Policenauts

Policenauts 2021-08-19

Policenauts is a graphic adventure game developed and published by Konami. It was written and directed by Hideo Kojima, and originally released for the PC-9821 in 1994. A hard science fiction story, Policenauts is set in the mid 21st century and follows Jonathan Ingram, an astronaut recently recovered floating in space in cryosleep after an accident at a space colony sent him drifting into space 24 years ago. Now a detective in Los Angeles, Ingram travels back to the colony to investigate the murder of his ex-wife and her husband's disappearance. As he begins his investigation, he starts to uncover an illegal organ trafficking ring.

Kojima conceived Policenauts while working on Snatcher (1988), and began development in 1990. He wanted the production quality to match that of major motion pictures, and created a scripting engine to give him more creative control. Drawing creative influences from American buddy television shows, contemporary social debates on anti-Japanese sentiment and organ transplantation, and Japan's heightened interest in space travel following the first Japanese man's trip to space in 1990, he sought to explore the concept of how living in space may affect human society and life, socially and physiologically. The original PC-9821 release utilized pixel art, while the 3DO, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn ports featured cel animation by Anime International Company.

An English localization was planned for the Saturn but was eventually cancelled, with Kojima citing technical problems with the translation. After interest in Kojima's work grew following the release of Metal Gear Solid (1998), demand for a translation built until a fan translation of the PlayStation version was released in 2009. Critics have praised Policenauts for its animation, voice acting, and overall presentation; several commentators have analysed its cinematic influences from films in the science fiction, action, comedy, and buddy genres, while others noted its reflection of Kojima's fascination with science and technology, and have praised its storyline, technical writing and worldbuilding. Along with Snatcher, which has been retrospectively identified as its spiritual predecessor, Policenauts has been called one of the best science fiction works in games, and a foundation for Kojima's later work in the Metal Gear franchise.

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