Visual Novel: Policenauts
"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
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 (above, without mullet). 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
(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.
LOOK > TROPES
- 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.
- Awesome McCoolname: 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 / Disney Villain Death: Redwood.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Gates and Tokugawa.
- 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.
- Moslems are (were) real, and they are (were) 'break' cigarettes; required no lighter, but had a sulfuric compound in the tip that activated when you broke the end.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Chris, Karen, and Meryl.
- Blood from the Mouth: Dave and Redwood.
- 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.
- Buddy Cop Show
- The Call Knows Where You Live
- 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.
- Chekhov's Gun: Various.
- Coincidental Broadcast: Karen's BBC news reports.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Tokugawa.
- Cowboy Cop: Guess.
- Crapsaccharine World: Beyond Coast.
- 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.
- Darkened Building Shootout
- Deal with the Devil: Chris admits to aiding Tokagawa because of crippling financial debt.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Take everything you know about Gillian Seed hitting on women. Now ramp it Up to Eleven with a mouse pointer that allows you to LOOK at women in specific spots. In fact, groping a woman is integral to advancing the plot at one point.
- 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 Jonathan's daughter, having been conceived before Jonathan's accident.
- The Dragon: Redwood to Gates and Tokugawa.
- 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.
- Evil Brit / Mole in Charge: Gates
- Evil Gloating: Redwood. Dear fucking god, Redwood.
- Evil Laugh: As Jonathan is being framed for murder, Gates and Tokugawa chortle amongst themselves.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Tokugawa H.Q. (leading into a Climbing Climax).
- Face-Heel Turn: Redwood and Gates.
- Family Relationship Switcheroo: Chris admits she is Redwood's mother, probably his only sympathetic moment in the game.
- Fantastic Drug: The opium/pharma-hybrid Narc, whose 33% per-capita usage on Beyond Coast is rivaled only in America, where "the War on Drugs is still being fought." (BTW, that's a Shout-Out to the tacked-on Ivan Rodriguez/Liquid Sky miniplot in Snatcher.)
- Fiery Redhead: Meryl.
- 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!
- The Future
- Gag Boobs: Jonathan finds a myriad of excuses to touch womens' breasts, complete with jiggle animations and a sound effect (Meryl's twins sound like elephants).
- General Gaming Gamepads: The PS1 version is playable with the Playstation Mouse, while the shooting sections of the Saturn version can be played with a Light Gun.
- Genre Deconstruction: Not so much the buddy cop angle — in which Kojima embraces every cliché in the book — but space exploration in general. Beyond Coast's residents are overcrowded, overworked, overmedicated, have to keep a close eye on their calcium intake (thanks to the weightless environment), and have basically recreated the same banal conditions of urban Japan.
Hardcore Gaming 101
: Of course, just as
Metal Gear Solid was screaming "NUKES ARE BAD" at the top of its lungs, the prevailing theme in
Policenauts is "SPACE IS BAD", which is pounded into your head on several occasions.
- A God Am I: at least one of the villains has developed a God complex, as evidenced by his Hannibal Lecture near the end of the game.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Dave.
- He Was Right There All Along: Ishida/Redwood in the astronaut spacesuit.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ed & Jonathan.
- His Name Is...: Chris gets shot before she can spill the beans on Tokugawa's operation.
- Hot Scoop: Karen Hojo.
- Human Shield: Redwood takes Chris hostage onboard a moving train.
- I Have Your Kid: Redwood kidnaps Marc in order to lure Jonathan and Ed out into the open.
- 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.
- Just Between You and Me: Toscanini.
- Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: Hojo.
- Laughing Mad: Redwood in his final moments.
- 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.
- The Mafia / The Triads and the Tongs: In SPAAAAACE!
- Meryl Debuted in Metal Gear Solid: Here, she's less of a rookie, more of a Knife Nut. In fact, Policenauts Meryl is a combat veteran, having supposedly been part of FOXHOUND; the idea was that Kojima had a role within the game in mind for Solid Snake of Metal Gear, but then decided to turn him into a woman for it.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Dave and Meryl.
- A Mech by Any Other Name: The police mobile suits (EMPS).
- Mega Corp.: Tokugawa and its various branches.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot
- Ms. Fanservice: Too many to list.
- Mysterious Informant: Nine Stars (aka Ishida).
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jonathan bears a suspicious resemblance to Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, complete with shaggy mullet and baseball jacket. The similarities between Ed and Danny Glover are also hard to miss.
- Off with His Head!: Ishida.
- Old Save Bonus: If you happen to have a Tokimeki Memorial : Forever with you save completed with at least one girl in the same Memory Card as your Policenauts save, an additional dialogue spoofing Tokimeki Memorial's Legend of the Tree and commenting on the girl you completed will appear at one point of the game.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Gates' EMPS riddles Jonathan with bullets, but avoids hitting any vital organs (No sense in wasting those, eh?)
