It is with some regret that Colony Drop announces that it must disclose the source of the review copy we are about to discuss. The plan, to be quite frank, was to ally with J-List (You’ve got a friend in Japan!) and gradually transform Colony Drop into the top website for Japanese erotic computer game companies to receive shill reviews of their products. It would have been a winning situation for the porn game industry, the tragically under-employed Colony Drop staff and most importantly, you, the reader. Unfortunately, as draconian legislation has so cruelly stamped out this dream, we are in the peculiar situation of offering you an honest review of the racing-themed adult visual novel Moero Downhill Night.
(Please be warned that the following is a review of an adult game: readers under 18 are ordered to close this window and depart for the nearest anime convention rave at once.)
We discussed earlier that the visual novel– usually of the pornographic variety– is one of the important otaku media. Like them or not, the works of top-shelf VN companies like Leaf, Type-Moon and Key have considerable influence and often stretch into full-fledged multimedia empires with hundreds of thousands of obsessive fanslaves in tow.
Moero Downhill Night, on the other hand, is a few shelves down. It doesn’t have a vision. It isn’t trying to make you cry. It doesn’t for a single moment deviate from the established formula of its genre. It is humble pornography, aiming only to put an invisible-faced player surrogate through a series of sexual encounters with bland, busty archetypes.
But there’s a gimmick! When your material is this ordinary, after all, the only hope of selling the game is some kind of novelty. And this game’s gimmick is that it is Initial D. I don’t mean that it takes some influence from Shuichi Shigeno’s famous racing manga, I mean that it is a bootleg of it, with particular details altered enough to keep the cops off. You’re a soba noodle delivery boy instead of a tofu delivery boy, you’ll be racing down mountain passes in a humble, re-purposed taxi and the mysterious shop owner used to be a great racer. A weak imitation of regular Initial D anime theme song performer m.o.v.e does the theme song, and, according to the publicity material, even the same staff was used to animate the races. But there’s sex in this, and you know what hasn’t got that? Initial D.
We were disappointed that Moero Downhill Night is not an actual racing porn game: this distinction falls to the final game in the trilogy (trailer not safe for work, and what the hell are you doing reading a review of a porn game at work anyway, you monster?), which features racing action that would have been embarrassing in 1995. We are all gamers here at Colony Drop, and we were more than a little excited to play a game as terrible as that footage implies. But alas, it will have to wait.
As an excuse for the lack of actual racing you’re the navigator in this game, not the driver. You end up racing the same way you would in any porn game: by choosing your own adventure. Four text choices appear, and you tell the heroine how to drive. Usually these are really obvious choices like “It’s a right turn!” but at more than one point completely ambiguous options like whether to pick “Show them what you’ve got!” or “Don’t let them get under your skin!” are life-and-death choices.
In between all the choosing things, races play out in short bursts of video along the lines of the race sequences in Initial D. The quality of the CG is on the level of those very rough early episodes of the TV series, except it’s been ten years since that show ran and apparently computer graphics technology hasn’t moved forward. The lowlight that tells you how little the CG staff cared is right at the end, when, as you win the climactic race, the camera (and cars!) float through a mountain, driving for a few moments into some kind of glitched-out black hole.
The rest of the game is so generic that it’s barely worth mentioning: you and the heroine meet a girl, race her, screw her after you win (protip: you can’t get the best ending unless you abstain until the end) and repeat with a new girl. After a few hours the game runs out of girls who drive cars and ends. At least the art is competent! Naturally, you can pursue different girls, but very little in the storyline actually changes if you do, meaning you’ll be leaning on the CTRL key for quite some time to fast-forward all the scenes you’ve already watched.
If you’d like to experience the bottom shelf in racing games, we advise you wait until the release of Moero Downhill Night Blaze. If you’d like to experience the next-to-bottom shelf in porn games, then Colony Drop emphatically recommends you preorder Moero Downhill Night today. If you wanted to play a porn game with sex scenes that take place in, on or around a car, we regret to inform you that the developers of MDN didn’t think of it: perhaps the eventual videogame adaptation of J.G. Ballard and David Cronenberg’s Crash will satisfy.
That said, let’s close with a line from one of Downhill Night’s sex scenes:
“My long, passionate French kiss causes her carapace of pleasure to slowly open like a clam.”
Meditate on it.