428: Shibuya Scramble, known in Japan as 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de (428 〜封鎖された渋谷で〜, lit. 428: In a Blockaded Shibuya), is a visual novel adventure game produced by Koichi Nakamura with Jiro Ishii serving as executive producer, developed by Nakamura's company Spike Chunsoft, and initially published by Sega, originally in Japan for the Nintendo Wii on December 4, 2008. The game was ported by Spike to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable in September 2009. A version for iOS and Android was released in November 2011. The PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows versions were released in September 2018.
428 is set in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo where the narrative is presented using a combination of scrolling text, live action stills and video sequences. The game shares many story and gameplay elements with Chunsoft's 1998 sound novel game Machi, the most prominent being the locale, Shibuya. Although Chunsoft does not openly state that 428 is a sequel, the game contains numerous references to Machi, and an early marketing slogan reads "Breaking a long silence, Shibuya gets going again."
The game has received high praise from critics, earning a perfect score in Famitsu Weekly, Japan's largest circulating video game magazine, as well as acclaim from international publications. The game also features a special scenario contributed by Kinoko Nasu and Takashi Takeuchi of Type-Moon fame, who wrote and provided character designs for it respectively. This scenario by Type-Moon got a sequel as an anime television series titled Canaan, which aired in Japan from July to September 2009. A series of four novels based on the game were published by Kodansha between the months of September and December 2009.
428 is a visual novel adventure game where players take part in events from the perspectives of multiple protagonists, all acting in parallel with no knowledge of each other. Set in the modern Japanese city of Shibuya, Tokyo, the characters are involved in a mystery that cannot be solved without their interactions, and the plot is advanced by following clues found within the game's text and accompanying video sequences and making decisions on which path each protagonist should follow. Depending on the player's choices, a number of new scenarios become available, which ultimately lead to different outcomes and endings. The game has over a hundred alternate story pathways and 87 different possible endings.
Parallel gameplay mechanic
Players read through and switch between multiple stories that take place in the same timeframe, each seen from a different character's point of view. Decisions made in one character's story can inadvertently affect the story of another character in unforeseen ways. The format is similar to earlier non-linear visual novels with multiple perspectives, such as Machi (1998) and Eve Burst Error (1995), and can also be compared to non-linear hyperlink films such as Pulp Fiction (1994), Magnolia (1999) or Vantage Point (2008).
For instance, the game opens with a detective (protagonist #1) waiting for a kidnapper to pick up the ransom money, which is being carried by a girl. Another character, a young man out for a walk (protagonist #2), happens to encounter the scene. Protagonist #2 now has a choice to approach the ransom-carrying girl or not; If he approaches, his story reaches a dead end by being wrongfully arrested, but not only that, the detective's story also reaches a dead end by making the wrongful arrest.
The player's role is to figure out whose actions are affecting whom, and find the right choices to lead every protagonist to the conclusions of their storylines. The game offers a time chart screen where the events of all the protagonists' stories are listed in chronological order.
Blue-colored text is interspersed within the body text. The colored text, called Tips, can be selected with the controller like a hyperlink. Tips, when selected, provide a short page of explanatory text, much like a tooltip. Tips can reveal the definition of a technical term, provide some insight on the topic, or just provide a short digression from the story at hand. Red-colored text, also selectable, marks the name of a different protagonist and allows the player to jump from one protagonist to another. Jumping from red text is often the only way to make a character's story move forward.
The game unfolds in a ten-hour period, which begins at 10:00AM of April 28 and ends at 8:00PM. The game is broken up into one-hour segments. Leading every protagonist to the end of the hour unlocks the next hour to be played.
A major event that could jolt the world has been triggered in the streets of Shibuya. Five main characters have 10 hours to come together and solve the mystery behind what originally seemed like an ordinary ransom kidnap case.
The game is a crime thriller, but has multiple scenarios that cover several different narrative genres. For example, Shinya Kano's scenario is a hardboiled cop thriller, Tama's scenario is a slapstick comedy, and Osawa's scenario is a psychological horror.
- Shinya Kano (加納 慎也 Kanō Shin'ya)
A young detective from the Shibuya Police Department, Kano is one of the detectives assigned to a stakeout involving Hitomi Osawa, a young woman whose twin sister Maria was kidnapped for ransom. The kidnapper had specified that Hitomi bring the money to a hand-off location outside of Shibuya Station. When the criminal shows up and runs off with the money, Kano takes chase.
- Achi Endo (遠藤 亜智 Endō Achi)
A boy who loves Shibuya more than anyone else, Achi is the former head of S.O.S., the most influential street clan in Shibuya. He has since left S.O.S. and now spends his days cleaning up the streets and picking up trash. During his daily street cleaning routine, he encounters and saves Hitomi from a gunman, and the two go on the run to evade her assassin.
- Kenji Osawa (大沢 賢治 Ōsawa Kenji)
A virus expert and the father of Hitomi and Maria Osawa. As the lab director of Okoshi Pharmaceutical, Osawa leads a hermit-like life. A week after his US business trip, he receives a series of mysterious e-mails that indicate someone had conducted an unauthorized clinical trial of an antiviral drug he had been researching.
