Policenauts (ポリスノーツ) is a cinematic adventure game with a hard science fiction storyline, written and directed by Hideo Kojima, and published by Konami. It was initially released for the NEC PC-9821 computer platform in 1994, followed by remade versions, for the 3DO in 1995, and the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1996. The game has never been officially released outside Japan, despite plans for an English localization of the Saturn version. On August 24, 2009 (in honor of the 46th birthday of the game designer, Hideo Kojima), an unofficial English translation patch was released onto the internet.
Policenauts, like Snatcher before it, pays various homages to previously existing works. An obvious one is Jonathan's and Ed's (the main characters) respective resemblances to Riggs and Murtaugh from the 1987 Hollywood film Lethal Weapon. The game also pays homage to the ancient 8th-century Japanese tale of Urashima Taro, in addition to the 1987 Japanese anime film Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise. Policenauts centers on a detective who travels to a space colony to investigate the circumstances surrounding his ex-wife's murder and her new husband's sudden disappearance.
The game is set in a primarily first person perspective and uses a point-and-click interface: the player can move the cursor and have the protagonist (Jonathan Ingram) analyze objects around his environment or talk to other characters in the game. Like in Snatcher, the game features shooting segments where the player must defend their character from incoming enemies. The player can use the shooting trainer at the police department to test their reflex and accuracy. There are numerous puzzles in the game, including an event where the player must dismantle a bomb by following their partner's instructions.
The game was notable for being an early example of extensive voice recording in video games. It also featured a theme revolving around space exploration and occasional full-motion video cut scenes. The gameplay was largely similar to Snatcher, but with the addition of a point-and-click interface and some first-person shooter segments. Policenauts also introduced summary screens, which act to refresh the player's memory of the plot upon reloading a save, an element Kojima would later use in Metal Gear Solid. The PlayStation version of Policenauts could also read the memory card and give some easter egg dialogues if a save file of Konami's dating sim Tokimeki Memorial is present, a technique Kojima would also later use in Metal Gear Solid.
Plot and setting
The game centers on Jonathan Ingram, one of the five "Policenauts", astronauts with police training, assigned to ensure the safety of Beyond Coast, mankind's first fully functional space colony in the year 2013. A freak accident occurs while testing a new space walking suit and Jonathan is drifted away into space and is presumed dead by his colleagues. He is found alive and well 25 years later thanks to the cold-sleep module connected to the suit. Three years later, Jonathan (now a private investigator working in the former Los Angeles) is visited by his former wife, Lorraine. She asks for Jonathan's help in solving the disappearance of her current husband, Kenzo Hojo, the only clues he left behind being a torn leaf, a set of capsules, and the word "Plato". Jonathan is reluctant to take her case at first. However, after Lorraine leaves his office, she is attacked and murdered by a man in a black motorcycle suit. Jonathan, unable to catch the culprit, decides to fulfill his ex-wife's final request and travels to Beyond. There he is reunited with his former partner from his LAPD days, Ed Brown, who agrees to help Jonathan investigate the circumstances surrounding Hojo's disappearance and Lorraine's murder.
- Jonathan Ingram (ジョナサン・イングラム)
- The protagonist. One of the five "Original Cops" (a nickname given in likeness to Project Mercury's "Original Seven") that formed the Policenauts. He was stranded in space for 25 years after a space-walking accident, only to be found alive, thanks to the cryogenic sleep module in his suit. As a result, he is physically younger than his real age. Voiced by Hideyuki Tanaka
- Ed Brown (エド・ブラウン)
- The chief of Beyond Coast Police's (BCP) Vice Unit. He was Jonathan's partner during their days in the LAPD and was also one of the Original Cops. He renews his partnership with Jonathan to solve Lorraine's murder. Voiced by Shōzō Iizuka.
- Karen Hojo (カレン・北条)
- Lorraine's daughter, a popular anchorwoman at Beyond who bears a striking resemblance to her mother. Voiced by Kikuko Inoue.
- Tony Redwood (トニー・レッドウッド)
- A member of the Advance Police (AP) Unit, BCP's equivalent of a Swat Team. He is a "Frozener", a race of artificially conceived humans who possess genes best suited for an extraterrestrial environment. He is an ace pilot who can control his EMPS mecha as if it were an extension of his own body. Voiced by Kaneto Shiozawa.
