Wednesday 5 June 2019

Nippon Safes Inc. - A Tale of Two City Names

Written by Torch

The name’s Nuts, Doug Nuts. I’m an electronics genius with a mission. And that mission is… what was it again? Oh yeah, to steal a jade Buddha from a safe in the “Saku-Rambo” Monastery. Only problem is, I have no idea where to find the monastery.

It’s time to check out the rest of the great city of Tyoko! Or Tioko! Frankly it’s getting a bit silly that the game can’t decide on a spelling for the name of the city, so going forward I plan on doing a count of all the city name references I find, to see which one is used most frequently, and will thus be the official name. Check the summary at the bottom to see if your favourite comes out on top. But now, let’s start exploring! And by exploring I mean wandering around aimlessly, clicking stuff until something useful happens.

The city center consists of a number of screens. The exits aren’t always logical or easy to spot, so I hope I’ve found them all. Due north from Honest Chan’s, however, I find this busy street.

“Busy” means featuring more than 2 people

There’s a newspaper salesman who looks kind of familiar.

Um, Chan? Is that you? Why do you have a hole in your teeth?

Is this also supposed to be Chan? Chan’s shop is usually closed until I get near enough… Maybe it’s the evil twin brother Dishonest Chan? He dosn’t try to sell me any newspapers, but I can ask him to buy a ticket to the underground. Doug doesn’t know where he wants to go though, so I can’t buy any. Let’s explore some more, then. There’s an apartment building on the other side of the street. I head there and find…. Doug’s home!

I have no idea what the deal is with the mannequin. Mouseover yields no description

Finally I find out what the key is for, I unlock the door and enter. I guess it makes sense to carry around the key to your apartment. But you never know with adventure games.

Home sweet geek den

Now this might be a good time to vent a little bit about something that bothers me with the interface. I mentioned in an earlier post that mouseover on a certain spot might only show the any text if you have selected an appropriate action. Well, it gets a little worse than that. Take Doug’s storage cabinet, that you see in the above screenshot. If I mouseover with no action selected, almost the entire cabinet will show up as “larder”, both before and after I “open” it. The only other thing that shows is radio, which incidentally I can NOT interact with.

Now compare the next 3 screenshots. I’m pointing at a weird device, that Doug can’t remember what does. When I have the “look” action selected it show up as “Device”. When I have the pick up action selected and point to the exact same spot, it says “radio”, and on the screenshot with no action selected, it says “larder”. Add to this that the radio is actually on the shelf above the one I’m pointing at.

Larder: “A cool room in a domestic house where food is stored, but larger than a pantry." Well, food or technical gizmos

A bit of a bummer, but hey, there’s a TV! Let’s watch some. Only, hmm… mouseover shows this as a “larder” too. Ok…. Look action? Nope. Open / Take / Talk? Triple nope. Thinking it’s just a prop, I look around the apartment for more stuff and find a remote lying around. Preparing for the worst, I try pointing the remote at the TV, and…

Seriously! (No, it doesn’t matter that the curtain is closed in this shot)

Ok, let’s consider the impact of this. Pixel hunt is one thing (and often criticized), but this is potentially way worse, since I may have to scan the environment once for each action (plus no action), then for each inventory object, just in case.... I sure hope I’m making this out to be worse than it really is. I mean, it IS logical to point a TV remote at a TV, but it would be nice to actually have that area show up AS a TV without me needing to select the correct item first.

Oh well, we’ll see how much of a problem it’s going to be as I progress through the game. Let’s get back to exploring the apartment. Also, I DID turn on the TV. Let’s see what’s on

The only thing on is a news broadcast about a man who’s climbed up the top of the “Tioko Television Tower” and is threatening to throw himself off. Not sure how that plays into Doug’s story, but perhaps we’ll find out. Aside from the remote, I find a wrench in the chest in the lower left corner, which I take. Doug also has some techno-stuff in his “larder” that add some flavour

What passed for a hardcore computer in 1992. Contrary to the rest of the specs, the hard drive size is actually half-decent.

