The Let's Play Archive

The Closer: Game of the Year Edition

by TheMcD

Part 6: Update V - This Can Be Answered With A Single Word: Japan.

Update V - This Can Be Answered With A Single Word: Japan.

♪ BGM: City Theme

So, before we get to our objective, let's first check out Zizek's apartment.

Now, he did allow us to raid the fridge, so let's do that.


Presumably, it's good that we have this, and will be glad we got it at some point in the future.

The human fascination with the excretory derives from the fact that it is the only thing we do which we can know for certain is entirely productive. We laugh at shit because, to do otherwise, would acknowledge the frightful implication that it is our most sacred function.

I don't believe I want to think further about this.

Now, on to the main event.

First, a history lesson.
Damn it...
In Japan, most people who play video games use consoles, and PCs are only used for a select few types of games. In fact, until recently, the PC was almost exclusively seen as the realm of niche and pornographic interactive media. The Visual Novel is a form of this media. There is very little gameplay in the visual novel. In many, the only way in which the player participates is through choice menus.

Yeah, I guess that's accurate.

Rather odd, don't you think?
Yes! But as you know, we have little time to consider these things. Other visual novels are more interactive. They feature life simulation aspects, or puzzles, and the genre has found its way into other types of game as well. Now, in their basic form, these are simple and inexpensive games to produce. They are relatively easy to code and distribute. As such, hundreds of these games were made, based on all sorts of ideas, and most were lost to the sands of time.
How... tragic.
What I have here is a rarity. It is a copy of an eroge adaptation of the classic Tom Hanks film "A League of Their Own."

TheMcD's Baseball Stuff posted:

A League of Their Own is indeed, a movie with Tom Hanks in it. It was made in 1992. The plot is based on the real-life baseball league, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) - and yes, that's quite a mouthful.

Its basic history is as such: WW2 comes and really fucks with Major League Baseball, with a ton of its stars in their prime going off to war. In response, some MLB executives decide to bankroll a womens' league in order to try and keep interest in baseball going, because they thought with rationing and all that, team travel across the USA might become impossible and MLB might entirely shut down - though that never happened. Because of that, the AAGPBL centered entirely around the Midwest. The rules were kind of a mixture of baseball and softball, and a lot more focus was laid on the way the players looked and behaved, compared to mens' leagues. Also, no black people allowed. Hey, it's the 40s, what did you expect? I mean, Jackie Robinson happened in the 40s, but if I start going over the Negro Leagues and the history of integration in MLB now, I'll be here all day. Maybe there'll be a better opportunity to do that later.

Anyway, the league was a modest success, with attendance peaking in 1948 at about 900.000 spectators, which is approximately what the pre-war New York Yankees got over an entire season. However, the league eventually had to fold in 1954, and I suspect it would be very much obscure if it weren't for the movie, as opposed to the quite obscure it is now.

I could explain the plot of the movie to you, but it's really not going to help in any way, and I can't be arsed summing up a movie. The one thing you should maybe know is that the main character is Jimmy Dugan, a former player from the Chicago Cubs, which will be represented in our game here. Now, let's just move on.

Many visual novels are written in the style of the "harem" genre of anime and manga, in which a male character is introduced into a largely female cast. Naturally, the film "A League of Their Own", in which a male manager takes control of a baseball team full of women is perfect for the medium. The game was originally released four years after the film, and from reviews it is clear that the creators only saw trailers for the film. Ultimately, the game has very little to do with the plot of the movie. Now, as I am exploring the bounds of low art, you can imagine that loose eroge adaptation of a mainstream American film is very valuable to me. I have to believe that there will also be valuable clues for you in the depths of this text.
Eh... I have my doubts. What do you think, Moose?
This is all quite ridiculous.

Well, if you're going to give me those choices...

Fuck that. Three grown men playing an erotic anime game together? This is hella fucking creepy.
Do not think of it like that, Bobson. This is art, though it is terrible art, and there is much to be learned from any art of any form.
...fine. But if I get skeeved out at all, then I am leaving.
Then I will boot it up.

