It’s been a while but I’ve been meaning on making that post for a while to talk about an area of Japanese subculture that have been really impressing me recently: the free games
The free games are simply doujin/indie games released as their names indicate for free, often on sites focused them like http://freegame-mugen.jp/
They range from rpg (often made with rpgmaker or wolfrpg), srpg, adv games, sound novels, platformers, etc…, and more. One popular free game is about mixing natto which show the chaos reigning in that world. The number of games released each month is actually pretty high and show that the thriving creative force behind such games as Cave Story (originally a free game) is still alive and kicking even nowadays.
I’ll introduce some of these games that managed to impress me by their quality
1-ニュー・スーパーフックガール / New Super Hook Girl
New Super Hook Girl is a free platformer entirely released earlier this year.
The story is simple: 2 sisters, the protagonist called Hook-chan and her little sister that takes charge of the commentary, are looking for their master across 6 levels. To help her Hook-chan can use a hook to grab hold of walls and various objects she will find across her way.
The mechanics are similar the legendary Umihara Kawase forcing the player to learn to really master the hook and physics of the game but NSHG manages to have its own spin on the hook mechanic by being completely controlled by mouse. The control scheme is incredibly intuitive and it’s not hard to get extremely “hooked” on the game
The game has 5 levels and one extra challenge stage, the first 2 stages are simple and short and mostly here to train the new player, stage 3 onward progressively add to the difficulty until the last level that will force the player to use every skills he learned by that point. And even then, be ready to be traumatized by 2 words: Space Shark
But finishing these 5 levels is just the beginning of the adventure, the real challenge is to get a great time in these levels and this is where the exquisite level design shows itself. Even the first level that seem simple and straightforward at first glance will take quite a bit of thought, skills and some chance to get a S level time. Mastering the mechanics, finding alternate routes, there is a lot more than you can do that one could think of even after finishing the game completely. Getting a S time in every levels isn’t easy but a very rewarding experience.
Last but no least I’ll mention the soundtrack that is pretty damn great, the track that play in the last level in particular is impressive which is a good thing since you’ll hear it a LOT.
Anyways, this ended up being one of the best game I played this year, definitely recommended even if you don’t know a lick of japanese, the game is intuitive enough that it won’t be a problem.
クトゥルフをあそぶこえ is as its name indicates based on the TRPG Call of CTHULHU that is itself based on the universe created by H. P. Lovecraft. The game itself was created by a denizen of vip, the 2ch board, and huge fan of the TRPG. By fusing 2 things he loved, Call of CTHULHU and galge he hoped that other people would start understanding why he loved them so much.
The story is simple, the protagonist, Kousaka, a transfer student is invited to enter a club by one of his classmate Miko, the theology club.
But this is only a facade, the club in question is actually Miko along with Izumi another classmate and a senior Nina playing Call of CTHULHU.
The sessions of Call of CTHULHU are the crux of the game and why it was created, Izumi plays the role of game master while Kousaka, Miko and Nina are the players and the game sessions themselves are portrayed in a very accurate way.
Being a newbie Kousaka has to learn the various rules of CoC but also the etiquette of role playing games, the writer aims being just that and he did his best showing the fun of playing while also explaining the rules so that everyone could understand.
Personally table rpgs are an universe I didn’t know anything about and the game certainly made me interested, I learned not only the rules but the passion the writer poured writing this game is very apparent and extremely contagious.
The game itself is made of 2 sessions, the first one is the introductory one and the second one has a surprisingly large story and setting and is mostly what the entire game is about. The normal game and the game sessions have different art style which is pretty cool since the second session has a surprisngly amount of art assets.
And the game itself is of course also a galge, there is 2 small routes available for Miko and Nina depending on your choices, it’s mostly fluff since the second session is really what the game is about but it’s fun little extra. The main fault of the game is that Izumi doesn’t have a route since she is the best heroine by the way.
The game itself is ghetto as expected of a free game but I had a lot of fun with it, more than with many commercial games released this year, as I wrote above the passion that the writer has for CoC is contagious. The game isn’t long, probably about 3-4 hours but I really got into it and by the end of second session I was completely into the story.
Technically the quality of the text is more than serviceable and the pacing really good.
Due to its ghettoness it’s the sort of game I would have a hard time rating but I recommend it to people who want something different, I certainly liked it personally.
Now the main problem is that finding the game is hard now since the writer decided to discontinue it. All in all the game was only available to the public for 2 weeks but still managed to get quite a bit of love which speak for its quality. The page in mugen is still present so it’s possible he will upload it again in the future.
In the meantime it’s still possible to find with some googling
Coming in a few days, part 2