Saturday, December 02, 2006

PGR3 vs. Reality

During her tenure at Microsoft, Girlfriend worked on the Japanese localization team for Project Gotham Racing 3 for the Xbox 360. It was her responsibility to translate dozens of car description blurbs and UI elements for the game, plus the instruction manual translation. If that sounds like a lot of work, imagine how busy she was a few months earlier, when she worked on the translation of one million words of English text (and I don't mean "Dude, it was like a million words!" I mean, literally, 1,000,000 words) for the Japanese version of Jade Empire.
PGR3 has race tracks that very accurately replicate real locations in cities such as London, Las Vegas, New York and Tokyo. In the summer of 2005, while the game was being put together, personnel from developer Bizarre Creations came to Tokyo to research the area that was to appear in PGR3's Shinjuku locale. They used a combination of city maps, sound recordings and an exhaustive amount of street photography to create the best possible in-game rendition of the real thing.
As it turned out, their work paid off and PGR3 blessed racing fans with a Tokyo driving experience almost as white-knuckled and competitive as actually driving through Shinjuku during one's daily commute. On top of that, they managed to accurately recreate a surprising percentage of Shinjuku's urban scenery with stunning attention to detail...right down to the last Yoshinoya. Because I was so impressed with the nice job they did making their in-game Shinjuku, I used the game's robust camera mode (in conjunction with my actual camera's own robust...uh, camera mode) to present this comparison of some of the area's most recognizable spots as they appear in the game versus their counterparts in reality.
Exhibit A: Bic Camera
It's hard not to notice the hulking, white monstrosity that is Odakyu Halc (Hulk). The same building is home to "Biku-Biku-Biku" Bic Camera, my preferred source for game-related wares. I actually bought my Xbox 360 here, but nobody on PGR3 voice chat believed me when I told them that.

Exhibit B: First Kitchen
A major landmark of the Shinjuku Station South Exit district, First Kitchen's mighty red clock watches over us all. It sees you when you're sleeping. It knows when you're awake. It decides who lives and who dies. Look closely and you'll see accurate imitations of signs advertising loan brokers Honobono Lake, Promise and Acom. And don't forget adult manga dealer Comics Toranoana...they also see you when you're sleeping.

Exhibit C: Paloma
North of Halc there is this huge red, white and blue sign that says "PALOMA." Paloma is a water heater company that made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed more than 20 people living in homes with Paloma heaters had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. You can't see it in this shot, but there is also a sign here which incorrectly alludes to an office supply store called T-Zone. T-Zone has been gone for years, replaced by Office 24, but the sign remains wrong, both in the game and in reality.

Exhibit D: Yasukunidori
Below is the Ichibangai entrance to Kabukicho, as seen from across Yasukuni Street. Coffee shops Doutor and Pronto are faithfully reproduced on either side of the red Ichibangai gate. The game's so-called Kabukicho Loop track passes this very "colorful" section of town without actually entering the neighborhood which is its namesake. I shudder to imagine a street race through Kabukicho, anyway...the streets are way too narrow and you'd probably end up running over a guy who was trying to lure you into a strip club.

Exhibit E: Don Quixote
If you like "Biku-Biku-Biku" Bic Camera, you'll love "Don-Don-Don-Donkey" Don Quixote, fine retailer of beach furniture, cheap jewelry and novelty underwear. In the game the store looks closed. In real life Don Quixote stores don't close during the daytime unless they've fallen victim to an arson attack by some crazy lady. Incidentally, Don Quixote is the last place I'd want to be during a fire. The place is stacked floor-to-ceiling with sex toys and Sailor Moon costumes which, in the event of an actual emergency, would probably all come crashing down on me at once.


elijah said...

Amazing resemblences... If it's a game about running over things, I would run over, (in this order):

1) A yaki-imo truck
2) The Hatchiko statue
3) Everybody in Roppongi
4) An Uyoku parade
5) A white-gloved, campaigning politician
6) Gackt
7) The yoyogi park drum-nuts
8) Gackt, again
9) a Ginza precious potteries-n-crap store
10) Whatever pandas yet survive at the zoo

I'm sure you'll agree this is a good start

Jesse Jace said...

It's not that kind of game, per se, but while we're talking about it let me recommend that you also run over:

11) A bacon egg burger
12) Somebody dancing para-para
13) Any 2 of the following 3: Hosogi Kazuko, Mino Monta, Nakai from SMAP
14) A plastic statue of Col. Sanders
15) Every customer service rep who ever told me "NO" without saying the word "NO"

Rick said...

Where do you get to kill orcs? This is really cool. You need to submit it to digg.

Limo said...

LOL ...I C HQ !