♪ BGM: Their Own League

And here we are. A game within a game. Let's check it out!

Hey! Wait a minute! It's been years since I took history but-
It's a Japanese game, Bobson. My guess is that anyone playing this game doesn't want to be reminded of the real WWII.
It makes perfect sense to me! When I sit down to masturbate, I'd much rather be distracted by revisionism than by atrocity and terror and so on.
Thanks... Thanks for that.
We should get back to the game.

As of a result of young men leaving for the war, Major League Baseball was teetering on the edge of destruction. The owners came up with a plan to replace the depleted Major Leagues: This would be a women's league. A league of their own.

I really don't think we're going to learn anything from this game.
Just go with it.

What time is it? How long was I asleep on that bus? How much did I have to drink? First there was the wine. Then the two whiskys. And then that fellow started in on me with the beer. I guess what they say is right: Whiskey before beer and wine, everything fine. Wine before whiskey before beer, puke off the pier. Oh god... Puke. I'm going to--
Hey! Hey Manager-san! Over here!

You might notice at this point that I used Dugan's portrait here for a generic shot. I originally only wanted to use it for the other baseball players, but just ended up using it for everybody that didn't get a face of their own, or in this case, haven't had their face revealed yet.

Ugh... Hold it together, Dugan. Yeah, who's there?

N-no. Okay, maybe. Who's asking?
The name is Haruka Rin, and I'm going to be your centerfielder.
M-my Centerfielder? What's going on? Why did you call me Manager-san earlier?
I guess we need to back things up a little bit! Do you know why you're here?
Okay, then. Do you even know where "here" is?
We're... We're outside of a bus. And this doesn't look like Chicago. Oh god, what happened last night?
We were told that you signed a contract to be our manager! They even faxed over a copy!

Dugan received a [Faxed Contract]!

I, Jimmy Dugan, agree forthwith to manage the Rockford Peaches for a length of time heretowith undetermined and unbounded... for the compensation of fifty dollars a week plus a case of Suntory Whisky delivered every month. What have I done?
You've agreed to be our manager, silly!
I-I guess I have. Who are you again?
We're the Rockford Peaches! Only the best all-girl baseball team east of the Mississippi.
Oh, thank god... We're still east of the Mississippi.

I don't believe the choices here do anything major, so I'm just kind of picking whatever.

I have no idea how any of this happened. One minute, I'm drinking with Mr. Wrigley, the next I'm waking up on a bus in...Rockford?

TheMcD's Baseball Stuff posted:

This is an interesting departure from the movie which instead has it lining up with reality. You might know that the Chicago Cubs play in Wrigley Field, and if you didn't, you do now. I don't believe many people give the name much thought these days, since it's been in place since 1927, but I think it should be brought up that when we're talking about Wrigley, we indeed mean that Wrigley - the chewing gum company. The original founder of the company, William Wrigley Jr, became majority owner of the Chicago Cubs in 1921 and eventually named the team's stadium Wrigley Field.

And wouldn't you know it, Wrigley Jr.'s successor, Philip K. Wrigley, was one of the MLB executives behind the idea of the AAGPBL. It all comes together somehow.

Guess I was tricked, and now I've signed this contract...
I guess I should show you to your office.

We'll all appreciate it if you close your door when we're showering or changing into our uniforms.
Of course!
I'll let you start to get situated. First practice is in an hour, so hopefully you're ready by then.
Thanks, this is all very new to me.

What was I thinking last night? I'm not a manager, and how will I deal with all of these women? I'm just an alcoholic, washed up ballplayer who only knows the game and the bottle.

This is so unrealistic. He just straight-up recognizes his alcoholism? Not only that, he states it aloud for some reason.
This is just how these games are! The graphics and storytelling are so simplistic that character details must be stated outright.

This contract may very well be the death of me. Hey! I'm keeping that door closed for a reason!

Well, here I am. Would you close the door? I was asked--
My name is Ai Suzuki! I play at first base, and I thought it would be important to introduce myself.
Nice to meet you, Ai.
So, Dugan-san, what is the plan for today? We are facing the South Bend Blue Sox.

