The Let's Play Archive


by slowbeef

Part 2: In which we meet our hero's ex-wife

Previously on Policenauts...

Since it came out before Metal Gear Solid, Policenauts is the first Kojima game with this helpful feature: summary screens!

Basically, when you reload a savegame, you get a little 3-4 paragraph, one page summary of what you previously did. It's really helpful in a plot heavy game like this... and wow, what a pain in the ass it was to hack.

The problem is the game is programmed to do it in ONE PAGE. If your English goes over, well, that's just too fucking bad, mon frair. Fixing this was a tag-team effort from Scarboy and I. We reduced the spacing between lines and increased the margins so that Marc could fit more English onscreen, but here's an even bigger problem: These summaries are composited from individual paragraphs.

That means that there's not a summary for each checkpoint in the game, there's 60-70 paragraphs of text that the game programatically composes to make the summary!

I had to write a script to figure out all the game's permutations of summary (Note: I mean by using the game's own control codes, not just every single permutation), and present it to Marc. Then to figure out if we got it right, I had to get Marc's translated version and figure out if - with our new margins and line spacing - it all fit on one page.

For everything else in the hack, we managed to let Marc be as verbose as he wanted. There's one summary in the game that's a little big and I do remember saying to Marc: "Please don't add any words to this, because we're running out of space." But fortunately, he didn't need to anyway, so I can proudly say that none of our text hacks required our translator to edit things.

But just barely.

I did try to experiment with multi-page summaries, but it didn't go well. (Note too: The summary patcher is a whole different script I wrote than the gameplay script patcher.)

Anyhow, on with the game!

Hello, Jonathan.

When we last saw our intrepid hero, Jonathan Ingram, his gaze was panning up to see his estranged wife...

Meet Lorraine Hojo - No small source of technical problem for me.

What you're seeing on Lorraine's neck is known as a "telop". Feel free to Google, but "telops" are Japanese captions usually used in newscasts to identify experts, and their fields. So you'd see them in terms of:

Barack Obama
U.S. President

When Obama would be on Japanese television. For some reason in Policenauts, Kojima got the bright idea to use telops to introduce new characters, as well as their voice actors; and he liked it enough to use this for the Metal Gear Solids as well.

Although telops are textual, they're stored in Policenauts as graphics -- because of their all important drop shadows. When it came to translation, this presented 2 technical challenges - the first being of course, that cracking Konami's graphical compression and introducing new graphics was already pretty tricky. But Lorraine had a particularly interesting problem.

The voice actress's name in English is characters longer. Which is a much wider graphic to encode in the telops. Which means we had an added challenge - we couldn't simply emulate Konami's graphics compression for ourselves: We had to store bigger graphics in the same or smaller amount of space - or else figure out how to shift around all the image data pointers around it.

More on that later, because it's pretty much a giant post on its own. Anyway, where were we?

Surprised? It's been... what, 28 years?

What are you doing here?
Look at you. You haven't changed a bit.

But... why? Why now?
I don't expect you to forgive me. I know I've got a lot of nerve coming here. But you're the only one who can help me.
What's wrong?
Something's... happened to my husband.
I see. Alright, well, come on in.
To be honest, I'd rather not. You wouldn't recognize me. I just wouldn't feel comfortable.
Fair enough, Lorraine. Or should it be "ma'am"?

So here, we get some interactivity with Lorraine. We can "Ask About" stuff or "Talk About" stuff. In the former, Jonathan plays good investigator and looks for clues to find his estranged wife's new missing husband. In the latter, Jonathan drones on about himself. We'll start with that.

Talk About; Yourself

Alright, well, why don't I tell you about what's been going on with me. I've been working as a private investigator the past few years. As you've... probably guessed, finding work can be a bit of a struggle, but I'm managing.
I see. That's good to hear.
There's still plenty of ways to make a buck around here for someone like me.
I can imagine.

You can go on for quite a bit here. But let's use this opportunity to see a video that's pretty easy to miss... though I'll warn you, it's not anything great.

Talk About; Old LA

(Optional video)

That's sad. Here's another easy-to-miss video that's sad too.

Talk About; Old LA (second time)

(Optional video)

Alright, enough, let's learn about the case. We can ask about Her Request, Her Family, or Beyond.

Ask About; Her Request

Why don't we get to it, then?
You're finally ready, huh?

(Note: That only appears if you've been "Talking About" stuff earlier. The game is pretty robust in its optional dialogue.)

So, something's happened to your husband?
Exactly 3 weeks ago, my husband, Kenzo Hojo, left for work and simply never came home. I've been to his company and the police, but no one will help me.
And now you're trying Home?
I have a real bad feeling about the whole thing.
Maybe he went into hiding?
Oh, come on. People don't just disappear on a space colony. It's impossible to stay hidden there.
Had he received any threats?
Not that I know. It's as if he just... vanished into thin air.
It doesn't fit the profile of a ransom kidnapping....

This unlocks the ability to ask about Kenzo Hojo.

Ask About; Kenzo Hojo

So this Hojo guy... What's he like?
Well, Kenzo is also a Nisei. He works as a pharmaceutical engineer for Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals. He's honest and hard-working.... He'd never hurt anyone. I brought a picture of him. That's him there.

And you look happy.
Yeah... I am. Was, anyway. I'll let you hang onto that, yeah?
A little early for that, isn't it?

