Idea no Hi (Day of the Idea)

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.

Demoku is an early villian in the game. Here, he's summoning a wiggling circle of hearts to confuse the party.

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.

This is the paperdoll equipment screen.

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 "Iron Monk" is sort of like a more phallic version of a Dragon Quest metal slime.

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.

When you exorcise ghosts, the medium drops giant Buddha statues on them.

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.

A psychic jellyfish like guy is killed via migraines.

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.

  1. yukie’s avatar

    I think this was one of the first games to use the party-switching mechanic like FF7s PHS (which obviously came later). The means by which you do it is a pager (pokeberu – pocketbell), which is amusing to me because I can remember when pagers were a big deal.

    And oh man. The underpants on head thing. You can FARM bowls/shields from that little monk kid and sell them off to make a lot of cash. That was what I ended up doing at one point.

    And it still makes me laugh that the Canadian member of the Shitennoh (four emperors – this concept shows up in a ton of anime and manga and games, possibly most well-known in Sailormoon XD) is a lumberjack. With goalie shinpads.

  2. Rav’s avatar

    I believe Dragon Quest VI had a party switch from the world map thing. And FFVI had party switch in the airship. Still, having a real world item, and including item storage and pet / party member swapping is very novel.

  3. yukie’s avatar

    Bwargh! That was what I meant, but I was not coherent. Like the ‘instant standing-where-you-are-on-the-map’ switchup.

    I always wondered what your other party members were doing when they were chilling with the storage house guy. Playing blackjack maybe?

  4. Rav’s avatar

    I’m wracking my brain to try to remember games with multiple member parties and with an item that calls up a party change option instead of a specific place / town. I think you can chat up your party in the storage house? Up on on the second floor in the back. As I remember they don’t say much.

    Phantasy Star III has numerous bugs thanks to zooming back to town items. Basically you can skip areas and break the game since they never had the time / ability to prevent you from breaking event triggers via going to locations.

    Dragon Quest took a while to get a full featured teleport spell (and an ongoing joke that the go to town thing whacks you on the ceiling of a dungeon if you’re inside.) I know the car in the underground area of Idea no Hi has some bug involving MP usage if you’re in it and there’s some weird with how teleporting vehicles to you works. I bet getting all that to work involves a lot more careful programming than you’d think.

  5. SolarBoyMatt’s avatar

    I’m actually playing through this game right now, and I’m enjoying it so far. I’m at the point after the party escapes from the jail cell in Mexico, and I’m currently rescuing the daughter of the deposit store person to get the pager.

    About that fire and ice dungeon, how easy is it to figure out the right clothing for that part, for a person who knows zero Japanese? Also when I was skimming the walkthrough I’m using I saw something about needing scuba gear/pressure resistant clothing near the end of the game, is that hard to find?

  6. Rav’s avatar

    I’m available on Skype or AIM as scarf4chou if you’d like live help with something. Basically, the fire dungeon is pretty simple – you strip naked until you don’t take damage every step. This fills up your inventory terribly, so you need to use the pager (outside of the underworld) to dump your excess gear. For most people, excluding the sumo guy (Kaminari, I believe) that’s basically underpants, undershirt for girls, gloves, shoes. You can buy some native stereotype style coconut bras and the like from the local tribe, but the stats are usually worse than your already equipped gear. The ice gear is a Inuit style suit with a kanji heavy name. When you’re fully equipped, the C icon on your inventory is fully filled in, and you have full cold protection. You don’t have full cold protection, you get damage every step, and I think you’re at a higher risk of frozen status effects. The secret character is useful for exploring in the fire area, since he gains a blizzard breath spell. He’s useless on the boss, unless if you want to save scum to have his instant death spell work. The scuba gear is given by specific characters in town, so you basically get a cut scene as you get them.

    The worst area for playability is actually the Nitroglycerin truck ride (twitchy controls) and the dream sequence in Alaska. It’s incredibly surreal, but also a pain the play. I think at the point of the game where you are, you can also get the secret spell for the mystic. There’s a hidden passage before the boss with a young monk. Wear underpants on your head for an unlimited golden bowl shield from the guy which you can sell for a lot of cash.

  7. SolarBoyMatt’s avatar

    Cool, I’ll keep that in mind, but I’m wondering if I should complete my file or not, or just wait for the copy I bought on ebay to arrive (only the cart though).

