(To better accentuate your experience, listen to this while reading.)
Never, in the history of the world, will there ever be another video game quite like Hong Kong '97. And never, in this history of this website, will there be a game more difficult than Hong Kong '97 to describe.
Put simply, Hong Kong '97 is an anti-Chinese propaganda shoot 'em up game.
Intended to be the biggest middle finger ever erected at the Japanese video game industry (with especially strong ire against Nintendo), this game served as the first of only two games (the other being The Story of Kamikuishiki Village from two months later) released by HappySoft Ltd, released in 1995 as a Super Famicom exclusive, and the only game by Japanese businessman and essayist Yoshihisa "Kowloon" Kurosawa.
The fact that it even saw release is a mystery of itself, considering the small number of stores that were interested in stocking the game. There are also very few hard copies of the game out there, and the only way that most people play the game is through an emulated ROM. Rather than using conventional Super Famicom cartridges, the game was released on floppy disks that could work on an unofficial Disk Drive, much like the official Famicom Disk System. It's also worth noting that HappySoft is a game company that specialized in homebrews, and that fact alone should give you an idea of what Hong Kong '97 is like.
Hong Kong '97 is based around the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong's sovereignity from the United Kingdom to China, in which "a herd of fuckin' ugly reds" (Chinese mainlanders) immigrates to Hong Kong and causes the country to fall apart at the seams as the crime rate skyrockets. As a result, the Hong Kong government calls Bruce Lee's relative Chin (played by "Jackie Chan"), who is apparently a One-Man Army powerful enough to take on the assignment of executing the entire population of China (1.2 billion people!).
However, China has plans as well — more specifically, a project to transform "Tong Shau Ping" (an alternate spelling of Deng Xiaoping) into an ultimate weapon.note
The game is intentionally made to be as terrible and distasteful as possible, touching upon highly sensitive subject matter in seriously inappropriate ways. Among other things, the game is noteworthy for its sheer levels of Sinomisia, its flagrant and repeated instances of copyright and trademark infringement, and especially its use of photographs of real dead bodies, including victims of The Holocaust and the Bosnian genocide. Kurosawa intended Hong Kong '97 to be the most vulgar and disgusting video game ever put out on the market, and he was determined to see it through.
On a less overtly disgusting note, the game is also denoted by its purposely bad gameplay, being a barebones shoot-em-up that simply repeats one level and boss fight indefinitely; the fact that HappySoft's other game is a more fleshed-out city simulator (though not without its own focus on taboo subject matter, namely mocking the doomsday cult and terrorist organization Aum Shinrikyo) corroborates Kurosawa's claims that this title's poor gameplay was intentional. Either way, this game's content and quality were no accident whatsoever.
This game was reviewed by The Angry Video Game Nerd in his 134th episode, while Joel from Vinesauce admitted he would never stream this bootleg due to its disturbing game over screen; he ultimately reneged on this once a censored version became available, allowing him to stream the game without worrying about its gorier content.
Kurosawa's involvement went unknown for years, in part due to it being a one-off project and also due to its huge shattering of social, political, and legal taboos. It wasn't until he participated in an interview about the game in 2018 with the South China Morning Post that Kurosawa confirmed that he was indeed the director.
A herd of fuckin' ugly tropes. are rushing to the main page:
- Badass Back: Chin shoots his projectiles with his back turned.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation:
- You can see it at the very top of this page. Amazingly enough, there were actually more than a few contemporary SNES games from officially licensed developers that had worse translation jobs, so that's one thing this game can claim in its favor.
- The Chinese text isn't translated any better. In particular, the Chinese version of the "Chin IS DEAD!!" text seen on the game over screen more accurately translates to just "Dead Chin" (which is specifically written as a proper name rather than a descriptor).
- Broken Record: The only sound you'll hear in the game is a loop of the first two lines of "I Love Beijing Tiananmen".note
- Bruce Lee Clone: Chin, who is an ambiguous relative of Lee "played" by Jackie Chan.
- Covers Always Lie: Despite Bruce Lee being on the game cover, the game doesn't star him. Besides mentioning that Chin is his relative, Lee isn't even discussed in the game.
- Cult Soundtrack: Although, as previously mentioned, it's not much of a soundtrack if it's only one fraction of a song.
- Defeat Equals Explosion: Once you kill an enemy, they will disappear and a small squared gif of an atomic explosion will show.
- Dehumanization: Mainland Chinese are referred to as "fuckin' ugly reds" and the game wants the player to murder the population of China.
- The Determinator: Chin. Assuming he killed at a rate of 1 person per second, it would take him 38 years to kill (what was at the time) the entire population of China.
- Dirty Communists: Who else but the mainlanders?
- Endless Game: Even the appearance of Tong Shau Ping, which would usually be a final boss fight, doesn't end the game. It just keeps going until you die, get a game over, and continue. Perhaps it stops after you actually kill the whole Chinese population; all 1.2 billion of it.note
- Excuse Plot: The game's "story" is horrendously amusing, not to mention how the game promptly throws it out the window once the gameplay starts.
