This is just one of the rather gruesome sights that can be found over at the new site for D3's budget survival-horror Simple DS Series Vol. 42: THE Haioku Byoutou (Simple DS Series: Vol. 42 - The Abandoned Building). Even though our chances of seeing this game in the west are as good as Fido there ever fetching a frisbee again, we still spent an enjoyable fifteen minutes scouting around the site, taking in loads of screens and some genuinely eerie footage of the game.
Hit up our gallery and see some of the sights for yourself, but keep your flashlight close.
Gallery: Simple DS Series Vol. 42: THE Haioku Byoutou
D3's latest addition to the budget range of Simple games is devoted to a heroic but very niche vocation: the disarming of bombs. As part of an elite bomb disposal unit, THE Bomb Squad takes players all over a world consisting of fictional countries.
While preventing bombs from exploding is, naturally, a major component of the gameplay, you'll have to play detective and locate the threat first, before whipping your stylus out and choosing between the red and the blue wire. This means chatting to locals (and apparently camels -- see after the break) to gather information, and assembling your clues from there.
We follow D3's Simple series with a feeling somewhere between envy and derision -- we think they're often banal or silly, but we want to experience every single one nonetheless. We've tried a few Simple 2000 games on the PS2, and the experience is pretty much commensurate with our expectations: buggy, low-budget novelties that combine basic gameplay with extremely quirky setups.
Do you import Simple games on any system? Are you tempted to do so? Or do you get enough entertainment from reading about them on the Internet?
Abandoned buildings (in this case a hospital), spooky little child spirits -- sometimes the most popular horror clichés can still be highly effective. D3 clearly thinks so, anyway, because it's included both of the above in its latest Simple game, Simple DS Series: Vol. 42 - The Abandoned Building.
From what we could gather from machine translation, you play as journalist Akira Kashiwagi, who sets out to an old, closed-down hospital to investigate the murder of four youngsters twenty years ago. It's played from a first-person perspective, you can hide in various spots throughout the hospital (lockers, for example), and it looks scary.
Needless to say, that first shot past the break (of the little girl peering through the elevator doors) will stay with us for our next few sleepless nights.
More ER than Scrubs, THE Gekai (TheSurgeon) takes a far more serious approach to surgery than Trauma Center. It might be worth a closer look come June, but for now we're far more interested in THE Shouboutai (The Firefighting Crew), partially because there's nothing quite like it on the DS (there should be more games about firefighting anyway, given that it oozes with the potential for drama and heroism), and also because our addled memories still fondly recall Burning Rangers on the Saturn. Actually, Burning Rangers is the main reason we're interested in this. Okay, the only reason. We wouldn't count on D3's firefighters carrying jet-packs, mind.
Head to our new galleries for the fresh screenage, though don't be expecting either of these to make the journey west.
We knew about the last two volumes in D3 Publisher's Simple DS series: Vol. 39 THE Shouboutai (Firefighter) and Vol. 40 THE Gekai (Surgeon), both of which are games that involve real-world tasks. But the three entries in the series preceding those were unknown to us. They happen to be rooted in the everyday world as well, in a much less game-like way than the others. In fact, they're training non-games for the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication).
Vol. 36 THE Arc de Minitsuku! TOEIC Test Bunpou Tokkun(Master the Arc! TOEIC Intensive Grammar Training), Vol. 37 THE Arc de Minitsuku! TOEIC Test Listening Kyoka (TOEIC Listening Enhancement), and Vol. 38 THE Arc de Manabu! TOEIC Test Hajimete (Study the Arc! Beginning the TOEIC) all focus on different aspects of the English test, which is used to determine English proficiency for business use. We hope they were at least made to a higher standard than other Simple titles, or that nobody relies on them as study aids. If they are actually okay, D3 may be on to something: their usual low budgets would translate excellently to "games" that rely almost entirely on text menus.
Read: Vol. 36 THE Arc de Minitsuku! TOEIC Test Bunpou Tokkun
Read: Vol. 37 THE Arc de Minitsuku! TOEIC Test Listening Kyoka
Read: Vol. 38 THE Arc de Manabu! TOEIC Test Hajimete
In June, Japan will have two more additions to D3's Simple DS series. One will be a Trauma Center type of game, but with more realistic looking organs. Also, you'll be operating to cure actual conditions, like appendicitis, rather than mysterious, made-up outbreaks. We'll squeamishly take our cartoon organs, thanks, but should you have a stomach for that sort of thing, Simple DS Series Vol. 40: The Gekai might be the game for you.
The other simple software, Vol. 39: The Shouboutai, deals with the heroic task of firefighting. Since poking at fires with your stylus is less dangerous than dashing into burning buildings, D3's game probably sounds more appealing than the real-life task.
We appreciated that someone bothered to recorded a video preview of Custom Tank with a steady camera, and we hoped that the game would live up to our expectations as a Metal Slug-esque experience, what with its run-'n-gun mechanics and chunky sprites, but publisher D3 wasn't kidding when it threw this title onto its "Simple" budget line. The music track is on an annoyingly short loop while this first stage is excruciatingly long, likely dragged out to disguise the game's limited content and length. Judging by the slow pacing, it's definitely not a suitable Metal Slug substitute.
