This classic GameCola article was originally published in April, 2006.
Hideo Kojima is one crazy fucker. Sorry to start this review off so…bluntly, but it’s true. Let’s look at some of his games: Snatcher, Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders and of course, Policenauts. I love Snatcher. I love Snatcher more than I love your mom. I own it on Sega CD and Saturn. If you’ve never played Snatcher, it is exactly Blade Runner. EXACTLY. It’s such a rip-off I can’t believe insane Kojima didn’t get his ass sued off by Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford.
So, I remember back in the day, reading through GameFan magazine and seeing its sorta sequel Policenauts set to come out in Japan. And only in Japan. Well, it took me a decade, but I finally got the bastard. I had to spend $40 on a conversion cart for my Saturn (because, ha-ha, my modded one got killed by Creature Shock), and another $50 to purchase and import the game, and I had to waste 100+ precious man-hours at my job hunting down a freaking walkthrough so I could spend hours navigating menus. OK, I just wanted everyone to know what I went though for this.
Now, have you ever had somebody throw you down and scream in your ear with a megaphone while speaking Pig Latin? Well, that’s exactly what playing this game in Japanese was like. I know not one damn word in Japanese. Do you know how frustrating it is to just randomly have to hit menus with absolutely no idea what it’s going to do? It’s like playing Russian roulette with a videogame. Sometimes you would go where you wanted, sometimes the motherfucking game would reset. And no offense to any Japanese-speaking readers, but that language is bat-shit crazy. Dare I say…as crazy as Hideo Kojima? I dare.
Thursday March 30, 2006—After much fiddling with my converter cart, I finally get Policenauts to boot. It immediately begins yelling at me in Japanese. “What?!” I ask of it. “You’ve got to talk English! I don’t understand!” But the gist of it is thus: This game is what you call a digital comic book game. You move your cursor around and click on things to advance the plot. The graphics are sharp and hand-drawn, and the art is incredible. These are the first things I notice. OK, so let’s start.
The year is 2010. Uh, there’s five astronauts fucking around in space for some reason. And then—oh no!—my astronaut goes flying off into the deep void of space. The only words I recognize are “Beyond Coast,” which is some kind of space colony in the future, and also the only English words I’ve seen.
Tuesday, April 4, 2006—I’ve discovered that in order to play this game, I have to carve out a good couple of hours each time. I’ve got to dig out walkthroughs, hook my Saturn up and then prepare myself for an audio assault the likes of which you lucky bastards have never endured.
So, now I’m chasing the dude who blew up my lady. This pulls up an interactive “shooting” sequence. I’ve decided that I’ll make up my own dialog. Me: “Hey, bad guy! You blew up my girlfriend you fucker!”
Bad Guy: “Ha-ha-ha! You’re damn tootin’! And did you know you look just like Mel Gibson from the first Lethal Weapon?”
Me: “Yep. I sure as shit did know that. Just like Snatcher ripped the hell off of Blade Runner, this one rips off Lethal Weapon, Freejack and Die Hard, only in the year 2040!”
Bad Guy: “Freejack? That shitty Emilio Estevez movie? Hey, wasn’t Renee Russo in that pile?”
Me: “Yeah. She was really too old to be Estevez’s love interest. Eh, what can you do? At least his girlfriend didn’t get BLOWN THE HELL UP.”
Bad Guy: “Ohh, awkward moment. Awkward.”
After clicking down an alley, investigating blood, shooting the bad guy and taking him out, an hour and forty-five minutes have passed. I’m done for today.
Wednesday, April 5, 2006—Alright, so I cheated: I looked online to try and figure out this completely convoluted plot. The chick that died? My ex-wife. I’m apparently being framed several times over for something or another. You know what? Screw the actual plot. I’m making up my own.
My astronaut guy (sorry, Policenaut) came from the planet Cookie Monster, where he was emperor over all the land. He and his four Power Ranger friends made a pact to protect the universe from She-Ra, Princess of Power. Only, some of the five Rangers were evil, and in love with She-Ra, so they sabotaged my dude’s space suit and tried to kill him, only he just went into cyber-sleep and awoke twenty-five years later to find out his wife got freaking old. Then dead. Swearing vengeance, he goes on a trek to…well, avenge her death. At some point his daughter shows up, as well as Meryl from Metal Gear Solid (wait…what?). Then everybody screams in Japanese some more. A drug called, ironically enough, NARC shows up to further confuse you. And I give.This game is gorgeous to look at, painful to listen to and altogether more confusing than accidentally walking in on your parents when you were eight. Maybe that was just me. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Hideo Kojima is a genius, but a disturbed genius. His games make so little sense that they bend the fabric of space and time.
Oh, and guess what I found out after twelve hours of bumbling through this game? My daughter didn’t die. She shows up and swears my ex Lorraine, who got blowed up good at the beginning, always loved me. This is how our final exchange went:
Me: “Holy shit Karen! You’re alive!”
Karen: “Yes. I somehow survived, then I cut my hair and got a bone-marrow transplant. See how easily I explained that? By the way, mom always loved you way more than the guy she was actually married to.”
Me: “Interesting. Interesting. Of course, since 25 years have passed, she would have been 55 and way too old for me. I dig the younger chicks. Say, how old are you now Karen?”
Karen: “Oh dad!” (Laugher all around; cue credits)