Notes from my playthough of Karuizawa Yuukai Annai

As I wrote in the post with my gameplay/story notes from playing Okhotsku ni kyuu, I have also been playing Karuizawa yuukai annai lately, and since there are not many texts in English covering this game, I wanted to share my translation notes also for this one. Again, I study Japanese as a hobby but am not fluent, which means that these notes likely have some translation errors in them. I do think that the general gist should be there though.

These gameplay notes contain full story SPOILERS for the game.

Before the game starts you are asked to enter your first and last name for the main character. If you don’t enter a name, you will default to Shirou Sakaki, except for the PC-6001 that defaults to Yuuji Enix. These notes will refer to the player character with the default name (Shirou).

One night, Shirou drives to his girlfriend Kumiko Takagi’s holiday house. He is in a hurry and talks to himself about being late (is this maybe among the first Japanese games not using the silent protagonist trope?). Kumiko opens the door and is happy to see you. She says your timing is excellent: her little sister Nagisa is out doing shopping and thus there is some time for just the two of you to be alone for awhile. You can try to kiss her or embrace her, but she calls you an “idiot, someone can see us”. You go inside. You apologize for being late with a white lie, but the calls your bluff. You ask about the house and learn that her father had bought it before he died. You talk for a while, but then Kumiko gets worried about her sister not coming back. She was just supposed to go to the station area to buy soy sauce. She asks you call the police, which you do. A detective comes over. He summarizes the case: Nagisa is about 18 years old and is known to like wander the area aimlessly, there has been no threatening phone calls or incident reports so far. They will begin a search, and keep you informed. The police leaves. You think about driving back to Tokyo when the phone rings. Kumiko answers, goes silent, and says that caller hung up. Then title screen appears, a beepy jingle plays. A text that informs that this is a work of fiction is displayed.
Chapter 2 begins the next morning. Nagisa has not yet returned and Kumiko is a upset that she hasn’t called. You suggest that the two of you should look for in parallel to the police. She likes the idea and goes to change her clothes. What you basically have to do now is to walk around Karuizawa and ask if anyone had seen Nagisa yesterday. Compared to the other games in the series (Portopia and Okhotsk, this game has a map for you traverse. This makes the game more open than its predecessors, but also goes against the design philosophy of Portopia of intensifying the narrative by cuting away the traversal scenes. There is however a fast-travel option like in the previous games if you prefer that. The Karuizawa area has a lot of different locations: the house of Kumiko, the station, a tennis and a horse riding club, a lake, a mountain trail and café, to name a few. When you are near a location on the map you can enter, Kumiko will describe it for you at the bottom of the screen. You can then look at the place (which sometimes gives you an exterior illustration of the building/area) or enter it, which normally skips the exterior scene. By this time it is apparent that the verbs differ slightly or use synonyms compared tothe previous Horii adventures (mainly since this is not a police game).

You start by looking in the nearby mountain, in which Kumiko said Nagisa often wandered aimlessly. In the grass you find wild marijuana growing. On a mountain road on a different part of the map, you find a wallet lying in the grass; it’s Nagisa’s. Kumiko wonders what it is doing here. The there is still money inside, and a tarot card. The card is of the major arcana: Death. At the supermarket at the station (her last known destination), you show a photo of Nagisa. The clerk says he is certain that she did not come here yesterday, since he would absolutely remember such a cute girl. At the tennis court, you meet Kumiko’s friend Youko, who has heard her talk of you (Shirou) before. You ask her if the sister had been coming this way yesterday, but Youko is certain that she has not been here lately. Kumiko asks about the day before last, in which the sister said she had been here, but Youko said that that is not true, but she remembers that she had seen Nagisa head towards Laketown the other day.