But if you like its cheerful approach to war -- tanks hopping over bottomless pits and zeppelins casually floating into view -- or if you're just looking for a game with customizable tanks, you might as well pick up The Super Bullet!! Custom Tank while it's cheap. Play Asia will have the game listed at $23.12 until midnight tonight (or while stocks last).
Then get Simple DS Series Vol. 34 THE Haisha -- and pay D3 to let you be inhumane! For some reason, IGN has compiled a large gallery of D3's Japan-only budget torture game, showing all kinds of ... dental procedures ... and even some of the nightmarish implements you, as THE Dentist, will have access to.
For a cheap game about an extremely unpopular subject, we're kind of surprised by the effort shown here. There are many different kinds of ... tooth issues on display here, and both 2D and 3D representations of the offending teeth. The whole thing actually looks good.
We're sorry, but you'll have to excuse our bleating. You see, we just clapped eyes on the latest round of screens from Vol. 34 THE Haisha (translation: Vol. 34 THE Dentist), and can't stop cringing. Just look at that plier-on-tooth action on the right, and tell us it doesn't make you want to grimace as well.
Like most people, we're not fans of the dentist, so why we'd want to relive the experience through a gaming handheld that is supposed to be fun is beyond us (though in the last batch of comments we received on D3's dentistry sim, revenge was mentioned as a possible motive for playing this).
Call us crybabies all you like, but we challenge any of you to visit the gallery below and not wince at least once.
D3 Publisher has announced the next three games in the Simple DS series. Vol. 33 THE Crossword & Kanji Puzzle will be of limited interest to non-fluent importers for the simple reason that doing crosswords in Japanese is pretty hard for people who don't know a lot of Japanese. Vol. 34 THE Haisha will be a niche product for a different reason.
Because "haisha" means "dentist." It's a game about dentistry. From what we can tell, it's a Trauma Center type of game, except the traumas are located entirely within mouths, and seem more troublesome than traumatic. Not that we wanted to do any emergency oral surgery anyway.
Vol. 35 should prove to have wider appeal than the others: it's a DS remake of the PS2 Simple game THE Genshijin(Primitive Men), which is one of the rare Simple games to be released in the U.S. (as The Adventures of Darwin). It's a strategy-sim-type game in which you control a tribe of cavemen. The DS version happens to be extremely cute.
Here's the deal: we're still waiting for SNK to pull its finger out and give us a release date for Metal Slug 7. Yes, the game might look the part in motion, but with a release date for Japan not yet announced, it feels some way off.
In other words, we could do with a replacement, something to tide us over until SNK's run-'n-gun arrives. We've discussed Simple DS Vol. 31 THE Super Bullet!! Custom Tankpreviously, and also touched on the similarities it shares with Metal Slug 7 -- the lovably chunky sprites, the relentless blasting, screens packed with explosions.
Plus, as much as it might feel a bit "supermarket own-brand" compared to the more renowned SNK game, it holds one vital advantage over its illustrious rival: it's out in Japan in just over a week, on January 31st. It also looks pretty approachable, as Japanese customizable tank games go.
If you're still teetering over a purchase -- something that your local friendly importer can help you out with -- roll past the break for another set of new screens.
We can't be too sure of the quality of D3's Simple DS Vol. 32 THE Zombie Crisis. Neither the Simple series nor the stylus-based first-person zombie-shooting genre are hallmarks of high quality. In fact, we'll take that back. We're pretty sure that THE Zombie Crisis isn't very good.
Despite the low budget, the limitations of the genre (on DS) and the fact that the zombie crisis happens to coincide with a thick fog that is so pervasive as to have gotten indoors, we actually like what we see here. It's fast-paced and there are a lot of weapons. Not to mention the excellent title screen, which is almost worth the price of purchase by itself. Who cares if the zombies aren't that great graphically? They're not going to be on screen long, if you're playing the game right.
Most Simple series games betray their low-budgetness in fairly obvious ways: crap graphics and either boring (mah-jongg) or insane premises. They also tend to be direct copies of other more popular games. Simple DS Vol. 32 THE Zombie Panic looks like pretty much the same concept as Touch the Dead, which is, uh, pretty much the same concept as The House of the Dead -- "shoot at some zombies."
But where THE Zombie Panic diverges from its DS contemporary is that, well, it's got a sword in it. That's, like, a paradigm shift for zombie-shooting games. We'll take the dual-wielding as well.
There's something suspicious about a fully-3D first-person game like this being made for the Simple series. We suspect that Dream Factory was originally doing this for another publisher who canned the project.
Comprising 345 (and counting!) games, D3 Publisher's Simple series has sold over 20 million units since its inception in 1998. That's a lot of cheap junk. To celebrate this remarkable milestone, D3 is rereleasing the first Simple DS game, Simple DS Vol. 1 THE Mah-jongg, at a special price of 1,480 yen ($13.39), which is quite a bit nicer than the original 2,800 yen price.
We've often lamented the lack of Simple games in the U.S., as we're in love with both the concept (low-cost games that are modest in scope) and the general quirkiness of the games. We can't think of a better celebration of a sales milestone than to expand the series worldwide.