Not often do video game trailers wed my love for cheesy B movies, anime references, and balls-to-the-wall action spectacles, but this upcoming action role-playing game might as well have lifted its premise from my fever dreams and brought them to life.
Showa American Story, developed by Nekcom Entertainment, is described as a love letter to 80s pop culture which “features a strong taste of B-Movies” on its Steam page. While that description leaves a lot open for interpretation, its official reveal trailer was enough to dilate my pupils and set me on the course for being hype at how stupid-fun this game looks.
The story follows Choko Chigusa, described in the trailer as “a teenage girl miraculously revived from the dead, on a journey of truth and revenge.” The world she wakes up to is a reimagined America that finds itself as Japan’s unofficial colony. Cultural landmarks look familiar, yet different–the Hollywood sign now reads as Neo Yokohama, dragon gates appear on long stretches of desert highways, and chōchin lanterns decorate the Golden Gate Bridge.
But this world isn’t just a fusion of American and Japanese cultures. Apparently, a mysterious incident caused this post-apocalyptic world to be marred by zombies, monsters, and human survivors “of different backgrounds and beliefs,” according to its Steam page, which is arguably more frightening than the threat of the undead.
Choko clearly found the conditions of her new world to be disagreeable because she’s on some sort of Kill Bill-style revenge quest. The trailer’s opening moments have an unseen male voice that Choko calls her boss, who laughs at her before spoofing Lucy Liu’s iconic Kill Bill line about her being a girl playing with swords. His haughty quip is met with Choko aiming a shotgun at his crotch. “Allow me to scratch your itch, boss,” Choko says, right before shooting his junk into pixelated smithereens. Good for her.
The vibe I got from watching Showa American Story’s trailer reminded me of my time playing the oh-so stylish Bright Memory Infinite. But whereas I was disappointed with BMI’s lack of a story, SAS appears to have a semblance of one that fully embraces how wacky its premise is.
The mood of the trailer dives into full tonal dissonance as narration about the game’s global incident is accompanied by DaijiMan Brothers Ocrhestra’s upbeat song “Sore ga daiji.” Footage of Choko lounging in her over-sized customizable RV, hoop rolling, and walking on stilts is intercut with her flash-stepping around hordes of zombies and mowing them down with an array of snazzy gun and sword techniques.
Further doubling down on how much this game looks like a crack fanfic come to life, the trailer shows off some Nier Automata-esque bullet hell boss fights as well as an enormous satellite crashing into a desert. Even the zombies have some characterization, with some shown riding bicycles to crank up some sort of generator and one brandishing a giant drill on its waist in a way that would make Kamina from Gurren Lagann proud.
Although it’s described as an exciting, fast-paced strategy combat game, what we see in the trailer bears more of a resemblance to the kind of whimsical, large-scale zombie-slaughtering chaos of the Dead Rising games than anything all that “strategic.” To be honest, I’m less than thrilled by the zombie shoot bangs shown in the trailer–something about that target reticle just seems a bit too generous to me. Luckily, the trailer supplied enough ridiculous anime references, and the combat exudes enough sleek, real-time Final Fantasy XV style, for me to want to give it a whirl. My only wish is that SAS’s bonkers gameplay and story lead to it being either the best video game I’ve ever played when it eventually comes out on Playstation 4, PS5 and Steam, or the worst. Anything middling would be a disappointment.