Games about Games: Playing the Video Game Industry

It’s more than obvious when browsing a local games retailer’s shelves that games encompass a myriad of genres. Fighting games, racing games, sports games, first person shooter titles, and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Games about the games industry though? You’d be hard pressed to find a game with a plot like that, right? Well, look no further than the up and coming game Neptune by Compile Heart for the PS3!

Neptune requires a little introduction and perhaps a little lesson in Japanese at the same time. Set in the fictional world of geimugyokai (Games Industry), the player takes control of Neptune (Representative of the Sega Neptune*) together with three other goddesses Green Heart (360), Black Heart (PS3) and White Heart (Wii).

Neptune and other ‘Hearts’ strive to beat the evil goddess “Majekonnu” (Majikon being the term used to refer to DS flash carts such as the R4). Games companies will be represented as characters within the game, with developers such as Gust and Nippon Ichi being listed already. Players will also be able to summon guardian angels from other game saves, or from pictures in the PS3 photo album. Sound interesting?

Neptune to the left, Green Heart (360) to the right

Meet Black Heart on the left (PS3) and White Heart on the right (Wii)

The reason the ‘evil’ of this imaginary world is based on the R4 cards and its kin is due to a long standing battle Nintendo has been waging against the device. Whilst the R4 cartridge itself is not a piracy device, it can be used to play pirated DS games. Nintendo filed a court injunction in 2009 against the Chinese R4 makers for a “violation under Japan’s laws”. Notably, this legal injunction was for Japan only. Yahoo! Auctions Japan also released a notice stating that putting R4 devices up for sale on the site is now banned.

Despite this, the device is still readily available in some shops in Tokyo’s Akihabara and Osaka’s equivalent, Den-Den town. This all comes after a vending machine selling the devices was put up but later removed last summer. So, what better way to fight back against piracy than to make a game involving the industry, consoles and companies fighting just that? Of course, it helps that the character designs are ramped up in cuteness to boot.

This building in Osaka's Den-Den Town openly advertises R4 carts.

This isn’t the first game to venture into the virtual video games industry however. Back in 2001, another Japanese only game was released for the Dreamcast as it was coming to the end of its life. That game was the rather aptly titled “Segagaga”**. The storyline parodied the beloved, but on the whole, commercially unsuccessful Dreamcast console. The player, in the guise of a boy named Tarō Sega, is recruited by Sega in a desperate effort to stop the evil DOGMA Company from taking over the console market. Intermingled with animated cut-scenes, the game is notable for featuring numerous cameos by various Sega characters and games, as well as making use of a variety of gameplay styles throughout. The last battle being an especially beautiful fight against the various incarnations of Sega consoles, including the Sega Mark III and Mega Drive.

What other game could you battle Samba de Amigo in an RPG style format!

Is this perhaps a new genre with as of yet untapped potential? Will this do much against the R4 cards when a court injunction has failed to stop the issue?

Compile Hearts Neptune is set for release in Summer 2010. Segagaga is only available through import and only in the Japanese language.

*(The Sega Neptune was a two-in-one Mega Drive (Genesis) and 32X console that Sega had planned to release in 1994 or 1995)

** For those interested, this is a link to the stunning opening of Segagaga: watch?v=AQ3QAlwTJoU

Thu, April 22 2010 » Opinion Pieces

11 Responses

  1. crofterz April 22 2010 @ 9:25 am

    I gave fellow NewbReview my Dreamcast…pretty sure he was going to review Segagaga…..

  2. Enki April 22 2010 @ 11:08 am

    Really? A review of Segagaga would be awesome. More people should play/review/love it… in a purely fanboyish way, of course.

  3. ItsActuallyAdam April 22 2010 @ 11:12 am

    Had no idea something like this was being made, suddenly i am very interested.

    Great article :)

  4. Enki April 22 2010 @ 11:19 am

    Always good to spread the news. :D

    It does sound like something to keep an eye out for.

  5. Ranman April 22 2010 @ 11:31 am

    I miss the Dreamcast, so much. Whoever on the team has one should be legally required to review PSO.

  6. crofterz April 22 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    Yeah I literally gave him my dreamcast for free. I also recall him mentioning something about a Seamann review. That game was bat shit bizarre.

    Talking of bizarre..using save game data and photos on your PS3 as summons sounds insane. I am now very initrigued.

  7. Joefeesh April 22 2010 @ 2:13 pm

    When you say this is a genre, do you mean games that represent real life circumstances/situations or specifically games about the games industry?

    This game does look interesting.

  8. Enki April 22 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    Hmm, well, since I have a Dreamcast and a copy of Seaman and PSO myself, if those reviews don’t seem likely in the near future I could always commit to them? :D

    Joefeesh: The latter, in that case. In retrospect, sub-genre might be slightly more appropriate. Although, I doubt that just Segagaga and this potential entry could really count as a whole sub-genre/genre being started up. Would be interesting, though!

  9. vVv Diesel April 22 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    I love my R4i cart & J-tagged 360. Beautiful devices.

  10. kamiza April 23 2010 @ 7:53 am

    Ian, did you get my email?

  11. vVv Diesel April 23 2010 @ 11:12 pm

    No, if it was sent to my googlemail address I’ll never get it as those got hacked weeks ago.

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