As I head outside again, I notice there’s something in Doug’s mailbox. I open it and find a letter and a package. The package contains a detonator, and the letter explains that some explosives that Doug ordered from Mitsushita were out of stock, so they couldn’t be delivered at this time. I guess we need to find some explosives somewhere then.

Out on the street again, I head north from the newspaper stand and end up where Dino’s intro took place. There’s a “bill dispenser” here, which is the game’s description of a guy who hands out flyers/coupons or “bills”. I can’t talk to him, and I still can’t interact with the Mitsushita building, so I try to head towards the museum on the other side of the street. When I click the museum hotspot, however, Doug instead walks up to the dispenser... let’s just call him “Bill”, and gets a flyer.

Bill, the dispenser. Of bills. He should get top billing, because he’s… er… ok, I’m all billed out.

Ok, that’s a bit strange. It’s the only time (so far) the basic no-action-selected pointer has triggered anything besides making Doug walk. If I click Bill again, I get another flyer. After 6 flyers, I don’t seem to be getting any more of them. For reference, they are:

“SENTO BATHS - Smell has its importance too”
“Give a donation to the tennis elbow research fund”
“HIROSHIMA BEANS WITH MUSHROOMS” Bonus for tasting free of charge
“THE DEAD RAT - Just the haunt for really smart guys”
“Due to open soon - KAIZEN-SUSHI RESTAURANT. Grand competition for the opening”
“AUTUMN SALES! Come to the Tyoko department store.”

There’s a garbage disposal hatch here. I can dump the posters in there, and then get new ones from Bill. No idea what the point of that is. From here I can head out to the highway again, but that’s a dead-end, so I backtrack a bit and find a new location west of Honest Chan’s. This place looks like a shopping mall. It could be the department store mentioned in one of the flyers, but I can find no way to enter it, despite the entrance showing “stores” when I hover over it.

“In a city of 1.7 million inhabitants, only ONE store can call itself the Tyoko department store” Maybe there’s Tioko department store as well?

West of the mall is a screen that annoys and confuses me.

Maybe I’ll come back with explosives

It looks significant, with the gate, and the intercom and everything, but there’s nothing to interact with, and no text anywhere related to the house/gate/bridge. Is this the monastery I’m looking for? The mall screen exit text calls it “residence”.

Anyway, further west is a park

Uh oh, hope it’s not a maze

Yup... It’s a maze

Yes, it’s a maze. I walk around in the park for a while until I’m thoroughly lost. There are some other people about, including a guy that looks like a monk or something. Thinking he could be one of the “initiates” that are the only ones allowed into the monastery, I try to follow him, but he disappears and pops up again randomly somewhere else. And I can’t talk to him either. After some mindless wandering, I suddenly end up here

Hope I’m not being Punk’d

Now, it’s possible that I’m doing things in the wrong order, but if I try talking to the punks, Doug asks them for 100 yen, and I have no idea why. I still have my 1000 yen, and I don’t know what I’d need another 100 for at the moment. Regardless, they’re not interested, but they seem to want to come off as quite the intellectuals. Remembering my bunch of flyers, I go through them and find the one about a bar or café called “The Dead Rat”. Maybe they’d be interested?

Would “really smart guys” fall for this?

I bet real “really smart guys” would know the difference between a mouse and a rat

Ok, they fell for… something. But they don’t actually leave. They do however “drop” ( if you can drop something 3 meters horizontally ) a comic book. Which I pick up. It’s an old issue of “Beatleman”, whoever that is. Perhaps it’s a long shot, but I’m thinking maybe the newspaper seller would be interested in this. And as luck would have it, he actually is.

I have my doubts when it comes to the Chans’ appreciation skills

After some haggling, I get 100 yen for it. Ok, so now I have a 1100 yen, but no idea about what to spend it on. Perhaps a train ticket, if I could only figure out where to go? Just as I receive the money, the face of a guy pops up on the screen and asks me about the population of Tyoko. This must be the copy protection that Vetinari mentioned in a comment on the previous post. I type in a number I find in the manual, and the guy goes away

Do I count Chan once or twice?

