Saturday 17 February 2024

Missed Classic: Urotsukidoji (うろつき童子) - Sad State of Affairs

 By Morpheus Kitami

I took a break on Urotsukidouji over December. It didn't really feel appropriate. Not really the kind of game you want to slink off to after Christmas dinner, or during the inevitable conversation one's family has about which political party should be strung up via their internal organs. Though I must admit this would make for an interesting conversation.

"Hey, Morpheus, that's in Chinese, isn't it? That must be cool."

"It's about a lot of people talking, and it's in Japanese."

"Really? Why are you playing it then?"

"I'm blogging about it and I'm sure the 10 people still reading the blog are mildly interested in how it goes."

Since last time, no clues have arrived. Ozaki is much the same as before. Kanzawa and Kumiko are uh, of the same bloodline, maybe. Karumera or Saomoto or something hasn't said anything. Our hero is Jaku, while the black demon is Kuroko...or black child. He tells Jaku that they're in a hurry and should search for it. Presumably the Chojin. In a timed dialog, which you know means I just love it.

I wouldn't say we're in a hurry though. As with all games who get criticism about things happening in a neat straight line at your convenience, this is going to be extra true here. My options at the moment are. Look*search, speak*listen, assault and the ever present system. I hear in America they have these adventure games where the speak action also counts as a listen action, the lazy bums. I bet they don't even have games where you're required to beat up a black child to advance.

What, you thought that last part was a joke? I mean, Kuroko's name is black child. What you think I wouldn't engage in a little of the ol' click baiting. Better than us including faces that look like I shoved the floppy up...somewhere, and headlines like "YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS RACIST JAPANESE GAME FROM 1990! (not clickbait)" Anyway, we have to talk, because we haven't had enough talking. Man, this is an exploitation game, you go in expecting gore and sex, and 90% of the running time is about people talking. Just like an exploitation film.

Kuroko has a weird way of talking, really hammering home those "isn't it?" and "don't you agrees?" that make up Japanese speech, along with shortened versions of commonplace words and calling jaku admiral, or old chap according to information I found out a second after finding out about the word admiral.

Anyway, super racist jaku asks Kuroko the important questions. "Why are you black?", "Why are you small?", just to torment him. I'm not joking, though the game is. I guess I'm laughing with it. After some conversation Jaku reveals he should search for another Choujin candidate. Kuroko asks if that person* is wearing clothes and laughs. Jaku says it isn't a woman and calls him an idiot.

*I'm not sure if the word he's using is supposed to be translated as something derogatory in the sense that the person thinks the other is a jerk or not, so enjoy a long translator's note.

Now feels like an appropriate time to whack Kuroko. Still the conversation rages on. They talk of the Choujin's charisma soaking into people, throwing off the scent. He should be a high achiever in sports, have a pretty face and draw the ladies near. Yet he manages to hide from them. Finally, Jaku, almost mocking this conversation, ends with a "I know, I know", and saying they begin in thirty minutes. That hasn't been how long this conversation has taken or anything.

Now we're back at the gym because we need to check Ozaki for the ten trillionth time. Good.

Back here again.

Well, at least I can only look and call now. I call Ozaki, and Kuroko tells me that Kyoko or someone is there and will see you. Is that the mean girl? They talk some more, about how charming Ozaki is. Yes, I know, this is becoming more chaste than a Leisure Suit Larry game. Dunkshot! Too bad they didn't show it. Come to think of it, what the heck is going on with this image? I didn't notice it the first time around, but one guy is about to put in the ball while everyone else is elsewhere. The people at this school must suck at it. More talking, then I can call over Ozaki.

Now I can talk to him. "Hey, did you hear anything?" "No." This game is wasting my time. I don't mean in the sense that all games are wasting ones time, I mean in the sense that of the time I dedicated to wasting my time, this game has decided that this time doesn't deserve to be wasted doing anything but doing the exact same things over and over again. "Truly, this state of affairs is sad." I was going to make a reference to Neon Genesis Evangelion in the title, but I think this works better.

After he leaves, Jaku tells Kuroko to watch over Ozaki. Guess Jaku's going to do it solo now. I can move now. To the whole school again. Right, let's start with the tennis court...and the Japanese mean girls pop up again. Kyoko. "Just a moment, Jaku. Lend me your face." Ah, she's going to try to skin Jaku. Jaku's cool about it, being like, "What do ya gals want?"

