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The Game that Puts the ‘Cult’ in Cult Classic. The Aum Shinrikyo Video Game Explained

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(Video covering the game with visuals/gameplay)

Hi everyone, today, I'm going to tell you about the game that puts the cult in cult classic. The game I’m going to talk about is The Story of Kamikuishiki Village, published by AumSoft and created by HappySoft. Both suspected to be wings of the infamous Aum Shinrikyo death cult initially, but then revealed by Vice reporters to the west that those companies were actually anti-Aum Shinrikyo, and that the game was supposed to be mocking them. For those who are too young to remember, Aum Shinrikyo was a Japanese Buddhist cult led by Shoko Asahara. Aum Shinrikyo was responsible for the 1995 Tokyo Sarin gas attack that killed 13 people and injured nearly 6000, were it not for a rushed development of their sarin gas, it’s likely they would have killed far, far more. With that background established, I’m not going to go too much into the history of the cult as it is quite long, their leader Shoko Asahara was executed and they are still active today under a new name, Aleph. There are plenty of good resources on the cult if you want a complete history, the Last Podcast on the Left did a full series on them which actually inspired me to look more into them which is where I found The Story of Kamikuishiki Village.

At first glance, the game looks like something out of a creepypasta. Weird, cartoon caricatures of Shoko Asahara, deepfried lofi background music with chanting vocals, it feels like something you just weren’t meant to see. Unleashed upon the world on June 29th 1995, on the PC-98 and sold through underground magazine Game Urara (ooh-rah-rah) just a few months after the Sarin gas attacks in March of that same year. This game or visual novel puts the player in control of the big man himself, Shoko Asahara. The main objective is to manage the cult, collect resources, indoctrinate new members all with the aim of eventually carrying out the subway sarin gas attack. The opening intro of the game is a compilation of real news reels, showing off some of the cults most hilarious moments such as attempting to fly through meditation and regularly holding underwater breath holding competitions. Many in Japan, at the time, were aware of Aum Shinrikyo and the cult itself was looked upon as nothing more than a joke, a bunch of goofy buddhists showing off their “super powers” earned through meditation. The cult, unlike many others, was also quite open to interviews, having their own spokesman who would be featured in the following clip, addressing accusations leveled at them and tossing them over his shoulder, a clip that would be replayed endlessly in Japanese media following the attacks. While the game, for some time, was believed to be a recruitment tool for the cult in the west, to a Japanese audience it would be quite obvious that this was making fun of them. While the original programmers of the game were originally thought lost to time, there is some speculation from legendary Japanese game maker and satirist Kowloon Kurosawa, creator of Hong Kong 97. Kurosawa states that he knew the two guys who made the game and attended high school with them. While he has since lost touch with the creators, he states their intention was to mock Aum Shinrikyo as they were becoming increasingly more unnerved by their growing influence in the country and the fact that they began to openly run political candidates for office. With some digging, users on the retro Japanese gaming forum Tokugawa Corp, found the original programmers, named Takeshi Kanai and Kouichi Kanasawa, the latter of which worked for Konami. Vice reporters reached out for comment on the game, but didn’t hear back, when they checked the names with Kurosawa, he confirmed that they were the pair behind the game after all. There are quite a few videos on the horror side of youtube that get this information wrong, claiming the game is meant to brainwash you into becoming a radical buddhist or Shoko himself will steal your soul, but its all bullshit. The game is anti-Aum parody, not some weird recruitment tool like their anime which has been talked to death on youtube and various news medias.

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With all of that established, let's get back to the game itself. I have scoured the internet for a download of the game and am unable to find it. This isn’t too surprising as it seems to only be available via multiple floppy discs, which are very unlikely to have made it out of Japan, let alone be around. So, most of my information has to come from clips I’ve watched or information about the game I’ve read. As I stated before, the game is ultimately a resource management sim placing you in charge of Shoko himself as well as a few other higher ups within the cult. You go through daily events, fighting both time and your limited resources in order to build up enough supplies to carry out your deadly attack. If you fail, the world ends in some sort of cataclysmic event as Shoko looks very sad in the top right corner. Your main resource is the blood of Shoko Asahara himself, something cult members routinely drank, Asahara has claimed previously to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ so it likely leads back to that. Another resource you need to manage is bath water, yes, Shoko is the OG Belle Delphine. Aum members would inject Asahara’s bath water to gain fractions of his enlightenment. The game routinely mocks both the practices, showing Shoko milking the blood from his fingers like a cow and goofily pumping bath water through an IV. As you progress through this relatively short game, you also get to take part in real events other than just the sarin gas bombing, such as the Sakamoto family murders where the cult murdered a lawyer and his family who were taking legal action against them as well as going on a test run with your sarin gas in the 1994 Matsumoto sarin gas attacks. While you manage your blood and bathwater, you also need to train up big boy himself through meditation. When you’re done training you can carry out missionary work, invest your money, collect tithes from your members and most important of all, rest. There really isn’t a ton of gameplay here, you use your blood and bathwater to increase your income which helps fund your attacks and missionary work. If you have enough followers, buddhism super powers and money by the requisite date then you get to carry out the attack and win. The game really plays like very old 4x games where you manage a few important people, their resources and try to expand your influence, though this lacks any sort of polish and ends up looking like it launched itself straight from hell.

So that’s that. The Mysterious Kamikuishiki Village explained away, no don’t believe the hype on horror channels, its not some cult recruitment tool thats going to turn you into a sleeper agent. It’s a fuck you from two Japanese youths towards a once growing group of insane terrorists in their own country. Thank you all for reading, I hope I was able to dispel some of the rumors surrounding this game and show it to others for the first time. I absolutely love media like this that goes hard against true evil in the world no matter how goofy or crappy it may be. If anyone out there reading/watching this can actually find or forward me a download link, I would love to play it for myself.

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