TheMcD's Baseball Stuff posted:

For reference, the Rockford Peaches and the South Bend Blue Sox were the main teams of the AAGPBL, being the only two teams to play the entire duration of the league in the same location.

That means almost nothing to me.
They're a running squad. Aggressive on the basepaths. We should be wary every time they get a runner on first.
I'm glad you know these things...
Something's wrong, isn't it Dugan-san?
I shouldn't be here.

Might as well be honest, I suppose.

I was on a bus, talking to Mr. Wrigley. He got me really drunk and convinced me to sign this contract. I don't even remember it.
Oh... That's why you're going to be our manager?
Pretty much.
You should come out to the field now. Everyone is dressed, and we are ready to practice!
Let me just have a drink first...

Still, they're going to figure out before long that I don't know anything about managing.
Excuse me... But are you talking to yourself?
What? No. Of course not.

♪ BGM: How Things Are

Meet Kaminari. She's the best character in this game. I mean, she's the best character in this game. The best character in this game. Am I expressing this correctly? Whatever.

And you are?
My name is Kaminari Saito. But you can call me Kami. I'm the team's shortstop and the star hitter.

Wait, why do all these characters have Japanese names? This takes place in America and this chick is white as fuck.
I think this will go a lot quicker if you stop questioning everything, Bobson.
No! We must always question everything, even our own questions.
So, what's up with the names?
Like all of your questions so far, this one can be answered with a single word: Japan.
But the game has obviously been translated into English, so why didn't the translator change the names to English names?
Actually, now that you mention it, this is quite interesting. I suspect that in the original Japanese, the women all had English names, like Jimmy Dugan does. However, anyone in America who wants to play erotic visual novels--except us of course--does so because of a bizarre fixation on Asian culture.
So the American translater changed everything but the names of the female characters into English, and actually changed those into Japanese? Fucking gross.
Exactly. Now let's get back to it.

So what can you tell me about the Rockford Peaches?

Let's get a big picture view.

How do we stack up with the rest of the league?
We're a young team. We have a lot of potential.
We're in last place, aren't we?
Yep. You know, a lot of the women on this team were athletes before all of this got started. It is really ridiculous that it took a World War before anyone would consider watching women play sports. But that's just how things are...
Well, I bet you'll be glad when this whole mess is over so you can go back to working in the kitchen and taking care of your children.
I don't have any children.
Then you'll have some! You're still young.
Oh... Well, I should go take batting practice. I'll send Matsuki over--she's the starting pitcher today. You should go over the game plan with her.
Yeah, the game plan...

What am I going to tell these girls?
Um... Dugan-san?

♪ BGM: Changeup Artist

Yeah, you're a starting pitcher, right?
We should talk over how we're going to deal with the Blue Sox today. I hear they're a running team.
They steal a lot of bases. I don't like it when they do that. It rattles me.
Any reason why?

I suppose what Bobson would do here is pick the choice that isn't the obvious "get closer with character X" choice.

How are you going to face the Blue Sox if you can't even face your own manager?
Sorry, you're right... I have trouble with teams that run a lot because of how I pitch. My best pitch is a changeup, but because it moves so slowly, it is the easiest pitch to steal off of. I can fool the hitters, but anyone who is on base... There's nothing we can do to stop them.
Huh, that's not good.
I know that! Don't you think I know?
I'll think about how we can fix this problem... I'll watch during the game and see if there are any adjustments we can make.
Thanks, Dugan-san, I will go practice in the bullpen now.

This just keeps getting harder and harder. I guess I'll head out onto the field...

I totally didn't mean to run into you like that! I'm so clumsy!
And you are?

♪ BGM: Pink Hair

My name is Risa Koizumi. And don't worry, I'm 18 years old.

Wait... What? Oh God. No no no no no no.
I do not like where this is going at all.

I'm the bat girl for the Peaches!
Bat girl?
Yep! But don't worry, I'm 18!

Why do they keep reminding us? Why is it going down this road? Turn left, Jimmy! Turn left!

So, what do you do around here?
Oh, you know, whatever needs to be done. I handle the balls. When needed, I grab the bats and rub them with oil. Don't worry, I'm very economical. Not a drop goes to waste.

