accounts for their green-skinned appearance.
  • All There in the Manual: The translation project's website features a massive compendium of glossary terms gleaned from the PlayStation release's omake disc. Strangely enough, there's a mode Dummied Out here but available by default in the Saturn copy that allows players to call up the Encyclopedia Exposita on the fly.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Jonathan's favorite brand of cigarettes, "Moslems", was real, and they were 'break' cigarettes; required no lighter, but had a sulfuric compound in the tip that activated when you broke the end.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Jonathan Ingram.
  • Author Filibuster: Gates' monologue at the very end is (possibly) Hideo Kojima's indictment of outer space research as an excuse for neglecting Earth's problems.
  • Badass Beard: Gates Becker sports one.
  • Badass Mustache: Ed.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: If you're able to beat Meryl's high score on the shooting range, she'll let you grope her breasts. Kind of subverted in that the person she eventually reveals real interest in is her friend Dave, who could never outshoot her.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Redwood.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ed and Meryl at the end of the final act.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jonathan leaves his friends and his daughter on Beyond to go back to his sad, lonely life on Earth. Many people that Jonathan and aforementioned friends cared about are dead. Beyond's future is uncertain with the exposure of Tokugawa
  • Bland-Name Product: Jonathan's favorite brand of cigarettes, "Moslems", are sold in a Marlboro-style red box.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Chris, Karen, and Meryl.
  • Boom, Headshot: Ed shoots Gates right between the eyes, just as he's about to kill Jonathan. A fairly blatant Shout-Out to Die Hard and Lethal Weapon 2's ending.
  • Bookends: In the original PC-9821 version, the first shot was the falling snowfall. The last shot was the stars in space, which were symbolic of the snowfall in the beginning of the game.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In true Kojima fashion, Jonathan and Ed do this if you fail the bomb-defusing scene at the end of Act 2 several times.
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: Jonathan gets to Beyond Coast on a commercial shuttle with even less hassle than one would get on an international flight circa 2011.
  • Chase Scene: A very lengthy chase with a motorcycle gunman. Twice.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Karen's BBC news reports.
  • Copy Protection: One particular puzzle in Act 2 involves identifying various Japanese family crests in order to log into a computer. The crests are already identified in the game's instruction manual.
  • Creator Cameo: Kojima himself, along with programmer Hiromitsu Yamaguchi, provided the voices of the AP soldiers.
  • Cyber Punk: Borderlining on Post Cyber Punk, as most of the action takes place in the super-efficient environment of Beyond Coast.
  • Da Chief: Gates.
  • Deal with the Devil: Chris admits to aiding Tokagawa because of crippling financial debt.
  • Disney Villain Death: Redwood.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Ed can't bring himself to draw a gun anymore because of — in true Die Hard fashion — a traumatic moment in his past.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: This seems to be the case with Karen, whose resemblance to her mother Lorraine does not go unnoticed by Jonathan, while Karen herself tries to make a move on Jonathan, much to Jonathan's confusion. This is subverted at the end, when Karen is revealed to be Jonathan's daughter, having been conceived before Jonathan's accident.
  • Due to the Dead: Nearly everyone who dies in the game is shipped off to BCCH, where their bodies are put into Suspended Animation while their organs are sold on the black market.
  • Dummied Out: The aforementioned Encyclopedia Exposita, along with extra firing range targets depicting Snatcher heads (oddly, with green eyes vis-a-vis the international releases of that game, rather than the original Terminator-esque red ones). The patch actually also dummies away graphics that just didn't want to cooperate with the new code offsets, rerouting to displaying new, uncompressed images rather than slogging through Konami's proprietary compression code.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Tokugawa's secret warehouse on the moon.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Jonathan's shootout with an EMPS while climbing Tokugawa's H.Q.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Gates Becker's recorded "confession" at the end of the game.
  • Everyone Is Related: Ho boy. Chris is the mother of Redwood, whose brother Ridley was Marc's father — making Redwood his uncle. And of course, Jonathan is Karen's father.
  • Flashback Effects: When referencing a character's backstory or an earlier event in the game, the cutscenes are Deliberately Monochrome. The flashbacks to Ed's Greatest Failure are shown in stark blue.
  • Frameup: Hojo's body is uncovered right in the middle of a police raid. And wouldn't you know it, Jonathan Ingram's shell casings are conveniently littered around the corpse, how strange!
  • His Name Is...: Chris gets shot before she can spill the beans on Tokugawa's operation.
  • Human Shield: Redwood takes Chris hostage onboard a moving train.
  • I Have Your Wife: Redwood kidnaps Marc in order to lure Jonathan and Ed out into the open.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: Fail the bomb diffusing sequence at the end of Act 2? Enjoy watching a hole getting blown in the colony!
  • Ill Girl: Lorraine and Kenzo's daughter, BBC (not the British one) news anchor Karen Hojo. Thankfully while she's waiting for a bone marrow transplant, she can phone it in via CG duplicate.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Before she dies, Lorraine hands Jonathan a black poppy leaf.
  • Important Haircut: Karen, after Jonathan's bone marrow transplant saves her life. On the flight back to Home, Jonathan watches a BBC newscast and sees that Karen has cut her hair short.
  • Incest Is Relative:
    • Karen starts to put the moves on Jonathan; later, it's implied that Karen is actually Jonathan's daughter.
    • Tokugawa's "Rebirthers" are clones of celebrity women throughout history, existing solely to have sex with him and his clientèle. More disturbingly, they're also registered as legal blood relatives of Tokugawa himself.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Ed & Jonathan uncover a massive Narc factory inside BCCH. When the cops raid it the next morning, however, all the evidence has disappeared. Well, almost all of it...
  • Japan Takes Over the World: The Japanese-bred Tokugawa is the biggest employer on Beyond, so much so that his employees have taken on the Salaryman mindset.
  • Let Me at Him!: Jonathan really wants to get his hands on Tokugawa.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Jonathan before setting off to Tokugawa's tower for a final showdown.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Jonathan's bone marrow is compatible with Karen, making it highly probable that they're related. Karen seems prepared to draw that conclusion, even addressing Jonathan as "dad" in her letter at the end.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Remember what happened to Jonathan earlier? Well, it turns out it wasn't an accident, as it was done by the Policenauts, minus Ed.
  • Manly Tears: Ed, when Marc finally accepts him as a father.
  • Miranda Rights: Gates recites these to Jonathan as Jonathan is being arrested for murder.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Jonathan literally has blue hair, along with Tokugawa (whose hair is green) and Ed's children. Redwood's hair is purple, although in that case it's a side-effect of his biology.

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