    I didn’t get nearly as lucky as did with Maka Maka, where I got the cart, manual, and box (all in decent condition) for only $16. But apparently the game isn’t worth shit in Japan either, can’t imagine why…

    But for all I know I could be away at college before it arrives so I guess I’ll just continue my current file.

  8. Alice’s avatar

    this is a jab at mother

    music is good, hi masahiro kusunoki

  9. Rav’s avatar

    Thanks for commenting, Alice. I’m pretty sure Day of the Idea’s music is by J-Walk’s Tomohisa Mitsuyasu (sorry if that is the wrong spelling.) I didn’t really notice any similarities between Mother 2 / Earthbound and Idea no Hi / Day of the Idea. I do think Earthbound is a far better game than Idea no Hi, and a better “comedic” game.

    I do like Idea no Hi’s music. It’s simplistic, but it avoids, say, the shrill horror that is Tecmo’s Secret of the Stars’ version of the Can Can.

  10. SolarBoyMatt’s avatar

    I think the only similarities I can see is the modern day setting, use of every day items, and the strange enemies (although Day of the Idea has MUCH stranger enemies). I love Earthbound, but seeing as it’s my favorite game of all time, it’s no surprise.

    According to the Japanese wikipedia article for Day of the Idea, Tomohisa Mitsuyasu did the music. He also did Maka Maka’s soundtrack, which I also find to be a great soundtrack (It’s on Youtube for those who care).

  11. Rav’s avatar

    Idea no Hi is kind of post apocalyptic even before the game starts. Earthbound always struck me as playing with the idea of a 1950’s quirky world gone weird. Little kids dealing with stuff they can’t handle and exploring the world. Mother / Earthbound Zero feels a lot more desolate, especially when you can get to Magicant.

    I think the main dissonance for me is the fact that Idea no Hi tries pretty hard to make the world feel dangerous from the start. Ness in Earthbound has a pretty normal level of problems at first, what with the bullies, the annoying neighbors, and so on. Your first set of villains are bullies and some corrupt police men. Idea no Hi starts you off with a kid getting electroshocked, with a ruined apartment building that was attacked by monsters, and a story about how his parents were killed in Nagasaki when he was kidnapped. Not to mention Rinko’s insane town and the poor dead dog.

  12. SolarBoyMatt’s avatar

    Might be in need of some help again. I’ve made it to Antarctica, and I’ve bought the fur clothing for Kamekichi, but nobody else, but he can still be frozen and takes damage from walking. I have everything replaced except for the gloves, are there fur gloves that I somehow missed? The C is partially filled in. Also should I bother getting the fur clothing for the rest of my party?

  13. SolarBoyMatt’s avatar

    Actually, never mind, I figured it out.

  14. Rav’s avatar

    You need at least one complete set of clothing, but if you don’t mind the damage, you don’t need to do the others. Kamekichi’s magic can thaw out people if they’re frozen, by the way.

    Sorry for taking so long – this weekend was pretty busy.

    Since the hot underworld area has a pretty difficult boss (at least at my levels,) I think it might be good to have sets for everyone? That way you won’t get damage from the cold areas of the dungeon. Also, the gamefaqs hint guide starts having trouble with boss strategies at this point, due to the guy seeming to abuse the instant death power of the secret character (Tom Tom? I think that’s his name.) The speed up ability from Kamekichi, and the growth and shrinking powers from Poe tends to work nicely on bosses.

  15. Jeremy’s avatar

    I am not really a fan of Earthbound/Mother. I find this game to be a lot superior than that game, and Office Koukan, the developer to this game seemed to have learned from its huge mistake from the past when they developed this game for Shouei System. I particularly like the battle system in this game as well its music, also done by Mitsuyasu Tomohisa, and its menu/equipment system.

    I like that in the equipment menu that there are indicators that determine the type of resistance that your character would have if a certain item is equipped, which are marked as H for Heat, C for Cold, E for Electricity, and M for Magnetism.

    Like I said, I find this to be the best game of all time in my eyes, even though a lot of people think this game is a kusoge game.

    I wonder if Hokuto no Ken 5 for the Super Famicom is also considered a kusoge because it is also developed by Office Koukan for Toei Animation…

  16. Rav’s avatar

    It’s a different game. I think that Earthbound is a lot more polished and playable. Idea no hi suffers from weird gameplay ideas and difficulty spikes, but it’s interesting in what they’re trying to do. The humor / grimness is definitely more friendly than Mother / Earthbound.

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