The True, Secret History of the Creepiest Cult Game Ever Made

The True, Secret History of the Creepiest Cult Game Ever Made

Spend enough time watching YouTube videos with titles like “10 biggest mysteries in gaming” . Widely regarded as one of the worst games ever made, Hong Kong 97 was a strange game with a crude and satirical plot about the British hiring a Jackie Chan lookalike to kill Chinese people in Hong Kong. It’s a bullet-hell notorious for its poor quality and the inclusion of a picture of an actual dead person in the game over screen. Hong Kong 97 was developed and published by HappySoft Ltd, the same company listed as the developer of The Story of Kamikuishiki Village in advertisements.

When reached by VICE, Kurosawa said that he didn’t make the game, but he knows who did.

“[The Story of Kamikuishiki Village] was made by two of my friends while we were still in high school,” he said over Facebook messenger. Kurosawa said Aum had become big in Japan, and had started running political candidates in elections. “The experience shook us, so those two ended up creating [ The Story of Kamikuishiki Village] and I also made a game about Aum on my own.”

Decades later, Kurosawa remembered the two as talented programmers. “I think they used a lot of new and innovative techniques to create it,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’ve been out of touch with them for more than 20 years now, so I have no idea what they’re up to at this point. I recall one of them joining Konami, but I have no idea if they’re still there or not. The name of the group they went by is Kanai Karasawa, and they made a lot of games together under that banner.”

On Tokugawa Corp—a forum dedicated to retro Japanese video games—fans believe they’ve discovered the identity of the men behind Kanai Karasawa. Buried in the readme for another Kanai Karasawa game are the names Takeshi Kanai and Kouichi Kanasawa. Kanasawa later worked for Konami.

When asked directly about Takeshi and Kouichi, Kurosawa confirmed they were his friends who made The Story of Kamikuishiki Village. VICE reached out to two people whose names and backgrounds match Kanai and Kanasawa, but have not heard back.

Kurosawa’s friends released their video game to a Japanese public terrorized by a rogue cult. Twenty minutes into a video of the game, there’s a shot of popular anime character Crayon Shin-Chan on a movie theater screen. Only two people are in the theater. The movie was released on April 15, 1995, a date Aum’s leader promised would be eventful. The cult was still at large and Police flooded the streets of Tokyo. Crayon Shin-Chan is popular, but not many people went to the opening.

The Story of Kamikuishiki Village is full of little references like this. It looks frightening on the surface because it uses video seemingly taken by the cult from inside its compounds. “Some of it really is footage from cult propaganda, but what’s important to keep in mind is that after the [sarin] attack, TV news showed thousands of hours of aum coverage and even the cult’s internal propaganda was picked through bit by bit,” Hightower said.

Part of the creepiness associated with The Story of Kamikuishiki Village is that it’s largely indistinguishable from the Aum Shinrikyo cult’s actual propaganda. Faces of famous members of the cult hover on the right side of the screen while eerie chants play in tinny lo-fi. Aum’s leader sold his blood as part of a drink to followers, and the game show’s him milking his fingers into bottles. Photographs of the sarin gas attack play over solemn music.

But The Story of Kamikuishiki Village is a dark parody, an interactive shitpost from the 1990s, and a statement against the cult.

“If you look at the opening to the game, it’s all mostly the shit people like the original ‘Aumers’ and kids at the time were mocking,” Hightower said. “Culturally speaking, Aum and [its] attacks were basically the worst thing ever, but at the same time there were a few very absurd things about Aum…that stood out to the public.”

Aum Shinrikyo still haunts Japan today. In 2018, more than two decades after the Sarin attack, Japan executed the founder and 12 senior members of the cult. “[It] still affects Japanese society, laws, paranoia…it’s pretty hard to cite everything Aum did [to] Japan,” Senn said. “But it changed the country.”

Source : Matthew Gault Link

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