Snatcher is one of my all-time favourite games. I'm lucky enough to own the original game for the Sega CD. After reading a review in a German gaming magazine, I bought Hideo Kojima's early masterpiece right away. In this cyberpunk adventure you play as Gillian Seed, a "Runner". Your job is to track down the source of the mysterious snatchers, bioroids who kill their victims and take their place in society.
While the game play is limited—Snatcher is basically a digital comic book—the setting and the story make more than up for it. The localization is superb, so is the voice acting.
But it's not only the story itself that makes this a cult classic. It's also the little things you can do and explore in the city of Neo Kobe.
Feel like phone sex? Exploring the history of the city via historical records? Talking to your ex-wife? You can do it all, and it adds strongly to the game's atmosphere.
Your interactions with your sidekick robot, Metal Gear, are hilarious. Gillian and he are basically an old couple. Add to these well realized characters and places and you get Kojima's brilliant vision of Blade Runner.
Snatcher's spiritual successor is Policenauts. However, in contrast to Snatcher, the game never saw an official American or European release. Which is a shame because Policenauts is just as brilliant.
Policenauts are astronauts with police training, assigned to ensure the safety of Beyond Coast, mankind's first fully-functional space colony. Your character, Jonathan Ingram, is involved in a freak accident while testing a new space walking suit and drifts into space. He is found alive and well nearly 25 years later thanks to the cold-sleep module connected to the suit.
Three years later, Jonathan is a private investigator in Old L.A. His ex-wife sees him at his office and asks him to find her new husband who suddenly disappeared only to be killed by a car bomb shortly after. Jonathan must return to Beyond Coast to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder and the disappearance.
Policenaut's game play resembles Snatcher's. The cover announces it as "interactive cinema", but the game basically stays a digital comic book.
However, the parallels also continue in regard to the way Snatcher creates its atmosphere. Policenauts includes all the little quirks that made Snatcher so memorable.
How many titles allow you to touch boobs in zero gravity? Exactly.
Since the game was never released in the West you had to play it in Japanese. Which was possible but obviously not much fun given how text-heavy it is.
Recently a fan translation of the Playstation version of the game has been finished. After years of checking the project's status I finally woke up to the good news.
The patch offers a "completely uncensored" English translation by "a professional video game translator who has worked on AAA videogames" the included text file claims. Given the high quality of the work—and the amount of time put in it—these claims are more than hollow words. I have yet to find a bug or a typo.
The translation is a great achievement and one I'm really thankful for.
So do yourself a favour and get your hands on copy of Policenauts. If you're only mildly interested in the Hideo Kojima universe you won't regret it.