Bit of an Explanation
So, you may be wondering, "Just how accurate is Broken Minds to 1992 Japan?" And the answer is "I will never fully know".
But I do have SOME clue, so I will tell you now about some anachronisms that I am aware of in the game, as well as cultural inaccuracies, to help fill in the gaps of how much was creator-intended.
I should probably get the big one out of the way first: the cellphones that Noa, Hiroki and the detectives use are completely anachronistic. Apparently, people in Japan were still using beepers until around 1996. This was a complete mistake on my part and I'm truly sorry about it. For some reason, I didn't think to look up whether the cellphones were inaccurate, because not only did we have them here in the West, but I have a general assumption that Japan is more advanced in technology than we are, so it never even crossed my mind.
I learned about this after I'd already completed the game. There are two ways to fix it for good: one is to simply change the date the game takes place from 1992 to 1996. This would take some hunting to find all the places I reference the date, but it would be easier than option two, which is to try to replace all the cellphones with beepers. Having the characters use beepers would be much more 90s, so it's a big missed opportunity.
However, I'm actually going to just leave it be. For one, I was already stretching what cellphones in the 90s could do as part of the mystery. For another, though I give a specific date, Broken Minds is, first and foremost set in the "90s", and not "1992". I will explain why I bothered giving it a specific date later in this article.
There is a reference to Daria hidden in the game (doesn't take that much to find it, really). Not only is Daria probably not known in Japan at all, but she actually didn't even exist in 1992. She first appeared in 1993, and even then it was as a minor role in Beevis and Butt-head. I only put the reference in the game because Daria is my favorite 90s show, and I couldn't resist.
Junji Uzumaki's name is a reference to the manga Uzumaki by Junji Ito. At the time I thought this was an obscure reference, but it turns out that manga is super popular, so I guess it worked out. Anyway, Uzumaki wasn't published until 1998. Since it's a character's name, I figured it didn't matter that much.
The characters in the game do not behave in a realistically Japanese manner. This is kind of the point, but it's worth mentioning that in general, the casual, sarcastic tone of the game isn't very realistic, especially whenever I make a joke involving wordplay in English. I tried to compensate for this by sneaking in a few jokes only Japanese-speakers would get. If the game is ever so lucky to be translated into Japanese, then the detectives would be speaking in an informal, non-keigo direct style, but Noa and the other characters, even weird ones like Reiwa, would be speaking formally, in keigo.
Also, I have never been to Japan, and I wasn't born yet in 1992, so there are probably many interesting cultural things that I missed, and that you, by proxy, are missing out on while playing my game.
WHY JAPAN? WHY 1992?
Broken Minds is based mostly on a fear I have involving a stranger popping up in my window at night. I really could've based this story anywhere, though, so why Japan?
- I'm learning Japanese, and working on a project set in Japan is an amazing way to learn more about the culture and vocabulary for things.
- My main inspiration for the game is Danganronpa, which is set in Japan.
- I wanted to subvert visual novel tropes in the visual novel format. Where do those tropes come from? Japan. Where do visual novels come from? Japan.
Okay, so Japan makes sense as a location. but why did I set it in 1992?
- Having a specific date means I can use it as a reference point for character ages, and as a filter when creating props for specificity. A big mash-up of stuff from 1990 to 1999 would have been too all over the place. 1999 was pretty close in tone to 2000. 1990 was close in tone to 1989. It meant I could make something that would feel more of its time than just a bunch of shallow references (which is not to say my references aren't pretty shallow, but that's sort of the nature of it).
- 1992 felt right to me as a number. Thinking back, more of a mid-point in the 90s, like '94 or '96 would have been better for that "90s feeling", but I also wanted to see more of the grunge-y early 90s aesthetic.
- The reason I set the game in November was to make it easier to get accurate references. If I'd set it in the middle of 1992, and if the only date I could get for say, a type of vacuum cleaner I wanted to put in the game was just "1992", then I'd have no idea if it was really out yet by the time the game takes place. So setting it early, like January, would've helped me because I could use "1991" as the reference point for being sure something was out yet. But I wanted to set it late in the year, because the 90s needed some time to really become the 90s and not the 80s.
- I was interested in exploring the aesthetic of a more modern Westernized Japan, where traditional and cultural elements of Japan are being crushed by the beige, cramped design and influence of the West. That's sort of a theme that runs through the environments in the game. Because this game is being released in the West, I wanted to give Westerners an uneasy feeling as they played of something being not quite what they're used to.
ONE LAST THING
I'm really sorry about Astro Boy. The reason I put that teapot in there is because my family owns a teapot that looks exactly like that. When I first made the game, I thought it would be really short, free, and inconsequential. As it got longer though, that sort of disrespectful copyright infringement (I didn't ask permission. I wasn't really sure where to go to ask), became more uncomfortable to me.
I removed all of the visual references to stuff I didn't own and replaced them with parodies, but I left the Astro Boy teapot because it is extremely difficult to replace and would require many days of re-rendering backgrounds. Nobody's contacted me about it being an issue, but I wanted to address it before it became an issue.
I will be removing the teapot from the game when I update the YPDA environment. In my opinion it is a lackluster environment because I made it back when I was focusing more on speed over quality while making the backgrounds, so I wanted to redo some of it anyway. In the meantime, I am in the process of adding a disclaimer.
Chances are most people won't even care about this stuff, but I think it's interesting, so that's why I explained it. You can learn even more about the behind the scenes of the game by playing through each route! (Details in the Player's Guide)
— LockedOff, 2018.
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