Hong Kong 97 (video game)
|Hong Kong 97|
|Platform(s)||Super Famicom with floppy disk drive|
|Genre(s)||Shoot 'em up, bullet hell|
Hong Kong 97,[a] stylized as HONGKONG1997 on the game's cover, is a 1995 unlicensed shoot 'em up made for the Super Famicom in disk drive format by HappySoft Ltd., a Japanese homebrew game company. It was designed by the Japanese game journalist Kowloon Kurosawa, who said the game was made in two days. The game has gained a cult following in Japan and Taiwan for its notoriously poor quality, considered to be a kusoge.
Hong Kong 97 begins with a short cut scene which places the game around the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997. People from Mainland China started immigrating to Hong Kong and greatly increased the crime rate. As a countermeasure, the Hong Kong government hires Chin, an unspecified relative of Bruce Lee, to "wipe out" all 1.2 billion of the "red communists" in China. Meanwhile, a secret project in Mainland China has succeeded in bringing the deceased Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (spelled Tong Shau Ping in the game) back to life as the "ultimate weapon".
The game uses a picture of Jackie Chan from the movie poster of Wheels on Meals to depict Chin. The back of the insert of the game notes that Chin is a heroin addict. When Hong Kong 97 was released in 1995, Deng Xiaoping, said to be dead in the game, was actually still alive. However, he died on 19 February 1997, a few months before the handover of Hong Kong, the game's backdrop.
Immediately after the plot introduction (which follows some ads and the title screen), the game begins. The player controls Chin, with the objective being to shoot and evade the Chinese populace and police officers moving downwards from the top of the screen. When shot, the enemies explode in mushroom clouds, leaving behind a flashing corpse and items for instant death or temporary invincibility. After a while, cars start appearing from the sides, moving horizontally across the screen as obstacles. After thirty enemies have been defeated by the player, the final boss, ultimate weapon Tong Shau Ping (depicted as the giant disembodied head of Deng Xiaoping), appears. Once he is defeated, the game repeats itself. The game shows static photos as the background, which alternate between pictures of Maoist propaganda, Guilin, the logo for Asia Television, the logo for Chinese Coca-Cola or Mao Zedong in monochrome.
Sporadically, a syringe appears as a power-up, which grants Chin temporal invincibility (the insert of the game notes that Chin is a heroin addict). The player has no health points: if Chin is hit by anything other than an item, the game is immediately over, unless Chin is under invincibility. The game over screen contains the superimposed words "CHIN IS DEAD!" in English and grammatically incorrect Chinese "Chén sǐ wáng" (陳死亡) over a picture of a real dead body.[b] The game then goes to the credits (curiously listing the Embassy of Canada as a cooperation partner), goes back to the title screen and repeats again.
Upon turning on the game, the first two lines of an upbeat "I Love Beijing Tiananmen" song can be heard, which loop endlessly throughout the game. The game can be played in English, Japanese or traditional Chinese.
In an advertisement in the magazine Game Urara Vol. 4 for another HappySoft title, The Story of Kamikuishiki Village, Hong Kong 97's poor quality is acknowledged, with the advert referring to the game as "dreadful" and "incomprehensible". It also claims that bootleg copies of the game were sold in Hong Kong and Bangkok.
In January 2018, Yoshihisa "Kowloon" Kurosawa finally broke his silence on the development of the game to the South China Morning Post. He stated that his goal was to make the worst game possible as a mockery to the game industry. Since Kurosawa did not have much programming skill, he had an Enix employee help him out, with the game being made in two days. He later asked a friend with basic knowledge of English to translate the story into this language, as well as an exchange student from Hong Kong to translate it into Chinese. Kurosawa took the music from a second-hand LaserDisc he got in Shanghai Street, and the main character sprite was taken from a movie poster of Wheels on Meals, a 1984 Hong Kong martial arts film.
With the game completed, Kurosawa used a game backup device that could copy Super Famicom games onto floppy disks, which he found whilst wandering through the computer malls of Sham Shui Po. Due to game backup devices being considered illegal in Japan at the time, Kurosawa could only advertise his game through articles written under pseudonyms for underground gaming magazines. He set up a mail-order service to sell the game in floppy discs and cartridges, for ¥2,000 – ¥2,500 ($20–$25 in USD). It sold only 30 copies, despite him having printed several hundred copies of the insert, which he later threw away. He eventually forgot about the game, until he became aware that it was gaining some unwanted attention in the late 2000s. Eventually, his Facebook account was discovered and he began being bombarded with questions surrounding the game.
Game over screen
The game over screen contains a low-quality picture of an actual dead body. The picture is a still frame from a Japanese mondo film called New Death File III (新・デスファイルIII), published by V&R Planning. Kurosawa obtained the image by photographing his TV screen and apparently forgot about the movie in the years afterward. The man in the picture is an unidentified civilian who was killed in 1992 during the Bosnian War, which took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995.
In retrospective reviews, Hong Kong 97 was met with overwhelmingly negative reception, with some calling it one of the worst video games ever made. It was also referred to as a kusoge, meaning "shitty game". Journalists have noted the game's racism.
- The Story of Kamikuishiki Village, another game published by HappySoft with controversial content
- Shamdasani, Pavan (20 January 2018). "Developer of world's worst video game, Hong Kong 1997, ends silence to reveal its strange genesis and beg gamers to drop it". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 21 April 2018. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- Gault, Matthew (12 November 2019). "The True, Secret History of the Creepiest Cult Game Ever Made". Vice. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
- 香港97 [Hong Kong 97]. Six Samana (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- "Scan of Hong Kong 97's insert" (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 January 2020 – via Internet Archive.
- Plunkett, Luke (21 August 2012). "Racism, Violence & Madness Make This Awful Hong Kong Game One to Remember". Kotaku. New York City: Univision Communications. Archived from the original on 19 January 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- "The Story of Kamikuishiki Village Magazine Advertisement". Game Urara. Vol. 4. Core Magazine. 1995. pp. 190–191.
- Wells, Adam (16 September 2018). "Awful Game Has Enduring Legacy Despite Creator's Wishes". Kotaku Australia. Surry Hills: Univision Communications. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- Lamy, Corentin (9 February 2018). "Laid, raté et raciste : l'invraisemblable épopée du " pire jeu vidéo du monde "". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 25 February 2019.
- Lima, Diego (22 July 2018). "Os 10 piores games da história que você precisa conhecer" [The 10 Worst Games In History You Need To Know]. IGN Brazil (in Portuguese). São Paulo: Ziff Davis. Retrieved 25 February 2019.