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?
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 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.
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