So am I alone in thinking that Lorraine looks ten years older in that picture, and Kenzo practically has her in a headlock? Well, regardless, this opens up a slew of new options:

Yikes, where to start? Actually, "Clues" is unlocked a little later - you can do it by asking about Kenzo again. But first:

Ask About; Hojo's Behavior

You notice anything unusual about your husband before he disappeared?
All the years I knew him he'd been your typical company employee. He'd get up, leave for work, then come walking through the door at the end of the day. Same schedule, day in, day out.
Quite a change from my hours.
But the past few months he'd become more... unpredictable, you might say.
You can't really draw anything concrete from that. You think he'd become involved in something, though?
That's my gut feeling, yeah.

Well, Hojo worked for Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals. Maybe there's something to that? (Note: Yes, that is the same "Tokugawa" as Joseph Sadaoki Tokugawa, one of the Policenauts.)

Ask About; Tokugawa

The conglomerate's reach doesn't stop at Beyond. They essentially run space, and Joseph Sadaoki Tokugawa runs the Group.
He's just as well known on Home as he is out there. If Hojo's a Tokugawa employee I suppose we can't totally rule out he was kidnapped. You could get good money out of that, I'd imagine.
No one on Beyond would even think of messing with Tokugawa. They're too afraid of the retaliation. It wouldn't be worth it.

Hmmm. Anything else of interest?

Ask About; Her Marriage to Hojo

How'd you guys meet?
I moved to Beyond right after you went missing.
After how much you hated it?
I just... wanted to be closer to you any way I could. I met Kenzo at that Nihonjin Matsuri run by Tokugawa.
Nihonjin Matsuri?
It's a festival for Japanese people on Beyond.
So why were you there?
I have Japanese blood too, remember?

Ask About; Her Family

You have any kids, Lorraine?
I have a daughter. Her name's Karen. It's just the three of us - my husband, my daughter and me. We all live together on Beyond.
A loving husband, a successful daughter.... Must be nice.

Ask About; Her daughter

So your daughter's living there too?
Karen is a news anchor on Beyond.
A news anchor, huh?
She's pretty famous there. She'll be 27 soon. She's still single.
Hard to believe you have a 26-year-old daughter.
I am 55 now, remember?

Alright, enough, let's move on with the case.

Ask About; Clues

Lorraine, I'm gonna need more than just your instincts for this. Is there anything you'd consider clues?
I have a few things Kenzo gave me. Some drug capsules and a piece of a leaf. I don't know what they mean, but they must be important.
Capsules and a leaf?
He said to me, "If anything happens to me, give these to the police or someone you trust."
That's quite a statement.
See? And then he just disappears?

Ask About; Capsules

I guess we'll start with the capsules. That them?

What are they for?
I've no idea.
I wonder if they're made by Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals.
Will you hang onto them for me?

Ask About; Leaf

And the leaf?

I've never seen a leaf like it. Why's it cut in half like this?
It was like that when I got it. Can I give it to you to hold onto?

Ask About; Clues

Is there anything else?
There was one thing he kept mentioning. It was the word "Plato".
Plato? Plato.... You got me.

Ask About "Plato"

Plato.... Could he have said Pluto?
To be honest, I'm not sure anymore. We still haven't been to Pluto, though.
You have any idea at all what it could mean?
It's not the name of a person or a business or anything like that. I've no idea what it could be.

So, asking about clues (twice), the capsules, the leaf, and Plato are all we need to advance to the next scene.

Well, thanks for bringing me up to speed. There's certainly more to this than meets the eye.
So you'll help me, right, Jonathan? I'll pay you whatever you want. Dollars or yen, just let me know.
Hold on, Lorraine.

Now we get a choice...

I'm sorry, that's actually not true. Jonathan won't jump right into this regardless of what you say, so it's like a "But Thou Must" thing, except the character refuses to do it. I guess you could call it "But Thou Mustn't." At any rate, here's the dialogue for both options.

Accept Case

I can't give you an answer today, Lorraine, but I will consider it.
Jonathan, don't tell me you're not going to help me?
I didn't say that. I just need some time to think. I'm still in shock.
Thanks. I'll hang onto these in the meantime.
Well, I'll be in touch. I'm staying at the Hotel New Rose in Beverly Hills until the weekend. Call me anytime.

Decline Case

Sorry, Lorraine... but I don't think I'll be able to help you. I've always told myself I'd never go back there. I'm done with space.
I just couldn't handle something like that. I can introduce you to people I know. They're not the most charming bunch, but they are guys you can trust.
Jonathan, please. I didn't come here to try to hurt you. You really are the only one I've got. I'm staying at the Hotel New Rose in Beverly Hills until the weekend. Call me if you change your mind.

Both choices are suffixed with:

*Note: This video takes you through the end of the update*

Jonathan.... Again, I don't expect you to forgive me. I didn't wait for you. I'm sorry. I was so happy when I heard you'd been rescued. If only they'd... found you a little sooner, things would've been different. I just wanted you to know that.
How'd you get here, by the way?
I rented a car at the hotel. This old classic.
I see.
Well, it was nice seeing you again. Bye.

With that, Lorraine exits the office (off-camera), and Jonathan ponders.

Like you wouldn't believe.

Jonathan watches his estranged ex-wife leave, and possibly regrets renting an office outside a giant neon sign.

Wait a minute, this is supposed to be 2037 - Venetian blinds are still around? There's no like space curtains or something?

And that car- wait, this is no time for jokes about the future... someone's been... walking in front of Lorraine's car?

Jonathan looks on in shock as Cobra Commander rests on a Phone company Phone Booth.

We focus in on a remote in his hand...

Too late.

Lorraine is thrown by the explosion. Also, there's a garbage truck a little left of the blast, which - as you'll see in the next update - is actually a nice touch the animators put in.

Go get 'em, Jon. Next update: Combat.