She says someone called Seishi became an authority on evil. Jaku thinks that he doesn't want to fight Ozaki's bodyguards again. They may make good on their threat. How long have you been close, Jaku says. She talks about Seishi again. What the heck? Seishi isn't Ozaki. Something about Seishi knowing humanity and giving them to that place of punishment. I forgot, Japanese mean girl cultists. Then Jaku asks what Ozaki has to do with their crazy dreaming. I like Jaku, more games should have protagonists that can insult people getting in your way like this.

Kyoko then talks about how Seishi can scatter people with his charm. What does she mean? His tight muscles, his dreamy basketball skills, his brilliance, figure, strength. I'm not finishing the rest of that. Jaku isn't happy he heard that and he has a stronger stomach than the rest of us. She finishes by telling Jaku to stay away. Jaku, is, like all of us, speechless. Actually, I have some, how I have done so much here and yet so little? Now all I can do is go back into the school.

Hey, it's Akemi and Nagumo. The plot's actually advancing at a nice pace. They're getting along, having a nice romance, it's very good vibes all around. Even in the beastman world, Mimi would talk about how cute she is for waiting.

And here's Mimi. Oh, this is another one of those screens that automatically advances after about 15 seconds. Making some assumptions from that, doesn't that mean this game is about 3-6 hours long? This cost ¥5800 according to my sources, which let's be generous and say that would be at least $60. Even for my JSL ass we're only reaching the six hour mark now because I missed the one person I had to talk to.

Checking my walkthrough, this is about halfway through. Wait, wouldn't that mean that with my reading speed this is actually a 4-5 hour game for me? And thus a 2-3 hour game for a native Japanese speaker? Seems like this game is bilking people out of some money. I'm sure there's worse cost-to-game ratios around, but this one I think I'd not be enjoying if I spent money on it. I like Jaku as a protagonist, more adventure game protagonists need to be like him, I like the story, but the gameplay is pointless and characters morph into different people every other screen. Case in point.

Now the conversation that automatically advanced was not important. Just Mimi flying, apparently she doesn't care about who sees her doing anything. Anyway, she's going to come with us to the human world now, something Jaku isn't too happy about. He asks her if she knows about the god of the new world. One mixed together from all three worlds. (The demon world, the beastman world and the human world for those of you who have forgotten) The Choujin. Jaku hasn't gone nuts, he just thinks so much time has passed that it should be happening soon.

This is basically to ward off his sister, who still wants to come despite the danger. He's constantly telling her that "she'll disappear", which makes me wonder what exactly is about to go down. She seems to believe it, having him promise to call her if it happens. Surprisingly, he does. And then we're back at school. Guess that was a flashback? Right, well, the plot was fun, back to going up and down the school again. Let's start on the third floor.

Jaku starts talking about how this building should be ten stories tall and full of secret rooms. I think that was supposed to be my line, or perhaps about how it feels that way. 3-C just has a generic purple hair girl, nothing to talk to her about. A good sign.

Art is basically trickery, sometimes using colors you wouldn't necessarily think to depict something that actually exists. I'm not so sure a tree is really red through a window though. Then again, her arm is probably broken, so I'm reading too much into the rest of it.

Hey, there's someone in 3-B, who has a dirty bag. Jaku remembers his name, Yuuchi Niki. After looking at him a moment, Jaku asks him what's he looking at that's so interesting, Niki asks what business it his of his. I assume this was the conversation for a moment, before realizing I know better. Jaku notices that he's looking at Akemi and Nagumo. He's upset that Akemi has gone out with another man. Jaku ponders his sorrowful looks for a moment before Kyoko shows up. Apparently her last name is Okamura.

Knowing Kyoko, she's probably trying to convince Niki to do something evil. I guess we're playing devil and angel, only both figures are devils. She's all about salvation and more than one way to die, Jaku's all about being friends and putting your worries in the past. Really, they both make good points. And after Jaku says that Akemi is really popular with the guys the conversation just looks again. Looking at these people some more, because why not, and I can talk again. Kyoko says he's a coward and can't be helped.

And that changes the music and brings us back to Niki looking conflicted. She left? But Jaku was talking about how Niki is/was a bullied child? I thought for sure that Niki was going to turn into Spawn and perform Mortal Kombat fatalities on people. Nothing else I can do, so I leave. Outside Jaku wonders about him and what he's going to do.

