A long time ago, PS2 gamers were bestowed a piece of software that was a bit interesting - it was a survival/horror/adventure game called Disaster Report (or for purists like me who hated the Americanization of the game, Zettai Zetsumei Toshi [絶体絶命都市 lit. The City of Certain Death]) detailing the sequence of events of a natural disaster, and you - the player - are tasked on surviving and escaping out of the crumbling setting before it's too late.
With interesting features and a rather open-ended setting with multiple (usually with less of an impact) endings, it was only natural that Zettai Zetsumei Toshi garnered a wave of mixed to positive reception, with some claiming that it was a potential manual for surviving a disaster.
North American Cover: It's not a fucking kid's game, agetec!
And thanks to the lukewarm reception, we ended up getting game number two: Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 2 -Frozen Memories- (Localized as Raw Danger - I have one question for the silly boxart and name: WHY?), set in an underground city called Geo City (built under a second metropolis called Del Rey) where you play as one of the main characters who tends to a celebration party as a waiter - an inauguration of living in Geo City before the Hudson River - thanks to a breaking levee - began to flood, putting the lives of everyone in the building and the city in danger.
One unique function was added to ZZT2: Because this game involved flooding as the natural antagonist, it's a good idea to keep your body temperature in check, such as changing into dry clothes and being near fires. Otherwise, you're about to find out why hypothermia sucks.
As you can probably imagine with how agetec handled the game (and being COMPLETELY different from what Irem and (ZZT creator) Kazuma Kujo had in mind), the localization was poorly done. For one instance, everyone has blonde hair! Since when is there a city populated with no one but blondes?!
As a result of Raw Danger being an unknown (though they still had some redeeming points in the end), Irem couldn't find the reason why we should get Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3: The City of Ruins and Her Song. This game, while it featured the standard health and inventory system of the previous games, replaced the body temperature feature with a stress meter - tied in with the fact that certain actions would either cause or alleviate stress to the main character.
Speaking of which, you have a choice of being either a male (Naoki Kosaka, 19) or a female (Rina Makimura, 18). Both choices may affect the storyline and gameplay - such as how the beginning plays to the character's traits. In a way, 3 was more organized compared to the first two despite having an odd "good" ending.
However, before Irem has a chance to release Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 4: Summer Memories, Nature actually happened in the form of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. Citing numerous reasons (without a clear explanation ever being established), Irem promptly cancelled the game after 3 days. The reasons were stated as thus:
- From Irem: "We cannot see an explanation as to why a game that's centered around a failing city after being hit by an earthquake should be released."
- From Kujo: "Because of development issues and the mere fact that the game was delayed twice, I (quite regrettably) would have to cancel the game. And thanks to the Earthquake, I don't think it would be a good idea at the time."
Truth be told, there are numerous of reasons for the game's rather sudden death, but after announcing the discontinuation, Irem and Kazuma Kujo received 500 letters pleading with the two to withdraw their cancellation. Most of those people (who sent the letters) thought the game would be a useful manual as I did too. However, Irem was on the way to being a slot-machine producer and as a result, they quickly liquidated their Video Game segment and most of the key employees - namely Kujo as well - left to form a spinoff company called Granzella.
As of this post, it is unlikely that we would ever see 4 come to fruition, but if someone had deep pockets...