"Azure Dreams" (Client: Konami / Agency: INTAC / Circa: 1999)
This is one of the few full-blown RPGs I've worked on. Unfortunately, I don't see a lot of what was great about non-vid RPGs getting passed down to the vid RPG, and games like Azure Dreams are typical of that trend. It's more like Monopoly than Call of Cthulu, with blandly straightforward acquisition (monsters, treasures, affections of various females) serving as both the means and the end.
As projects go, this one had insane character limits, always a fun restriction for Japanese-to-English localizer getting paid by the final English output. Since English by nature requires more letters than Japanese to get across the same thing, it took some terseness and language acrobatics to get it done. On the plus side, I got to invent far superior names for all the spells on the very reasonable pretexts that the original names went over the count.
The two saving graces of this game are an assortment of cute monsters, and the sheer freakiness of the character art direction. I loathe snap cultural judgements, having had them thrown at me all my life but I will note that things like monsters, bugs and robots tend to be anthropomorphized and doted on in Japan, while causing Americans to have a total meltdown of revulsion and speciatic paranoia. Really, "cute monster" is an oxymoron in English. Anyway, the AD monsties/familiars are a fun lot, and the prospect of having a dozen on the leash like a Manhattan dog walker no doubt contributed to the game's appeal. Alas, while the monsters are adorable, the humans are quite monstrous: Giant Keane eyes in disturbing jewel tones, knock knees and — in case of the girls (and there's a whole set of 'em, one in every stereotype) — some oddly starched bits of clothing that resist gravity. I guess they're a welcome if rather discomfiting respite from the Evangelion school of art.
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