Capcom Production Studio 4's interstellar PS2 prank-'em-up Panic Maker will be receiving a Western release after all, according to reports appearing in the US of States overnight pointing to an autumn release. Going by the decidedly less exciting title "Under the Skin", it's a slab of peculiar Day-Glo quirkiness that rather caught our eye when we first stumbled upon it earlier this year, and it's the sort of game we generally don't see outside Japan due to a lack of interest from us fickle Western types. Cuh.
However, such is the oddness of this one (which most people picked up on when it appeared in a recent Resident Evil 4/Killer 7 trailer), that its true meaning seems to have evaded even our trusted translator, who may actually have fumbled over the motives of main character Cosmi. According to Capcom USA, Cosmi really has come to Earth to cause as much mischief as possible, and his possessive, panic-spreading prank-tics are not quite as accidentally disastrous as we originally thought. In fact, he's more like Chris Penk playing a highwayman. Which is a shame really, because we kind of preferred the sound of it when we had it all wrong. We'll be really annoyed if it turns out we were right about the Japanese version and this is some sort of ill-advised localisation quirk.
Still, there remains a lot of good to be said for a character whose central preoccupation is causing as much mischief as he can - in order to complete his training and become a "galaxy class" troublemaker. Using his ray gun to scan the citizens of free-roaming environments like CoCo Town, Pirate Land and Resident Evil Land (well, this is a Production Studio 4 game), Cosmi will be able to assume their identities and spread panic and confusion, which apparently leads to coins falling out of the pockets of his victims and bystanders. Collecting these is the aim of the game, and the more chaos he causes, the more money he makes.
Cosmi can find plenty of ways to piss people off, too, warping them from one location to another, turning people into bowling pins, farting at them, tazering people on the subway and performing impromptu karaoke amongst other things. And although Capcom has some slightly more exciting prospects on the way this year and next, few if any are as imaginative and unusual, and we applaud the publisher's decision to take a chance on its US release. We only hope that Capcom Eurosoft will have the opportunity to release it over here, and that this time the buying public will express an interest, and not leave the game on the shelf in favour of something safe and boring as happened to the charmingly obscure Gregory Horror Show earlier this year.
According to a supposedly leaked Capcom E3 line-up, we can expect Under the Skin to make an appearance at the big trade show in LA next month. With the game due out this autumn, we'd say it's certain to appear.