At the horse riding club, you talk to Nishimura, who recognizes Kumiko as one of the two Takagi sisters. You ask if she has been here yesterday, but she has not. The writing is this game is sparse, and in that sense feels more like Portopia than Okhotsk. There is a lot of small talk in this game, catalysed by the fact that for the sake of realism you need to greet a person ("Hello") before you can ask them about things. Very few lines of dialogue span more than one text box, but it turns out that sometimes you need to ask the same question multiple times to trigger more dialogue. You go to the church. The priest is the first character who speaks more than one line at a time. He talks about how Kumiko’s parents died in a traffic accident. But it seems that he does not remember that Kumiko had a sister at all (Weird). At the Villa Hotel, the owner says Nagisa had not come there since the death of their father. He reacts strangely when shown the tarot card and then tells you that he does not know the details well, but that once he was invited to a questionable party at a secret club, and this card looks like their membership card did. He does not know much about the club, but they were located in the Jizougahara area.

At the café called The Drive In, the owner (“Master” in Japanese) tells you that Nagisa had been there the day before yesterday together with a man. The Master did not get a good look at the man’s face, but saw that Nagisa got money from him. You go a large villa. Hydrangeas bloom in the hedge. Kumiko reads the name Hanayama on the nameplate. She thinks she has heard that name somewhere before. Hanayama who opens the door recognizes you as Kumi-ojousama ("young Kumiko"). It turns out that he used to be a subordinate of Kumiko’s father, and now, after the passing of the father, has become the CEO of the company. Hanayama had not seen your sister come this way yesterday. When shown the tarot card, he laughs, saying that Kumiko seems to like jokes. When pressed about the card, he seems to know more than he lets on, but is feigning ignorance. Leave and go back inside and Kumiko will talk to him about the hydrangeas: he thinks they have a beautiful pink color, but Kumiko corrects him saying that some of them were blue. He had apparently not noticed this.

Back at Kumiko’s house, you find an address book in Nagisa’s desk. It contains the addresses of her friends. It says that a Asami Mizuki lives near the station. You go and see Asami. Asami is uninterested and stubborn, but eventually talks. She does not know where Nagisa is, but tells you that the man Nagisa was hanging out with is called Masahiro Shinoda. She does not seem to like him. There is a phone booth outside Asami’s house. You look in the phone book. Shinoda’s number is in the book, but not his address. You call him. You pretend to be from the phone company, asking for his address in order to come fix a problem with the wiring. He eventually falls for it, and you get his address. You go see him, he hangs out on the street. You tell him that you are Nagisa’s sister. He recognizes the card as the one Nagisa had. He cannot if last time he saw her was yesterday or some other day before that. One of your menu options can be used to “be forceful” with a person. You use it with Shinoda to make him talk. He says that they have not kissed yet, and that Nagisa is cold. He tells you that he has been with Asami as well. At Asami’s, she lets you in, but says she is busy. When pressed about the card, she tells you that there is a party tonight in Jizogahara, and the card is the invitation.

To get to Jizogahara, you need to select it from the quick travel menu. The game is not very good a telegraphing this, so if you’ve been playing mainly using the map, you might get stuck here. You arrive at the house, and there’s a party going on inside. You talk to a man, who thinks Kumiko look like a girl he’s seen (the sister?). You show the photo of Nagisa and he recognizes it. She seemed to be on good terms with Ishida’s crew. Ishida is a delinquent (small time yakuza; chinpira yakuza). Nagisa got very upset with Ishida seven days ago. Ishida does not seem to have come here today. Kukimo gives the man her number in case he sees anything. You go back home to check, but Nagisa is still not back. The phone rings. Kumiko answers. You ask her who it was, but she stutters, “it was nothing… just another wrong number...”

Chapter 3 is set during the next morning. Kumiko asks if you want coffee. You ask about Nagisa. She tells you to stop worrying. In this scene, which is basically just a long dialogue sequence, you and Kumiko get intimate and you learn about Kumiko’s past. Her parents died in a traffic accident on their way back from Tokyo last year. She does not want to talk about it. Then, suddenly, she reveals that she does not have a sister, or well, rather: she had a sister who died at age 12. She had always been sick. And when she died, their mother did not want to accept it. Kumiko became neurotic, and started taking on a double role as her sister in order to comfort her mom. She says that she wants to just be Kumiko from now on, and that this is why she told you that her sister was missing. She is sorry that she tricked you into this. You leave in anger. So suddenly there is no missing sister? You can’t believe she lied to you for so long. But there is something about this that you find strange.

