Policenauts is the spiritual successor to Snatcher, both of which are sci-fi adventure games designed and written by Hideo Kojima. The story takes place in the year 2040 where private investigator Jonathan Ingram uncovers the mystery behind the disappearance of his ex-wife's husband, who is a citizen that lives aboard the space colony that now orbits the Earth.
Policenauts was first released on the NEC PC-98 Japanese microcomputer on July 29, 1994 and, unlike the title's later console ports, featured a presentation made up entirely of pixel art, giving the game a look very similar to Snatcher.
The first console release of Policenauts was for the 3DO in 1995 and it was extensively reworked from the original. Besides all the game's artwork being redrawn, CG and hand-animated cut-scenes were added to enhance important moments in the story. The game's script was also polished and rewritten making Poilcenaut's 3DO release the base for all future ports.
When the PlayStation version arrived on January 19, 1996, it featured further cleanup on both the graphics and movie footage created for the 3DO release. The Sega Saturn would be the last console the title would be ported to on September 13, 1996 where it added supported for the Virtua Gun peripheral. Kojima has also stated that he believes the Saturn port is the "final version" of Policenauts, containing several changes to the game's story and presentation that make the release "the most charming" in his eyes.
Before Policenauts's release on the 3DO, a "Pilot Disk" was released on April 21, 1995, containing a playable demo of the game, interviews with the voice actors and developers, as well as an extensive encyclopedia describing the concepts within the title's detailed backstory. On February 9, 1996, Policenauts: Private Collection was released for the PlayStation with the material from the Pilot Disk along with a copy of an earlier script of the game included as a bonus.
The Saturn version of Policenauts was initially planned to be published in North American. Konami even released an official press release on their website announcing Policenauts' localization in May 1996 and the game was also advertised on pamphlets included with certain Konami games, but it never came to be. Hideo Kojima has cited that work had begun on an English release of Policenauts but the developers were unable to synchronize the English dialogue with the FMV cut-scenes so the project was canceled.
However, Marc Laidlaw and Artemio Urbina from the Junker HQ fan site worked for many years on a fan translation of the PlayStation version of Policenauts and were finally able to completed their fan patch after receiving hacking assistance from Something Awful forum member Michael Sawyer (known by his online handle "slowbeef"). The team's patch was released on August 24, 2009, coinciding with Hideo Kojima's 46th birthday. Later on in October 6, 2016 a team lead by Víctor González, along with help from the original translation team, released an English patch for the Saturn version of Policenauts that translated the port's new content and further polished the English script.
In the year 2013, Jonathan Ingram is a 'Policenaut' - an astronaut with police training - whose duty is to protect Beyond Coast, man's first space colony.
While testing a prototype spacesuit, it malfunctions and sends him into deep space where he is presumed dead. Twenty-five years later, Jonathan is discovered alive (thanks to the emergency cryo-sleep module in the space suit which also explains why he also has not aged). With everything that he has known having changed in the last two and a half decades, he attempts to eke out a living by returning to Earth and work as a private detective in Los Angeles.
He is visited by his ex-wife (Lorraine) who had believed him to be dead and whom he had never thought to visit on Beyond Coast ever since he was found a few years earlier. The meeting for her is just as awkward, but she has no one else to turn to when her husband (Kenzo Hojyo) disappears. She asks him to investigate the matter and although Jonathan refuses to accept the case at first and Lorraine quietly leaves.
However, looking outside of his window, he spies someone suspicious near her car and realizing that something might be wrong, he runs out to the street below his office only to watch as Lorraine's car explodes, killing her. Giving chase to the mysterious saboteur, he manages to shoot him several times but ultimately loses him when he escapes on a motorcycle.
Determined to learn the truth behind Lorraine's death, the only clue he has is the fact that she was a citizen on Beyond Coast. Having vowed not to go back into space after his incident, he forces himself to take a flight there to crack the case and confront his past.
