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A Space For The Unbound: All The Indonesian & 90s Homages & References In The Game

The biggest indie game darling of the month, A Space For The Unbound, is set in rural 90s Indonesia. While the entire game is in English (and other localized languages), the game’s setting is knee-deep and authentic in its country’s culture and setting.

As an Asian-based games media site, we do recognize a lot of the game’s references and allusions. So let’s point out some of the things that are in the game.

Disclaimer: we’ll probably miss a few, so sound off on the comments or on our social media page if we missed one. There will be spoilers, but nothing too detailed, so here’s your warning in case

[Update 3/2/2022]: Added a few more. Special thanks to Arief Johan for the additions. 

Yoman Bubblegum – This “5 letters hidden in each bubblegum pack” deal is based on the real Indonesian bubblegum brand Yosan back in the 90s. The collect-and-win game garnered a bit of controversy because no one has ever gathered a full set that spells “Yosan” for decades until mid-2019.

 

Streetside wedding – Early in the game, there’s a small tent enclosure where a wedding is held. Those who can’t afford fancy hotel weddings usually resort to a quick-but-efficient ceremony. This particular one in the game is blocking that stretch of the road; a clever way to lock off the area until the later stages.

Bakso Mee – Indonesian meatball noodle dish. Usually soup-based. Very delicious. There are numerous stalls serving nothing but Bakso Mee in the country.

General Store – The store that Erik’s father runs is exactly like how they look in Southeast Asia, right down to the sacks of rice on the floor.

Mana Hati? – Literally translated to “Where’s My Heart?”. This is on a romance movie poster in a cinema main characters Atma and Raya hang out. (Update: turns out that the poster is based on the film “Apa Ada Dengan Cinta?”)

Cyborg Raptor Returns – The poster is a homage to James Cameron’s The Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Street Fighter clone – In the game’s arcade, you can play a title called Future Fighter which is clearly a tribute to the 1991 Capcom 2D fighting game pioneer. When space diving in the old man’s head, you’ll see him as Ryu and his boss as M.Bison (Dictator).

Instant noodles – In a spacediving puzzle involving food and scales, one of the food items is Lokamie. This is clearly a reference to Indomie, a renowned instant noodle brand in Indonesia.

Rojak – A type of fruit salad served with savoury sauce. An Indonesian favourite for many. Found at a spacedive section involving food and scales.

Black Forest Gateau – A cake from the game that’s part of the main quest line in Chapter 2, made in Ria Cafe. It’s a chocolate sponge cake with a rich cherry filling, based on the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Lots of Southeast Asians love to order desserts from foreign countries because they’re perceived as sweet and classy; like you feel “rich” eating a colonizer’s food. 

Also, “ria” means “happy”.

Ace Attorney tribute – In Chapter 3, you’ll spacedive in Lulu’s mind and eventually get to a section where you have to cross-examine the guilty party to prove who they really are. The whole section plays out like an Ace Attorney game but in 2D view form, where Atma has to gather evidence and then show said evidence to contradict statements.

Lulu’s mind palace also looks like how the Majapahit empire looked back in the 1200s.

Lulu’s Tiara – speaking of which, Lulu’s tiara in this spacedive session looks like part of a crown from the Majapahit era.

Barbershop – The sign says “potong rambut”, which means “cut hair”. Some literal translation humour there. “Loka Indah” is “local beauty”.

Internet Cafe – There were lots of these in Indonesia and Southeast Asia; internet cafes where they charge you hourly and also print out A4 copies of website screencaps and images for you. There’s a search tool that’s clearly a parody of Yahoo!

Even cat GIFs were popular back then. Just like they still are.

A Raven Monologue – There’s a cameo of the raven in A Raven Monologue, a Mojiken-developed adventure game, in one of the game’s spacediving segments featuring a musician.

When The Past Was Around – Another Mojiken game cameo! This time it’s When The Past Was Around’s The Owl, with a scribble of it on a music sheet in a space dive puzzle involving a musician.

Also, the musician in A Space For The Unbound looks a bit like Eda from When The Past Was Around.

And she also gets a mention in Chapter 5 on the radio.

She and the Light Bearer – There’s a book in the school library called She and the Light Bearer, which is a reference to an early Mojiken game.

Keroncong – A genre of music famous in Indonesia that uses a ukulele-like instrument. Mr. Setiawan sings a song in this style in the middle part of the game as part of a sidequest involving spacediving into musicians. Notable keroncong songs include “Bengawan Solo” by Hetty Koes Endang, “Jembatan Merah” by Gesang Martohartono (whom Mr. Setiawan is modeled after), and “Solo Diwaktu Malam” by Mus Mulyadi.

Mr. Setiawan – Turns out Mr Setiawan is based on Didi Kempot, a known singer of the campursari style of genre music. Setiawan’s ex-wife in this spacedive segment is based on the Didi Kempot song “Sri Minggat”. 

Bootleg manga – In Chapter 4 during a “spacedive”, you will come across a guy selling bootleg manga, complete with different dialogue and an alternate publishing house. Children in the 90s in Southeast Asia couldn’t afford manga that was localized in English from the US, nor know how to find original Japanese manga, so they had to resort to bootlegs translated into the country’s native language (Malaysian example below).

Game Boy – In Chapter 4, you come across a guy who is trading the arcade machine store life in exchange for selling GameBots. The GameBot is basically the universe’s version of a Game Boy; the original 90s black-and-white-and-grey Game Boy.


Pic credit: Engadget

Bridge: This iconic A Space For The Unbound spot is actually a recreation of the bridge at Jalan Dr. Ir. H. Soekarno in Surabaya, East Java (thanks @snowkie)

Mohammad Fahmi – You can find a tribute to the late Mohammad Fahmi (of Coffee Talk and Indonesia indie game fame) hanging out at Ria Cafe along with his cat Tofu (also based on his real cat Tofu). His name is also listed as a dedication in the game’s end credits.

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Comment(1)

  1. redpanda

    January 30, 2023 at 11:16 am

    I try comment yesterday but error, maybe bit additional for this information
    – the wedding party actually happened in the road, and they block the road
    – mana hati? poster based from AADC (Ada Apa Dengan Cinta) movie parody and Dian Sastrowardoyo also Nicholas Saputra also mentioned in TV show at library
    – Mr. Setiawan song is different song than Keroncong, he actually tribute to Didi Kempot who sing Campur sari genre, also Sri his ex-wife is based on Didi Kempot song “Sri Minggat” (Sri runaway)
    thank you so much, for writing this !

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