Not the kind of jump scare you were expecting.

Then Nagumo jump scares me.

Wait, didn't Jaku have a different hairstyle last time?

And Jaku too. Nagumo's been searching for Jaku. Jaku assumes it has something to do with Akemi. He lost her. Jaku then ponders if this is related to Niki. After getting Nagumo to slow down, he asks him what happened, and Nagumo talks about last night. I believe that they got separated after some funny incident with Ozaki. Reluctantly, Jaku tells him to come with him and asks him when it happened. 7:00 AM at the main gate. The conversation ends with Jaku wondering what happened to Kuroko.

When moving around I get a lot more rooms now. Not that these are of much use since I'm supposed to be heading towards the gate. By the way, for most of the game there's been one track playing, that cheerful school music. It's not bad, but it sounds incredibly inappropriate for this game, especially when we're wondering what the heck happened to some people.

Anyway, when they said main gate, what they really meant was the tennis court. I search, and nothing comes up, until a green voice rings out, saying that drool is hanging from Jaku's mouth...

It's...Sakoneto, complete with the aggressive music...for some reason. By the way, checking my last entry, I can see that I managed to misspell the name I think this guy had twice. Examining Sakoneto explains why the music changed, apparently he's from the demon world. Jaku says he's been searching for Sakoneto, Sakoneto says he was advising someone on their budget and why were you searching around so sneakily anyway? Their relationship isn't good enough for him to know that. They're dancing around the subject.

Sakoneto says he was with a second year called Kumiko and if Jaku knows about her. I've seen her name before but just her name. She's the student council president. Oh, I get it now, it was one of the ladies from last time, wasn't it? Probably got attacked by Sanjou or something. If it sounds like I'm screwing up people's names, yeah, but there's no guide for this stuff. Imagine if your name was random hieroglyphs and there were twenty possible variations on your name from that.

Something bad happened to her last night, her voice was heard screaming but she's nowhere to be found. He leaves and now Jaku has to think here in the tennis court about these revelations. While the aggressive music still plays. Jaku has to figure out where the night duty room is. We'll just think about this some. Now I can move, not that I know where it is, we're going to have another fun game of running through the school again. I'll just start off actually looking for this, we'll brute force it later.

And someone's on the second floor. I'm glad. You know, despite the jokes I'm making about this game's artstyle, I do note that the clothing folds on this guy's clothing is better than 95% of artists you'll see online and probably 75% of western adventure games. This is Miyasawa, and he's wondering why Jaku is showing his face here. "Someone's wish has come true." Referring to Akemi disappearing. "They were watching a movie in an amusement park, then they went to the ferris wheel." I'm glad I spent a minute working out a half dozen difficult kanji for that sentence. I think that might have been him, rather than Akemi, because Jaku wishes him well.

There's no such room anywhere. Great, that means brute forcing again. Well, at least I can start off with the new rooms that have appeared on the third floor. A data processing room, a music room and a LL classroom. (5 CAPs if you know what that's supposed to mean.) They're all locked. There's nothing else, so I guess I'll look around. I'll start on the second floor since that's where I left off even if I was doing things "logically".

Looking twice in classroom 2-A and a mysterious green voice pops up talking about disposing of leftover food. She's not in here, so she must be elsewhere. I go to 2-B, just a random female student. Voice still occurs if I look in here. Same with the rest of the rooms on this floor. So, since there are no rooms on the first floor there must be on the third floor? There, Jaku mentions that soon it'll be 7 o'clock, and he should go to the gate. Then what was the point of what I was just doing? Busywork because you can't program in time?

Wow, this depiction almost looks like it's normal scale. Almost.

New aggressive music plays. It's Nagumo and what the game informs me is Ozaki, despite looking completely different. I seem to be forgetting the long term goals of this game beyond "THE CHOUJIN". Kuroko is here and still alive despite earlier implications that something happened to him. Nothing much happens in this conversation, but because Kuroko is invisible, whenever Jaku talks to him, the other two get confused by him talking to himself.

Hey, these are the best human figures yet!

I suspect the problem is it's hard to convey a search when you only have so many limited images. On the other hand, from experience, this could be far worse. Hammering out actions in one room is, if nothing else, limited in how it can screw over the player.

The three armed, three headed man is apparently engaging in some self-loving.

