[I ♥ The PC Engine] No-Ri-KoPosted on July 28th, 2009 4 comments
Release Date: 12/4/88
Price: 4980 yen
Media: CD-ROM² (19.34MB + 96 audio tracks)
PC Engine FAN Score: 22.30 / 30.00
Kōgien: “A simple adveneture that lets you go on a date with popular celebrity Noriko Ogawa. The story begins with the hero picking up Ogawa’s lost train pass and getting invited to her concert. Also includes three tunes sung by Noriko herself.”
At the time this disc debuted in 1988, Noriko Ogawa (age 15) was a Japanese idol that sort of toed the line between “minor” and “major,” mainly known at that point for her role as a child actress in assorted TV shows and horror flicks. If your average person in Japan knows her, it’s for her role in a TV show, Hagure Keiji Junjoha, where she played the daughter of the main character for about 15 years straight, starting as a middle-schooler and graduating into adulthood until the show ended in 2005.
She put out a few singles starting in late ’87, starting with “Namida o tabanete,” and Shinichi Nakamoto at Hudson had the idea of putting her at the center of a simple adventure game. The plot: You happened to pick up Noriko’s train pass off the street, so her manager sets the two of you up on a date around Tokyo for a day. (’80s girl-adventures in Japan generally didn’t get more complex than this.)
There isn’t really much game here at all; the thing plays a lot like the early multimedia adventures released for American PCs in the early ’90s. Basically, you choose what places to visit on your date — visiting a clothing store (where you can choose an outfit for Noriko), taking some pictures of her, and maybe listening to a song or two. A playthrough takes about half an hour, and there’s not much in terms of alternate paths or endings, so there’s really no other genre to place this sucker in besides “girl.”
What the developers at Alfa System lacked in enthusiasm, though, they made up for with all the CD-ROM experimentation you see here. All of Noriko’s dialogue is spoken, with each line an individual redbook-audio track on the disc. Three of her singles are included as full CD tracks in this game with video accompanient — the first time that a video game, any video game, synced CD audio with computer graphics in a meaningful way. (A few more of her tracks appear as chip-generated background music.) When you complete a run-through of the game, Noriko (her actual voice) speaks the name you input at the start of the game — in a completely accent-less, robotic fashion, but still rather impressive for 1988. (Tokimeki Memorial 2, released in 1999, claimed to be the first girl-game where the ladies called you by name. Whatever, Konami!)
There’s not much point in reviewing this game further, because it’s not a game so much as a bucket full of small CD-ROM demonstrations and experiments. Noriko is a very nice lady, I’m sure she’s kind to stray cats and would gladly help an old, bent-over crone across the street, but her popularity was definitely in the “unknown outside of her fan club” range throughout her career. I’m not sure her face moved all that many CD-ROM²s, although owners appreciated Alfa’s experimentation enough to rate No-Ri-Ko remarkably high on the PCE FAN scale.
I couldn’t find any gameplay videos online and I’m still too lazy to make my own, so instead here is a Nico-video that uses Noriko’s robo-voice to sing “Maho o Kakete”, a tune from The IDOLM@STER. The results sound like Catwoman disguising her voice while calling Commissioner Gordon’s office.
believe it or not, this writeup, coupled with the screens of easy-peasy japanese, have convinced me to pick this game up next time i go to japan. i mean, why not, yeah?
i already love the back cover of it, with a lot of space dedicated to ad copy for the system itself…
i am also prewarning you that if you say something bad about monster lair there will be blood. i may have done this already, and i probably will do it again.
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