- Gates Becker (ゲイツ・ベッカー)
- One of the Original Cops, Becker is the chief of the BCP and the commander of the AP Unit. Voiced by Osamu Saka.
- Joseph Sadaoki Tokugawa (ジョゼフ・サダオキ・トクガワ)
- One of the Original Cops, he left BCP to succeed his family's business, the Tokugawa Group. He is the most powerful man on Beyond and wields considerable influence over the colony's media. Voiced by Iemasa Kayumi.
- Salvatore Toscanini (サルバトーレ・トスカニーニ)
- One of the "Original Cops". He quits his job as a police officer due to his dissatisfaction with the lifestyle and now serves as the chief of security at Tokugawa's Moon Plant. Voiced by Masaharu Sato.
- Meryl Silverburgh (メリル・シルバーバーグ)
- A member of BCP's Vice Unit, Meryl is a former member of High Tech Special Forces Unit FOXHOUND and is usually seen wearing military gear. She serves as the basis for the Metal Gear Solid character of the same name and they share a voice actor. Voiced by Megumi Terase.
- Dave Forrest (デイブ・フォレスト)
- Meryl's partner within the Vice Unit. Unlike Meryl, Dave is a pacifist who prefers to disarm convicts rather than outright killing them. He wears an orange vest and goggles, and usually appears eating a hamburger. Voiced by Bin Shimada.
- Lorraine Hojo (ロレイン・北条)
- Jonanthan's ex-wife. Lorraine visits Jonathan at his office on Earth, asking him to search for her current husband, Kenzo. She is then murdered by a masked assassin after leaving his place. Voiced by Chiyoko Kawashima.
- Chris Goldwin (クリス・ゴドウィン)
- An attractive middle-aged woman who is the director of the Beyond Coast Central Hospital (BCCH). Voiced by Chiyoko Kawashima.
- Anna Brown (アナ・ブラウン)
- Ed's teenage daughter, who is a college student. She has taken over all household duties at the Brown residence after her mother, Catherine (Ed's wife), died. Voiced by Yumi Toma.
- Marc Brown (マーク・ブラウン)
- Ed's adopted son, whose real father, Ridley, was killed by Ed in a drug-related shoot-out. Since the incident, Marc has been unable to speak. His "speech" is limited to vain spasmic attempts, which are done by Junko Hagimori (who also voiced a female extra in the game).
- Kenzo Hojo (ケンゾウ・北条)
- Lorraine's current husband, and the head of Tokugawa's Drug Delivery System development team. Disappeared without a trace before the present events of the story. He is unvoiced.
- Victor Jurgens (ビクトル・ユルゲンス)
- An elderly Russian scientist who works for the BCP as a forensic pathologist. Uses a tool called AID (Auto-analysis Identification Device), which is operated by an A.I. named Gorby. Voiced by Kohei Miyauchi in his final role.
- Jun Ishida (ジュン・石田)
- A pharmacist working for the BCCH. Voiced by Naoki Tatsuta.
- Michael Saito (マイケル・斉藤)
- A receptionist and security guard at Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals. Voiced by Nobutoshi Canna.
Policenauts was first released for the NEC PC-9821 on July 29, 1994. The PC-98 came in one CD-ROM that included an installation floppy disk. All the cut-scenes were rendered using hand-drawn pixel art as opposed to full-motion video anime. The PC-9821 version's in-game artwork is today considered to be some of the best pixel art in the history of video games.
The first console version was released for the 3DO on September 29, 1995, consisting of two CD-ROMs. Animated cut-scenes were added to this version along with CG animation, and all the graphics were redrawn. The PlayStation version (January 19, 1996), also on two discs, made further additions by digitally fixing most of the graphics and movies from the 3DO version. The last console version, released for the Sega Saturn (September 13, 1996), on three discs, added support for Sega's Virtua Gun light gun peripheral. Although the home console versions of the game mostly used pre-existing dialog tracks from the original PC-98 version, all of the original voice actors were brought back to record new lines of dialog for the new cutscenes.
Prior to releasing the standard version of the game, Konami issued the Policenauts: Pilot Disk for the 3DO on April 21, 1995. This disc contains a playable demo, an encyclopedia of the game's backstory, featurettes, and information about the game's voice actors and developers. Policenauts: Private Collection was released for the PlayStation on February 9, 1996, featuring much of the same content as the Pilot Disk, adding an earlier version of the game's script as well. The encyclopedia, featurettes and shooting trainer are included as hidden features in the Saturn version.