The music changes back to something relaxing and we're in a restaurant? It's a hostess bar*, and the hostesses are going after Ozaki. Is Akemi supposed to be in here? Why would she be missing in that event? But why would we be going in here otherwise? Ozaki is apparently quite familiar with them which seems strange to me. Jaku wonders the same thing and Ozaki accuses him of having the personality of a saint. I'm not really sure that applies at all in this case, but who cares about Akemi? Ozaki seems like he should be the protagonist of a game such as this, while Jaku should just be the protagonist of any random game.

*for the unfamiliar, imagine Hooter's, but the women fawn over you and a lot more drinking. If you don't know what Hooter's is, women in little clothing serve you crappy wings. Bring your 6 year old.

And after some talking in which we determine what we knew before, I.E., nothing, Ozaki starts violating public decency laws with one of the hostesses. Conversation continues. I get very important information.

Hostess: "AH! AH!"

Ozaki: "It's unexpected. I didn't know you were such a prude, Jaku!"

Nagumo: "We've searched everywhere."

Jaku ponders this very important informative, then he can drink...watered down liquor. Which means everyone's over 18, at least, though I question why a place such as this would be selling watered down liquor. Nagumo questions why Jaku is drinking and possibly if he's underage. Jaku doesn't really answer that. More searching around and Kuroko comes in. More drinking and Jaku passes out. So much for Jaku being a smart protagonist. Oh, no, the hostesses turned into demons.

We get an action sequence, in which we just get a shot of Ozaki with energy shooting off his arm, and he presumably attacks and kills the demons. He says die a lot, so that's probably it. Kuroko comments that he's strong.

Is it just me, or is the face made wrong? One side is further up than it should be.

And Ozaki is dead. So much for him being the Choujin. Jaku and Kuroko ponder this. It cuts to a flashback, one year ago. (Or is it later? Events that proceed imply it isn't, but I didn't take a screenshot of the part that shows this)

Looks like I'm the dark.

They're talking casually, and then Jaku says something like "Memories of Ozaki coming back to life." I double check that I didn't miss anything important. Just Kuroko coming back from Nagumo's house. Then the screen turns into a naked woman because...Nagumo is watching a video? Kuroko is beside himself with joy watching someone else watching a video. Jaku, of course, is very annoyed with his idiot companion. As an aside, seriously? Have I said yet that buying this game for its intended purpose sounds disappointing? I'll say it again.

The music changes and a strange atmosphere emits from below. Time to search the school again. Starting with the third floor and the LL classroom, hey, I can hear inside it! There's a woman's voice inside...and you know where this is going. (There is no actual point to this exercise.) Actually, wait a minute, shouldn't I be checking downstairs first rather than doing the same old same old? Well, it turns out now I can enter the night duty room. The screen suddenly shifts for a full-screen graphic...and Kumiko's been strung up by...her...torn muscles? What a shame, I know she was probably many people's favorite character.

It's Sakaneto, who is now a demon spy. Or rather "Baki" or Preta, a hungry supernatural being who hungers far beyond any human, as punishment for their sins in a past life. Jaku asks what he's doing here. Much like Jaku, he's come to the human world to know of the Choujin. Jaku then asks the obvious follow-up, why attack Kumiko? Because the demon world will rule over the human world and humans will be livestock. Blah, blah, blah. "You will die." Blah, blah, blah. "I'm going to enjoy this." Then I can attack. More talking, apparently in this case it refers to criticism.

And then he exploded. Now to ponder these events. He says something poetic about Kumiko's flower being snuffed out and going after the demon world for this. Wait, really? I didn't expect Jaku of all people to do that, guess he's more of a hero than I gave him credit for. We return to Kuroko and Jaku in the dark. Kuroko asks if they're returning, but Jaku says things have become out of focus. I may have missed something in the last dialog but I know about it anyway because I watched the movie. Kuroko asks if he's made an interesting discovery, and Jaku questions what he means. (The word used for interesting could mean interesting or funny)

The perfect pose to watch the movie related to this game with your family!

And back to watching someone else watch an adult video. It's the exact same image until we suddenly get a figure I believe is Nagumo. Kuroko implies that Ozaki is just one human and says that things have become murkier. So time for Jaku and Kuroko to talk this over. It seems the mysterious figure is wounded, and that's significant. The blood of the Choujin can turn people into demons. So, Ozaki licked some of the Choujin's blood and recieved just enough power.

