Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3 (tentatively thought of here as “Disaster Report 3”) begins with the main character riding a bus. You can pick a male or female protagonist, but the demo version only lets you play as the boy. Everything seems normal until the ground quakes, the bus crashes, and you nearly escape with your life as rocks crush the vehicle. All of that excitement doesn’t stress the hero out that much.
Seeing a dead body does. The stress meter and the HP bar act like polar opposites. If one is high the other is low and vice versa. So, when the stress meter maxes out after the main character sees a lifeless person underneath a car you won’t be able to take much damage until you rest. The stress meter and HP meter recover if the protagonist sits on a bench. No, you can’t sit on the ground or on a car to recover. It’s a bench or nothing. Items like a portable first aid kit can restore life and lower your stress.
Similar to Irem’s other survival games you don’t have to worry about fighting. The enemy in this game is mother nature and her main “attack” is an aftershock. When the screen shakes you need to hit the R button to cling to the ground and lower your center of gravity. If you don’t do this the protagonist stumbles, hits his head, and loses a bit of life. You can also lose life while walking through black smoke if you forget to equip the white handkerchief at the beginning of the game.
Soon the hero meets a companion. A girl is trapped underneath a car and asks for help. You can’t lift the car on your own, but a jack is nearby – sitting on top of a car tilting towards an a dark abyss. Once you muster courage to grab the jack things get dangerous. An aftershock makes a red car roll towards the unstable car you’re standing on. If you don’t duck and jump off the car (Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3 has an auto jump feature) you’re toast.
Once you save the girl you speak with her. Conversations in Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3 are interactive where you select the response for the main character. Most conversation trees have voice acting too which is pretty impressive for a PSP demo. Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3 also lets players pick totally ridiculous things to say like breaking the fourth wall by calling the girl a game heroine and telling her you are 13,658 years old when she asks your age. You can also be a jerk, but the antagonistic choices tend to make the girl upset and raise your stress meter.
Escaping the tunnel looks like it’s going smoothly until the tunnel starts flooding. Water pours into the tunnel and if you run into one of the cones your stress meter goes up/life bar goes down. The only way out is to body slam a door by mashing the circle button.
Out on the surface the demo ends shortly after crawling on a balance beam and finding an object to climb on. So far it feels like Zettai Zetsumei Toshi 3 scaled down everything that made the PlayStation 2 games memorable. You can even scout the levels for items like sad clown compasses and alternate costumes. What kind of attire should you wear when the world is crumbling around you? A cowboy get up, of course.