One of the few early games released for a Nintendo console that remains untranslated into English, Dead Zone is by all accounts an intriguing digital comic / text adventure that is unfortunately held captive behind an impenetrable language barrier.
Japanese Title: デッド ゾーン Deddozōn
English Release: none
Release Date: November 19, 1986
Genre: Text Adventure / Digital Comic
Product Code: SSD-DZN
Disk Format: Double-sided
Notable Credits: Produced by Kouichi Kitazumi. Programmed by Yoshiaki Komada. Artwork by Kenji Mori. Music Composed by Naoki Kodaka.
Dead Zone is an intriguing title. For a game released for a Nintendo console, albeit a somewhat-obscure console add-on, there is surprisingly little info readily available about the game itself and as of this writing it remains untranslated out of it’s native Japanese text. This is a crucial blockade considering Dead Zone is a graphical text adventure / digital comic style video game. The very nature of the gameplay itself makes Japanese fluency an important prerequisite.
Dead Zone’s story takes space in the distant future in which humankind has colonized other moons and planets throughout the galaxy. Kirk, a brilliant young engineer working for the Earth Federation, along with his robot companion head to an off-world to discuss marriage plans with his long time fiancé. Upon arrival Kirk finds the colony seemingly abandoned and is zapped with a strange light. Coming to sometime later, Kirk must save his fiancé and unravel the mystery that has overtaken the colony.
Dead Zone uses a standard graphical text adventure interface, a (mostly) static display window and several selectable commands such as ‘see’, ‘take’, ‘push’, etc. Some areas of the game have time limits, which adds an additional layer of challenge to the already somewhat difficult puzzles. Interestingly, Dead Zone uses real sampled audio in certain parts of the game, which was innovative and somewhat unusual for the time.
Dead Zone’s graphics present a sterile, crisp and mechanical world with which to interact, and is perfectly suited to the story’s futuristic setting. The game also boosts beautiful pixel art.
There are some guides available on the internet, and following one closely and carefully can get you through to the end of the game, but until a fan translation becomes available Dead Zone may be a too complex and cumbersome a chore to stumble through.