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Germs: Nerawareta Machi

GERMS 狙われた街

Developer / Publisher: KEJ
22 July 1999
Germs: Nerawareta Machi [GERMS 狙われた街] - cover art
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4.26 / 5.0
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#251 for 1999
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Releases 1
Filter by: All 1 PS1 1
1999 KEJ  
CD-ROM
JP 4 525496 990018 SLPS-02107
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Title
Open World Alien Mutation Body Horror
When I found out about this game it felt like I struck gold. The screenshots of the game combined with the accolades of random internet people just seemed too good to be true. And it was. The game was a Japan exclusive and had no English fan-translation either. I thought I was fucked, but thankfully there is a Spanish fan-translation of the game. My understanding of Spanish is rocky at best, but with some help from google translate I was able to understand what was going on even if there was probably a good chunk of nuance lost in translation.

The plot of the game is pretty straightforward: you're a journalist visiting your home town in order to figure out what's going on with a virus plaguing the town and strange supernatural occurrences. You're joined by a cast of characters who are also interested in the happenings with the town who reach out to you via e-mail or your office phone. The plot-relevant characters are very easily distinguished from the normal NPCs for a very striking reason that many people tend to gravitate towards when talking about this game: they have real people's faces plastered on the models. In fact, they're the only characters that have faces at all. Going through the dungeons and finding out more about the mutation situation, you can read the thoughts/bios/whatever of the people you knock out (or in the case of mutants, kill). It's optional and they don't usually contain huge details but it's a really nice feature to add depth to the world. Some of the thoughts of the mutants can be kinda sad, revealing that their memories slowly fade away and are replaced with someone else's thoughts, losing their grip on humanity and eating moss. The story seems to be greatly informed by early sci-fi movies, which adds a lot of charm to it, it might be cheesier than I think it is as well, since the way I took it in is a translation of a translation.

You won't hear many people really talk about the plot, not because it's bad or anything, it's just that most people who play this who don't speak Japanese just treat it like LSD Dream Emulator and just explore the open world for 11 hours. Which, while there is a plot and dungeons and bosses, that is very much something you can do. The entire town is modeled and accessible either through running around, driving your car, taking the bus, or taking the train. The buildings in the town aren't just cheap rectangles either, the models for some of the buildings are pretty cool and you won't see the same block of buildings twice. A lot of effort went into the overworld and it shows.

When it comes to gameplay, however, this game is a product of its time in a not-so-favorable way. The controls are a slightly modified version of tank controls, which already don't mesh well with first-person games (I do love tank controls in 3rd person games) but to add confusion, the up and down arrows on the d-pad don't make you go forward and backward, they make you look up and down. You go forward and backward using triangle and x respectively. This takes a while to get used to and even at the end of the game I would find myself just looking up instead of going forward sometimes. You can use the shoulder buttons to strafe and the left trigger to run... But only in the overworld. Inside buildings you cannot run, which feels terrible. Your walking speed is ridiculously slow, so the best way to get around inside is to both strafe and walk forward at the same time which nearly doubles your speed. The combat in this game is really weird and feels outdated even for its time. When you aim a weapon it will lock onto one of the enemies in front of you, but whether or not the attack will land is determined by the given weapon's accuracy stat. Which means in the first dungeon when you likely only have the pistol and stun baton you will be trying to shoot a power plant guard point-blank and hit him only 1/5th of the time. Even weapons with max accuracy still miss often. It doesn't feel great to say the least. The game doesn't really tell you what any of the controls do either, or that some buttons change functions in the car aside from the obvious movement stuff.

The visuals of this game are where this game really shines for me. I already touched upon the neat thing where plot-relevant characters are the only NPCs with faces, but this game has a very distinct visual style beyond just that. It feels like it draws from late 70s/early 80s cgi demos, especially in places like the hotel or in the map store where there are these cute little yellow checkered globes. The overworld is probably the most striking thing in the game's art direction; it's entirely monochrome aside from the phone booths, bus stations, doors, and giant floating red arrows that indicate where enterable buildings are. Additionally, driving in the car gives you a view of the car's interior, which is fully modeled, which is a very nice detail for being on the PS1. Taking the train also lets you walk around inside the train cabin and look out the window while going to your destination, which is a completely unnecessary feature but I love that it's here. And of course there are the mutants and aliens, which have very strong designs. The mutants look properly swollen and fleshy, and the aliens have cool colorful designs that become more and more abstract the more you progress through the game, culminating in the final boss being a floating yellow blob that according to yourself and it, is a reflection of yourself. The music in this game draws again from early sci-fi b-movies, which while I appreciate the direction can get pretty grating at times, especially in the warehouse level. Though there are some stand-out tracks like the cathedral music. The box art is also pretty daring: a bunch of nude bodies all piled together with the game's title nowhere to be seen, which probably contributed to its poor sales.

I'd really love to see this game re-released somehow, with more refined controls and expanded areas (and more buildings to enter) so that the vision of this game can be truly realized. There's a definite passionate beating heart behind this game, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone willing to look past the jank.
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Catalog

thederpylink GERMS 狙われた街 2022-12-05T23:57:07Z
2022-12-05T23:57:07Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
IWishYaIWishYa GERMS 狙われた街 2022-12-05T03:19:28Z
2022-12-05T03:19:28Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
podunk GERMS 狙われた街 2022-11-10T21:30:16Z
2022-11-10T21:30:16Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
666LILGILGAMESH666 GERMS 狙われた街 2022-10-28T13:06:22Z
2022-10-28T13:06:22Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Lye_Well GERMS 狙われた街 2022-10-16T00:33:47Z
2022-10-16T00:33:47Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
cute GERMS 狙われた街 2022-09-26T20:33:38Z
2022-09-26T20:33:38Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Eingya_ GERMS 狙われた街 2022-08-06T06:47:41Z
2022-08-06T06:47:41Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
backlegdeodorant GERMS 狙われた街 2022-06-17T05:21:12Z
2022-06-17T05:21:12Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
IceKiller159 GERMS 狙われた街 2022-05-25T06:44:35Z
2022-05-25T06:44:35Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
faill17 GERMS 狙われた街 2022-03-31T11:27:30Z
2022-03-31T11:27:30Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
_svpxn_ GERMS 狙われた街 2022-02-23T20:50:02Z
2022-02-23T20:50:02Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
folkblues GERMS 狙われた街 2021-12-14T14:19:13Z
PS1 • JP
2021-12-14T14:19:13Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x CD-ROM
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  • ... 2017-12-20 20:11:14.53767+00
    Didn't understand shit but loved how otherwordly it was, a gem.
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