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Visual Novel / The Portopia Serial Murder Case

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The Portopia Serial Murder Case (ポートピア連続殺人事件 ) is an adventure game created by Yuji Horii (who then went on to create console RPG trope maker Dragon Quest). Originally released for the NEC PC-6001 computer in 1983 and ported to the Famicom console (with improvements) in 1985.

It is the Trope Maker for the Visual Novel genre. It is also an Ur-Example of tropes such as the Dialogue Tree, Choice-and-Consequence System, Story Branching, Multiple Endings, Unreliable Narrator, Point-and-Click Game, and Immersive Sim.

A Fan Translation of the game is available here.


Tropes found in this game include:

  • Adventure Game
  • Asshole Victim: You eventually discover that the victim was responsible for some extremely unsavory things.
  • Book Safe: There's a key found in a book in the mansion.
  • Chalk Outline: As shown on the box artwork, and in-game. It's simply used to show where the body was located.
  • Choice-and-Consequence System: An Ur-Example of this trope.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Yasu can get like this when your commands are nonsensical.
    "He's the one who was killed. Probably doesn't need to have an alibi."
  • Detective Mole: Sort of. As in, your assistant is the killer.
  • Dialogue Tree: An Ur-Example of this trope.
  • Diegetic Interface: Almost all of your commands are orders given to Yasu; almost all the game's text is his response or description of what happened as a result.
  • Emergent Gameplay
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  • Environmental Narrative Game
  • First-Person Perspective
  • Immersive Sim: It was the first game to have most of the key immersive sim elements, making it the Ur-Example. It was a first-person adventure game with an open world, character AI, choices and consequences, non-linear game design, open-ended narrative told through notes and diaries, interactive environments, emergent gameplay, allowed multiple ways to achieve objectives, and lacked fail states.
  • Multiple Endings: An Ur-Example of this trope.
  • Pixel Hunt: There are four items you need to find to progress with the game. Of these, at least two aren't linked with an obvious visual cue.
  • Point-and-Click Game: This game contains an Ur-Example of point-and-click mechanics.
  • Police Brutality: Values Dissonance for many modern players; the interface has an actual 'hit' button, which (among other things) you must use on suspects during interrogations in order to proceed.
  • Police Procedural: While not remotely accurate (you freely use brutality in interrogations, for instance), the game focuses a lot more on this aspect of play than many later entries in the genre.
  • Revenge: The killer's motive.
  • Second-Person Narration
  • Shout-Out: The maze you explore at the end is a shout-out to Wizardry; in particular, at one point there's an inscription on the wall saying that a monster leaps out at you (it doesn't.)
  • Story Branching: An Ur-Example of this trope.
  • Unexpected Genre Change: At one point, the game unexpectedly shifts from a pixel-hunting detective mystery to a 3D-ish Wizardry-style maze explorer (though with no RPG mechanics.) This is because Yuji Horii actually created the game after being impressed by Wizardry itself at a demonstration in the US; his ultimate goal was just to make enough money to fund what would eventually be Dragon Quest.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Portopia is the Ur-Example of this trope in video games. The story is told through Second-Person Narration. In the game's twist ending, it is revealed that the narrator was the culprit all along.
  • Visual Novel: It is the Trope Maker of the visual novel genre.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: An Ur-Example of the genre.


Example of: