"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 ComradeSlowbeefand 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 choose 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.