NIPPON SAFES, INC. / Dynabyte / PC
First text of the game ... not off to a great start
For some reason I thought Nippon Safes, Inc. was going to be some sort of safecracking sim ... instead it is a very obscure adventure game by an Italian developer ... well, maybe not as obscure in Italy, but certainly nearly unheard of everywhere else in the world. ScummVM has apparently added support for it, though, which might generate some new interest.
Don't expect a whole lot out of it, though. From what I understand, this was the first release for small-scale developer Dynabyte, and it shows in many ways. While the graphics are impressive for a small-budget first-time indie developer, looking nearly as good as a LucasArts game at some points, everything else is often painfully amateurish and cumbersome.
The game plays like sort of a Day of the Tentacle clone, with three different player-characters, but you only swap out between them in the final quarter of the game. Doug Nuts the safecracker, Dino the bouncer, and Donna the dancer who got famous doing something called "bottle shows" (not seen on screen unfortunately) all reside in the (either fictional or misspelled, I can't tell which) Japanese city of Tioko, which really seems to be populated more by Italians than anything else. The game opens with a sort of tutorial where all three get pinched in the midst of some criminal act, and after being released from jail they get recruited as a sort of Charlie's Angels criminal team to pull off safe heists.
This is certainly not a bad setup but the inexperience of the designers really hamstrings the game. The main problem is that everything is suuuuper slooooooow, from loading to movement to having to watch painfully drawn-out cut-scenes that appear to be unskippable. The whole menu system and structure of the game is awkward, too ... it starts out by informing you that it's loading the music routine into high memory, but they couldn't figure out how to unload it after the game is exited, so it's going to be stuck there and you need to reboot your computer. Epic professionalism. The game also opens with a really obnoxious Midi rendition of the Peter Gunn theme, but thankfully the music does improve a bit after that.
There's a few bits of genuine humor that salvage the game, like when a club bouncer who looks like the first boss from Final Fight unexpectedly comes jumping onto the screen. And I give the developers kudos for translating the game from their native Italian into German, French and English as well, though I'm guessing they didn't actually speak any of those languages, and certainly didn't even bother to run the script through a spell-checker. Puzzles are also often very pixel-hunty and arbitrary.
... Donna is a Trap?
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