MangaGamer’s first appearance on Steam is a pretty big deal for those of us that enjoy visual novels. MangaGamer has been one of the biggest localization companies in the genre for the past few years, but they’ve always had one big issue that has been holding them back. They distribute erotic games as well as all-ages novels. For many companies, localizing or developing any Adults Only game black-balled you out of the discussion with major distributors.
Fortunately, MangaGamer was able to be successful with their products in spite of this (or maybe because they dared to localize something risqué). With Steam Greenlight, that all changed, and now they’ve put their first Teen rated title up on Steam and it’s geared towards westerners. Let’s see how their localization of Overdrive’s Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~ fares.
What Overdrive crafted was a guided tour of Japan mixed with a dating sim, which explains the targeted demographic for this game. If you aren’t interested at all in Japanese culture or visual novels, this will likely be a hard sell for you. What we are given here is an insider’s guide into Japanese destinations as you spend a week touring the city with two sisters you met online. You’ll learn about Japanese landmarks, customs, and terms through a dual dialog system that if you were interested in enough, could help you with an Intro to Japanese 101 class.
What the game does fairly well is create a warm and inviting discussion between your guides Makoto and Akira that doesn’t seem to ever wear you down.
You’ll be able to visit nine famous sites around Japan including the Akihabara district, city of Kyoto, and city of Yokohama. In each district, you will visit local landmarks and nervously flirt with your female guides. One of the more interesting aspects is that you’ll be able to click a “Show Photo” image each time you visit an area that will open up your browser to the Google Maps version of your location. In doing so, you will be able to put some reality together with what you are being shown. Having an option to open up a map to explore is a really great addition that works together with the information to bring you closer to the Japanese landmarks you are being presented with.
Since seeing all of Japan in one week would be ridiculous to do, the game goes out of the way to split the trip between the two tour guides. Since we are still dealing with a dating sim, areas with more adult themes are geared towards the elder sister Makoto, while places with younger cultural intrigue are shown by Akira. It is a really great dynamic to pair with the two girls and it works well to showcase the city with the appropriate person.
What Go! Go! Nippon turns into is a visual novel for people that need to be introduced to dating sims. There are no grand concepts playing out here. The game isn’t even all that long. It is a simple visual novel with a good idea. Since it is a lower budgeted title, the background art unfortunately takes a bit of a dip sometimes when it isn’t focusing on the ladies, but the game overall was a interesting experience for me as somebody that has been curious about Japan and Japanese culture for years now.
In a few hours, I took a trip to Japan and fell in love with a girl and the country she lived in. That certainly beats a Japanese guidebook any day.
[+Interesting Look at Japan] [+Solid Writing] [+Replayable] [-Art Quality is Uneven]