Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Policenauts (ポリスノーツ) is a Japanese video game written and directed by Hideo Kojima and developed and published by Konami. It was initially released for the NEC PC-9821 computer platform in 1994; followed by updated versions for the 3DO, PlayStation and Sega Saturn game consoles released between 1995 and 1996. Policenauts is a portmanteau word from the words police and astronaut.
It is a graphic adventure game played mostly from a point 'n click interface, although during some key points at the game, the player has to go through shooting sequences against adversaries in order to mantain their progress in the game and at some point, the player has to deactive a bomb implanted by a criminal.
The game is considered as a sequel to Hideo Kojima's previous title, Snatcher, due to the similar gameplay, although neither titles are actually related by plot (outside of a few passing references and in-jokes).
Policenauts, like Snatcher before it, pays various homages to previously-existing films. The most obvious being Jonathan's and Ed's (the main characters) respective resemblances to Riggs and Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon.
Policenauts has achieved a cult following since it's initial release in Japan. However, the game has not been released outside Japan (as of 2005) despite a proposed localization of the Saturn version and various online petitions.
- July 29, 1994 — PC-9821 (Japan)
- April 21, 1995 — 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (Policenauts - Pilot Disk) (Japan)
- September 29, 1995 — 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (Japan)
- January 19, 1996 — Sony PlayStation (Japan)
- February 9, 1996 — Sony PlayStation (Policenauts - Private Collection) (Japan)
- September 13, 1996 — Sega Saturn (Japan)
The game's protagonist is a man named Jonathan Ingram, who is one of the five titular "policenauts" (astronauts with police authority) asigned to ensure the safety of Beyond Coast, mankind's first fully-functional space colony, in 2013. Jonathan is lost in space and presumed dead after a freak accident occurred during a space-walking experiment, but is found nearly 25 years later after thanks to the cold-sleep module which spared his life and preserved his youth. The actual game begins in 2040, when Jonathan (now a private investigator working in the town that used to Los Angeles) is visited by his estranged wife, Lorraine, who asks for Jonathan's help after her current husband, a pharmacist by the name of Kenzo Hojo, dissappears, with the only clues left behind are a torn leaf, a set of capsules and the word "Plato". Jonathan is reluctant to take her case at first, but after witnessing Lorraine's murder at the hands of a masked assailant, Jonathan agrees to return to outer space (in spite of his cosmophobia) to fulfil Lorraine's final request. There he is reunited by his former partner from his LAPD/Policenauts days, Ed Brown, who agrees to help Jonathan find Kenzo Hojo.
The initial version of Policenauts for the PC-98 is the most primitive of all four. The graphics aren't up to par with the other versions and the FMV sequences weren't implemented yet. On the other hand, the PC-98 edition has the longest voice recording track of all versions and contains a few obscure scenes not in any of the console versions of the game.
Not long before the PC98 version was released, a 3DO version was announced. Prior to its release, Konami issued a "Pilot Disk" containing a demo of the game, various interviews with celebrity-like figures in the Japanese game industry, a glossary of terms used in the game and behind the scenes info on the game. The full 3DO version came in two discs and now featured FMV sequences featuring cel-based animation by AIC, combined with low-budget CG. This was the first version of the game for a game console.
The PlayStation version of the game made further improvements to the game, by adding digital effects to the game's graphics with transperency effects and such, with some of the static and animated images (including at least one of the FMV sequences) being completely redrawn and beautified. A premium disc was released for the PlayStation, titled Policenauts: Private Collection, which shared several of the same contents as the 3DO version's Pilot Disk.
The final version of Policenauts was released for the Sega Saturn and was over three discs long. It came packaged with a black slipcase and hardbound art book. Many elements of the Private Collections/Pilot Disk editions became standard features in this version (including a glossary of terms used in the game) and a scene from the PC98 version (missing from other versions) was restored. The Saturn version was the only version ofto support the use of a light-gun peripheral for the shooting sequences. This version was planned to be localized in the US, but translation difficulties prevented that from happening.
Cancelled U.S. Version
Despite various fan petitions and Hideo Kojima's increased popularity in the west due to the Metal Gear Solid series, no version of Policenauts was ever released outside of Japan. Reportedly, the 3DO and PlayStation versions were both considered for U.S. release, but only the Saturn version was officially announced and then cancelled.
A press release for the game was issued on Konami of America's website on May, 1996. The press release included comments by Randy Severin (former Senior Product Manager of KOA) and Andrew Donchak (consumer division president of KOA at the time). Moreover, a mock-up cover art was shown to retailers and on certain promotional materials. The U.S. version was quietly cancelled with no official explanation.