Much of the game is played very much like a point-and-click adventure game as the player moves from scene to scene. Everything is seen from first-person with scenes represented as stills allowing the player to move the cursor over them in search of items, clues, or interactive hot-spots such as being able to use a computer or a television to catch up on the latest news.
The game uses a mix of mediums from still-images to animated CG effects. Anime-styled FMV is used as a storytelling device for dramatic sequences.
The game also incorporates shooting sequences with the player controlling a targeting cursor onscreen. Puzzles, such as uncovering a hidden bomb and then defusing it in a step-by-step process, were only two of the challenges that players were confronted with in the game. Speaking to different characters, hearing their views on different topics, and exploring the environment were every bit as important and added to the entertainment value of the title as well as capturing many of the personalities within it.
As is typical of most of Hideo Kojima's work, Policenauts also features a well-developed lexicon of terms, cultural nuances, and philosophical themes that help distinguish its cyberpunk-like world. It also features Meryl Silverburgh who would go on to have a role in Metal Gear Solid and the hero is also notable for his smoking habit.
Policenauts features a wide variety of characters to interact with, each with their own distinctive personalities, hang-ups, and
- Jonathan Ingram - He's one of the five "Original Cops" that formed the first Policenauts on Beyond Coast. He was performing a spacewalk with an experimental EVA suit when things went wrong, sending him into deep space where his emergency cryo-capsule saved his life while stopping him from aging. Although 25 years had passed, he still resembles someone in his twenties as a result. It is through his eyes that the player will unravel the mystery. Voiced by Hideyuki Tanaka.
- Lorraine Hojo - Jonathan's ex-wife who comes to him on Earth from Beyond Coast hoping that he will help her find her missing husband. She hasn't seen Jonathan since he had disappeared twenty-five years earlier, although she had always known where he was on Earth. She is murdered at the start of the game in front of Jonathan's eyes which spurs him into his quest. Voiced by Chiyoko Kawashima.
- Ed Brown - The chief of Beyond Coast's Vice Unit, he was Jonathan's partner during their days in the LAPD and was one of the Original Cops. The Vice Unit is considered a dead end career path and Ed is simply trying to make it to retirement until Jonathan arrives. He and his duo of investigators eventually partner up with his old friend to help uncover the mystery surrounding Lorraine's death, albeit unofficially. Voiced by Shozo Iizuka.
- Anna Brown - Ed's young, teenaged daughter attending college is also a gymnastics prodigy. She takes care of the house when her father is away, along with her adopted little brother, Marc, her mother having died some years earlier. Voiced by Yumi Toma.
- Marc Brown - Ed's adopted son. His real father was driven violently mad by drugs and the police had been called onto the scene. With Marc at risk, Ed was forced to shoot his father to defend him and had adopted him afterwards. Since that time, Marc hasn't spoken.
- Karen Hojo - A popular anchorwoman at Beyond Coast, she is Lorraine's daughter and bears a strong resemblance to her mother when Jonathan and her were married. Voiced by Kikuko Inoue.
- Tony Redwood - He is a Frozener, the slang term for an artificially-conceived human who have been genetically enhanced to operate in extraterrestrial environments. He's a member of the Advance Police, Beyond Coast's version of a SWAT team, and an ace mecha pilot. Voiced by Kaneto Shiozawa.
- Salvatore Toscanini - One of the "Original Cops", he had quit the force to work in the private sector. He is now the Chief of Security at Tokugawa's Moon Plant. Voiced by Masaharu Sato.
- Joseph Sadaoki Tokugawa - One of the "Original Cops", he had left the force to inherit his family's business, the Tokugawa Group. As one of the key corporations responsible for the construction of Beyond Coast, Tokugawa wields considerable influence and power within the colony. Voiced by Iemasa Kayumi.
