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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.


  • 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. Notably, this particular confusion is Lost in Translation due to the different ways in which Japanese and English order adjectives.
    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 inaccessible here but available by default in the Saturn copy that allows players to call up the Encyclopedia Exposita on the fly.
  • And This Is for...: The montage when Johnathan was reloading his gun before infiltrating the Tokugawa building has him thinking of the people he's avenging on Gates', Redwood and Tokugawa.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Caught on Tape: Jonathan captures Gates' true colors after exposing his motive rant on what he, Toscanini and Tokugawa have been doing on Beyond by using a small camera on his ear.
  • 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.
  • Cyberpunk: Borderlining on Post Cyber Punk, as most of the action takes place in the super-efficient environment of Beyond Coast.
    • Bio Punk: There's shades of this as well. Multiple types of bio-engineered Artificial Human, such as the Frozeners and Rebirthers, gene therapy used for everything from organ modification to gender reassignment and the setting's most prominent crimes are the trafficking of genetically engineered heroin and black market organs.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Industrialized Evil: The Narc factory is a massive, automated facility dedicated to producing illegal drugs, and it's just the tip of the well-oiled crime machine in Beyond. The biomort facility on the moon is even worse, what amounts to a massive butcher shop for the methodical harvesting of human organs and production of Frozeners.
  • 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.
  • Knew It All Along: If you picked Chris as the one in the astronaut suit when Marc was kidnapped, Johnathan would remark this.
  • Leitmotif: The original opening track, "Old L.A. 2040", has a distinct 11-note riff that appears in several other tracks throughout the game.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: This happens when Redwood places a bomb in the woman's Elles. The player has to figure out which of the bags is the fake until the last one reveals to be the real one.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The content of the 3DO's Pilot Disk and the PlayStation's Private Collection disc are the same for the most part, but the latter, being released after the main game, has no qualms about revealing the identity of the mad bomber who kills Lorraine in the prologue. Additionally, the cover artwork used for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn version makes it pretty obvious that Tony Redwood isn't exactly a good guy.
  • Let Me at Him!: Jonathan really wants to get his hands on Tokugawa.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: If the bomb is failed to be disabled, after continuing, Jonathan and Ed tell each to forget that the previous explosion that killed them didn’t happen.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Jonathan before setting off to Tokugawa's tower for a final showdown.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Although Gates Becker is the only compatible donor for Karen in Beyond's databbases, Jonathan's bone marrow is also found to be suitable, 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.
  • People Farms: [The Moon facility uses the wombs of young women to gestate artificially fertilized eggs to produce Frozeners for Beyond.
  • People Jars: All the kidnapped people are being kept in suspended animation in a secret base on the moon so their organs can be harvested whenever they are needed.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Dave. Even getting shot doesn't dampen his mood!
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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.
  • Something Nauts: Justified - they're both astronauts and police.
  • The Speechless: Marc watched his father get gunned down, and was rendered mute by the trauma. He communicates mostly through drawing pictures.
  • Spoiled by the Cast List: Kenzo Hojo is the only named character without a credited voice actor, making it pretty obvious he won't be showing up alive in the game.
  • Storming the Castle: The final assault on the Tokugawa building.
  • Streetwalker: Hanging out at the BCP's front desk.
  • invokedTechnology 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.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Translated as "I'll never forgive you, Gates Becker!" in the romhack.
  • Tired of Running: After what happened towards the end of the game, Jonathan decides to time to face his enemies after running away for a long time.
  • Token Good Teammate: Ed and Jonathan are the only good members of the Policenauts.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the end of the final act, Ed somehow awakens from his coma and finally gets over his fear of guns and saves Jonathan from Gates by shooting Gates in the head.
  • Tragic Villain: Chris Goldwin is arguably this. After spending much of the game as a seemingly friendly bystander, it's revealed at the end of Act 6 that she's been entangled in Tokugawa's web of evil since long before the game's events. Jonathan catches her trying to kill Ed while he's recovering from surgery, and she confesses that she was acting under orders from Tokugawa. Chris expresses remorse at having had to lie to Jonathan all along, and at having to become Joseph Tokugawa's mistress in order to keep BCCH going. She confesses that Tony Redwood is her son, but since Frozeners are legally government property, she could never get close to him on her own—another reason for her subservience to Tokugawa. After Jonathan convinces her that it's not too late to turn things around, Chris says she's ready to tell Jonathan everything. At that moment, Redwood flies up to the window in an EMPS, and shoots her dead.