Review – Hoshi wo Miru Hito

Hoshi wo Miru Hito Header

I’ve spent quite some time mired in the sticky pits of kusoge. Crap games are becoming an area of expertise for me. That’s not simply to say that I know of a lot of bad games, but rather that I know how to appreciate them.

That’s right. Did you know you can enjoy bad games? Not just in an ironic way, either. They can be pleasurable to analyze. Where did they fail? What may have led to some of the design missteps? What is it that demonstrates their poor quality? There’s an excitement in them for me as a critic. I would, without hyperbole, play something like 1987’s spectacular failure Hoshi wo Miru Hito than a bland Metacritic 80 like 2007’s Assassin’s Creed

We get too wrapped up in review scores. I use them here because they’re good for organization and to give you an idea of how much I recommend a game. But it doesn’t really work for something like Hoshi wo Miru Hito, because its suck could pull the moon out of orbit, but I still think you should play it. If you dare.

Hoshi wo Miru Hito I think it might be a hospital.
Credit where it’s due: this mostly looks like an RPG.


Hoshi wo Miru Hito (translates roughly to Stargazer) was developed by Hot-B and released in 1987. Hot-B made some questionable games, but they also developed Steel Empire, so they weren’t always bad. 1987 was about one year after Dragon Quest ignited the RPG genre in Japan and set the standards of the JRPG sub-genre. A lot of imitators followed in its wake, which is generally how it has always worked in the video game industry.

Most of the time, it’s because the developers like that particular game and want to put their own spin on it. Other times, it’s companies who produce a cynical product just to cash in on a trend. I don’t know where the fuck Hoshi wo Miru Hito fits.

You can absolutely see the DNA of Dragon Quest in there, but if it was made by someone who admired the title, they must have been born with a tragic absence of analytical skills.

Nothing works here. The first city, and the one that contains the only healer in the game, is completely invisible on the overworld map. It’s impossible to tell what effect the gear has on your character, and according to some guides, some of it actually makes your character less effective than if they had no gear at all. There’s a dungeon where if you go in a door and exit from the same door, you’re on the other side of a barrier as though you traversed underneath it. Keycards are used when you walk through a locked door, and if you don’t have a second keycard of the same type, you can’t get back out. Also, the keycards are ridiculously expensive.

Hoshi wo Miru Hito dialogue about the ship almost arriving.
Just let me off now.


If we applied all the usual standards used to judge JRPGs against Hoshi wo Miru Hito, we’d be here all day discussing its failures. It’s structurally nonsense and meanders around like quest design is a foreign language. Like, where do you begin with it? I do not have a measuring stick long enough to judge the depth of its ass.

The graphics are so badly tiled. You can see squares basically everywhere. People don’t look too terrible, and some of the monsters look fine. And while we’re damning with praise, the music won’t make your ears bleed. Probably.

The balance is screwed six ways to Sunday. You start out stupidly underpowered against enemies that are most likely a lot stronger than you. If you get into a fight that you can’t handle, you can’t run. In the beginning of the game, you just have to keep trying and pray that you get in easy enough fights that let you level up.

But by the time you hit, like, level 5, you have more HP than you will ever need. For the enemies to chip away enough of it, it would take a fortnight. Of course, you might not even be able to hurt them because, like I said, the balancing is fucked. So, what’s worse? Being completely underpowered to the point where you’re stomped in a fight or being stuck at a perpetual stalemate because neither you nor the enemy can deal enough damage? I’d probably say the latter is more hellish.

Hoshi wo Miru Hito battle screen.
Is that a pitcher plant or…


Hoshi wo Miru Hito takes place in space, and you assemble a squad of space psychics who have been… uh, like, persecuted or exiled or something. With how bad the rest of the game is, can you really expect the story would be any better?

This means that you have psychic powers instead of magical spells. They completely suck, and they’re doled out at a mysterious rate. Like the available equipment, there’s no in-game way to tell what any of the psychic spells do or how powerful they are. You select one, then you choose how much PP you put into it, and then it maybe does damage to the enemy. Or fortifies an ally’s attack (which seems to do nothing). Or teleports an enemy in space or something.

One dude gets all the best spells: Minami, the starting character. Aine eventually gets one decent spell, and Shiba’s can sometimes be useful. Unlike HP, you never have enough PP. Never.

Hoshi wo Miru Hito overworld. It looks like there's only forest, but there's an invisible town somewhere in the image.
I know the town is around here somewhere.


Thankfully, the third section of the game, which involves literally walking through space and talking to dolphins, you can avoid most combat… by walking on top of the walls. It’s actually sweet relief. There isn’t even a boss battle, so you aren’t punished for skipping combat. It ends after you walk back and forth talking to dolphins, and eventually, you get a dialogue tree with three options. You just choose your ending, and it’s over. The pain has ended. It’s the best part of the game because you don’t have to really engage.

However, to get here, you have to go through Hoshi wo Miru Hito’s second part, which involves heavy grinding, locking doors, and pointless talking. It’s excruciating. Hours and hours of slowly trodding around, battling enemies with ineffective psycho magic, and testing doors. You really get a chance to appreciate the slapdash design and fully immerse yourself in the feeling of extreme bamboozlement.

The first part? It’s pretty bad, too. There’s a section where you need to cross a part of the overworld where pitfalls suck you into a dungeon. You can exit the dungeon easily by just turning around and walking back out the door, but then you’re dropped beside the starting city. The invisible one. You just walk back and hope you don’t get sucked back into the dungeon. It’s so bizarre. You’d think the beginning would be the most polished part of the game, where everyone on the development team is still feeling spritely and ambitious, and technically, that’s true! Which is really very sad.

Hoshi wo Miru Hito walking on the stars.
Yeah, they’re literally just walking through space.


Hoshi wo Miru Hito has a reputation in its home country as a “kusoge no densetsu,” which means “crap game of legend.” However, I don’t hear it mentioned as much as I do with Takeshi no Chousenjou, Spelunker, or Ganso Saiyuuki Super Monkey Daibouken. I’m hoping that means fewer people were suckered into buying Hoshi wo Miru Hito and that’s the reason its reputation didn’t spread. I don’t know, I’m not from Japan.

I often play these games for perspective and curiosity. Super Monkey Daibouken is sometimes referred to as “kyuukyoku no kusoge” or “ultimate crappy game,” or, at least, it was on Game Center CX. However, while that game is awful, it at least was awful in a consistently amusing way. Hoshi wo Miru Hito is mostly painful. I mean more so.

When I first published my kusoge article on it, someone in the comments mentioned it’s like a first attempt with RPG Maker. And yeah, I think that’s apt. But while a teenager’s RPG Maker creation is embarrassing, it’s at least (usually) available for free. Hoshi wo Miru Hito made it to store shelves. So, let’s take a moment of silence for the kids who lost their weekends to it.


This review was conducted on an emulator using a fan-translated ROM. However, the author owns a copy of the original cartridge and paid for it themselves.

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About Zoey Handley 243 Articles
Zoey made up for her mundane childhood by playing video games. Now she won't shut up about them. Her eclectic tastes have led them across a vast assortment of consoles and both the best and worst games they have to offer. A lover of discovery, she can often be found scouring through retro and indie games. She currently works as a Staff Writer at Destructoid.

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