The 25th Ward was initially announced at the 2005 Tokio Game Show, taking place in September. As opposed to killer7, which ultimately became a stand-alone title based on the Kill the Past mythos, The 25th Ward was announced as a direct continuation of the world of The Silver Case and Flower, Sun and Rain; In fact, while it would be demoted to a subtitle in more recent releases, it was originally known as “The Silver Case: 25th Ward”.
Also unlike killer7, 25th would be released episodically on flip-phones rather than receiving a console release. This meant that the game could be produced cheaply and quickly in a partnership with Genki Mobile.
Moreover, Suda felt the mobile format would be more receptive to a visual novel, mostly comprised of text, which would naturally not include many gameplay elements.
Suda would act as director and as the writer of the game’s main scenario, Correctness, and Masahi Ooka was once again the writer for the Placebo arc. A third story arc, Matchmaker, was added at the request of Grasshopper employee Masahiro Yuki, who specifically wanted to write a scenario in the setting of The Silver Case. Takashi Miyamoto returned as character designer and main artist for the Correctness arc, this time employing a black-and-white palette both in order to differentiate 25th from the original, and because it would better fit the mobile format. Masateru Ikeda (Twitter) also came back to provide the art for Placebo, while newcomer Kazuyuki Yokoshima did the same for Matchmaker. Masafumi Takada composed the soundtrack.
The usual programmers were this time replaced by Nobutaka Ichiki, a newcomer to the industry, presumably due to their inexperience in developing on phones or because of their other projects within GhM. The Film Window style was replicated as much as it could be on a mobile phone; however, due to the obvious limitations, the mixed-media presentation typical of the Kill the Past series could not be realized.
Much like its predecessor, The 25th Ward is a hardboiled, noir detective story. Set six years after the original Silver Case, it deals with the brewing war between the 25th Ward Heinous Crimes Unit, populated by a whole new cast of characters, and the Regional Adjustment Bureau, the hidden administrators of the 25th Ward operating in the shadow of the postal service, as the awakening of Kamui Uehara threatens to destroy the balance of the new urban area. The journalist Tokio Morishima, star of the Placebo arc, is once again caught in the middle of a conspiracy.
On September 20th, a free demo for the game was released on DoCoMo, while official distribution began on October the 3rd with the release of the first Correctness and Matchmaker chapters for FOMA 900/901 model phones. By January 2006, support was extended to Vodafone.
Due to the contract expiring, distribution on the game ceased in February 2007. In April of that same year, Suda announced his plans to port The 25th Ward on Nintendo DS, but that version of the game never saw the light of day. Distribution of the mobile version resumed in December through the Adventure Portal platform by Livewire, on Yahoo! Keitai and DoCoMo’s i-mode. The final three chapters of the game (the fifth ones in each arc) were released in April 2008. March 2009 saw the release of a higher-resolution version of the first Correctness chapter, possibly based on the unreleased Nintendo DS version, though I’m not sure if the same is true of the other episodes; Distribution was ultimately halted in May of 2011.
03/10/2005 – Correctness 1 / Matchmaker 1
17/10/2005 – Placebo 1
07/11/2005 – Correctness 2
05/12/2005 – Matchmaker 2
16/01/2006 – Placebo 2
01/02/2006 – Correctness 3
01/03/2006 – Matchmaker 3
03/04/2006 – Placebo 3
01/06/2006 – Transmitter (Correctness 4)
19/06/2006 – Matchmaker 4
03/07/2006 – Placebo 4
28/04/2008 – Correctness 5 / Matchmaker 5 / Placebo 5
With fifteen chapters released, the game was considered complete by Suda, with rumors of an unreleased sixth Correctness chapter being based on the fact that the content originally meant for said episode was instead rolled into the fifth. However, while the storylines of Matchmaker and Placebo did receive some form of closure, Electride, Correctness’ finale, left the story wide open for a sequel, ending on a cliffhanger.
At this point it became impossible to purchase The 25th Ward; in fact, the original mobile version is now considered lost media, existing only in the form of screenshots and asset rips, which Searcher has conveniently archived for us.
Following the HD re-release of The Silver Case, a remake of The 25th Ward was announced in May 2017 at BitSummit. As reported by Twitter user Steelballrunner, the mobile version of the game was actually upscaled and made playable on DoCoMo smartphones and desktop PCs at the event; this version of the game, however, was never publicized or released outside of said event.
The remake was ultimately released worldwide in March 2018 on Playstation 4 and Windows PCs, with its Japanese version being bundled with The Silver Case. While it did utilize the original artwork and script from the mobile version, everything else about the game was brand new, with three-dimensional explorable environments, a new UI, animated backgrounds in line with those of The Silver and a re-arranged soundtrack by Akira Yamaoka, Tomohisa Kuramitsu and Erika Ito, with Masafumi Takada returning to provide a few additional tracks. Nobutaka Ichiki, the original programmer, directed the port, and Jun Fukuda (who, unlike Takada, is still employed by GhM) handled the sound design.
Four new chapters were produced for this new version of the game, with three of them belonging to the Correctness arc and the fourth one to Placebo. Much like The Silver, these new chapters served the purpose of reinforcing the connections between Suda’s other titles. #00 Prototype (which, in the original mobile release, simply referred to the demo) is a recap of The Silver from the perspective of Tokio Morishima; #06 Whiteout also connects back to The Silver, while #07 Blackout opens to the rest of Grasshopper’s catalog and to future projects, namely Travis Strikes Again. *06 YUKI, Placebo’s final chapter, instead hearkens back to Moonlight Syndrome, two full decades after its initial release.
The 2425 bundle was later released for Nintendo Switch in February 2021; A manga adaptation of the short story Red, Blue and Green, originally published on the Suda51 Official Complete Book, was printed for the occasion and included in the Limited Edition copies of the game. The story, once again, serves the purpose of connecting The 25th Ward to Suda’s larger body of work: In this case, it teased events from the then-upcoming No More Heroes III while referencing both Killer7 and Let it Die.