Chapter 4 begins. You think about returning to Tokyo, but decide to stay and investigate on your own. Back on the mountain, you look at the grass again, but where Kumiko saw wild cannabis, there is now nothing of the like. Either someone has taken it all, or Kumiko was making things up. At the lake, there is a bench with a shovel on it. You take it, just in case (you just have to love the size of the pockets of adventure game protagonists...). You find a lighter in the grass on the mountain road. You take it. An initial is engraved on it: H (written eichi, エイチ, in kana; depending on how you read it, this can coincidently mean dirty/obscene in Japanese, ecchi - it is hard to tell if this is an intentional reference to the fact that the game does have some ecchi scenes in it...). You go back to The Drive In and ask about some things. Last time the Master saw Nagisa was that time with the man. Last time he saw the man he was walking at the station area. He was a man in his forties, with a big house (i.e. not Shinoda like we thought before). You ask the Master where he was last night; he is surprised that you ask, but says he was out for a drink. You call Kumiko and tell her you’re at The Drive In. She wants to talk about what happened before and says she’ll come to see you right now. However, in true adventure game fashion, you will take this opportunity to her house and investigate stuff instead...

You search Kumiko’s house. The phone rings. You answer. “At Takagi’s”. A man is at the other end. “You’re Shirou, right? I will not be unpleasant: just go back to Tokyo and forget all this. Are we good?” He hangs up before you have time to say anything. Something is definitely up. You find a book. It’s a field guide in botany with a bookmark in it. The page talks about how Hydrangeas can bloom blue if there is iron in the soil. You remark that hydrangeas are in season right now. You take the book and go into Nagisa’s room. The address book in which you found Asami’s address is gone. Underneath the bed is a manga volume. It has a story about a sister who had died but the family pretended that she was still alive. Oh. Perhaps Kumiko had read it, and what she said before was just a lie based on this book? But why? Where those wrong number calls from before in fact threatening her?

The hotel manager tells you that Kumiko’s face doesn’t show it, but what happened to her parents has certainly been wearing her down. You also learn that Kumiko’s father had many confrontations with Hanayama, his subordinate. Nishimura at the horse club tells you that the breaks of the car Kumiko’s parents died in had a missing bolt. Leave and come back and he tells you that Nagisa and her friends from the tennis club had been seen walking with the Master of The Drive In. You go to The Drive In and show the Master the lighter, but he does not recognize it. You ask him about Youko at the tennis club, he does not know much other than she is seems to be liked by everyone. Ask him again about what he did last night, and he says watching TV. Use the “be forceful” option again. You accuse him of being with Nagisa last night. But he apologizes and says he was out drinking and then watched TV.

Youko tells you that Kumiko has poor eyesight. Once a tennisball was just beside her and she did not see it. When asked about the Master, Youko wonders if you are jealous. You show her the lighter, but she does not recognize it. You ask her again, forcefully. She mentions that the priest might know something. You talk the priest. He tells you that he thinks Kumiko has a nice figure for a wedding dress and should get married (weird…) and that the parents that died were truly good people. When you leave he will give you a fourth-wall breaking message from God: you should press H (エイチ) to use the shovel to dig in a certain place. Outside Hanayama’s place, you remember that Hydrangeas only bloom in blue if there is iron in the soil, and all the flowers are pink, except one. You press the H key on the keyboard and dig in the soil under the blue bush. You find an iron bolt, likely the one missing from the car that crashed. You go inside. Hanayama agrees that H (エイチ) is ineed his initial, but that he does not smoke so the lighter is not his. You show him the bolt you found in his garden, but he does not answer. You ask him forcefully and accuse him of playing dumb and causing the accident which made him CEO of the company. You tell him you found the bolt in his hedge. He then for some reason releases a puff of smoke (!) and escapes ninja-stle; very over the top, very suspicious. You look under the floor boards and find a letter. The letter is from Masao Takagi (Kumiko’s father) adressed to Hamayama. The postmark was from autumn last year. It reads: ”If something happens to me, I sincerely entrust the care of my daughters to you”. “What the heck?”, you think.

