Sleeping Dogs has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. Part of the game's appeal is the fact it's set in Hong Kong, which raises the question: why aren't more games based around one of the world's most iconic and populous cities?
The answer may well be that this old thing scared them all off.
Released in 1995 for the Super Famicom, and developed by the seemingly racist and untalented amateurs at HappySoft (I'm leaving open the door this could have been a joke), Hong Kong 97 is a game that...well...it's barely a game at all. Take a look at the footage above. Even by current standards for amateur flash games - ie, there aren't any - it's awful, so the fact it was released in cartridge form on Nintendo's fabled console (even if it was unlicensed) boggles the mind.
It's also the reason this game is celebrated among nerd circles in Japan and Taiwan as something so bad, and so offensive, that it's turned into a classic.
Hong Kong 97's story is a short one. It's 1997, and as the region is handed back to the Chinese from the British, hordes of "fuckin' ugly reds" descend on Hong Kong and fill it with crime. So you play Chin, who uses the stolen likeness of Jackie Chan (which is not uncommon!), and have to...run around not dying. Which is pretty damn hard.
Thee's also the disembodied head of former Chinese Communist leader Deng Xiaoping. Which may seem random, and in most ways, it is, but it's also contributed to the game's notoriety. When Hong Kong 97 was being developed, Deng was old, and ill, but alive. Yet the game, in shades of Homefront decades later, said he was dead. Deng promptly died, in the real world, just before the game's release, making his resurrection tale a distastefully poignant one.
Hong Kong 97 is available to download on an emulator if you feel like experiencing it for yourself. It can also be played in English, meaning the only obstacle to your enjoyment is the fact it's equal parts difficult and unplayable.
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends. You'll find Total Recall stories every Tue-Fri between 1am -2am Eastern.