Zettai Zetsumei Toshi

   Although Irem has been traditionally synonymous with the action games of yesteryear, they return to today's consoles with a new outlook and some fresh titles. One of these titles is Zettai Zetsumei Toshi ("Desperate City"), an adventure game with a plausible survival story and some interesting gameplay elements.

Shakin' and quakin'

   Zettai Zetsumei's story opens in 2001, when the Japanese government begins construction on an artificial island off the coast of Tokyo. Residing on top of an oceanic landfill and with a 1.5 kilometer-long double-level bridge connecting it to the mainland, the construct, known as Capital Island, is dubbed a great technological achievement. The island soon becomes an immense industrial and commercial center, growing rapidly throughout the years. Fast forward to 2005, when Capital Island becomes a city in and of itself with a population of over 500,000 and numerous towering skyscrapers. The story then focuses on Masayuki Sudo, a young journalist and the game's main character. Sudo has been recently transferred to the Capital Island branch of the newspaper for which he works.

    Arriving at Capital Island's new airport, Sudo hops the nearest train and heads to his new post. The train takes him all the way across the massive bridge, and before long, the car begins shaking. An immense earthquake rumbles through Capital Island, completely collapsing the bridge and sending Sudo's train crashing into the city. Sudo miraculously survives, but is now surrounded by the demolished shadow of what was once a prosperous town. Now he must find a way off the island and back to the safety of the mainland.

   Gameplay will have players guiding Sudo among the wreckage of the city, often performing death-defying acts such as walking across a flimsy beam or navigating a flooded neighborhood in order to make his way through. Sudo also has to stay alive by keeping hydrated, keeping his eyes peeled for drinking fountains and empty bottles to fill. However, many water sources will be non-functional due to plumbing damage sustained by the quake, so rationing water becomes an important factor for living through the disaster. As if this weren't enough, the city will continue to experience aftershocks as Sudo makes his way through, drastically altering the environment and presenting new challenges to overcome.

 Friends 4ever
Back back-packing

   Along with this, Sudo will have to rescue other distressed individuals. He first meets up with a young woman and later a photojournalist. Both will tag along with Sudo on his survival adventure, and there will be numerous other citizens to discover and rescue. Vehicles like a bicycle can be acquired in order to move faster through the city, as well.

   The game will take place over many days, even during the night and daytime, and naturally, there will be a fair amount of puzzles to solve in order to succeed, even featuring eerie Silent Hill-esque situations such as a dark subway station illuminated only by the glow of your flashlight. Although there are no biological terrors that will jump at you, the game will still offer plenty of tension through the ongoing disaster. The aftershocks and unstable ground are common throughout the island, continually rearranging the landscape and sending tall buildings toppling.

   Zettai Zetsumei has the potential for greatness, but it could be too unique to garner strong sales. Nevertheless, the name Irem has previously stood for quality, and it would take some serious screw-ups of established adventure gameplay to render the game a complete failure. No one will know until next month, though, when Zettai Zetsumei is released in Japan.

Preview by Ray Barnholt, GIA.
Zettai Zetsumei Toshi
Developer Irem
Publisher Irem
Genre Adventure
Medium DVD-ROM
Platform Sony PlayStation 2
Release Date  04.02
Irem announces Zettai Zetsumei for PlayStation 2
32 screenshots
3 character designs
Japanese box art