You go to Asami’s. She is doing aerobics. She tells you that Nagisa wanted to investigate the death of her parents, and apparently went to the club in Jizogahara to do that. Asami says that she was asked by an unknown woman to send the botany booke to Kumiko. She did learn name of the woman, but saw her leave in the direction of Jizogahara. You hug Asama. The game ask if you want to make love to her (a high school girl...), but you are supposed to say no. The two of you leave for Jizagahara.

Chapter 5. You arrive by car to Jizogahara together with Asami. This area has its own map screen. This map loops when you go east-west, so it is smaller than it first seems. There is a house here that you only can enter if you, on the map screen, choose to hit the window to learn that it is loose, and then remove it. This is the first time you need to use menu commands on the map screen, and you need to use one of the rare commands as well; this is not intuitive at all. Then, to make matter even more obtuse, inside, the game starts to use a point-and-click interface. You need to pixel hunt, but there are no objects drawn on the spots where you are supposed to click (yikes, this game design is going downhill fast...). Eventually, after a lot of blind clicking abount, you find a photo of a 40year old man and a child. There is also an old newspaper. It talks about a corporate embezzlement and a suicide. The man was from Takagi’s company, a Katsuo Hirota. The door leading to another room is locked. You will later solve this by going to the other side of the house on the map screen and noticing that the second floor window is ajar; it turns out that this house icon can be interacted with in different ways depending on which side of the icon you stand on while on the map…

At the Duran Inn, you meet a woman named Fumie (a Portopia cameo). You ask her about the villa you just broke into. She has seen Sanpu the Priest enter it now and then. She recognizes the lighter and says it belongs to the Master of The Drive In. You can ask her about her family and she will tell you things that should be familiar if you have played Portopia. Her parents are dead, but she has a brother. He was a police officer. You learn that he is Yasu, and your character says that he has heard of the case. Inside, Oda, the owner of the Inn seems to know Asami, but has not heard of Nagisa (he thinks he heard someone called Nagisa working at Kusatsu Onsen’s Cabaret Medoro, but Asami interjects that that is someone else.). You show him the 15 year old newspaper you found and he reacts to the name Hirota. You then show him the photo form the villa. If you haven’t shown him the newspapers, he does not remember the photo, but done in correct order, he tells you that the child is Masakatsu Hirota. Masakatsu had transferred to Oda’s class 15 years ago and after graduation moved to Tokyo. Hirota has a little sister is named Youko (i.e. the girl from the tennis club). You ask about the large villa. He says it was built long ago and that there have been multiple owners. There is a ladder behind Oda. You ask if you can borrow it, and he says: yes, if Asami shows him her panties (sigh… this game).

With the ladder you can enter the eastern side of the villa by climbing through the window on the second floor. There is a living room there. You find a key between the cushions of the left sofa. The table lamp had been disconnected, and you take it. In the corridor, you find that they key opens the left door. Inside is an empty room. There is a piece of paper in the corner. It says, in hasty writing, “1ban shitarobanme”, which is likely a clue to a bookcase in another room in the house that you have to interact with on specific position on a specific row. In the kitchen on the bottom floor, you find tobacco in a cupboard. It has no brand name, and seems to be homemade. Another room on the bottom floor is pitch black. Using the “hit” command, you turn on the light switch. In a cupboard is a ledger with the details of the members of the club. To look up a person in the member ledger, you need to write his/her name in katakana in a parser that appears when investigating the ledger. You should look for Ishida; it says that he  lives south of here. There are no entries for Nagisa, Kumiko or Sanpo.

There is a hidden switch in the bookcase (cf. the "1ban" note) and pressing it reveals a hidden passage leading to a basement room. There is a leaf of what looks to be marijuana on a table. In this room, there is yet a hidden exit you can find by pushing on the bricks. The passage leads to a system of tunnels. If you navigate it successfully, you will end up on another part of the map, on a house surrounded by walls. It is, however, possible to fall down a hole from which it seems impossible to escape. The house you find contains a single room. You investigate a frame on the wall and find a document. You try to read it, and Asami comments that she cannot understand the meaning of.

