Christ: Journey of Love – Christian-Themed Koei Game – UT

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Content Warning: Christianity, Fast Moving Patterns, Flashing
Images, Violence. You know about Koei right? You might know them best from their Dynasty
Warrior series of games, but their history goes much deeper than that. They’ve had their hands in many games and
genres over the years, even supposedly created the genre of JRPGs, but that’s a story for
another video. For this one, we are going to take a look
back at one of their strangest titles: Christ: Journey of Love. *Music* Christ: Journey of Love was developed in 1984
by Koei for the PC-6001mkII, a part of the PC-6000 line of computers from NEC. Despite being developed by Koei, the game
says it was produced by COMIX, so where does that name come from? Well, COMIX was a brand by KOEI that they
had around the time of this game’s release. They would go on to release a couple of games
under the brand, but quickly shut it down, though there’s no official explanation why
that I could find. From reading the back of the game’s manual
you can see some of the pretty extreme claims they made about the game. People are suffering, waiting for a helping
hand. Christ, only you can save them. A new type of spiritual world game that casts
ripples in the desolate action game world. Once you play it, you will not be able to
hold back your tears. From the melancholy of its Christian themes,
1984’s most emotionally moving work, “Christ: Journey of Love”. Releasing as part of the COMIX line this fall! Does this game live up to these claims? Well, let’s look at the plot in the manual
to get an idea of what they were going for. Now I know very little about the Biblical
story Jesus’s life, so I’m just going to go by what the game’s manual says. Christ was born as a son of farmers on the
planet of Lourdes. The farmers of Lourdes were poor, and the
king was ruthless. Their only hope was a prophecy from long ago. As said by Saint D’allonnes, “A child
will be born with light. During a time of great evil, that child will
set out on a journey to cleanse Lourdes of its grief.” This year was terrible. It was truly astonishing: crops were destroyed
due to extreme weather, and tyranny reigned since the crown prince became consul. Then one day, as Christ walked in despair
through the destroyed land, he was suddenly wrapped in a bright light and received a divine
revelation. “Christ, my child. Save those who are suffering. I will give you a holy staff. Cast on them the light of love. However, you must never fight.” After the light went out, a staff was left
for him. Christ took the staff in his left hand and
began to walk the path towards a cruel salvation. So even not knowing much of the Biblical version
of the story, I’m pretty sure they took a couple of liberties with it. The in-game version of the story removes much
of this background, leaving only the scene where Jesus receives his message from God. Through this scene the connection to the gameplay
is constructed: heal all injured he comes across while avoiding evil. God then tells him this is his final mission,
and we’re thrown to the title screen. But before that let me show you a clip of
the scene. *Rumbling and beeps* *Hard to hear Japanese* There’s VOICES in this
game! A special feature of the PC-6001mkII was that
it had a voice synthesizer, so every line of dialogue in this game is actually voiced. Pretty impressive, but the voice synthesis
can sound a little garbled at times making it hard to understand. Fortunately, it also put the text at the bottom. Another interesting piece of information:
Throughout this game, whenever referring to Christ in English, it’s mistranslated as
Chrith! I decided to keep it in since I think it’s
cool. Now with all the context out of the way, let’s
move onto the actual game. The game intro effectively introduces you
to what you have to do: heal people and avoid evil. This takes the form of an arcadey auto-scroller. You play as Christ on the lower part of the
screen as he slowly moves along. You can move around the right half of the
plane, but it’s very stiff as diagonal movement is not allowed. Oncoming are enemies and the people you must
heal, which you do by walking over them and pressing space to heal them. While you can press it when you walk over
them, you can also just hold space down to cast your healing powers at all times with
no penalty, so there’s not much reason to have it as an action. Various enemy types are scattered across the
level such as soldiers, snakes, guillotines, and of course, the devil. Every enemy just stands in place to be avoided,
except for the devil who appears in every level after the first one. The devil will appear at random and drop down
fire on the player. It sounds similar to other enemies, but its
difficulty comes from how it tracks the player, which combined with the stiff controls makes
for a stressful situation. This is in addition to how hard it is to discern
which part of the plane you’re on, since it can seem you’re touching an enemy to
the point your sprite overlays onto them, but you’re not, and it takes a while to
get used to. While dealing with all these obstacles, you
have to heal 50 people to be able to move onto the next level. If you’re lucky, God may drop down a powerup
that heals everyone on screen. You get three chances per level, where if
you touch an enemy you lose one, in the form of praying to God in increasingly desperate
pleas. …And that’s pretty much it. The backgrounds and enemies may change each
level, but it’s essentially the same experience each time. Even then, the changes only last to the 10th
level, to where it then just repeats the same sequence of levels. The gameplay is enjoyable for a bit, but quickly
loses its appeal due to its stiff controls. Ultimately there’s little fun to be had with
Christ: Journey of Love. Despite this, within its gameplay I’m surprised
how much of the story and themes remain intact. There’s the obvious translation of God’s mission
of saving the people and avoiding evil to the gameplay itself. The auto scrolling serves to reinforce the
theme that this is a mission Jesus must go on, there’s no time to turn back. The grand journey this must be is represented
in the changing background, with the majority of the screen being the sky where the devil
or God are always watching over you. While it vaguely hits these points, its themes
fall apart in that this repeats every 10 levels, robbing its meaning to have more game time,
especially strange since the choice of enemies in the 10th level are guillotines and the
devil, a particularly final choice for the last distinct level. Again, as I have little knowledge on Christianity,
there are possibly extra bits of symbolism or information I’m missing, especially in
the backgrounds, where there are at times what looks like a needle through a huge eye,
pyramids, and whatever this is? Since there’s not much to get out of its
plot or gameplay, Christ: Journey of Love’s value comes mostly from its novelty as a Christian themed PC game from Koei. I didn’t experience the most emotionally
moving game of 1984 and I didn’t cry like the back of the manual said, but I would be
lying if I said I didn’t have a interesting time learning about this game, and hopefully
y’all did as well. Happy holidays everybody! If you enjoyed this video, please consider
supporting me on Patreon or Ko-fi. Patreon is if you want to support me monthly
and Ko-fi is for one time support. These videos wouldn’t be possible without
the generous support of my patrons and ko-fis. Any amount helps this channel keep going. Anyways, here’s my twitter, my instagram,
my channel link if you want to subscribe, and some other videos I’ve made. Well, that’s all I had to say, so thanks
again for watching and I’ll see ya around!

