Naomi


Cosmology of Kyoto

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This post is (mostly) for gracejustis, because of this post..

Recently I have been playing a game called Cosmology of Kyoto which I discovered by chance while looking through old games on theunderdogs.org (one of my favorite sites).

It is truly *the* most unique and haunting games I have ever played. If it could even be called a game, it's more of an experience intermingled with facts (there is a vast database of Japanese history during the Heian period). You don't win, you explore. Death and reincarnation are part of the game and unavoidable. I found it very immersive and played it for hours, but this game is not for everyone. In fact I doubt many people like it, or even get it. The imagery is quite disturbing at times and takes the prize as the first game to have actually given me nightmares, but also as the first game that truly made me think on a deeper level than puzzle solving. If you download it and don't like it, please don't come back and bitch at me, I warned you. ;) If you do like it, please tell me your thoughts.



Roger Ebert liked it. He said:

"The richness is almost overwhelming; there is the sense that the resources of this game are limitless and that no two players would have the same experience. I have been exploring the ancient city in spare moments for two weeks now, and doubt that I have even begun to scratch the surface. This is the most beguiling computer game I have encountered, a seamless blend of information, adventure, humor, and imagination - the gruesome side-by-side with the divine.

In this medieval Kyoto, people exist alongside ghosts, demons, and goblins. On my travels I have met - and interacted with - a dog eating entrails, long-winded old farts, tradespeople (who offered me medicines, dried fish, cloth, rice cakes, amulets, and a chance to lose money on a cock fight), a monk leading a prayer meeting, kids playing ball in the streets (one is beheaded by a passerby), a friendly guide dog, a maiden with an obscenely phallic tongue, and a gambler who taught me a dice game.

The graphics are hauntingly effective, using a wide-screen landscape format. The individual characters are drawn with vivid facial characteristics, a cross between the cartoons of medieval Japanese art and the exaggerations of modern Japanimation. The speaking voices are filled with personality, often taunting, teasing, or sexy. There is the sense, illusory but seductive, that one could wander this world indefinitely. This is a wonderful game."

Download and read another review here, on theunderdogs.org. (133MB)


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On November 8th, 2001 02:56 am (UTC), vox commented:
Yes Indeed
I am d/l'ing it right now, it sounds and reads as a fantastic RPG, I used to play them many yrssssssss ago. Thanks for the post and tip Naomi, hope all is well and great in your life...:)

I will post about the game in a day or so, are you playing it as well..?

Peace...
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On November 8th, 2001 03:54 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: Yes Indeed
If you're expecting a typical RPG you'll probably be disappointed, it's not really even a game. And perhaps shorter than I'd like, but I suspect that is because I am stuck in a reincarnation loop right now. ;)

Thank you, I hope all is well with you too. :)
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On November 8th, 2001 04:26 am (UTC), closethipster commented:
Flashback
I remember reading Roger Ebert's review when it first came out in WIRED. I was all excited about the game until I reached the bottom and saw cost cost $98. ($98!) I looked for it in bargain bins for years but never found a copy.

Too bad theunderdogs.org doesn't have the Mac version to download.. but I'm happy to see it has found a new life on the internet.
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On November 8th, 2001 01:44 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: Flashback
I noticed that price quoted at the bottom of the article too, a bit steep for a game.

Maybe if The Underdogs receive enough emails they will upload a Mac version? Other people are complaining about that also. The creator of the site is very friendly, so it's worth a shot.
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On November 8th, 2001 04:49 am (UTC), kiad commented:
I am downloading it now. I wonder if it works on XP. Either way, it looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.
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On November 8th, 2001 01:46 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Enjoy. :)
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On November 8th, 2001 09:56 am (UTC), ex_snej373 commented:
Mac version unavailable?
The Mac version (which Ebert reviewed) is unavailable? That's too bad, it sounds like a game I'd really like. How did it come to be freeware? Is it pirated or with the designer's consent?

I suppose I could finally break down and buy VirtualPC, but I hate paying that Microsoft tax.
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On November 8th, 2001 01:48 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: Mac version unavailable?
I'll copy what I mentioned to someone else above: Maybe if The Underdogs receive enough emails they will upload a Mac version? Other people are complaining about that also. The creator of the site is very friendly, so it's worth a shot.

