Welcome to -- RETRO GAME DAISUKI ! -- a blog about the wonderful world of Japanese retro video games (ARCADE / PC-88 / X68K / MEGA DRIVE / SATURN / PlayStation / PC-ENGINE). Re-live the strangest games from the 80's and 90's. Retro games were our youth!
Author : HERZOG
-- Playing video games since the 80's ! --
Still trying to translate all the posts from my old blog. Please see this post for more info.
Also, please excuse any grammar and any other related errors you may find on this blog, as English is not my first language.
A beautiful young woman is found unconscious near the crash site of a mysterious unmanned aircraft... This is only the beginning of the epic bishoujo AVG series from DATA WEST!
● Title: 第4のユニット ● Genre: Adventure ● Release Date: 1988.12.05 ● Developer: DATA WEST ● Publisher: DATA WEST ● Media: 5" 2HD Floppy Disk x2 ● System Specific: X68000 Series
The 4TH UNIT is an episodic SF adventure game series developed by DATA WEST, whom are known mostly for the excellent mystery AVG series「THE PSYCHIC DETECTIVE」for the FM-TOWNS.
The series has an overarching storyline that follows the exploits of 「BLONWIN」- a bishoujo endowed with psychic powers who joins a group of 「BIONIC SOLDIERS」called the「4TH UNIT」in order to fight world-threatening evil organizations.
THE 4TH UNIT series spans 7 games which were released from 1987 up until 1992. However because DATA WEST withdrew from the video game scene in the mid 90's, the series has remained inconclusive.
■THE STORY OF THE 4TH UNIT
In November, 17 of a certain year, an unidentified aircraft of unknown nationality is shot down in Nerima City, Tokyo by the JSDF. No passengers or crew were found inside.
Three days later, high school student YUSUKE MUTO finds a young girl lying naked and unconscious in the forest next to his school and decides to take care of her at his house. Shortly afterwards the girl regains consciousness although she can't seem to remember anything about her past with the exception of the name 「BLON・WIN」.
Since the wreckage of the aircraft is located very close by to the forest where she was found. BLONWIN suspects her presence to be somehow related to the mysterious ship.
Just as soon as BLONWIN and YUSUKE start their investigation, they are jumped by reporter YAMADA of the KANTO TIMES who's also been keeping a close eye on recent events, including BLONWIN's suspiciously sudden appearance.
To complicate matters even further, the aircraft incident has caused JSDF activity to increase within the city, which in turn has given rise to violent and widespread civil unrest. Now it would seem the entire city is in turmoil.
It is among this chaos that the real mystery begins....
At first glance THE 4TH UNIT may appear like a conventional command menu driven adventure game. However, a closer inspection reveals that the game was clearly designed in the oldtype AVG tradition.
No doubt you will instantly notice the rather large command list located on the right side of the screen.
Before programmers realised that situational commands were the way to go, they used to just paste in there every single action command that could be used, even if they only came into play once during the entire adventure.
The use of unnecessary commands, icons, and other misc. options used to be a common practice in the genre as it was something companies would use to trick customers into believing their games had more depth and content than what they had in reality.
In the case of THE 4TH UNIT there's a few commands that virtually have no use at all. These are 「CHASE」, 「YES」, and 「NO」. The 「ESCAPE」and「RESCUE」commands are also very much useless. They do work on a couple of scenes, but 「MOVE」and 「FIGHT」serve basically the same purpose.
Ironically, there was only one scene in the entire game where I was asked to use the YES and NO commands, and it turned out they didn't even worked...
By the way, here's the complete list of commands :
Fortunately the overabundance of commands in the game only comes as redundant really, and not as an actual hindrance. The possibility of becoming stuck due to not knowing which command to use is about the same as in any other adventure game.
THE 4TH UNIT was originally released for the 8-bit PC systems in 1987. This X68K version is actually a visually enhanced version that features vastly superior scene artwork.
Of course enhanced visuals alone cannot hide the fact that this is in essence an oldtype AVG. Game progression, character interaction, and most other aspects are all handled in a very old school fashion.
Overall, there just isn't that much text or scenes in the game, so some stuff won't be covered or explained as much as one would have wanted.
As the story progresses BLONWIN learns that she has special psychic powers that make her a 「BIONIC SOLDIER」. She will also come in contact with rival BS bishoujos that will challenge her to a fight. At this point the game will go into a battle screen where you will engage the enemy in simple turn-based combat.
1 on 1 fights are a mere formality, however team fights can be a bit problematic. This is because the enemy can gang up on BLONWIN, and if she gets K.O. you will get a Game Over.
Just like all other odltype adventure games, THE 4TH UNIT is in reality a very short game. Assuming that most of you are average AVG players, it will probably take you a bit less than an hour to clear the game the first time around. And that's only if you take the time to go through every possible scene and conversation.
Once you've learned the correct path though, it is entirely possible to clear the game in less than 10 minutes.
Of course at least in this case the game was actually meant to be only the introductory episode of the series, so the short length doesn't feel as disappointing as it does in most oldtype adventure games.