First non-translation post?! Dear lord… what makes the lord even more dear is this game. 「時空探偵ＤＤ 〜幻のローレライ〜」 aka Jikuu Tantei DD ~Maboroshi no Lorelei aka Space-time Detective DD ~The Phantom Lorelei is a JPN-only PS1 game that was released in the prime year, one of the Golden Years of video games, 1996. The “DD” stands for Dracula Detective, effectively making the title Space-Time Detective Dracula Detective. Nice one, ASCII!
The cover of this would make you believe it’s about a suited badass and a Chinese-dress-clad dame who blast fools with their guns first and ask questions later in some sort of gothic castle/country setting. This wouldn’t be the first time you’ve been wrong in your life. Indeed, the stuff going on in the cover never happen in any shape or form, except for the little blimp beside the title, which is actually what the entire game is about.
Shocking, I know.
The game takes place in the year 2238. You know it’s a 90’s game because despite it being 200+ years in the future, people still seem to watch CRT TVs and lack cool handheld devices. Our hero, Raizo aka DD, an expert at dealing with space-time crime (and…apparently a vampire?) is chillin in his 90’s-ass future office being pestered by his sidekick when a dame walks in with a request. Her father, who is an engineer in super powered electro generator thingies has gone missing. She comes with a clue: that he had sent something huge through time to 1939 Germany on the night before WWII. Furthermore, she reveals that a man who looks very similar to her father but aged has appeared in that time. DD and the gang go back in time to find her dad. There they learn that he has boarded a giant passenger blimp called the Lorelei as its architect. DD and The Dame board it pretending to be newspaper journalists while Sidekick provides support. Will they find her father?!
All of this occurs in a somewhat lengthy 15-20 minute opening cutscene. Despite obviously trying to be a somewhat cinematic experience, the 3D models and environments are derpy as hell. There are no fluid motions, everyone walks around like they’re a robot and when they speak their mouths move like mechanical puppets. Shit ends up pretty creepy, actually. The first shots of FUTURE JAPAN look pretty a’ight despite the usual PS1-style empty-as-fuck streets, but when they go to Germany it suddenly looks like a square board with toy buildings and two cars. Then it devolves even further as they leave the airport, where we are treated to a green board with some basic roads and a smooth hangar. The Lorelei derps its way into the skies, the opening cutscenes end and now, the game can truly begin! …
INSERT DISC 2
Eh? Insert the second disc?! Yeah, the game is two discs and the opening cutscenes take up the entire first one. That means the opening cinematics were just TOO much that it had to be put in a disc all to itself. Those robot puppet jammies come at a price, it seems.
At last we can take control of DD when he’s on the blimp. I was tipped off to just how long and complex this adventure was going to be when I saw the map. Two floors, each with a straight hallway and rooms on the sides. Then the annoying sidekick teaches you about the menus and shit. There are three options: Item, Power, Hint. Some of the items you get include drinks and tomatoes, which bring up your Power bar to use your powers. Your power is being able to see into the past and through walls, just basically fuck with space-time. Pretty dope, right? The drinks and tomatoes bring your bar up just a smidgen, so I was like “dayum, I guess I’m gonna need to eat a lot of these throughout the game”. Well, I soon learned that all the items in the world are completely pointless because the bar is brought to 100% via sucking people’s blood (he’s a vampire! Of course!). So dope, let’s suck some punk’s blood! But…even that is a pointless point, because you only suck a person’s blood once and it’s via a story-event. So, essentially, his powers are only used through a story event. Than why is it an option in the menus?! Shit had me thinking it was something I needed to use frequently or at least at a good time that I needed to figure out for myself. But nah dawg, the game just says “okay you gotta use your power here. Go suck some blood”. So it’s a waste of a menu option. At least HINT can help me out, right? … nah it’s worthless. The game is beyond easy to begin with, but even if you try to use it it doesn’t do anything. Literally. I later found Hidden Hint Bags that can be used to activate it, but at that point I was near the end of the game anyway, so. Rad.
The game consists of going around the ship talking to the other guests and shit trying to figure out some clues about the Dame’s father and whatever mysteries there are. With this, I thought it would turn into a real detective game, where I had to listen carefully to what people said and later use what I learn to find the badguy. Naaah, what do you think this is? A game that had hard work put into it? Naw man, here at DD we do things the easy way. All you do is talk to everyone which triggers the next part of the story. Do that, talk to more people, etc. You gotta make sure to speak to everyone, possibly more than once. Almost everyone looks creepy as fuck and move in a bizarre fashion with equally bizarre camera work, but they all eventually just chill in each of the rooms on each of the floors, so at least they’re easy to find. One super HELP moment is where you talk to the ship captain and meet the Dame’s father. They explain lots of stuff in a leeengthy cutscene, then afterwards, if you go to the captain’s room again (by accident, or maybe looking for a hint of where to go next) you gotta watch it all over again. Including the self-introductions! The cutscene plays just as it did the first time. HELP ME. Then the dialogue cutscenes for some of these people are also just so goofy with such weird sudden transitions that they gotta be experienced firsthand. Here’s one of DD trying to ask some chick if he can suck her blood and getting rejected.
Actual ‘gameplay’ is limited to walking in first person and a confirm button. DD marches slowly down halls stopping by each door. When going down the one staircase in the ship he friggen soars down them, or at least that’s what the swooping first-person camera would have you think. Despite obviously flying down stairs, there is still the hurried sound of footsteps. DD is a miracle man. At the very end of the game you gotta shoot some punks down with a rail gun, but that just involves putting a battery into a correct slot then pressing FIRE when the sight lines up on the target. Essentially, this game can be played with one hand.
And it’s short as hell. I only save about 4 times while playing, and after about 10 minutes of playing I noticed my Completion percentage jump like 20%. I took my time while playing, relayed the hilarity to a pal via chat, did some taxes and it took only about 2-3 hours. If you just straight-played it, it would take like an 1-2 hours max. If DD didn’t walk like the god damn Tinman it could probably be done in half that time. This shit was the Ground Zeroes of 1996, except at $70 and one of the most derp things ever. I was pretty floored at this game. Where were the guns?! Why is DD such a sorry excuse for a vampire?! Why does everyone look like a creepy puppet?! Why is the first disc just 10 minutes of shitty cutscenes filled with robot people?! Why is literally every menu option utterly pointless?! The only Item you really need to use is the communication device to talk to the Sidekick, but even that’s always triggered in the story (you can’t use it any time you’d like, only when the story progresses and you get a call from Sidekick). This game is so HELP.
Well, the voice-acting was okay. Pretty standard fare, although sometimes the volume was like really low? Like the VA wasn’t close enough to the mic or something. There’s actually a page in the instruction manual of all the voice actors looking like they’re having a good time voicing the game. I heard their souls became trapped in the discs of the game afterwards, forever damned. I like to think I did my part in putting their souls to rest by finishing this silly-ass game.
Oh, and the Dame’s father, the entire reason we set off on this adventure in the first place? You find him almost immediately.