- Gates Becker - One of the "Original Cops", he had remained with the force and is now the Chief of the BCP and the commander of the Advance Police. He is a no-nonsense personality who sticks to the rules no matter what the situation might be. He allows Jonathan to work with Ed on his investigation so long as it doesn't interfere with regular police business. Voiced by Osamu Saka.
- Dave Forrest - A member of the BCP's Vice Unit, he has a penchant for hamburgers and wears an orange vest and goggles. He has a secret crush on his partner, Meryl, but he is also a top investigator who helps Jonathan and Ed. He also has a thing for plastic dinosaurs. Voiced by Bin Shimada.
- Meryl Silverburgh - A member of the BCP's Vice Unit, she was a former member of a military unit named FOXHOUND and is usually seen at the office in a black tank top and military issue camo. She is portrayed as a rough and tumble character who won't go on a date with a person until they can beat her score in the simulator (similar to the challenge given by Red Sonja in to Schwarzenegger's character in the film of the same name). Voiced by Megumi Terase.
- Chris Goldwin - A former model, she now runs the Beyond Coast Central Hospital. She knows Jonathan as one of the Original Cops having done a photo shoot with them twenty-five years earlier. Voiced by Chiyoko Kawashima.
- Kenzo Hojo - The missing husband of Lorraine, he was a scientist working as the head of one of Tokugawa's manufacturing and research departments. It is his disappearance that spurs Lorraine to travel to Earth in seeking Jonathan's help.
- Michael Saito - A security guard at the front desk of Tokugawa Pharmaceuticals. Voiced by Nobutoshi Canna.
- Victor Jurgens - He works at the BCP as a forensic pathologist aided by an AI named Gorby who runs the Auto-analysis Identification Device (AID). He has seen nearly everything there is to see in his field. Voiced by Kohei Miyauchi.
- Jun Ishida - A pharmacist working for the Beyond Coast Central Hospital. Voiced by Naoki Tatsuta.
- The in-game date that Jonathan Ingram married his ex-wife, Lorraine, is August 24, 2009. The 24th of August is Hideo Kojima's real-world birthday and, coincidentally, the fan translation patch for the title was also released on the same exact day and year.
The soundtrack for Policenauts was primarily composed by Konami veterans Motoaki Furukawa and Tappy Iwase, who would later compose the main themes for the Metal Gear Solid franchise. It was first released in Japan on February 3rd, 1995. The soundtrack features music reminiscent of detective and 'buddy cop' films of the 1980s.
Total Length: 1:08:18
- "Legendary Faces" - 1:13
- "Opening Title "Old L.A. 2040"" - 7:17
- "Criminal Investigation Part 1" - 1:17
- "L'amour Impossible" - 1:06
- "Embarrasment ~Murder~ Shoot For Angels" - 2:24
- "Capturing" - 0:55
- "The End of Beyond" - 0:53
- "The Zone" - 0:58
- "28 Years" - 1:33
- "Call Your Name" - 2:17
- "First Triangle" - 1:12
- "Theme from "News Order" - 0:52
- "Girls" - 1:36
- "Landfall" - 1:20
- "BCP H.Q." - 1:08
- "Magic Subway" - 1:11
- "Dear My Friend" - 1:38
- "Lavender" - 5:00
- "Innocence White" - 1:08
- "No, No, No!" - 1:15
- "Mission 307" - 2:01
- "Sweet Home" - 0:53
- "Ana's Theme" - 2:11
- "Owl-Cat" - 1:00
- "Investigate" - 0:48
- "My Love" - 2:15
- "Domestic Moon" - 1:19
- "Abandoned Launcher" - 1:14
- "Atmosphere In Gray" - 0:59
- "Living in the Real World" - 2:14
- "Icy Offence of Clouds" - 1:40
- "Stouthearted" - 1:14
- "Past Year At Sunset Beach" - 1:10
- "End of the Dark" - 2:04
- "Karen" - 2:46
- ""Policenauts" End Title" - 2:09