Machi is a piece of interactive fiction popularly known in Japan as a sound novel where the game is solely about reading the game's branching narrative , which changes based on choices made by the player, with sound and visuals enhancing the experience instead of being the focus. The title was the third entry in Chunsoft's Sound Novel franchise and was published in Japan for the Sega Saturn on January 22, 1998. A port for the PlayStation was later released in 1999 and Sega published another port for the PlayStation Portable in 2006 that included new story content. The PSP release was also the first title developed under a partnership between Sega and Chunsoft called the Sega×Chun Project, which lasted from 2006 to 2008.
Machi garnered a strong following in Japan and was ranked as the 5th best video game of all-time in Famitsu's reader poll held in 2006. While a direct continuation was never made, a spiritual sequel to Machi was released by Chunsoft in 2008 called 428: Shibuya Scramble which became just as highly regarded in its own right.
Machi is a story-driven adventure game that follows 8 different characters over the course of five days. The presentation of the game is made up of static pictures of characters and locations, though there are occasional animated cutscenes, and the majority of the player's interactions is through text. The player can switch between the different characters at any time to continue the story, and depending on choices made throughout the game the player can bring about a good or bad ending. All of the characters live within the city of Shibuya, and many of them can cross paths with each other depending on how the game is being played. For example, in one scenario playing as Gang Member Masami Ushio, the player decides how to best pull off a jewelry store heist. If the player is successful, Masami remains on the run throughout the rest of the game. This further complicates the story for other characters like Jintaro Umabe, who looks like Masami, and is unknowingly implicated in the jewelry robbery. If the player does not succeed in the Jewel robbery, Masami's story ends, and Jintaro does not get implicated at all. Choices with similar repercussions can occur for each of the eight other principal characters. The Japanese phrase used by the creators of the game to describe this mechanic roughly translates to "chain of fate".
- Keima Amemiya - Policeman
- Jintaro Umabe - Actor
- Masami Ushio - Gang Member
- Isamu Sagiyama - Film Director
- Atsushi Takamine - A Businessman
- Ryuji Takamine - an AWOL soldier
- Norio Aoi - High School Student
- Fumiyasu Ichikawa - an Author