Aggggghhhhhhh! Turn it off! Delete the game. Burn the computer. Destroy the building. Salt the Earth so that nothing grows again.

Sounds like you're an important girl!

Hm, let's pick the thing that probably won't raise our affinity points with the questionably legal girl that seems overly friendly and innuendo-laden. Let's say "the team must depend on you".

Awww, thanks Dugan-san.

Your affinity with Risa went up by one point!

No! Let the record reflect that I did not want this! I DID NOT WANT THIS!

Looks like the Blue Sox are about to arrive! It's almost game time!
Damn it, I never went over how we were going to prevent steals with Mitsuki. Guess it will have to wait.

Can we take a break? I REALLY need a break.

♪ BGM: Spirits Among Us

I haven't felt this dirty since I tried to make out with a girlfriend while we were watching "The Fly".
Why would you do that???
I don't make good decisions, Moose!
I admit, nothing about this game is sitting well with me.
Oh, it is absolutely disgusting. But that is the point! Just let me know when you are ready to go back!

Well, we can't really do anything right now except return to the game (or save, I guess), so let's do that.

♪ BGM: Silence ♫

♪ BGM: Changeup Artist

Ai! I'm listening.
I can't help but notice I'm batting fifth.
Yeah, that's where I decided to put you.
I'm the best hitter on the team! I should be batting third!
Okay, if you think so... Who do I have batting third now?
You don't remember?
I filled out the card two drinks ago.
You have Kami batting third! How ridiculous is that?
I looked at the stats, Ai. She has the best batting average on the team.
Batting average is a terrible stat! It doesn't take into account patience or power or anything...anything at all!
Ugh... I guess this isn't as easy as I thought. What do I do...

♪ BGM: How Things Are

You don't need to--
She's right about the stat, but I am definitely the best hitter on the team.
Are you kidding me, Kami? I have seven home runs. How many do you have? Three? And one of those was barely over the wall.
Home runs aren't everything, either. Besides, any stats we have so far are such small sample sizes that they can't really be compared. I was the only one on the team who played baseball before the league started.
Wait... What?
I've been playing baseball for years, but this whole women's league finally gave me a chance to use my skills.
Quit lying, Kami. You were recruited out of the dance halls like the rest of us.
I'm not lying... Though I guess I understand why you don't believe me. Everyone has been conditioned to believe that women can't play sports, and--
You're just trying to confuse the issue! What really matters is the game, here today. And I should be batting third! But that's not really my choice, is it? Dugan-san, it's up to you.
I'm... I'm not sure.
Isn't it odd, Ai, that we have a male manager?
No, why?
If we're going to have all-female teams, shouldn't the manager be a woman, too?
No, why?

TheMcD's Baseball Stuff posted:

To note, the AAGPBL teams were also generally managed by men who had some sort of baseball experience, partially out of the sexism of the people behind the league, and partially out of the people behind the league recognizing the sexism of the intended audience. I checked the real-life coaches for the Peaches and Blue Sox, and the only one I immediately recognized as a name I've seen before was Marty McManus, a solid infielder with a fourteen year major league career from 1921 to 1934. McManus was actually the manager for the Boston Red Sox in 1932 and 1933, so he actually had managing experience at the top level, too.

Anyway, there's no "fuck that" to pick here, but there is a "I'll just pick something completely different" option, so let's go with that.

You know what? How about I don't let either of you bat third. I'll put Haruka in the third slot. Maybe that will show you not to fight.
What?!?! She's not even a very good hitter! The only reason she's on the team is for her defensive ability!
Don't let it shake you, Ai. He doesn't know what he's doing. This is just a power play to establish dominance.
What did you say about me? What are you trying to imply?
I'm pretty sure you said it yourself. You don't know what you're doing...and it shows.
This is my decision, and you're both going to have to deal with it.
No matter what you think, you don't control me.
Mr. Wrigley might have made you my manager, but that's nothing but a title. The fact is, the only power you have over me is the power that I choose to give you. As soon as I decide to ignore your title... you're nothing but another man trying to tell me what to do.
And you're not going to listen to a man telling you what to do?
Not unless I want to. Just remember that...Jimmy Dugan.