I don't know if it was put up with the designer's consent or not. Some games on The Underdogs are, others aren't. If they receive an email from the designer asking to take it down or link to a store where someone can buy it, they always comply.
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On November 8th, 2001 01:51 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Strange! :( Are you using any kind of download accelerator? I suppose you probably read the "important notice" on the download page. Hrm.
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On November 8th, 2001 02:49 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Hehe I probably overloaded their servers by linking to it from LJ. Oops. ;)
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On November 8th, 2001 02:47 pm (UTC), gracejustis commented:
After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
Holy Moly! That is too cool! Wheeeeee... :D

Thank you thank you thank you :D!!!
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On November 8th, 2001 02:52 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
:D!

How long have you played so far? I've started a few new games and the experiences do indeed vary for each individual.

Isn't the voice acting and ambiance incredible?
On November 8th, 2001 02:56 pm (UTC), gracejustis replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
I've just barely started...only played so far with one character. But, yes, the ambiance and sound and just the set-up is incredible. And I love the no frills interface as well...although, I couldn't figure out how to quit the game ;)
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On November 8th, 2001 03:00 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
I've been reincarnated as a dog a few times. :)

The interface does take some getting used to. Ctrl-Q is quit. Ctrl-S might be save, I don't remember. I know it asks if you want to save when you quit.
On November 8th, 2001 03:04 pm (UTC), gracejustis replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
I think I've been a dog too. And I was this guy with knives that was supposed to fight, but just kept getting arrows shot into his side :/ That's not a great way to come back, let me tell you ;D

Ctrl-Q! Thank you. Really, that's kind of obvious now that I think about it...but I love cutting power to the PC - there's something dangerous and naughty about it.

Okay. Who put crack in my hot cocoa?
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On November 8th, 2001 03:09 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
Sometimes I think it takes a bit of personal interpretation to figure out what the game designers are trying to say. Much of it strikes me as symbolic, but figuring out the meaning is part of it I think.

I got the poor guy with the arrows too. There's one "hell" part that I found particularly disturbing, you'll probably know what I mean when/if you get to it. :)

You could just ctrl-alt-del and kill the game that way, but who am I to ruin your fun? ;)
On November 8th, 2001 03:16 pm (UTC), gracejustis replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
Did the really disturbing hell have to do with flaying by any chance? Because if it did...then I've been to that particular hell and back.

I did try ctrl-alt-delete...but sometimes it just doesn't work and everything gets frozen up. Sigh.

It's true about the interpretation...I've only just dipped a toe in at this point, so it should be quite interesting to see where it goes. It's making me want to make games again though...Which means it must be good :)
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On November 8th, 2001 03:23 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
No, it had to do with torture. I'll leave it at that. :)

Are you still working on that Deus Ex project?

On November 8th, 2001 03:27 pm (UTC), gracejustis replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
8-o Yikes.

Well, I'm not working on the same project. After Sept 11, the thought of creating a game based around terrorists and government agents made me nauseated.

I'm still working on my own ideas, though. I'm hoping that the novel produced for Nanowrimo might be used as the storyline...

And I'm still going to use all those pictures of London :) Maybe make them a bit futuristic...although some of them are already futuristic enough on their own.
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On November 8th, 2001 04:05 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
I completely understand, I doubt I would have been able to continue either.

I'd love to see the heart removal part of your novel translated into part of a game.. my imagination is whirring now. :)

That's great you're still going to use them, like I said before, I'm excited to see what you create!

On November 8th, 2001 04:55 pm (UTC), gracejustis replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
:) Thank you... And I'm glad it sets your imagination whirring...zat ees a gut zine. Yesss.
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On November 8th, 2001 03:02 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: After installing and playing and having my eyes boggle...
There is a "walkthrough" for it here, although why anyone would want to use it is beyond me.
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On November 8th, 2001 03:30 pm (UTC), 100acrewoods commented:
hi there.

(hey! loved your post!)

i sent your entry to a friend and fellow LiveJournalist... his post later in the day is as follows, and was probably inspired by your post... probably a little fictional as well... er, sorry to post someone's post in your comments - seems tres tacky! but hopefully you will enjoy:

When I say Crayon you say flesh. Crayon! Flesh! Crayon! Flesh!

O' Diary, I have thousands of terra cotta soldiers buried along with me.