While many fans have made their own speculations for the cancellation, the actual reason (according to an interview between Hideo Kojima and Mamoru Oshii published in a Japanese Policenauts guide, conducted on August 8, 1996) was due to lip-synching problems between the animated FMV scenes and the English dubbing.
Cast of Characters
Jonathan Ingram Age: 30 (55 according to census registration). The protagonist. One of the five "original cops" which comprised the Policenauts. He was stranded in space for 25 years after a space-walking accident, only to be found alive, cryogenically frozen in his "survival ball". He developed Cosmophobia (fear for space) after this incident and has remained on earth as a freelance P.I in Old Los Angeles. He returns to outer space (Beyond) under Lorraine's request.
Ed Brown Age: 55. The chief of the Beyond Coast Police's Vice Squad. He was Jonathan's partner during their days in the LAPD and was also one of the "original cops". He is a devoted father to both of his children, Anna and Marc. He renews his partnership with Jonathan after 28 long years in an effort to find meaning in his life once more.
Karen Hôjô Age: 26. The heroine of the game. Daughter of Lorraine and Kenzo Hojo, she is a popular anchorwoman in Beyond and bears a striking resemblance to her mother. Behind the camera, she faces a serious dilemma as she suffers from Secondary Aplastic Anemia.
Tony Redwood Age: 23. A member of the Advance Police squad, which is the BCP's equalivent of the Swat Team. He is a "Frozener", a race of artificially-conceived humans who are resistant to space enviroment. He is an ace pilot who can manipulate an EMPS (Extravehicular Mobility Police Suit, the mecha used by the BCP) like mere limbs, which earned him the nickname of "Mr. Goddard", after the EMPS model used by the AP squad.
Gatse Becker Age: 56. One of the "original cops", Becker is the general director of the BCP and the commander-in-chief of the AP squad, giving him the highest police authority in all of Beyond.
Joseph Sadaoki Tokugawa Age: 60. One of the "original cops". He quit the force years ago in order to inherit his family's company, Tokugawa Group, after his father retired. He is the most powerful man in Beyond and has a huge influence over the media. He is also the board chairman for ISPA (the International Space Project Agency).
Salvatore Toscanini Age: 58. One of the "original cops". He was forced into early retirement from the police and now works as the security chief of Tokugawa's facilities on the moon in order to pay off his alimony bills from two divorces, which he couldn't support with his pension alone.
Meryl Silverburgh Age: 24. A member of BCP's Vice Squad and one of Ed's subordinates, Meryl was once a member of High Tech Special Forces Unit FOX-HOUND, but sometime after the unit was disbanded, she went to Beyond looking for action. She is a big tomboy, but also shows a softer feminine side when she's with Dave. Meryl is more popularly known as a character in the Metal Gear series, but her first appearance was in Policenauts.
Dave Forrest Age: 25. Meryl's partner within the Vice Squad. He is the total opposite of Meryl, as he is a huge pacifist who dislikes violence and prefers to disarm criminal instead of shoot-to-kill. Despite this, the two get along really well and are really close. He is a junk food addict who is always seen carrying burger.
Lorraine Hôjô Age: 55. Jonanthan's ex-wife. She married Kenzo after Jonathan was presumed death and then gave birth to her daugher, Karen. Lorraine goes to Jonathan in order to track down Kenzo, after he dissappeared for three weeks, only to be murdered by a masked assassin after leaving Jonathan's office.
Chris Goldwin Age 41. The director of the BCCH (Beyond Coast Central Hospital), the largest hospital in Beyond. She was a magazine model during her teenaged years, when she became acquainted with the "Original Cops" at the time.
Anna Brown Age: 16. Ed's teenaged daughter, who atteneds the UCBC (University of California, Beyond Coast), where she is majoring in Bioethics. She has taken over all household duties at the Brown residence after her mother, Catherine (Ed's wife), passed away.
Marc Brown Age: 8. Ed's adopted son. Marc's real parents were killed during a shoot-out with the police. Marc's biological father has stabbed his wife (Marc's mother) to death and was going after the child, which left Ed no choice but to kill him. The incident has left Marc a mute boy and Ed was unabled to use a gun since then. Their relationship as father and son is awkward at best as a result.
Kenzô Hôjô Age: 53. Lorraine's current husband. He is the head of Tokugawa's DDS Development Team. He has dissappeared from Beyond without a warning.
Victor Jurgens Age: 65. The BCP's forensic specialist. A stubborn, but energetic old man, originally from Russia. He uses a machine called AID for all analysis.
Jun Ishida Age: 24. A pharmacist who is in charge for management and administration of the BCCH's pharmacy.
Michael Saitô Age: 26. The receptionist and security guard at Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals. A really minor character in the game.
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