You know what, Bobson? I like this girl. She's way cooler than the others.
You think?
Of course!
It is typical in games of this nature that there is one resistant female character. She is reluctant to engage in romance with the player character, and thus it is more difficult to acheive the ending featuring her story.
So trying to get with her is like playing on "hard" difficulty?
I suppose that is correct.
In some ways, isn't romancing her the worst option?
Holy shit, Bobson. Where did that insight come from?
I dunno, I just think this game is fucked up. The whole thing makes me uncomfortable, and weirdly the idea of trying for the girl who's most totally not interested just creeps me out a bit.
He makes a good point.
Still, it's just a dumb game. We all know that it's not realistic, so why not try and get Jimmy to be with the most interesting character?
Fine, I'll try and make sure he'll hook up with Kami. Really, I just don't want to end up with Risa. I mean, there is eventually nudity in these games, right? Because I am not a sex offender.

Once the lineup was set, the game began.

♪ BGM: The Virtual Game

No, don't pitch around that hitter! She can't handle the outside curve! Throw the outside curve! Take the next pitch! You know they aren't going to throw you a strike! It's a straight steal! Don't throw the changeup when you know it's a straight steal! Argh!

No! This team is a mess!
They're trying their hardest...
Their hardest isn't good enough. We're never going to win any games like this.

I straight up accidentally pushed this choice away before I could even see it. However, you can probably imagine what would come out of the second option. It's "You're right. They should play harder. I like it hard.".

You're right, they're really pushing themselves out there.
Thanks for being so compassionate, Dugan-san. Your touch is so soft and gentle.

Your affinity with Risa went up by one point!

What? What the hell! FUCK!

Try harder!

I like that first option. That's some fine managing.

Try harder any way! It can't hurt!

Haruka, looks like you're up to bat!

We're only a run behind, so I need you to get a hit. Doesn't have to be more than a single, just get the runner to third so a long fly ball ties it.
Make contact! Right!

What??? Are you kidding?
That way she can't hit into a double play in front of me.
Give me a chance, Dugan-san! I can do this!
Your batting average says otherwise. You're a good fielder, but you're not that great with the bat.
Weren't you saying something before the game about batting average not being a very good stat?
Well, there are times it's useful...

TheMcD's Baseball Stuff posted:

Did I explain the bunt before? I did, actually. Well, let me just say at this point that bunting has very much fallen out of favor in recent times, though it is kinda-sorta making a comeback, due to teams paying a lot more attention to where a hitter commonly hits the ball and shifting their defensive players in that direction. A bunt aimed at the newly vacated area can then be very effective. However, in this situation, a bunt isn't really a great idea.

Okay, Haruka, go ahead and swing away. You know, as long as the pitch is in the zone.
Yay! Don't worry, Dugan-san, I won't disappoint you!

Your affinity with Haruka went up by one point!

We lost.

I don't know what to say. We didn't play well out there. The Blue Sox had our number from the first inning and they never let up.

♪ BGM: Changeup Artist

Y-you're right, Kami. But I still let them run wild on me. There was nothing I could do to stop it.
Weren't you going to work with her on that?
I didn't have time!
Too busy drinking, I guess.
D-don't talk to Dugan-san like that, Kami!
Why not?
He's just trying to help us!

Well, when you put it like that...

No, you're right, Kami. If it weren't for a drunken bet with Mr. Wrigley, I'd never even be here.
Thank you for being honest.

Your affinity with Kami went up by one point!

No matter what, it's clear that we need to work on Mitsuki's pitching motion. Mitsuki, Haruka... Let's head out to the practice field.

♪ BGM: Their Own League

Then we're going to have to work on your pitching motion, make it more efficient when there are runners on base. But it won't be good to just change your motion when you throw the changeup, then the hitters will know its coming.
So I need to learn to pitch from the stretch?
Yeah, something like that. I'm just going to go grab a drink.

