Monday, August 29, 2011

Fun Japanese on-the-go gaming

As with many expats who return from a stint abroad, I'm kind of fighting to retain as much of the language as I can. I've written before about how studying a language should be fun, an opinion I've encountered on plenty of other J-blogs. While I find reading enjoyable, it can be too much effort after a long day to sit down and read a book in Japanese when I just want to unwind. Movies and TV shows are good, but I don't have a stock readily available and I'm quite picky. So I've been using games when I can. I wrote a while ago about Radiant Historia, which I'm still inching along in. Good game, just too many cutscenes with a ton of dialogue.

I also wrote some time ago about a little game for the iPhone/ iPod Touch called Game Dev Story. Game Dev Story is a little sim game in which you take on the role of the owner of a startup video game development company.

I remember another title, Hot Springs Story (or ゆけむり温泉郷), also being available a few months ago, but I didn't download it until recently. Hot Springs Story is a bit different from Kairosoft's previous title. As might imagine, you have to manage an onsen in this game, but now you have no control over any of the people. Instead you choose which demographics to market to, what to research, and how you want to physically build your establishment.

It looks like Kairosoft (or whoever does their localization) has been busy. I just checked in again on the iTunes store a couple of weeks ago and discovered a new game availabe: Pocket Academy. In this one you must successfully manage a prestigious senior high school. It's somewhat of a mix of the other two titles in that you build the campus but also can choose which teachers to hire. Once you do, however, they act autonomously, as do your students. One of the fun parts of this game is that you can decide to use various kinds of research points to either unlock new types of rooms and structures, level up teachers, or teach special classes to build up students' grades. You can also make and gain items to influence students' behavior by increasing their stats, persuading them to join a club, or advising them to pursue a particular career path.

As you can see, the Japanese title is 名門ポケット学院2, so I guess this must be a sequel. It looks like Kairosoft has a plethora of games out in Japan for normal cell phones, so it's no wonder.

The only complaint I have is that after a while the games just tend to slip into repetitiveness. Although there is a set period during which you can try to achieve a high score (meaningless to me), there are scripted events that are independent of this. Some events are triggered by things you do, though, and while that can be quite fun, it can also lead to periods where you're unsure if you've done everything there is to do or if you've missed something. There are no proper endings that I've seen.

All in all, these games are a good bit of fun, and if you like sim games they will probably keep you entertained for at least a few days. On top of that, they come with both English and Japanese versions, so you can play either one depending on your iPhone's settings. Definitely worth it in my book.

Update: Haf also mentioned in the comments section that a couple of these games if not all of them are also available on the Android. Excellent!

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