- Final Solution: The entire goal of the game is to murder the entire population of China. And while the game only has you killing adult men, the wording implies that MANY innocent civilians, including children, will also die. Some of them not being even communists.
- Flying Face: The Boss of each level, Deng Shau-ping, is a disembodied flying head with entrails exposed and dripping with digitized blood.
- Game-Over Man: The Game Over screen shows what appears to be an actual corpse. Prior to the original source being discovered, it was often speculated that it was a police photo of the corpse of Leszek Błażyński, a Polish boxer who committed suicide on the date shown on the time stamp. It's actually from the mondo film Death File - War, which shows that the man in the game over picture is a victim of the Bosnian Genocide.
- Generic Doomsday Villain: There's no motivation behind the mainland's resurrection of Tong Shau Ping into a Pointless Doomsday Device.
- GIS Syndrome: All of the images and backdrops are low-res photos. One in particular showcases a blown-up Coca-Cola logo.
- Glass Cannon: Exaggerated; Chin has the potential to take out 1.2 BILLION people, yet can be killed in one hit.
- Informed Attribute: Despite Chin being a relative of Bruce Lee (which the game seems to think that means he inherits Bruce Lee's martial art skills), Chin does not use any martial arts when taking on the Chinese population, instead attacking with some kind of Hand Blast.
- Invincibility Power-Up: Hypodermic needles give you invincibility... and make you invisible, too.
- Invisibility: Heroin needles make Chin invisible and invincible.
- Isn't It Ironic?: The game's plot is to assassinate 1.2 billion Chinese people with Deng Xiaoping as the final boss. Yet, the only song used in the entire game is a 5-second loop including the lyrics "I love Beijing Tiananmen". One has to wonder, "What were the creators thinking?!"
- Lamarck Was Right: Chin's abilities are due to him being Bruce Lee's relative.
- Madness Mantra: Trust us, it won't be long until "I Love Beijing Tiananmen" drives you insane, both due to its catchiness... and the fact it's a Broken Record of the first two lines repeated... ad nauseum!
- Mood Whiplash: A nonsensical homebrew-esque shoot 'em up featuring what appears to be a photograph of a dead body with writing on it as a game over screen.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- The main character is "Chin", a supposed relative of Bruce Lee. In addition, Chin is represented by stills of Jackie Chan from Wheels on Meals.
- Deng Xiaoping as "Tong Shau Ping".
- The former governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten appears in the intro as a representative of the Hong Kong government who hires Chin.
- One-Hit Point Wonder: Despite Chin being billed as an almighty "killing machine", it only takes one hit to get an instant game over. Your enemies are also this, so that sorta evens it out.
- One-Man Army: Our main man Chin, who can apparently take on the task of killing all of China single-handedly.
- Poison Mushroom: A lot of enemies drop green discs (the icon at the title screen) which can kill you.
- Precision F-Strike: The "herd of fuckin' ugly reds" line, which made this game one of the few Super Famicom titles to have swearing. Lampshaded by The Angry Video Game Nerd, who exhibits shock over the line.Was "A herd of ugly reds" too weak? Did they really need the f-word to fuckin' drive home the fuckin' point?
- Product Placement: One of the backgrounds is an ad for Coca Cola. Though it's probably safe to assume it's there without Coca Cola's consent.
- Red China: The enemy of the game who are led by their leader, Tong Shau Ping.
- Scoring Points: You earn a certain number of points every time you shoot down an enemy. It can be hard to tell how many points you have as the score counter uses Chinese numbers.
- Shout-Out: The pic that shows the "herd of fuckin' ugly reds" from the intro is a still of Chinese policemen practicing martial arts from Super Cop.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The entire game, from the language setting screen to the shooter gameplay and macabre Game Over screen, is set to the tune of a 5 seconds-long loop from a stupidly happy song.
- Stylistic Suck: The game's developer stated in an interview that his goal was to make the worst game possible. It worked very well for that console.
- Take That!:
- The game's core purpose is to just take shots at China, mocking them and calling their people "fuckin' ugly reds", as well as having the only game sound being a loop taken from a song titled "I Love Beijing Tiananmen".
- Yoshihisa Kurosawa said that the game was intended to be a middle-finger to Nintendo for establishing a monopoly on the market through its strict quality standards and effectively barring unlicensed developers like him from ever being successful.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Set in 1997, released in 1995.
- Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: The opening exposition is riddled with poor grammar such as unnecessary periods and capitalizations as well as misspellings.
- Widget Series: Goes without saying at this point.
- Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": Given that eradicating practically the entire population of China, and then some, is claimed to be revenge by Hong Kong for ruining for their country.
- Your Answer to Everything: Killing all of the fuckin' ugly reds.