I need a drink...
Yeah, so?
I don't know, Dugan-san... Why do you drink so much?
It's... It's a long story.
Maybe you should tell me.
...another time.

I don't have a problem, I can quit whenever I want to!

Well, I don't need your help.

Psh, who does she think she is... Trying to help me... I don't need her help.

Here comes the changeup!
Woah! I was totally fooled by that pitch!
Good, good, Mitsu. You really tied her up with that. But we need to make your move to the plate a little faster. Let me take a look...

You just have to speed up how much you move your legs, and snap your arm around a little faster. Show me how you hold the baseball.
Well, it's just a bit further back in my hand as I'm getting ready to throw. Then I form a ring with my index finger and thumb, within the seam.
Wow, that's quite the pitch.
As I release it, I rotate my wrist just a bit. That gives it a bit of break that the batter doesn't expect.

Dugan, Mitsuki, and Haruka practiced long into the evening, helping her fix her pitching mechanics.

♪ BGM: Silence ♫

I think you're learning a new pitch!

♪ BGM: The Entrance

My whole body is tingling! This feels amazing!

This is definitely not still Zizek's apartment.
You've done well, Bobson.
Pedro Martinez???
That's right, my friend.
What are you doing here in this strange dream world of space?
Who better to appear out of the ether to teach you a changeup?
So Moose is right! I am learning a new pitch.
The changeup is the simplest trick known to man. The batter expects a pitch to come at one speed, and you surprise him with something slower. It is elegant in its base nature, and it will serve you well, as it has served me.

Bobson has learned the changeup!

I can feel the wisdom of pitchers past flow through my veins. Satchel Paige. Jim Palmer. Trevor Hoffman. The masters of changing speeds call to me and teach to me their creed. The off-speed pitch. The slow ball. The change of pace. I understand it now. It all makes sense. Thank you, Pedro Martinez.
Understand, young Bobson, that the changeup only works in concert with your fastball. You must make the batter believe that a fastball is on the way, and he will be unable to hit your change. Now, we will test your new pitch.
I have to face someone already?
I have to make sure you're ready. Just remember, use the changeup to fool the hitter when he's looking for a fastball. All right, are you ready?
Let's do this!

Alright, let's give this a shot.

Bobson throws a fastball!

Strike 1! The batter swung right through the heat!

Bobson throws a fastball!

Ball 1! The pitch was just off the outside corner and the batter takes it for a ball!

Bobson throws a fastball!

Ball 2! The pitch was just off the outside corner and the batter takes it for a ball! The hitter is now looking for a fastball!

There we are.

Bobson throws a changeup!

Strike 2! The batter got out in front of that pitch and just missed the change-up.

Let's try it again.

Bobson throws a changeup!

The hitter turns on the pitch! It's hit HARD down the line...but it's just foul. Close call for Bobson, but no harm done on the foul ball. Still two strikes on the batter. The hitter is now looking for a changeup!

OK, that's not optimal, but we've got him looking change, so back to the heat.

Bobson throws a fastball!

Ball 3! The pitch was just off the outside corner and the batter takes it for a ball!

Welp, full count. Uh, I guess we'll just jam it in and hope for the best.

Bobson throws a fastball!

Strike 3! The batter swung right through the heat! Bobson struck him out! Bobson is victorious!

So that's it? I'm ready to face the Machine tomorrow?
Not so fast, Bobson. Your journey isn't over yet. You may have a new pitch, but you haven't accomplished all your current tasks.
What do you mean?
You still have to finish the game.
What? Why? I have what I came for.
No, you don't.
You're being just as cryptic as Zizek now!
A great challenge awaits you in the immediate future, and you will need something that lies further in your exploration of the game.
What kind of "something"? Or are you just going to be all mysterious for the sake of being mysterious? When Moose and Zizek are like that it pisses me off, but you're Pedro Martinez so I'll let it fly.
Finish the game, Bobson.

Hey, guess what? I have a lot of stuff to say about those guys that were just mentioned! But guess what? It's so much it made this fucking update go past the character limit, so I'm pushing this out to another post. Check below for lots and lots of words about baseball.