Emit Vol.1 Toki no Maigo

Emit Vol.1 Toki no Maigo
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Game Name: Emit Vol.1 Toki no Maigo (エミットVol.1 ~時の迷子~)
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): Koei
Developer(s): Koei
Genre(s): Educational
Release Date: 25th March 1995
Serial Number: T-7602G
Region: JP

Emit Vol.1 Toki no Maigo (エミットVol.1 ~時の迷子~) ScreenshotEMIT is a serialized piece of language software for teaching English. It features full voice acting in both Japanese and English, making it as accessible to English speakers as it is to Japanese. In DVD style, at any point you can jump to any part of any scene, change the language of the voices, or set the subtitles to English, Japanese, or off.

EMIT Vol. 1 consists of a non-interactive story broken up into 10 chapters, each followed by a set of exercises in three types. The first type are multiple choice review questions, designed to test the player’s understanding of what he has just watched. Second is conversation practice, which simply plays back a short section of the chapter with one of the character’s voices muted; the idea is for the player to speak the muted character’s lines.

The third type only appears in the earlier chapters, but is the most interesting: the protagonist, Yuri, asks questions about what you think is going on, and then remarks on your answer. There are no right or wrong answers here, and in fact usually the truth is not among the three answers you’re given to choose from. Unlike the rest of the game, all three types of exercises are voiced in English only, so this last type is the only one of any use to native English speakers.

Emit Vol.1 Toki no Maigo (エミットVol.1 ~時の迷子~) ScreenshotFor those interested in learning Japanese, there is still the bilingual story content plus a little Japanese/English dictionary in the manual covering over 200 words and phrases used in the disc.

The non-interactive story, which is unquestionably the meat of the disc, reflects the fact that EMIT is a port from the Super Famicom. The story plays out in Anime-styled animated stills (not even the intro uses FMV), much like a typical Turbo CD cutscene but with cheap-looking CG backgrounds, and runs less than a half hour. It makes you wonder why Koei didn’t combine all three volumes of EMIT onto one CD. The scenes play smoothly, and that alone is reason enough to favor this version over the Super Famicom and 3DO versions with their frequent pauses. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is quite unimpressive for a Saturn title.

Emit Vol.1 Toki no Maigo (エミットVol.1 ~時の迷子~) ScreenshotOn the bright side, the English voice acting is all done by native speakers, and though much of it is in the same halting, emotionless style as the voices in Koei’s Heir of Zendor, Danni Wheeler, who voices Yuri, is consistently excellent. Which is a real blessing, because nearly half of the lines in EMIT Vol. 1 are hers. The Japanese voice acting seems better on average (as you’d expect for a Japan-exclusive game), and the marvelous Megumi Hayashibara voices Yuri.

The story itself is a sci-fi/fantasy affair, but diluted by its educational objective. A good deal of time is devoted to characters discussing school work, ordering drinks, and complaining about the weather – in short, stuff which has absolutely nothing to do with the story, but is important to learn when you’re taking on a second language.

On that note, though obviously no one reading this is looking to learn English, I feel I should note that the story is less-than-perfect at EMIT’s advertised purpose. In addition to some awkward phrasings, there’s an abundance of dialogue which doesn’t translate into English. For instance, right in the opening dialogue, Yuri questions why an old man is addressing her so respectfully. (For those who know even less about Japanese than I, in Japan a different mode of speech is used when speaking to one’s elders.)

Emit Vol.1 Toki no Maigo (エミットVol.1 ~時の迷子~) ScreenshotBut most critically, the story has so many gaping plot holes that they outnumber the plot points. The tale revolves around a stranger who approaches Yuri, desperate for help, but you wouldn’t know it from the bizarre way he goes about asking for it. For instance, weeks go by in between his appeals for help, and we’re never given any indication that he has anything to do in the meantime. It’s hard to take the crisis seriously when even the person at the center of it all is so lackadaisical about it.

On the plus side, the premise of EMIT Vol. 1 and some of the unanswered questions it presents can spark the imagination. Overall, though, it’s a throwaway tale designed to do little more than introduce some English vocabulary. Surprisingly, though EMIT is serialized, Vol. 1 ends with the plot completely resolved; it leaves room for a sequel, but that’s all.

EMIT Vol. 1 does provide a bit of novelty, and the story improves in later volumes, but if you want Saturn software which can genuinely entertain, you should probably look elsewhere. At any rate, given the limited content, you certainly shouldn’t spend more than a single-digit figure on EMIT Vol. 1.

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