When presented with the title Go! Go! Nippon!, I was initially curious as to its contents because visual novels created by OVERDRIVE (Japanese game developer) tend to have adult material. However, unlike the previous visual novels the developer pushed this title to focus less on the “ero” – erotic – content and more on Japan’s many cultures. Let’s see if that was the proper decision…
For those interested as playing a female lead, let’s face the facts that Japanese visual novels tend to have only one male. And that male is usually the story’s protagonist surrounded by a plethora of young and attractive females. While sticking to the status quo, Go! Go! Nippon! limits the story to two additional characters beyond the male protagonist: Misaki Makoto and Misaki Akira. The girls are siblings and have stark contrasts in behaviors. Makoto presents herself as the “girly-girl” of the family which can be noticed in her daily actions throughout the story. On the other hand, Akira tends to carry most of the responsibilities of the house (cooking meals, structured activities, etc..). Even so the male lead will find it odd that the younger sister carries more of the household responsibilities, and that too will become clear as to why when Makoto tries to cook. Akira will blame you for the results.
While straying away from the “ero” content, the game does well to capture your immediate attention at given points. For instance, when you first arrive in Japan you are looking for two “boys” by the name of Makoto and Akira. While many males in Japan may have those given names, it is not uncommon to see a lot of Japanese names interchanged between male and female. So one could imagine the boy’s shock when finding out that he would be staying with two girls – rather than boys – in a home. Alone… You may have decided to leave out adult themed content, but the “intrigued” player will certainly be enticed.
Romance can occur with either sister as the game progresses. Depending on which girl you have spent the most time with, one sister will become interested in pursuing a romance that affects the remainder of the trip. Beyond spending time with the counterpart, no other personal choices truly affect the outcome of the title leaving one of the girls to be an easy catch.
While visual novels are more well-known as some sort of simulation, Go! Go! Nippon! provides an educational experience that facilitates learning in many facets. Providing Japanese text alongside the English translation may prove valuable for someone learning the language. In addition, many Japanese customary terms are introduced to make the player welcome and part of Japanese culture. Such terms would include sayings like itadakimasu (I gratefully receive) which would be used at the beginning of a meal.
Another way the game provides learning by allowing the player to choose the trip location each day in Japan. Individual trips will customize your experience allowing for you and a companion (Makoto or Akira) to digest Japan’s numerous cultures. On my first day, I decided to make a trip to Ikebukuro which happens to be the 2nd busiest travel destination in Japan. Most people traffic can be observed on Saturdays and Sundays as it is one of the main tourist/shopping locations. Akira was pleasant to have around even though she can at times be shy and socially awkward. Our male character notably had to use the restroom while in one of the busiest districts, so Akira suggested finding a “kobini”. She spoke in regards to convenient stores having bathrooms as Ikebukuro does not have many public restrooms. Even after using the kobini’s restroom, Akira mentioned that a lot of the convenient stores do not allow people to use there bathrooms. So the moral of the story: take care of your business before you leave your home.
When traveling to different locations in Japan, you are able to actively select photos/locations within the game and open the same location in Google Maps. So you not only are taking a tour, but it is essentially a virtual tour of a real world location. This implementation can be extremely useful for someone that is mapping out sites to visit while in Japan. Not too mention how neat it is to see the correlation between drawn graphics and the Google Maps street view.
As the title is geared towards education, I would have thought a more interactive approach would have been administered. For instance after you land and are in the airports with the girls, you receive a pre-paid card that you can load money into – similar to a debit card. As this is a learning situation, I would suggest involving the actual implementation of adding sufficient funds to the card or even simulating the event of scanning your “wallet” when passing the gate. Such events occur frequently in the title and are missed opportunities that could provide extra learning or excitement rather than skimming through text.
Active learning would have also extended the amount of playing time. With a single play through – not completing all destination sites – will take you a few hours to perform. I can understand the completionist effort in going back through to hit all the destination spots or to attain the alternate ending, but there are no more extras to offer. Inclusion of mini-games or puzzles would easily attract a larger crowd and provide more playing time.
I have played several games that do not include voices for characters, but I think cut-scenes or non-educational moments could have benefited more with the implementation of character voice-overs. This offering would have lightened the text-driven dialogue which is constant through the entire game. Music, however, does well to continue the flow of the text-driven dialogue. The use of seemless loops were incorporated to ensure the endless continuation of musical assets.
Imagery was done exceptionally well for a large majority of the title. Whether you are looking at the couple “intriguing” images or actual landmarks depicted, quality is certainly in the delivery. There were moments that I felt new images could have been shown, but text was used instead to describe the encounter of a sumo wrestler as well as a geisha (traditional female entertainer). Other reviewers complained or noted that the girls did not change often enough during your stay, yet I would argue that there are enough facial expressions to overlook the previous fact.
Go! Go! Nippon! has an excellent premise in efforts to teach the cultures that make the country unique. With a great premise and above average storyline, the game will do well in particular venues focusing on anime and travel. That being said I do believe the game could further benefit from the inclusions of active learning or mini-games to provide further player interaction as well as more content to explore. And for having such a short completion duration, I find it difficult to justify a purchase at $9.95 for those not interested in visual novels or traveling to Japan.
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