- Minoru Minorikawa (御法川 実 Minorikawa Minoru)
A hot headed freelance writer, Minorikawa receives a desperate phone call from his former superior, Teruo Toyama. Toyama, now the president of a small publishing company, was swamped in debt and now forced to complete the latest issue of his magazine in a single day. Minorikawa offers to help finish the magazine.
- Tama (タマ)
A mysterious person in a cat suit. Tama, a person of unknown identity, is working inside a cat suit as a by-the-day temp worker in order to buy a strange necklace she found at a general store. She begins her work of promoting a diet drink, "Burning Hammer."
- Aya Kamiki (上木彩矢)
- She plays herself, a musician named Aya Kamiki, who appears over the course of the game.
During the visual novel's development, a total of 120,000 live-action still pictures were shot. The live-action video and pictures were shot over a period of two months, before being edited for a further three months.
According to Koichi Nakamura, he mentions that the logistical challenge is on putting up visual novel scenes set in Shibuya since the police did not allow them to do so. This forced the crew to improvise by having some of the staff block the officers in arresting them for illegally shooting scenes in the ward.
The Wii version was later released under Nintendo's "Everyone’s Recommendation Selection" line of budget titles.
The game was later ported to the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 and released in September 2009. A version for iOS was released in November 2011.
Spike Chunsoft released the game in English for the PlayStation 4 in North America on September 4, 2018 and worldwide for Microsoft Windows on the same day; Koch Media plan to release the PlayStation 4 version in Europe on September 21 in a partnership with Spike Chunsoft. David Kracker, a localization director at Spike Chunsoft, "made it [his] mission" to localize the game when he joined the company. Netherlands-based Abstraction Games handled the porting process. Kajiya Productions provided the localization script with Kevin Frane as translator and Alexander O. Smith as editor.
The singer Aya Kamiki sang the theme song of the game, entitled "Sekai wa Sore Demo Kawari wa Shinai" (世界はそれでも変わりはしない). The single was released on December 3, 2008. The music video features some scenes of the game.
Aya Kamiki participated in the promotion of the game at Shibuya where she performed the theme song on December 4, 2008.
|IGN (in Italian)||8/10|
|Gameblog (in French)||9/10|
|Vandal (in Spanish)||8.5/10|
The Wii version of 428 was the eighth best-selling game in Japan during its week of release, selling 34,000 units. Year-end sales of the game totalled 53,315 units. In Japan, the game has sold 181,276 retail copies across all platforms, including 179,269 copies for the Wii, PS3 and PSP by 2012, and 2,007 copies for the PS4 in 2018. According to Steam Spy, the PC release has sold up to 20,000 copies on Steam.
428 was well received by critics. Famitsu gave it a perfect 40/40 score, making it the ninth game to receive one since the magazine's inception in 1986. It is also the only visual novel to receive a perfect score, and the second of five Wii games to receive it, the others being Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Monster Hunter Tri, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. This is unprecedented in Famitsu history as it marks the first time that two games released on the same video game system received perfect scores within the same year. The game additionally won the publication's Dramatic Prize for its 2008 awards. At the 2008 Japan Game Awards, it received an award in the "Future Division" for its new level of realism comparable to a TV drama. In 2017, Famitsu readers voted 428 the second best adventure game of all time, behind only Steins;Gate.
The game was well-received; Destructoid called it "the most persuasive argument" for the concept of live-action video games. The Verge called it "the best crime book you'll ever read on your PS4". RPG Site called it one of the year's best games, praising its creative parallel storytelling and stating that it is "one of the most inventive experiences ever" with "nothing else quite like it". GameSpot praised the "Excellent writing and characterization packed with drama, emotion, and humor" as well as the multiple character viewpoints and how player choices can "have far-reaching effects." IGN also praised the "excellent writing and characterization" and how choices lead to unpredictable outcomes, calling it a great visual novel. PlayStation LifeStyle called it "hands-down the best visual novel" with praise for the "character development, a rich, meaningful story, humor, action, romance", the "exceptional" dialogue, and large number of different endings.
Hardcore Gamer said it is "clearly the child of Spike Chunsoft as it pioneered many of the features that fans know and love from the Zero Escape and Danganronpa games" yet has "a totally distinct identity from both those titles." Gameblog said it tells a "riveting" story, makes "clever use of its multiple bad endings system" and "introduces you to a cast of characters" that "grows on you so much" that "once the game ends, you're sad that you'll never see them again." GamesMaster called it a "wild ride from start to finish, with memorable characters and an absorbing plot." RPGFan said its "nonlinear, vignette-based narrative is a perfect fit for the Sound Novel format," praised the script, and said "it's a title that even the staunchest visual novel skeptic can get a lot of enjoyment out of."
According to Nakamura, there are no plans for a sequel to 428 due to the number of copies sold throughout Japan, but has said that he has no problems conceptualizing the last game in the trilogy.