Saturday, February 14, 2015

Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~ Review


One part of Japan I can't comment on as I've only been to Tokyo... and Okinawa

  • Developer: OVERDRIVE
  • Publisher: MangaGamer
  • Release Date: 30 September 2011
  • Time played: 3 hours

For Valentine's Day, the fellows at Humble Bundle decided that they would have a bundle called "For Lovers (of games)" which features mainly Japanese manga-style games - most of them of the visual novel format. The reason why most of them are probably applicable for Valentine's Day is the fact visual novels are usually dating simulators too - i.e. you play the role of some guy or girl who goes about their daily business meeting several potential girlfriends/boyfriends along the way - eventually settling on one by the end of the game. While all of them have an element of this, most games in this bundle seem to at least try and break the mould (with the exception of Roommates). Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~ is one of them despite the very Japanese-sounding name.

I don't know if it's because I played a few of these visual novels as a kid, I'm a hopeless romantic or I'm just a fan of the genre in general (I like Choose-Your-Own-Adventures after all) but I decided to spend a few bucks to get all the games in the bundle. I didn't have it in me to spend the $35 USD to get the Hatoful Boyfriend pillows though...

Anyway back to Go! Go! Nippon!: this game is apparently still very much a dating simulator but it can be quite educational too for those who have never visited Japan before. As I only visited Japan about a year ago, I thought it would be interesting to see what the game had to say about the country (and even the places I visited) when compared to my own impressions.

Plot (4/5)
In Go! Go! Nippon! you play the role of a foreigner who is visiting Japan for the first time. Most of his knowledge of Japan has been gleaned from anime and manga (which is always a good start) and this actually results in his first mistake as soon as he steps off the plane: he assumes that the housemates he'll be staying with in Japan are guys due to his understanding that Makato and Akira are male names. However, he soon finds out that they're actually unisex names and his hosts are actually two attractive sisters.

The game chronicles your character's short one week trip in Japan as he visits Tokyo and surrounding cities with the two sisters. A romance will develop between your character and one of the sisters during the course of the game. While I found both the characters of Makato and Akira adorable (which I guess is meant to be the point) I was also quite interested in the tours that both of the sisters give as you visit Japan - I'm serious! While anyone could read up about the history of Japan some of the cultural nuances are harder to find. Thankfully, this game does a pretty good job in highlighting a few of them as I found myself agreeing to many of the points mentioned taking into account my very own first trip to Japan.

Gameplay (2/5)
Despite the game advertising the fact you get to be a tourist in Tokyo, this is very much a dating simulator at its core - basically your typical Japanese visual novel. This means there's a lot of reading involved with the occasional moments where you get to choose from a set of options. I believe in this game you'll only come across the ability to choose maybe 4-5 times. So it's not too high on the interactivity stakes.

One interesting aspect of the game which I guess the developer thought would make it more useful as a tourist guide is the fact it allows you to enter the current exchange rate between USD and JPY, or EUR and JPY. It then calculates how much the trip costs overall but unfortunately since you don't really get much choice on the activities, it's limited in its use.

Also, for those who are veterans of dating sim games, you may be disappointed to find out that you don't really have any say when it comes to conversations. All you do is pick where you want to go and that ultimately determines which girl you end up in love with. On the plus side though, it's very simple to basically figure out which girl you'll end up with once you know which parts of Tokyo are spent with either Makato or Akira.

Oh also be warned that there are a couple of instances of "fan service" in the game (e.g. one of the girls being completely naked but with her hair being strategically placed to cover her breasts). It's probably no surprise that the publisher, MangaGamer also sells hentai games on their site but this is very tame in comparison.

Oh God... the toilets!

Sound (4/5)
There isn't much in the way of sound effects so not much to recommend or complain about there, but the default volume is a bit too loud (easily fixed by accessing the sound options menu, which is separate to the main options menu)

Music (3/5)
The game tends to have your typical Japanese-style, visual novel game music which I'm not a big fan of most of the times.

Graphics (4/5)
The graphics seem to be better than other visual novels I've played, at least with respect to bringing the characters of Makato and Akira to life. The backgrounds look good too but there was probably some cheating involved as it looks like they just applied a painting filter on actual photos of landmarks.

Replay (3/5)
There are two girls that you're able to court in the game so there's consequently two different endings to the game (one play-through is short though and will take you only 2 hours). You'll also get a choice of three out of six suburbs in Tokyo to visit as well as picking which restaurants to go eat at which will encourage at least one replay. You're also able to generate Steam Trading Cards for this game - no Steam achievements though

Polish (5/5)
The game has got your typical visual novel interface - so there's a lot of clicking past text boxes involved. It does have the nifty feature of skipping text (until the next decision point, although they're few and far between) as well as scene replays.

Score – 7/10

For the dating sim fans, Go! Go! Nippon! is short, heart-warming and educational and despite having only played it for a couple of hours, I quite enjoyed it. From the little I've seen of Japan, it seems rather accurate in its historical descriptions and cultural observations. It also offers the occasional handy travel tip. Is it worth the $9.99 USD? Probably not. I think $4.95 USD would be a fairer price. Would I recommend this to gamers who aren't into dating sims? Probably not either. It's very much targeted for a niche market and that's Go! Go! Nippon!'s only real drawback.

Go! Go! Nippon ~My First Trip to Japan~ is available from these retailers:

Is the game worth $9.95 USD?: No. A fairer price would be $4.95 USD.

If you like this game, you might like...

[ LINK: MangaGamer store page (contains adult content) ]

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