Go! Go! Nippon! My First Trip To Japan
Developer: Overdrive | Publisher: MangaGamer |Release Date: 2011 | Genre: Visual Novel | Website: Official MangaGamer Website | Format: CD-ROM, Digital Download
As an avid fan of Japan, the protagonist of Go! Go! Nippon! (whom you can name yourself) has even learned the language in preparation for his first trip to the land of the rising sun. He has even befriended two Japanese guys, Makoto and Akira, over the Internet. These two invite him to stay over at their place for the week of his visit, with the offer of showing him around town.
In typical visual novel tradition, Makoto and Akira turn out to be two cute sisters whose parents are away on business for the week. While this might sound like the start of an eroge title, Go! Go! Nippon! is more of a tourist simulator than anything else. Billing itself as the first game produced exclusively for overseas players, the game takes you on a tour of the famous sights and sounds of Japan. Of course, there is nothing here you can’t get from a guidebook or the Internet but at least you have two cute Japanese sisters showing you around in the game.
At the start of the game you can set the exchange rate which then shows you how much money you are spending on your trip. This is a cool feature but I guess the cost might be inaccurate as time goes by and prices increase. You also get to choose which location you want to visit each day, which will determine which sister guides you there.
Since you can choose between Asakusa, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Ginza, Shibuya and Shinjuku, you will obviously not be able to see everything during one trip. This gives the game some much needed replay value as there are two endings as well.
The visuals are pretty basic, consisting of the usual 2D character sprites and static backgrounds. Many of the backgrounds are also recycled from a previous Overdrive game, Kira Kira which is a bit cheap. The train trip animation that is shown as you make your way between locations also looks a bit low budget. What I did like is the artwork at the locations, which is quite nicely done. There is even a “Show Photo” button which opens your browser and displays a Google street view photo of your location in the game. The depictions in the game match these pretty closely so I guess the Google photos were used as reference. I actually found myself “exploring” the areas using the Google Maps street view which is something that you cannot actually do with the game itself. In order to use this feature, you obviously need an Internet connection.
The character designs are descent albeit a little clichéd. You have one typically kindhearted sister while the other conforms to the tsundere stereotype. The lead character has that creepy no eyes look favored by visual novels. It is a pity that there are only two character sprites as often the game describes other interesting people but do not show them. The lead character is apparently fluid in Japanese so this is the language in which most conversations take place. Fear not as the English text is shown directly below the Japanese text with the color of the words denoting who is speaking. The dialogue is a bit clichéd but I spotted no obvious spelling or grammar errors. The audio once again features music that is recycled from other Overdrive games but if you have never played any of them this shouldn’t be an issue. There is no voice acting for any of the characters either.
Go! Go! Nippon! offers some interesting historical lesson and fascinating facts for anyone that is interested in Japanese culture. Unlike most visual novels, the game is suitable for all ages although there are one or two PG13 scenes which have been shoehorned in for fan service I guess. It is a good stepping stone for those who are interested in the genre but want to start off with something simple and interesting. While it is not a substitute for a proper guide book, Go! Go! Nippon! My First Trip To Japan is an entertaining title with interesting locations and a lighthearted story.