A video game without “video”: ‘Real Sound: Kaze no Regret’ was a Sega game created exclusively for blind gamers
Fortunately, although consumer devices in general (in their most common format) do not seem to show hardly any adaptations, today fortunately the accessibility of technology can help in very complicated cases and provide solutions in situations that years ago might not be considered. But there have been cases in the past where accessibility has been a consequence, in part, of feedback of the players, as it happened with the game ‘Real Sound: Kaze no Regret’ de Sega.
When we think of a video game, the concept that our mind draws will be something very visual in most cases, largely supported by an auditory memory such as sound effects or tones from the game itself (if I mentally say ‘Snow Bros.’ , the start-of-game tone almost sounds before the image on the screen comes to me). And this part, the auditory, was the one that characterized a Sega game that was the first designed exclusively for blind audiences.
Kenji Eno’s tribute to fans
It did not have a brutal reception, in fact, more than the approach what helped was the fame of its creator, Kenji Eno, who was also the founder of WARP. But over time it became a collector’s item, in part by being part of the legacy of Eno, who passed away in 2013.
The curious story comes precisely from what was known about the game thanks to what Eno himself was telling. In November 2008 Ricardo Torres, editor of Gamespot had the opportunity to interview him. In it, he explained that he was able to visit people with visual disabilities, who explained to him directly how was your experience with an action video game.
Eno was surprised that his (unadapted) games were so good, in fact he received numerous letters of appreciation from blind fans (as is also recounted in the interview). This was the spark that lit the wick of inspiration for the development of ‘Real Sound’, and the even more beautiful thing is that Eno tried to use his influence to negotiate with the same SEGA and that the company had a detail with this grateful public in exchange for its own rights to the game.
After this, Eno was responsible for the donation of 1,000 Sega Saturn consoles along with a copy of the game blind players. In fact, although a later version for Sega Dreamcast It included a “visual mode”, the mechanics of the game continued to fall entirely on the audio.
A love story in the style of “choose your own adventure”
The music, a component that acted in this case even more as a common thread, was composed by Keiichi Suzuki and Akiko Yano with locally known voices like those of Miho Kanno and Ai Maeda, J-Pop singer and voice actress respectively. The game did not have any more re-releases or continuations, in fact Eno explained that at first they had not made new versions because the contract with Sega prevented it, and finally this edition was only in Japanese (so we better be fluent in the language to try to move forward).
Despite the language barrier we have been able to find out about the plot. The story of ‘Kaze no Regret’ is based on the intention of recovering the childhood love of the protagonist, immersing himself in a love triangle, done in “choose your own adventure” format.
There is a narrator who tells the story and from time to time buzzers sound indicating when the player has to make a decision. So no aliens, you fight ‘Street Fighter’ or something like ‘Sonic’. It is a rather simple story, spread over four CDs, which can be played in about five hours.
The packaging has already been oriented so that players do not require assistance from sighted people, including braille instructions. In fact, Eno himself encouraged this game to be a joint experience for any player, so that a person without visual impairment would have the same experience by turning off the monitor.
In 1997, Kenji Eno and Warp made an adventure game completely for blind players, called Real Sound: Kaze No Regret.
The screen is black throughout play, as it is designed from the ground up to be interacted with purely through aural feedback. Even menus, all done by sound & VO. pic.twitter.com/Ffy2Y9nlXz
— Andrew Elmore 💽 (@AndrewElmore) February 8, 2020
Fortunately, over time devices and systems have incorporated solutions for try to make the video game experience more accessiblesuch as voice prompts, vibrate responses, or the ability to better visualize the screen. Companies like Microsoft have teams dedicated exclusively to serving these tasks and qthat diverse adaptation needs are addressed that users may need.
After ‘Real Sound’ there have been more games projects for the blind, although there is not an extensive catalog either. In this way, Eno’s game (and the story that runs in parallel) leaves him as a pioneer and a reminder that games can be enjoyed by many more people if the two aspects of what is, by definition, one are enhanced. audiovisual experience.
Image | Glint