Idea no Hi is called a kusoge online. It’s not that surprising, really. The game came out in 1994, but the graphics are definitely pretty rough for the era. There’s muttering online that Shouei System (the publisher) or Office Koukan (the developer) had troubles during the development. The artist and main story writer was Koji Aihara who’s pretty well known for doing comedic comics that often have sort of an adult dark humor to them. Enemy designs often are comedic, and there are some pretty goofy elements in the game.
The main problem with Idea no Hi is that while the story is interesting the actual game mechanics are clunky. For example, each character has an “endurance” level. This number invisibly ticks down as you run. Unfortunately, your starting character is a scrawny little psychic. As soon as you get more people in the party, it’s almost impossible to lose health via running. Your starting character has no luck. The luck stat governs if status effects will hit. This means as long as you have only the hero and he doesn’t level up, he’ll be hit by any sort of status effects that are cast at him. About halfway through the game, there’s along fire and ice themed area. It culminates in needing inventory space for a full set of cold weather gear, since the center of the fire dungeon has an icey cave. As best I can tell, you could enter that cave without realizing that you needed the gear at the end of it. There’s also a maze, piloting an awful truck, that’s game over if you crash. You get a save right before doing it though.
The game has some unique elements. There’s several elemental stats that are tracked (see the top right corner of the equipment screen. Certain equipment sets give you perfect protection from heat, cold, electricity, and magnetism. There’s also a crossdressing stat tracking how much ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ clothing you’re wearing. It’s utterly irrelevent for most of the game if you’re showing your crossdressed sprite (the hero gets adorable pigtails) though there is a point where you need to sneak into a town. There’s also a flag for being a pervert and wearing underpants on your head. This’ll let you shop in a town of perverts for stat boosting items and it’ll get you a free shield if you run into a certain enemy.
The battle system has unique elements. You don’t equip items. Instead, you hold weapons in the inventory along with your healing items and ‘use’ them to attack. You can also use random objects to shield yourself, or attack with high heels. Most weapons are real world items, since you’re travelling through a post apocolyptic Earth. There’s a day night cycle, with towns changing at night and more difficult enemies come out at night. The hero also has a limit break like attack triggered after enough HP loss.
As for the plot, it’s good. Even if you don’t know the language, the broad sweeps of it is pretty obvious. Your hero is a pyrotechnic kid, escaping from a lab after they triggered his psychic powers when they killed his dog. Quickly, he picks up a new pet ( a drowsy hedgehog) and then finds an orphaned archer. Rinko wants to be strong and stays one of your best fighters in the game (fast, high luck, group attack abilities.) Soon, the hero’s tracing who got him in the lab, why he was there, and what’s going on. There’s a guy who’s girlfriend gets backstabbed by one of the villians. A super polite sumo wrestler who faces a terribly punny evil. A medium who helps save a captain from vengeful ghosts.
I suppose a good term for the game is quirky. Sometimes it’s quirky in a bad way as you struggle with awkward areas or plots. Sometimes the humor is juvenile at best. Still, when it works, the game is pretty amazing.