End of line!
—Master Control Program
In 1998, there was a Revolutionary Girl Utena video game. Semi-canonical, it was set chronologically immediately after episode 8, the one I just reviewed. It was created for the Sega Saturn. Sega Nerds reports.
The game was a visual novel, a type of video game that to this day has never found more than a niche market overseas, so it is no surprise that the game, subtitled Story of the Someday Revolution, never saw a release outside Japan.
That hasn’t stopped Utena fans, though. There are available online Sega Saturn emulators, playable files for the game, and an English translation patch that will convert the game from Japanese to English. You can get the goods from the forum In the Rose Garden, though you have to register to access the files. Downloading and running the game is rather involved, as the forum sends you off to various sites to collect the files you need, any of which could potentially be packing a virus.
I’m ambivalent about these kinds of projects. On the one hand, the chance of this game seeing a re-release or an official English release is next to nil. On the other hand, this isn’t strictly legal. But on the gripping hand, if it weren’t for bootleggers doing this kind of archival work, a lot of this sort of software would simply disappear.
I haven’t played the game, but I’ll refer you to people who have. The game’s introductory animation is available on YouTube, and it’s worth watching:
I never knew before now that it was possible to assault someone with animated pecs.
Anyway, although this game is supposedly set after episode 8, the over-the-top beefcake and the presence of Akio (a character we haven’t met yet in my slow-walk review) clearly mark this as a production created sometime later in the show’s formation.
The game is set up more-or-less like a dating sim, that is, a game where the goal is to build up relationships with the NPCs. You play as an unnamed female protagonist recently arrived at Ohtori Academy. Your nemesis is another OC character, Chigusa.
The most in-depth and thoughtful review I’ve found comes from Harcore Gaming, which makes the case that the video game is an attempt to subvert the genre of dating sims much as the anime is an attempt to subvert shoujo conventions. The review claims that Someday Revolution basically spins things around and castigates the gamer for playing this kind of game in the first place. It’s definitely worth reading.
The Wikipedia entry on the game appears even-handed. It reads,
The game is in the style of a visual novel with strong dating sim elements. The major characters each possess a statistic called “Heart’s Nobility” which the player affects through dialog choices that appear sporadically during play. Each character’s level of Heart’s Nobility determines how the game will end. The special endings available for characters that end with particularly high Heart’s Nobility represent the game’s dating sim element, but because it is set within the larger plot of the TV series the relationships are usually somewhat platonic, or one-sided affections on the part of the main character. Yet there are many aspects of the game that make it interesting to fans, such as duels between Student Council members and the opportunity to turn the main character into a duelist.
On the other hand, the website Yuri Nation claims … wait, is that an actual website name? Seriously … ? Well, anyway, Yuri Nation claims,
The game in question is a dating sim starring an avatar the player can name as they venture into the world of Utena, interacting with characters from the show and try to hook up with them. Both male and female characters can be wooed. Also it is possible for the avatar to participate in duels if the right cards are played.
Presumably, the writer had his yuri goggles on when he penned that, so this description should probably be taken with a pinch of salt and maybe a penicillin injection (you never know what you’ll pick up from some place called “Yuri Nation”).
I know how yuri fanboys think: any two females standing within ten feet of each other must be lesbians. Most of what they say shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
In any case, one thing we can say is that the game definitely got the look right. The creator of the show also oversaw the video game, and from what I’ve seen of it, it really nails the atmosphere.
One thing that is incongruous with the show, however, but which probably pleases Yuri Nation, is that the game gives you opportunity to see most of the main characters en déshabillé. That’s rather surprising, as the anime is most certainly not a fanservice show, but perhaps the game’s creators thought they needed to acquiesce to players’ expectations for visual novels, which are notoriously raunchy.