View box

   Title: Apple Town Monogatari
   Released by: Square/DOG
   Release Date: April 3, 1987
   Japanese level: 2
   MSRP: 3400 yen
   Current Price: 1500 yen

The Disk System, although it didn't have as many titles as its console brother, had a huge range of genres from straight-out action to straight-out porno to straight-out silliness. No one disk, though, could possibly be any sillier than Apple Town Story, a US port that makes us the voyeur of a helpless little girl and her cat. How cruel can you get!

Before we delve into the game, a little explanation about the maker is in order. In the late summer of 1986, the then-fledgling Square announced a joint venture with six other computer game companies to create new games exclusively for the Disk System. That venture was called - da da dum - "DOG", standing for "Disk Original Group". In the magazines of the time DOG introduced all sorts of wacky titles, including a side scrolling RPG named Excalibur, a 30s gang simulation called Chicago Connection, and an action RPG called - of all things - Dark Side of the Moon. None of these titles have been heard from again, but the silliest of the lot found release as Apple Town Story.

This game is more or less a port of the 1984 Activision computer title Little Computer People, which anyone around at the time remembers fondly if they had lots and lots of free time on their hands. The game wasn't really a game; load it up and you see the cross-section of a house. A little dude - the person that lives inside your computer and makes it work - enters the house and takes up residence. As Activision said, the guy was always in your computer; you just gave it someplace to live in. You could watch the guy go through daily life, send it stuff to do, give him a pat on the head - whatever you want. The idea is to have fun interacting with your little computer person and seeing what stuff it'll do - voyeurism for kids.

Square's FDS version of the game is a variation on the same theme. Activision's guy was a more-or-less generic person; Square has put a cute little kids' anime girl in his place. Her name varies (she's Lucy on my disk and Cathy on disk images) but her personality - bored, boring and annoying - is obvious from the look on her face. The manual goes on for awhile introducing her, her cat, the town that she lives in but you can't see in the game, and so on.

The main charm of the "game" is that there's no need to grip the controller the whole time. If you want you can put the controller away, grab a beer and just watch Lucy/Cathy and her cat bop all around the room. She'll get mad at you if you do nothing to entertain her, though. That's why you have eight commands at your disposal; you can send her some food or a Famicom game, ask her to play the piano, call her on the phone and so on. Whether she follows what you say or not is her choice, but the idea is that it's fun to see her reactions.

Hubba hubba! Brush those teeth for me, baby!
...And, that's pretty much the game. You get the feeling after awhile that there's simply not enough to do, and once you run through your few options there really isn't. And watching a little girl sprite bop around a house all day gets incredibly boring ("and she goes into a room to change, god dammit," I hear your kid brother say). There are special cut scenes whenever the lady does something special (is brushing your teeth something special?), but even those lack charm and make her look really scary.

Although one can't forget the influence this game might have had on newer stuff like Tamagotchi and Princess Maker, there's no need to bore yourself to death keeping this game on all day.