Today I saw a Cheers-themed Tarot deck. There was a sale on 80's merchandise at the game store. I also saw a stack of classic early computer text-games. One of them was called Mister Master and it was about an evil CEO. It was so Bloom County-era. They also had board games from the eighties which seemed exclusively preoccupied with nuclear war and the Japanese economy. There were also sectiony hinge-flap books that let you put frog heads on firemen and a bus driver thorax on a dog astronaut. I almost bought a card game called Chart Blazer (the 2-player card game of pop superstardom!). The box was pretty dusty. It had a fold-out playing field that you spread the cards out on and the object was to climb into the "BobBoard Top 40" and try to get a #1 single. I'm not sure how it worked and the guy who ran the place would not let me open it up, but the cards displayed on the back (with poor grade-school art) were "Scandal" and "Horny Roadie." There was also one of those games where you pop out 4000 cardboard squares called Glacier War - (In 1983 the polar ice-caps will freeze America! Survivors must fight in speedboats for control of supplies! Will you eat or freeze? New solitaire rules for solo play!!) "Will you eat or freeze?" a brilliant tagline! There were also piles of photocopied homemade game rules for things that there are not supposed to be games for. Some were made up like: Cutlery! The game of war between household utensils. AphidStorm - Can you as Ladybug defeat garden pests or will there be AphidStorm? (there was a picture of a rose that looked like a nuclear mushroom cloud as backdrop)
Some were bootleg "expansion" rules for games you probably already had: New Weapons for Clue (includes garrote and sleeping pills!) and TH and CH tiles for Scrabble and Natural Disaster cards for Risk. Tidal Wave in Kamchatka!

O' Diary, I'm all about new solitaire rules for solo play (if you know what I mean)
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On November 8th, 2001 04:10 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Hi, thank you. :) It's not tacky at all in this case,
thank you for passing it along, I enjoyed reading it!

(I'm sorry, I'm nosey. I just looked at your friends list to
see who wrote it, I hope you don't mind. :)
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On November 26th, 2001 03:13 pm (UTC), 100acrewoods replied:
Hi. Here's another reply to your 'game' posting from a little while back. The friend who wrote the content for the first reply I sent you has a journal under the username of Ravenface. If you weren't able to track him down or haven't kept an eye on him lately, here's another one he wrote today on 'games'. I presume another fictional game!

1:04 pm - Are you my mushroom?
O'Diary, when's it going to land?

Last night some friends and I played: Whopper! - The storytelling card game of the Old West. The idea is that everyone gets a hand of cards that have story elements on them and start to tell a story by playing the cards. One of the cards is an ending card and the idea is to get the story to end the way your ending card says. For example, mine was: "And them varmints never found nothin'" The others had different endings and wanted the story to go their direction, probably a varmintless direction. If the story has no varmints my ending caint work. The five other cards I had were: Old Well, Scalp, Pea Shooter, Hardtack, and Someone Jumps a Claim. The others had cards like Cowpuncher and A Saloon Gets Quiet and Riverboat Gambler and whatever. They were allowed to interrupt my story to get it going in their direction if I mentioned anything in my story that was represented by one of their cards. For example, when I said that Curly and Cookie were conspirin' to jump old Lumpton's claim on the silver mine in Dry Gulch (thus using my Someone Jumps a Claim card, duh!) then one of my opponents played her Mineshaft card and took over the story. If there were a Zodiac Squad version of this game it would last one turn because everyone would be so turned on that they would just start making out. If there were a Sci-Fi version of this game it wouldn't get very far because everyone would be so turned on that they would just start sculpting and signing up for online language classes. If there were a fantasy story version then it wouldn't get very far because everyone would start rocking out to the Pixies and eating caramel. So that is why I think Whopper! - The storytelling card game of the Old West is the best game that it can be. It comes in a little box and is reasonably priced. I hope that you enjoy it too if it comes to your town even in it's a Ghost Town which is one of the cards ok.



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On January 22nd, 2002 01:35 pm (UTC), durga_daggr commented:
Cosmology of Kyoto. oh good good. this game actually scared me. what a wonderful experience! i must play it again!

nice to know there are others that have experienced it.
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On January 22nd, 2002 06:53 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
I'm shocked to find someone who has actually played that game! Most people I know had never heard of it. :)
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