The PlayStation version has been re-issued twice. The first time was under the "Konami the Best" label on September 18, 1997. A second reissue under the "PSone Books" series was released on August 7, 2003. The game was added to the PlayStation Store's Japanese Game Archives on May 15, 2008, making the game downloadable for the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3.
A mock-up cover art was produced and featured on a promotional Sega pamphlet packaged with certain games. However, the North American version was never released. According to Kojima, work began on the North American version, but the developers were unable to synchronize the English dialogue with the animated FMV cut-scenes.
A fan translation of the PlayStation version has been produced, which has gained attention from the video game media. Although the translation of the game content was nearly completed by Marc Laidlaw and Artemio Urbina during the summer of 2007, the translation project could not find a programmer to complete the insertion of translated material into a version of the game and progress stalled. In August 2008, Something Awful forum member Michael Sawyer (AKA Slowbeef) began experimenting with approaches to add text to the PlayStation version of the game which led to a revival of the project. The patch was released to the public at midnight (JST) on August 24, 2009, to coincide with Hideo Kojima's 46th birthday.
A total of four Policenauts related music albums have been released by King Records and Konami in Japan. An original soundtrack and three arranged albums. The soundtrack composed by Motoaki Furukawa and Koichi Namiki. Several tracks bare a resemblance to Ryuichi Sakamoto's soundtrack to the 1987 Japanese anime film Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise.
Policenauts (original soundtrack)
Its catalog number is KICA-7653. Released on February 3, 1995. The soundtrack to the original PC-9821 version of Policenauts. Contains 38 tracks ripped from the game's PCM music.
- "Just Who I Need to See"
- "My Love"
- "Ana's Theme"
- "Theme of News Order"
- "The Movement of Clouds"
- "Living in the Real World"
- "Policenauts End Title"
MIDI Power Pro 3: POLICENAUTS
Released on November 21, 1996. Its catalog number is KICA-7729. MIDI arrangement of Policenauts music. Came packaged with a floppy disk containing the original MIDI versions of certain tracks.
Snatcher -- Policenauts/Music Collection of Hideo Kojima Black Disc
Released on August 21, 1998. Its catalog number is KICA-7888. Contains music from previous Snatcher and Policenauts albums (originals and arrangements), as well as newly recorded arrangements.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Kurt Kalata, Policenauts, Hardcore Gaming 101
- ↑ Mark Ryan Sallee. Kojima's Legacy: We reflect on the influence of Hideo Kojima's 20 years in gaming. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-08-20.
- ↑ John Szczepaniak. Retro Japanese Computers: Gaming's Final Frontier. Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved on 2011-09-08. Reprinted from "Retro Japanese Computers: Gaming's Final Frontier", Retro Gamer (67), 2009 .
- ↑ PlayStationStore - POLICENAUTS - (株)コナミデジタルエンタテインメント (Japanese)..
- ↑ Policenauts: Official Guide. pp. 118–122. ISBN 4-87188-835-5.
- ↑ Policenauts Fan Translation Project Nears Completion news from 1UP.com
- ↑ Fan-translation of Kojima's Policenauts nears completion - Joystiq
- ↑ Policenauts, by Hideo Kojima (Prologue Only) - The Something Awful Forums
- ↑ Junker HQ - Current Project Status (Updated September 3rd)
- ↑ Junker HQ - Release: 8/23/09, 12 PM EDT
- Various (September 1996) (in Japanese). ポリスノーツ 公式ガイド. 公式ガイドシリーズ. コナミ. ISBN 4-87188-835-5.
- コナミCP事業部 編 (September 1996) (in Japanese). セガサターン ポリスノーツ―公式完全ガイドブック. コナミ完璧攻略シリーズ. コナミ. ISBN 4-575-28640-0.
- 講談社 編 (March 6, 1996) (in Japanese). ポリスノーツオフィシャルビジュアルデータブック. 覇王ゲームスペシャル 45. 講談社. ISBN 4-06-329246-0.
- Policenauts Official website
- Policenauts PSone Books Re-release Official website
- Policenauts.net – Fan Translation site