 

8 Responses

  1. AdventureGameGeek

    December 27, 2018 12:23 am

    @3:49 It looks like Jesus just beamed down to earth from a spaceship!? I know a fair bit about Christianity but I still can't make out half the things in this game…Happy holidays, best wishes for videos and everything else in 2019!

    Reply
  2. Trash Bagel

    December 27, 2018 2:54 am

    I was worried when you were going to upload again. I look forward to your videos because each one is so interesting and different. Some of the games I recognize but some I had no clue existed like the game in this video. You do an amazing job describing the game. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  3. Parker Dickinson

    December 27, 2018 4:03 am

    Thanks so much for making this very bizarre game accessible to the few hyper enthusiasts that are interested in it (myself included)! This piece of history would otherwise have stayed completely unknown.

    Reply
  4. Hemang Chauhan

    December 28, 2018 8:26 am

    And here I thought their crazy complex Historical and Business simulations was as far as KOEI went, haha.
    I had read that there were some Christianity based games from Japan, but never imagined it was in the 80s and by KOEI.

    Anyways, great video. Always glad for you covering games lost to time (and certainly lost to general games narrative).
    Season Greetings and Happy Holidays! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Future Vintage Gaming

    February 8, 2019 12:27 pm

    Holy Chrith with purple hair and pink robe, thanks for the religious content warning! 🙂

    Did the pope approve of this game?

    Reply

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