To Love or to Smirk? Two Indie Games You Need To Play


It’s no secret I’ve been immersed in a certain book series lately. It’s quality is so immensely satisfying, that the book has consumed all my free time. As a tribute to it, I even based my book report off of it–a look at the psyche of one of the characters. So how excited was I, when scanning over the wikipedia page for Les Miserables, I found a reference to a certain Japanese anime game entitled Arm Joe? So excited that I wrote this post.

The Japanese are Les Miserables crazy! Between cartoons, plays and cast recordings, these people just can’t get enough Victor Hugo.

The name Arm Joe  comes from some simple etymology. In Japan, the name for Les Misérables (Aa Mujou, or あぁ 無情) sounds like Arm Joe. “Aa Mujou is an expression of exasperation at all the suffering in the world.”

The gameplay is repetitive and very Japanese. But the opponent options are numerous: Javert can fight Cosette, Cosette can put the whupping on Enjolras, who can take on a gorilla armed Valjean, who can fight Judgment (as in, the ideal of judgment, in man-beast form).

Now, you may be asking–had I ever envisioned RoboJean beating the stuffing out of Eponine, or a strange kangaroo (that has nothing to with the story) named PonPon going all cute and deadly on its opponent? Only in my wildest dreams.

However, the final boss is reportedly crazy hard to beat. The ArmJoe wikipedia page says these words on this frustrating conundrum: “The final boss is impossible to beat, which is understandable since by using Judgment a player can actually complete the game by pressing a single button repeatedly.”

Despite the fond memories of Street Fighter that this game brings back to me, it’s no gem in the video game world. But seeing as Takasse, the main man behind development, spent five years working on this project for a lack of friends, this game gets some major cool value. ArmJoe gets an A+. Leave it to the Japanese to throw lessons like Judgment Overthrows All into their video game.

As far as downloading this epicness, I haven’t found a link that I trust yet. Maybe a future search will turn one up.

2) HARPOONED (or: Japanese Cetacean Research Simulator)

Again, we return to Japan. But this time, the game developer is  American…the type of American who probably  chains himself to a tiny boat, protesting against the hunting of whales, with every episode of Whale Wars saved to his account.

The game’s intent was to show people how heinous the extermination of whales into hamburger meat is. The only effect it had on me, personally, was a desire to don my Cap’n Ahab hat and get to the next level.  Don’t get me wrong–hunting can go to far when you’re exterminating the entire endangered species. But this game didn’t make me feel too much for the whales.

Using the spacebar as your trigger finger, the goal is to fire harpoons upon the whales as they haplessly swim away. Hitting a whale results in a cataclysmic spew of blood that spreads over the water, while convenient little whale steaks and sausages float up to the top of the water. Collect enough whale meat to reach the end of the level, and a message will appear: RESEARCHING

Research goes into how many Whale burgers and how much whale-cat food you can process.

Each level features different challenges. Protestors in orange inflatable pontoon boats try to cut you off from your quarry. The objective is to avoid them (hitting them results in point loss), but it’s kinda fun running them over for the BABUMP sound it makes. Helicopters bearing a News crew also impede your progress, while messages like “Do not harm the protestors. It will cost us money!” appears.

Is this game derogatory? You bet. Depending on what your Save the Whale stance is, and how insulted you may become by playing a Japanese whaler, this game may not be for you.

But is it epic? Yes. Yes, it is.

If you’re interested in downloading Harpooned, I found it on But I definitely don’t recommend haphazard downloading. However, Norton analyzed the file before I installed it, and it gave it a good review. So download it at your own risk.

Happy gaming!

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