At Duran Inn, you show Oda the tobacco. He smokes a puff of it and says it tastes unusual. He also confirms that the leaf you found is marijuana. The documents, which Asami did not understand turn out to be stock certificates in the Villa Hotel in Karuizawa. You ask him about Nagisa again, and now he recalls. Recently a girl about the same age of Asami came to the club at the villa. Her name might have been Nagisa. He also says that the current owner of the club villa is a man around 55 years old, but does not know where he’s from.

You enter the cave under the house again, but this time head to another exit, which take you to a peninsula in the lake. There you meet an old man that dresses like a monk. First time you talk to him he asks if you come here often. This guy will turn out to be quite a jokester. You then have to leave the screen and go back, and talk to him again to trigger new dialogue when you talk to him again. He greets Asami and says that he is here to relax in the sun, and that he is the god (kami-sama) of this place. Asami thinks it absurd. He says that it was a joke he pulls on people to feel less bored. He tells you that if you hit the cliff at a certain spot of the mountain road south of the lake a passage will open (very video-gamey advice). Asami thanks him with a kiss and he chuckles. You go strike the cliff and a passage opens, just like he said. There is a house here in which a person that seems to be Yuji Horii himself resides, under the name Yuubo. He says ”You are nearly there, please do your best”

In the last house of this area, you find Ishida. You ask him about Nagisa using the forceful option. He says that he does not know that girl, but you keep pressing him. Asami loses her temper to which he calls her bitch. She proceeds to beat him up. He begs her to stop and tells you what he knows about Nagisa. She is a cute but careless girl; looking for clues about the case of the accident of her parents she apparently found her way down to the basement and discovered the marijuana manufacturing room. Ishida reported this to a man called Mr. Dragon, and Ishida does not know what happened after that. You learn that Mr. Dragon is the owner of the villa and boss of the club,  that he wears a mask and that his name is unknown. Asami concludes that Ishida is just a hoodlum and does not know anything else of interest for you. You decide to focus on finding clues about this boss.

You go back to the villa. You hear the voices of two people in the corridor:
     “What is it?”
     “It seems like Kumiko’s lover have been snooping around. But Kumiko and Nagisa have already been taken care of, and he will not understand a thing”
     “Sorry for taking up your time with this.”
     “I don’t mind. Please come here whenever you like”
They leave. You go downstairs. Was that Mr. Dragon?You think that there was something familiar about one of the voices. You tell Asami that you might have an idea, and the two of you return to the Karuizawa station area.

Chapter 6 begins with a big plot exposition. Until now, only a few sets of dialogue have taken more than two screens, but this one stretches well over twenty. While the plot of this game is interesting as far as mystery stories go, the presentation is a bit incohesive and scattered at times which the need for this type of plot dump really highlights. You try to sort your thoughts and put things together. The Master was seen taking a walk with Youko; Nagisa’s wallet was found in the same place as the lighter; The breaks of the car had been tampered with, causing the death of the Takagi parents; the father had sent a letter to Hanayama that indicated that he was in trouble, and perhaps Hanayama was not the culprit after all and someone was trying to frame him; Fumie said that the lighter belonged to the Master; the H inital on the lighter could fit with Hirota Masakatsu, the son of the man who committed suicide; the priest had often gone to the club villa; there was something familar about the voices you overhead at the villa; and so on. After a long summary of events, you are asked to answer a quiz and solve the case. If you get something wrong here, the questions loops and you have to try again. You need to figure out the following: The boy in the photo (Hirota) is the Master, and Youko is his sister. Nagisa received money from Hanayama. The Master received orders from someone to kidnap Nagisa. Sekiya (the hotel owner) raised Master and Youko. You conclude that Sekiya is Mr Dragon (the familiar voice in the villa). You are now given control again, but this time you can only move around by quick travel.

