Hoshi wo Miru Hito (Stargazers)

There’s a meme in Japan about games called “kusoge” or more literally “shitty game.”  Sometimes these games are just dire, and other times, they’re laughably bad.

Hoshi wo Miru Hito (Stargazers / Those Who Seek the Stars) came out in 1987.  Dragon Quest II came out that year, as did Final Fantasy.  It’s so bad that it almost starts to become hilarious.

A sea of bushes on a MS-Paint quality town.

A plot important bush to the left of the hero.

Physically, the game is painful to play.  The walking speed is glacial, and the art style is a busy mess that makes it hard to tell where you can walk. Many items, as shown above, are invisible.

A peninsula. There's an invisible town to the left of the hero.

You can jump the river to the right at level 4.

When you start the game, you’re level 0.  You’re on a peninsula.  There’s a random enemy in the area that can one hit kill you.  One step to the left, there’s an invisible town where you can buy weapons (expensive), heal, and the usual activities.  You have no way of knowing this. There’s a town to the north, but you’re highly unlikely to survive walking up there.

Of course, you can’t sell back your old weapons.  Apparently your hero just flings them in the nearest bush when he buys them.

If you get into battle, you quickly find out that the battle system is – quirky.  You can’t back out of a magic menu without casting a spell.  You can’t run.  Your hit points are divided by ten and rounded up in the display, so attacks do seemingly random amounts of damage.  You start with 50 HP, and it increases by random amounts: 150, 310, 530, 810, and so on.

The hero is hit for 15, while appearing to have only 3 hit points.

The health is divided by 10 on the health display.

Let’s say you survive that.  You get to level threeish and start learning your Jump magic skills.  Now you can jump across that river in the invisible town to get to a garden on your quest for magic herbs.  You can also leap the sea in a single bound on the world map.  And walls.  Into houses.  Apparently no one has a roof.

Green circles and yellow squares make up the garden.

The garden is where you go to find some more herbs.

Another charming quirk – every time you leave the town to the north, you get teleported back to the starting area.  Right next to the invisible town.

The hero grimaces and splays his hand.

This changes at level 7.

You get new graphics for your characters as they level up.  Your hero starts out looking like a very cranky five year old screaming at the world.  I suppose that explains why he can barely fight.

Plot is actually semi-interesting.  You’re an amnesiac psychic, fleeing from people trying to capture you in the big city.  It all leads up to deciding if you want your dolphin overlords – well, that’s a spoiler.  Not that you’ll ever see that ending.

  1. yukie’s avatar

    I forget whether Getsu Fuuma-Den got classed as a kusoge. (I could not believe how unfair and insane that was. THE HELL, KONAMI.)

    Also – dolphin overlords? WOW! That hurts my head more than the bright blue trees on the lime-green grass there…

  2. Rav’s avatar

    I don’t remember seeing it exactly named as one? Treasure of Atlantis and Spelunker are two that I remember tend to get named as platformers that’re awful.

    There’s actually two (and one removed) endings with said overlords.

  3. Akemi’s avatar

    You’re not kidding about the dolphin overlords? Wow. XD That’s pretty incredible. I wonder if they made the towns invisible with their dolphiny powers.

  4. Rav’s avatar

    I believe the “official” story about the hidden town is that it’s hiding from the dangerous city that brainwashed your bitty hero. I think it’s supposed to be one of those dystopias trying to keep dangerous psychics under control.

    As I remember, it’s also got the amazing name of CITY.

    (The dolphin overlords, which I’m not kidding about at all, also are space pilots.)

  5. skyrunner14’s avatar

    So, wait, the dolphins WEREN’T good guys? I played through the remake of this, and actually beat it (an item and ESP list on the game’s site along with dumb luck and perseverance helped), and as much as I enjoyed it, I didn’t understand a lick of the story. Any chance you could share it with me? I’d honestly like to know…

  6. Rav’s avatar

    As best I understand the plot, you finally get to the center of the ship and meet the dolphins who pilot it. Over the years, everyone has forgotten they’re flying on the ship and an AI called “Crew III” or something like that was working mind control on the people in Arc City. However, your psychic kid and his friends escaped. The dolphins want to know what you want to do now.

    The choices, I think, are something like “build a new world where we can live together” called Aqua or something like that. It’s an upbeat ending that I think implies that humans become a new water breathing species. The second one, I think, is to stay on the space colony. It’s a downbeat ending that says your journey ended there. The third is to fight the dolphins. It basically says you’re still warlike and that it’s a bad ending. There’s an unused ending that I think involves the dolphins defeating the party, but I haven’t seen a good description of it.

    I haven’t checked the endings out. The NES version is pretty painful to play. I’m mostly working from some fansites out there in Japanese.

  7. skyrunner14’s avatar

    ^The ending isn’t unused. If you choose to fight (atleast in the version I played, you might have played an earlier version), you either win or lose. If you lose, you get an ending where the Earth in the background is blood red along with text I can’t read, though winning gets the normal Earth with text I still can’t read, and I only know of that one because I saw a video of it on Nico Nico Douga. Man, I’d be grateful to anyone who ever translated the remake…

  8. Rav’s avatar

    I suspect the remake had the unused one added back into it? I think Dastard was involved with the remake, and Dastard talked about the various endings in the NES version.

  9. skyrunner14’s avatar

    Oh! We were talking about two totally different games… you the original and I the remake. Yeah, I suppose that ending was put in. Like I said, my knowledge of Japanese is minimal at best. Didn’t know that the guy who made that patch to slightly-desuckify the NES game worked on the remake. Have you played it recently, by the way? They recently came out with a new version with new stuff in it.

  10. Rav’s avatar

    Unfortunately, I’m primarily on a Mac, so I’m unable to run the remake. The images I saw of it do look pretty nice. Dastard, I believe, worked on the sprite work for the game, since there were a lot of shots of work in progress stuff while the game was being made. (I, meanwhile, was checking out the website for stuff on Laplace no Ma / Demon of Laplace.)

    “Dastard’s” website – I’m afraid I don’t know the proper name for the place – http:// www . saturn . dti . ne . jp / ~dastard/


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