 Oh, and at some point I notice a parking meter next to Bill, the dispenser. Already being a on the wrong side of the law, I try dismantling it with my wrench, and end up scoring another 100 yen. Probably like 4 people saw me, but the police must already have met this month’s quota, because nobody comes to arrest me this time.

Still clueless about where to go, I decide to map the park so as to make sure I don’t miss anything. I find that not counting the entrace, there are 2 areas of interest. The punks and a restaurant called the Kaizen-Sushi. It’s not open (yet), though, their outside sign promises a competition for when they do open.

Despite now knowing my way around the city and park, I’m still a bit unsure what to do, so I just zip back and forth between locations for a while. After some time I end up back at the Hot Sushi. Now, in my previous post, I barely mentioned the 2 guys sitting at the table, drinking. I pretty much dismissed them as an in-game joke, since they’re clearly a manifestation of some of the game developers (one of them talked about how his biggest mistake was creating Nippon Safes Inc.). This time, however I can ask them about other stuff. Not sure when this was triggered.

I just hope I don’t have to draw first blood to get there.

Now at first they don’t really seem very helpful. One says to go on muleback. Then the other says to get a taxi, and the first one replies that there are too many taxis in this game. These guys are clearly all about breaking the fourth wall, but ok. Other than that, they can tell me how far along I am in this chapter (21% at this time). So they do seem like a hint service more than anything, BUT… after this, when I go to the museum/Mitsushita screen, Bill is gone, and the taxi driver from before is there. Not sure if there’s another way to trigger this, and I just chickened out and used an in-game hint(?). Either way, I try asking him for a ride, but he’s not too happy to see me

Cuz you’ve been hurt before, I can see it in your vein.. er..eyes

Guess I have to make it up to him somehow. I try to give him my 1000 yen, but can’t. After I leave the screen, every time I come back, he’s gone, and Bill’s there again. I try going back to the hint guys, and now I have a new question to ask them.

I don’t know, son. Ask your mom. She’s the one who cleans up around the house

Now, whether or not you’ve been paying attention, this “sumo ring” business may seem to come out of the blue, but during the taxi ride from the prison, I could ask the driver about a Sumo figurine hanging in the front window of the car, and he would profess his passion for sumo wrestling. Looking back at my screenshots, I find that he wanted ticket for a match, but they were sold out.

Saya whata?

They won’t tell me the location of the Sumo ring without anything in return. More specifically they want a mug of beer to “help them remember”. Which costs 1000 yen. Which I have, because earlier in the chapter, the taxi driver would rather punch me than get paid. So, here goes.

You know, other people drink to forget

Ok, at least something to go on. Now that Doug knows where to go, the newspaper seller can sell me a metro ticket. It’s 100 yen. How convenient. The metro entrance is on the screen with the Hot Sushi entrance.

This guy is an “oshiya”. His job is to push people onto crowded trains.

Told you

When I arrive at the Kinza district, I meet a familiar character

Excuse me, is this the line for Sumo night?

It seems it’s possible for random people to enter a Sumo wrestling competition and win a grand prize. Dino want to try, but he’s being denied on account of being too skinny. Doug ends up promising to help Dino put on some weight ( in an unrealistically short time ), and in return Dino will get Doug a ticket to the Sumo match. My magic crystal ball predicts that I’ll give the ticket to the taxi driver, and he will take me to the monastery.

Ok, great, I’m on a roll now after some mindless wandering. I remember something about a competition at the opening of the Kaizen-Sushi restaurant. Could it be an eating competition? If so, I could perhaps tip off Dino. I head back to the park to check if the restaurant is open now.

The prize is a jar of mothballs?

Hooray! They’re in business. But the competition isn’t about eating. It’s about guessing how many balls are in the jar on the shelf on the left. Ok, so how do you enter? I try talking to the chef about it, bug Doug just guesses a number by himself, which is nowhere near correct. Guess I’ll have to try something else. Before I can get thus far though, I run into a potentially worrying situation...