It cuts to Akemi, in the morning, and Jaku asks her about someone. (Apparently the game is trying to hide this from the player or I missed something important) She says whoever it is will be here after school. Jaku argues with Kuroko and goes off to Hitomi.

Hey, someone who finally looks the same in all her images, shame I can only show this one.

It's the girl in an adult video? Or was Jaku just watching two people via video? Unimportant. She brings up Seishi, which I suspect may have just been Ozaki's first name judging by how she mentions he's dead. She brings up a demon, which means...she's not human? Eh? Yeah, seems so, he's bringing up the demon world and everything...but she doesn't understand. He's trying to get her to understand though. He asks her where Ozaki drank blood, and she says it was Nagumo's. Something the movie got underway in the first thirty minutes and even showed it, so we the audience could figure it out before Jaku, assuming we could be bothered to figure out the mystery in a thing like this.

Hey, who is this? He approaches and his name appears. This is a joke, right? One complex character and one easy character. His name is Kudo, among other posibilities, but since he shares the same name (right down to the characters) as the lead character of Case Closed/Detective Conan, Kudo he shall be. Kudo tells Jaku to meet him in classroom 3-C. He looks like he means it, the music sounds like it too and Jaku talking about his atmosphere. But before leaving, he tells Jaku that he's been put in charge of 3-B today. Jaku says something about tearing up school rules and warring over bad public morals. Which means Jaku already knows what's going on or he's making references I don't understand at all.

Looks like there's still quite a bit of game left, so we'll finish this next time. It'll all be over then. Looks like my estimates were rather generous for myself.

This Session: 5 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours 00 minutes


  1. The anime is a great source Of pleasure

    1. Yeah, only Pleasure in a similar vein like Hellraiser if you ask me...

  2. I am not into manga or anime as I prefer the Franco-Belgian style but this looks like a rather bad acid trip to me...

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    3. Limitations of early Japanese computers result in few colours to choose from; the dithering would typically look better on a fuzzy CRT display.

      Also, some of the art indeed isn't that well drawn, resulting in a slightly melting look. I did some quick research and some games with comparable graphical specs like J.B. Harold titles have better art direction too, with more tasteful colours.

    4. I agree that it doesn't look good, especially since the artists can't seem to agree on what characters look like, or even what scale they should be in. Sadly, there aren't many Eurocomic-style artists working in adventure games.

      Though thinking about it now, the weird red dithering in one image probably looks better on a CRT. Sadly, my emulator doesn't really do that sort of emulation, so the best I can do is try to blur some raw images I have, and it does look better. Though one questions how much blurring should be going on considering that text readability is a very important issue in Japanese games.

    5. You brought up an interesting and in my opinion somewhat weird point, at least at a first glance. I think MAME has some video option to "properly" emulate a fuzzy CRT display. Would be nice if this would work here, too, but then this won't fix the split personality the artist or artists endured while choosing the colours for his or their characters.

      I find also the story... let's say... strange, but I guess this is just a manga-thing that I don't get since I am not into this stuff.

    6. Anyway, thanks for playing and taking us for the ride. This is definitely something I wouldn't have looked into as I have never been aware that such games exist in the first place.

    7. It was some trouble, but I got MAME working and played through most of the game with it and a decent CRT shader. Decent, because it was clearly intended for something that required a heck of a lot less smoothing out. Its not something I would do for most games, because it seems like MAME doesn't allow you to save state when you're emulating a computer and it saves directly to the floppy. Let's just say that Japanese developers seem to have a fondness for hateful dead ends.

    8. When you emulate a computer under MAME you end up in the former MESS code. I never looked into it as I preferred specialized emulators that did a better job, e.g., for the C64, but it might be the case that save states have been handled differently there, simply due to historical reasons. Bear in mind that MESS and MAME merged only a few years ago after centuries of bloody feuds.

  3. Does the plot make more sense if you've seen the movie, or can you sort of deduce what's going on without having seen it? It feels like a lot of plot critical explanations are missing from the game.

    1. A third option it seems, I missed a few things the first time around. I'll try to piece together the plot the best I have it with the final entry which will be very soon. That said, the movie and the original manga this is based on all differ from the game in considerable ways. An important part of the movie and manga, setting up part of the final actions of the plot, doesn't actually show up in the game except by implication.


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