TGS 2007: Dangerous Meat, GOTY?! Exclusive Preview!

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From Lonely Planet’s City Guide to Tokyo, 2006 edition, page 241:

“Condoms are widely available in Tokyo, but generally only locally produced varieties, which tend to be on the small side.”

When one reads something like this… when a travel writer states with limpid clarity that even the John Holmes of Japanese Salarymen makes the most micro-phallused American look as if he is packing several spools of glistening kielbasa between his legs… well, let’s just say it’s hard not to skip off the airplane at Tokyo Narita airport without a bowl-legged swagger, pockets stuffed with windsock-sized American prophylactics, winking at all of the almond-eyed Japanese girls one meets along the way.

And me? A man with genitalia so engorged, purple and profound that Mama Eckhardt’s obstetrician mistook the first stages of his breech birth for the spontaneous evacuation of her own lower intestines? I’ll admit it. I got a bit cocky.

What I mean to say is that it wasn’t arrogance that made me first mistake Dangerous Meat — the newest game from superstar Japanese game developers Human Systems Ltd. — as a game about my penis. After all, I am a famous gaming celebrity… if Penny Arcade can have its own game, why can’t my Gojira-scale phallus? Both are equally huge. No, it isn’t mere arrogance. What else was I supposed to think?

Needless to say, Dangerous Meat was not about my monstrous, dew-tipped erection at all. But that’s not to say it doesn’t appear to be the game of the season.

Dangerous Meat was being previewed at a pitiful, ramshackle booth in Hall 7. Like its spiritual predecessor — Kentia Hall at E3 — Hall 7 is pretty much the Technoauschwitz of TGS. Where as all of the other halls at TGS are illuminated by epilepsy-inducing strobe lights and the opalescent smiles of booth babes that hate you, Hall 7 is brightened by a single flickering light bulb wildly swaying from a loose electrical wire. And the booth babes? Hunch-shouldered Japanese men weeping into their laps. But they don’t hate you; they just hate themselves.

My self-loathing booth babe was named Takedo. When I first stopped at the booth, his eyes glinted with a pathetic hope that could not be confined by the deep pockets of his epicanthic folds. Although I had already confirmed that his game, Dangerous Meat, was not about my penis (if only by dint of the complete absence of half-naked booth babes jiggling around the display), I felt for him. Even my heart, in its blackness, contains pity within its ichor.

“Hello, my good man!” I said. “I would like to demo your fine game, Dangerous Meat, the promise of which has reached me in hushed whispers across the opium-scented sands of Asia.”

Takedo was thrilled. Imagine a jerky dance, a paroxysm of sporadic joy, something like the jig of a happy marionette controlled by an epileptic. “Hai! Hai! This way, please!”

I stepped up to the demo station: a shuddering Pentium 200 spitting sparks in every direction. A keyboard covered in kanji confronted me. This was confusing: I do not know how to read the cryptographical insects of Asiatic moon man. Luckily, Takedo was there to tell me what to do: “Hai. Please, press space.” In a startling coincidence, this was also what the screen said… in pixelated blood. Genius!

Did my finger tremble as it protruded and pounced upon the space bar? Dear readers, I must admit, it did. A game about my penis or no, Dangerous Meat already had the most important hallmark of a great game: a wonderful, mysterious name, scarcely capable of being uttered without nearly deific awe gobble up the larynx of the speaker. A power word, a me: I practically expected the flickering VGA monitor to open up into a dimensional vortex as I pushed the key, sucking me into a strange and wonderful new world. A world full of… dangerous meat.

After I pressed the space bar, a loading screen came up. It stretched on for 90 full seconds, which Takedo filled with nervous bobbing.

Then, suddenly, there was action! A polygonal hydrocephalic in a nurse’s outfit suddenly blinks onto the screen. She is standing in what appears to be an unlit school cafeteria. It’s about as spooky as elementary school at breakfast time, but Takedo is peering at my face intently, desperate to scour out the vestiges of fright that might quaver my strange alien face. Eager to please the sad little man, I grab him by the elbow and crush my body close to his side, making some scared noises in the back of my throat.

“Is dangerous meat on the menu?” I asked.

Takedo is delighted with my terror. He licks it up. “Ho ho! You shall see!”

And that’s when a zombie — think Resident Evil as outsourced to the local Down Syndrome Community Home — stumbles towards my character!

Ah! Ah! I try to pound the arrow keys but nothing happens. I look at Takedo for an explanation, but he only says insidiously, “No controls yet.” Great, Takedo. Now you tell me. And then I’m dead, staring at another message scrawled in pixelized gore: “COMING SOON!”

“But I want more! More!” I screamed.

Takedo bowed deeply. “No more. Very sorry. Play full game soon! More Dangerous Meats ahead!”

And I guess you and I will both just have to deal with that. All I can say is that this just may be the longest wait to endure since Half-Life 2.

Look, as the only journalist with the scoop on Dangerous Meat, I’m not going to lie to you: it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On the pro side, the title is great, the concept is, in the words of mellifluous and polyglottal gaming wordsmith Brian Crecente with frankly just incredible hair, “kinda zupear koole,” and it scales well on both high-end machines and on weaker hardware. On the other hand, it’s a bit on the short side, has little replay value, and its enigmatic ending that too transparently opens things up for a sequel. Destructoid’s final grade? A picture of a frog, surrounded by some happy bumble bees and a capital letter Q. And Human Systems, you princes of men, you masters of gaming? You can slap that quote on the box.

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