On the right is a stack of Hiroshima beans with mushrooms. I remember that name from one of the flyers:
“HIROSHIMA BEANS WITH MUSHROOMS” Bonus for tasting free of charge

So maybe I can get some of those beans for free.

I present the flyer to the chef.

Is it just me, or is this joke about Hiroshima and mushrooms (ie. nuclear bomb cloud) in poor taste..?

So far, so good, but…. I check my inventory, and I didn’t receive any beans. Ok, I can probably pick up a can myself…? Not so much. Can’t pick them up. Can’t open them. Can’t “wrench” them. So, is this a bug? Was he supposed to give me the beans or am I missing an item that opens cans? Or did Doug already eat the beans…?

Either way this is as far as I’ll go for this session. I’m not quite asking for assistance yet, but I’m not sure I feel confident that everything is as it should be… Either way, stay tuned for next time, if you want to find out if I’m stuck or not.

Time played: 3h 10m

Tioko/Tyoko mentions
Tioko: 7      Tyoko: 5

Inventory: key, empty soda can, 4 flyers, TV remote, wrench, detonator, 100 yen, underground ticket


  1. The sumo wrestler's name, Buta Futotta, basically means "fat pig" but it's not exactly grammatical. Actually, if it's reversed per usual Japanese name order, then it would be fine.

    1. Oh, I didn't know it meant anything. Actually, when I think about it, it can sound both japanese and mock-italian, depending on how I say it in my head.

  2. The "smart" guys/punks could also refer to them being "dressed smartly".

    Might make a bit more sense...

    1. Perhaps... though, looking at the screenshots again, I wouldn't really describe them as dressed smartly. Then again I'm no fashion expert

    2. Well, your mileage may vary I guess ;) - but they do seem more fashion forward than most folks in the heaving hipster metropolis of Ty/ioko...

  3. Torch, I can assure you that everything is as it should be (as far as I remember). Apparently the chef doesn't give you the beans, instead you eat them on the spot (probably in this point the italian translation is more accurate and understandable than the english one).
    You also didn't use any in-game hint system by talking to Max & Kos; you are supposed to ask them about various things inside the game to progress.

    1. Uh oh. Am I about to get exposed to flatulence-related adventure gaming? Memories of Larry 7's bean dip come floating back.

      Anyway, good to know that I haven't been inadvertently cheating

  4. Also, I agree that the interface is annoying.
    Regarding the "empty" screens, however, abg nyy fperraf ner hfrshy sbe nyy punenpgref. Jura hfvat gur bgure gjb punenpgref gur erfvqrapr naq qrcnegzrag fgber (ohg nyfb gur Xvamn qvfgevpg sbe rknzcyr) fubhyq unir zber vagrenpgvbaf.

  5. Damn. Tyoko's losing. The 'i' feels too out of place for a word that seems to be a play on Tokyo/Kyoto. Go Tyoko - I'm rooting for you!

    1. I agree. Though, there are probably at least 2,5 chapters left, so there may still be hope for Tyoko. Fingers crossed

      To spice things up, I've also found 2 different spellings for the restaurant in the park: Kaizen-Sushi and Kaiten-Zushi. I don't think I'll be tracking those, though.

  6. SuperCGA card, eh? So it allows resolutions larger than 320x200, yet still only features four eye-melting colors of black, white, cyan, and magenta?
    Also, though I'm pretty sure it's part of the joke, the 80586 was never a thing as far as I know; PC CPU's went from the 486 directly to the Pentium I.
    Though I think the true sign that this game was made in Europe is the nerd's preference for the ZX81.

    1. 700GB of Hard-drive space is also a bit optimistic, even if it was "Optical" somehow. This was a time when 700MB CD's were wowing us with their immense capacity, I mean it was as big as the HDD in our first home PC. 700GB would probably take up half that apartment at that time, and the power supplies and cooling the other half (OK I know I'm exaggerating here).

    2. A Pentium was called a (80)586 internally. Pentium Pro was a (80)686.

      I believe this numbering scheme was finally abandoned with the Pentium 4.


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