- Parental Substitute: Ed gunned down Marc's biological (and Ax-Crazy) father while on the job. Guilt-ridden, he took in the orphaned boy as his own.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish
- Peek-A-Boo Corpse
- Perpetual Smiler: Dave. Even getting shot doesn't dampen his mood!
- Police Are Useless
- Powered Armor: BCP's "EMPS" suits, designed to quickly patrol the entirety of the colony.
- Production Foreshadowing: If you have the Pilot Disk for the 3DO, or the Private Collection disc for the PS (doesn't matter which), you can see early concept of Metal Gear Solid (back when it was titled Metal Gear 3) if you look up FOXHOUND in the glossary.
- Production Throwback: The game is filled with several Snatcher and Metal Gear references. From cameos by Randam and Napoleon, to the presence of a 2042 Snatcher calendar in Dr. Ishida's office.
- The Professor: Victor.
- Prophetic Name: Plato Crater is a location on the moon where Tokugawa keeps his organ farm. As Toscanini points out, if you change one letter, you end up with "Pluto" — the gateway to the underworld.
- Recycled In SPACE: Sure enough, as Snatcher was Blade Runner WITH ROBOTS INSTEAD OF CLONES!, this is Lethal Weapon IN AN O'NEILL CYLINDER!.
- Retirony: Dave gets shot before ever getting a chance to visit Home.
- Reverse Psychology: Redwood warns against cutting the red wire of an explosive, as only a Genre Blind fool would rig a bomb like that. Guess which wire you need to cut during the bomb refusal sequence?
- Rip Van Winkle: Jonathan Ingram.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Lorraine.
- Salt and Pepper: Jonathan and Ed.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: An extremely rude cop manning the BCP front desk.
- Science Marches On: While examining a Hologram of Earth's solar system, Ed notices something ain't right:
There's an extra planet here. I count 10 planets
- Secret Keeper: While visiting Karen at the hospital, her doctor recognizes Jonathan as a wanted fugitive. Luckily, he's a nice fellow and decides not to turn Jonathan in.
- Sexy Stewardess: Zero gravity has many advantages.
- Shout-Out: Ishida's 2042 calendar that he got from a video game. It's even mentioned by one of the characters that, given a haircut and a trench coat, Johnathan would look just like the guy in the middle.
- The Metal Gear series, from Solid onwards, feature various shout-outs to Policenauts in turn.
- Hey, It's That Sound!: The shooting range's combat mode lifts several distinct sound effects from Lethal Enforcers.
- Shout-Out Theme Naming: The Redwood siblings are named after Tony and Ridley Scott.
- The original EMPS prototype is named Yuri Gagarin, named after the first man in space, while the three later models (Goddard, Oberth, and Von Braun) are named after real rocket scientists.
- Shown Their Work: Kojima pulled together a lot of conjecture about the effects of zero gravity and cosmic radiation on space-bound humans, along with the rigid environmental conditions needed to keep an O'Neill Cylinder running...then capped it off with his own speculation about what zero gravity and virtual reality could do for sex tourism, legal or otherwise.
- Sickbed Slaying: Chris tries to kill Ed while he's unconscious in the hospital, but gets caught in the act.
- Smoking Is Cool: Jonathan, noting how smoking is frowned upon in the future, tends to use a "smokeless" brand of cigarettes but prefers the old kind, specifically stating he liked the second-hand smoke. That said he always keeps one in his mouth that he doesn't smoke, and he only lights it once. Even that isn't enough for Ed, who constantly reminds Jonathan that all smoking is outlawed on Beyond.
- Snowy Screen of Death: When Ed gets shot on-camera, Jonathan's monitor briefly turns to static.
- The Speechless: Marc watched his father get gunned down, and was rendered mute by the trauma. He communicates mostly through drawing pictures.
- Storming the Castle: The final assault on the Tokugawa building.
- Streetwalker: Hanging out at the BCP's front desk.
- Swiss Cheese Security: BCCH.
- Technology Marches On: Subverted. A key MacGuffin is stored on a CD-ROM, precisely because it's an "archaic format" which nobody would look twice at.
- Trailers Always Spoil:
- One of the big giveaways that Kenzo Hojo won't be showing up alive is the fact that he's the only main character without a credited voice actor.
- The cover illustrations for the PS1 and Saturn versions don't make any attempt to hide the fact that Redwood isn't exactly a friendly character.
- Transplant: Meryl, into MGS.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Anna Brown. Good lord, Anna Brown.
- Wait Here
- We Have Become Complacent: This is the gist of Gates' Motive Rant.
- Why Did It Have To Be Space?: Jonathan's spacewalking accident 25 years ago left him riddled with cosmophobia.
- Why Won't You Die?: Nuthin's gonna break Redwood's stride. No matter how many bullets Jonathan seems to put in him.
- Wire Dilemma : The bomb planted inside an Elles designer bag — which is stashed inside a counterfeit Elles bag store. Jonathan suggests they use Anna's bag as a litmus test, but the plan goes sour when Ed confides that the bag (a birthday gift from him) is yet another fake.
- Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Redwood.
- 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.