Remember the days when games were simple? When the graphics and sound were basic and the titles were straightforward, like Asteroids or Frogger? They more often than not told you something about the game. For instance, a game like Frogger obviously features a frog, but these days game creators just seem to call their games anything they want to, a prime example being Nippon Safes Inc.
What on earth is that all about? Well, from the title you'd think it'd be about a load of Japanese safes running around the world causing havoc and mayhem!
No, despite the title Nippons Safes Inc is an interactive adventure game, and it has to be said that it's certainly a little bit strange. Not surreal and far out, but definitely weird.
It uniquely features three different central characters to choose from each with their own adventure and puzzles to solve. Each character's story proceeds alongside the others - they're irrevocably linked.
The game is set in and around the fictitious city of Tyoko in Japan where in the more disreputable parts of the metropolis a shady character has been wandering around looking suspicious. The object is to discover who he or she is and what they could be up to.
Nippon Safes takes a lot of its ideas from traditional Japanese culture, incorporating tea making geisha girls, sumo and so on - although it is set in the '90s. It's certainly like no other adventure game I've played before and looks a lot different to everything else on the market at the moment. The graphics aren't quite as impressive as Monkey Island 2, but they do have a unique look to them. The presentation makes a nice change and the whole thing has a very cartoon-
Your perspective changes as you play the game. It's hard to explain, but look at the screenshots on the page and you'll see the different views.
From the far away view on the highway to the full-screen close-up outside the Hot Sushi to the view from the Metro which uses only a small part of the screen, the different angles make it all that little bit more interesting.
Control is a point-and-
When you talk to another character, a picture of you and his or her head appears. You then get two or three choices on what to say and the conversation will continue like this until you've said all you need to.
You can use objects with other objects, which can be done by holding the left mouse button down while clicking the right. All in all, the system is incredibly easy to use.
Some of the puzzles are very strange and not quite as straightforward as in something like Monkey Island or Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. You'll solve most of them by stumbling around different parts of Tyoko.
Unless you check everything you're likely to miss an object which will become very important later on in the game. It's always best to pick up everything you find because it can be a real hassle having to go back for stuff.
The centre of Tyoko is quite large, but several other parts of the city can be accessed using the very reliable Metro tube trains. Once bought the ticket can be used as many times as you like and will never run out. British Rail take note!
There is a certain amount of humour. For example, the programmers put in an appearance, but most of their jokes only apply to themselves. Nippon Safes is nowhere near as funny as Monkey Island, but is far funnier than Jimmy Torbuck. Its best point is that it's so different from everything else.
The presentation is spot on and all the graphics are brilliant, especially the backgrounds. There isn't much to listen to on the sound front, but there are several spot effects like birds tweeting in the park to test your ears out on. At least there isn't a bloody annoying tune that plays all the way through like some other adventures I could mention, but won't.
The control system is well designed and you'll be able to master it after only a couple of minutes' play. The biggest bonus has to be the fact that you've literally got three games in one. All three adventures, despite having similar objectives, are completely different.
One thing I have to mention is the fact that the game comes on five disks, so a hard drive is a definite must. If you do play on disks then you'll be swapping until the cows come home - fine if you can put up with it if you're gasping for an adventure having completed everything else around, Nippon Safes Inc. could be well worth your time and money.
One thing I can't work out is just why the creators called it Nippon Safes Inc. I suppose it's just going to have to be one of life's little mysteries.