Well, with Episode 43 we'll finally reach March 1989 and with it, Jesus: Kyoufu no Bio Monster. At last our questions about this game will be answered! Sadly, Jesus... is nowhere near as weird as the name suggests. It is simply another Japanese adventure game; though it is a relatively high-quality game originally released by Enix. The Jesus of the title is not the well-known Jesus, but simply a space station named "Jesus." Not addressed in the game is why anyone would name a space station that. In fact, the space station plays very little part in the game and is rarely mentioned. My dreams of playing some nutty Japanese game with a gonzo take on Christianity have been shattered.
|You suffer from a bad case of anime hair.|
The plot of Jesus: Kyoufu no Bio Monster is lifted from a very secular source: the 1978 Dan O'Bannon/Ridley Scott film Alien. In Jesus the xenomorph was hiding out on Halley's Comet, infiltrated a space ship, then killed everyone on board. The hero, some anime dude with hair that alternates between red, pink and purple, explores the hallways and storage areas of an empty spaceship while occasionally encountering the creature. Eventually he defeats the monster, though methods too absurd to repeat here (I'm not kidding: the secret weapon used against the creature is jaw-droppingly dumb.)
Jesus: Kyoufu no Bio Monster has its strengths -- great music by Koichi Sugiyama, of Dragon Quest fame, and art design by Shintaro Majima, who later became the head of Arte Piazza, the guys responsible the DS Dragon Quest ports, among other things. Yet it still suffers from the same problems that plague so many other Japanese adventure games of the Famicom era. On the surface, Jesus appears to offer a non-linear and open-ended experience. You can wander around the ship freely, looking for clues and items. But in reality, the game enforces a strict, linear, series of events, mostly through a series of triggers, which are often hidden.
|The game is not subtle about its influences.|
For example, at one point you encounter the alien in a freezer. If you had entered the freezer earlier, you would have noticed a valve to release some liquid coolant. The game originally forbids you from opening the valve, instead advising you it would be too dangerous to release the coolant. By this point you already know the alien is sensitive to cold and have armed yourself with some sort of freeze ray gun. Once you encounter the alien in the freezer, it's pretty obvious you are going to need to open that valve. However, again, the game does not allow you to turn the valve. So instead you use your freeze ray again. However, the freeze ray has suddenly run out of power. It is then screamingly obvious that you are going to use the valve to release the coolant and freeze the alien. Yet, once again, if you try to open the valve, the game advises you it's too dangerous, despite the fact that there is a cold-sensitive alien standing there about to bite your head off. No matter how many times to try to open the valve, the game refuses to do so.
Those of you with experience in adventure games might be trying to think of a logical solution to this puzzle. Maybe there was an item you forgot to pick up, like an environmental suit to protect you from the coolant. Or maybe searching the room will reveal a control panel to activate a blast shield to seal off the part of the room you're in. However, the actual solution is nothing like that. Instead you need to use your freeze ray again, despite the fact you already tried to use it once and were told it was non-operational. Once you try to use the freeze ray for the third time, the game will suddenly suggest you use the coolant valve instead. Then, and only then, will the option to turn the valve be unlocked. You can't just figure out that the valve needs to be turned, you need to figure out how to get the game to tell you to turn the valve.
This style of puzzle perfectly sums up Jesus: Kyoufu no Bio Monster and all the frustrations it produces.
Episode 43 will be a little heavy on the adventure games. We will also cover Hikaru Genji - Roller Panic, a game staring a popular 80s Japanese boy band, as well as Ankoku Shinwa: Yamato Takeru Densetsu and little something you may have heard of called Shadowgate.
Episode 43 is totally a real thing and will be happening before too much longer. Check back later.