The cop from the beginning of the game is shopping in the supermarket at the station. You greet him and he ask if your friend’s sister was found. He thinks that Sekiya seems suspicious. When asked about Mr. Dragon, he tells you that there was a criminal organization named Dragon over ten years ago, but that it was destroyed after they were apprehended. The tennis club is empty, Youko is not around. At the church you ask the priest the some forceful questions. “Where is the Dragon? I know that you have been going to the club villa.” He admits to going to the party, and while he is certainly still sees himself as a servant of God, this club has been a weakness of his. “I wasn’t doing anything big. The people there did not trust me, and therefore I know very little.” You tell him that you think Sekiya is Mr. Dragon, and the priest is shocked. At the hotel, you learn that Sekiya is not in today. You show the photo to the clerk and he says that the man in the photo is Katsuo Hirota, that Sekiya and Hirota were friends in their youth, and confirms that the child in the photo is Master. He tells you that the Master lost his father when he was a boy and that Sekiya took him in. He has heard about Mr. Dragon (“the shadow boss of Karuizawa”) who hosts illegal parties and tricks people into his organization. There is a rumor that somewhere in Karuizawa is a hidden village where the Dragon resides.

You try looking at The Drive In, but it is closed for holidays. As you leave, Kumiko shows up on a motorcycle. “Where the heck have you been!?” you ask. “We can take the details later. Look at this photo.” It’s a photo of Nagisa. The game then prompts you to look at the physical copy of the image that came in the game’s box (both a puzzle and a means of copy protection; the mobile version supposedly displays the photo in game). Kumiko explains that she was about to be attacked and had Hanayama hide her; she did not want to involve you, so therefore she did not tell you. Hanayama told her that he and Nagisa were looking for the culprit that killed the Takagis, but during this Nagisa was kidnapped. The culprit sent this photo of Nagisa to Hanayama with the message: “I have the kid. If you continue to look into this, she will die.” Kumiko thinks that the background scenery in the photo is a clue to where Nagisa is being held. Now you need to input the name of the place in katakana. Maybe you need to have local knowledge of Japan and the Karuizawa area, but from what I can tell, there is no way of guessing the location of the photo from in game clues. The answer is Asama-yama (Mt. Asama). Kumiko agree that this is the most likely place since you can see both a church and a farm in the background. Maybe the image is a clue that Nagisa is held at an elevated location, and then you are supposed to know that the most famous mountain in the area is Asama?

You go to Asama-yama and enter the forest. The game now changes into a Ultima-style RPG that could be seen as a proto-Dragon Quest attempt by Horii. You have three characters: Kumiko, Asami and yourself. You fight different thugs that block your way. Kumiko can blow a kiss, and Asami flash her panties (in the mobile version this has been changed to as a so-called pafupafu, which seems to be the act of putting your face between a woman’s breasts) to decrease the defence stat of the enemies. Your character can either fight or defend, and is the only character in the party who can damage the enemies. Instead of XP, you gain a small amount of strength and defence points after each battle. You can find boxes with stat upgrades: stamina (health), strength and defence. There is a spring in which you can restore your health unlimited times. If you walk away from a thug you have started fighting, they will heal (but they cannot follow you). This section almost plays like a puzzle since you need to figuring out which thug to fight in which order (they have different stats) and try to find as many stats boosting pick-ups before attacking stronger enemies. Since the girls' attacks cannot damage the thugs, and the thugs cannot damage them, you will basically enter the same commands every round: kiss, flash, attack. Repeat until you beat each enemy, go back to the spring and heal, attack the next one. There is another pond that is divided into two small ponds that you should not drink from since it will decrease your life and your stats: it is toilet water. If you die you just restart the RPG part from the beginning. The last thug cannot be beaten, but will give you a clue after taking a lot of damage. You should search the double ponds to find sheer panties (bunny suit in the mobile version). Without them, you cannot defeat the last boss, who drops his defence when the new clothing is worn.

You enter the house and find the main villains. Sekiya is sitting on a chair smoking a pipe and the Master is standing guard, dressed in typical Chinese clothes. A sword hangs on the wall. You demand them to let Nagisa go, but to no avail. Suddenly the detective from earlier charges in with a group of policemen and arrest them all – it seems like you had been wise enough to tell them where you where going before setting off. You find and free Nagisa and return home. The epilogue features Asami and Nagisa preparing food in the Takagi villa. They seem to be in a good mood, and Asami jokes about whether Nagisa had remembered to buy soy sauce at the supermarket. When the food is ready they go looking for you in a nearby room, but they stop at the door, looking at you and Kumiko kissing. A few days later Kumiko finds a note from Nagisa. “I’m going on a trip to find a boyfriend as nice as yours. Don’t come looking for me this time”.

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar