Japan's Game Urara was a magazine about hacking, porn, piracy, mods, and underground gaming culture. It lasted only a few issues in the mid-1990s, but its extraordinary contents distinguished it from all others. A quarter of a century later, it lives on as a set of high-quality scans at the Internet Archive. Senn writes at Gaming Alexandria about the most NSFW game mag of them all.
One could say that this magazine is also a preservation of the shady side of the 90s internet in Japan, and this is reflected by the very informal and laid back articles. From game strategies to cheats, doujin (self-published) games, and even internet guides, it’s an interesting read on how Japanese gamers used to pull all of this off before a wider-scale version of the internet went on to make it all obsolete. Of course, all of this is the more normal side of Game Urara, and it’s not exactly hard to stumble upon the weirder stuff it has to offer either.
The magazine quickly transitions from casual discussions of video games and guides, to borderline illegal practices of suspicious “drug” dealings, piracy, hacking, and whatever of illegal interest found in the communities back then. It’s genuinely a bizarre sight as among the innocent video game content lies disturbing articles and ads, such as Mr. Kurosawa’s (of Hong Kong 97 infamy) shock value section, and advertisements for an extremely bizarre “do it at home” foreskin removal tool. (Yes, you read that right) This magazine did not attempt to sugar-coat gore, scat, and other bizarre paraphilia, and neither did it try to filter its advertisements.
Game Urara figures strongly in Vice's recent story about The Creepiest Cult Game Ever Made.
Part of the creepiness associated with The Story of Kamikuishiki Village is that it's largely indistinguishable from the Aum Shinrikyo cult’s actual propaganda. Faces of famous members of the cult hover on the right side of the screen while eerie chants play in tinny lo-fi. Aum’s leader sold his blood as part of a drink to followers, and the game show’s him milking his fingers into bottles. Photographs of the sarin gas attack play over solemn music.
But The Story of Kamikuishiki Village is a dark parody, an interactive shitpost from the 1990s, and a statement against the cult.