To best understand Psycho Dream – which has finally come to the west thanks to its addition to the Nintendo Switch Online SNES line-up – you first need to understand Nihon Telenet. It was a prolific company throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, and while its games often had some interesting concepts (and some legitimately talented development staff behind them), they tended to be rushed and unpolished, to put it nicely. Even its best games – like those in the Valis series – ended up being fun despite their other significant issues, but couldn’t compare to games from the likes of Capcom, Sega, or Konami.
Psycho Dream is very much a Telenet game, having been developed by its subsidiary, Riot. The concept and artwork were provided by manga artist Marino Nishizaki, the scenario was co-written by Kenichi Nishi (who later went to Square before founding cult favourite studio Love-de-Lic), and the music was composed by Michiko Naruke (who later work on the RPG series Wild Arms). The story imagines an alternate world where a major form of entertainment is virtual reality films called D-Movies (the “D” is for “Drug”). These are so realistic that users view them as a form of escape, causing them to fall into deep comas, and eventually die. A task force of “debuggers” called the Diamond Dogs is formed to delve into the dreams of such victims, in hopes to save them. The focus of Psycho Dream is a seventeen-year-old girl named Sayaka, while the two debuggers who enter her mind are Ryo Shijima and Maria Tobari.
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