Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chronicles of a cosmophobic sleuth

It's been 15 years - yes, that long. In my case 13 full years. It has been that long, in fact, little more than a decade since I first read about POLICENAUTS on JapanMania, namely the 1996 re-release of the game for the Playstation and Saturn consoles, an improved version of an already redesigned port from the old PC-9821 to the CD-Rom age and the impressive hardware of 3D0. And yet the first glance at that newly translated start menu - whose theme will sound vaguely intriguing, at least, for those more familiar with the original METAL GEAR SOLID - was enough to make me feel like I finally had gotten there: now I can once and for all put away the Japanese dictionary, close the Kanji translating applications because of Marc Laidlaw and Artemio Urbina, to whom I shall be eternally grateful.

And what is the appeal of a game such as POLICENAUTS in mid-2009? Upon hearing about the newly released English translation patch for the Playstation version I feared that the appeal of the age-old game had somehow worn-off, vanished as did the interest for so many games wane with the passage of time. Yet not for POLICENAUTS. A few minutes in that redolent, messy dim-lit office were more than sufficient to remind me of how pleasurable this unique adventure classic was and still is. Without any control over my emotions I found myself invaded with strong returning memories of anime-style cyber city landscapes and rare depictions of Kindred Dick noire futures - truly rejoicing for having lived this long to see the day when they translated Policenauts.

There is also a strange appeal to this particular translation, emanating from its will to single-handedly reunite East with West. Having learned a little more about Kojima's unique mindset in the meantime, it seems rather natural to me, if not relieving, that such conversion appears after so many announces and failed attempts. His games, for reasons that may defy rational explanation, have always seemed to belong to the universe of that particular dialect: contrary to what can be verified in so many other distinguished titles from Japan, they conform and excel in it.

Additionally, I've come to believe that Kojima stands quite possibly as the one Japanese game author whose close references to the Hollywood imaginary of action and science fiction films seem to require the employment of English names and terms beyond the already frequent Japanese neologisms. And how beautifully captured is this lone gumshoe’s soliloquy, blended imperceptibly into the game with such an allusive roman alphabetic font type. At last - officially or not, the devil may care -, POLICENAUTS was released on this our side of the world.

Mr. Ingram, Mr. Brown: we’ve been expecting you.

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