Have you been planning a trip to Japan recently but have had no idea where to begin? Go! Go! Nippon! 2015 is the Japanese Visual Novel designed to help you with your Japanese trip planning by putting you through the story of a character traveling to Japan while staying with a couple of sisters. As the follow-up to the previous game, Go! Go! Nippon, it features updated graphics and features, such as the E-Mote system, which give the game a bit more life. The story is largely similar, however. This particular Visual Novel has no swearing, suggestive nudity, or sex-scenes, making it ideal for gamers of all ages.
The story begins with the main character arriving at the Narita Airport just outside of Tokyo. There, he believes that he will be meeting up with two Japanese men named Makoto and Akira that he is meant to be spending his trip staying with at their house. However, things soon turn out a little unexpectedly when he is greeted by two girls. It turns out that these girls are actually Makoto and Akira, and as the player character, you will be living at their place while in Japan.
Go! Go! Nippon! 2015’s story is very light, with the focus being more on the game being a light taste of touring Japan, rather than on being some intricate drama. However, this isn’t to say that there isn’t a story. There is one. And it can hit on a few of the feels. For example, there is a romance subplot involving the characters, and if anyone has been in a long distance relationship (like I have) that feeling of leaving a loved on behind… -sniff-. If not, it’s okay, because you’ll probably grow attached to the characters as you play, so– you too– can feel your heart become torn.
The gameplay in Go! Go! Nippon! 2015 is similar to a regular visual novel. However, where the differences lay is that instead of making dialogue choice decisions, or simply reading from beginning to end with no input, the player chooses which parts of Japan to visit on their trip. Each location serves as a small preview of that particular area in Japan and highlights some of the attractions that players might want to see if they actually take a trip over there.
At the start of the game, players will be asked to enter in their name and the current exchange rate to Japanese Yen (JPY) in comparison to their own currency. So if you Google these beforehand, you can work out roughly how much you’ll end up spending on your trip to Japan depending on if you stick to what you did in your route. I’d advise that you take more than the amount the game says you’ll need while visiting, probably at least double or triple, just to be safe.
While visiting an area, one of the girls will accompany you on your journey and act as a tour guide. Mostly, visiting an area will be about explaining the area and what’s interesting to see according to the developers. However, each are also has a kind of story to it to make it more interesting to the player. The best part about the tour though, is that it’s Google Maps integrated, which means that you can click on a button that will show you Google Maps previews of each location. What’s really striking is how detailed the artwork is in relaying the actual location while still retaining an anime-esque look to it.
As this is a visual-novel style game, players will be doing a lot of reading to get through the story. What’s cool is that there is a kind of live translation feature added into the game, which is with English primary text and Japanese secondary text by default. What’s not obvious is that in the options you can switch these languages around so that you can better learn how to speak Japanese, or better learn how to write in Japanese. Unfortunately, you can’t have English, Japanese and Romanji open at the same time, which is something I found a little odd.
The textbox has your standard VN features in it though, such as a fast-forward function, an auto function and a skip function. What’s a bit odd with the auto function is that it continues to play while you have the options menu open. What is kind of a letdown is that it’s lacking in what most modern Visual Novels have, which is a fully voiced story. Personally, I think that having voice acting could have improved the educational aspect of the game, as well as giving it a more lively feel if you’re sitting back with auto-mode playing through. Not having the voice acting isn’t a deal-breaker by any stretch, but it’s something that I think could improve things for learners. Especially considering some Japanese phonetics can be a little strange at first.
The new Emote system does some amazing things with the games updated artwork. The characters now have this kind of 2.5D feel to them which looks amazing. Even more, I was really a fan of the artwork in general, especially when it came to the characters. As per visual novel standards, you’ll mostly be looking at these 2.5D cutouts as they talk, but there are also some unlockable scenes by playing through certain routes that are more traditional pieces of artwork. I was really impressed by the amount of detail put into this game. And, as previously talked about, the backgrounds are incredibly accurate to their actual locations. It’s pretty good stuff visually.
Overall, I was very impressed with Go! Go! Nippon! 2015. I wasn’t expecting such a well-built and well-designed experience. Aside from the lack of voice acting, the extra effort put into other areas really polishes this story to the best that it can be. Also, them feels.
Go! Go! Nippon! 2015 is developer by OVERDRIVE and published by MangaGamer. You can purchase it on their site as the 2015 edition for ~$8, or in a bundle with the original for ~$15. The bundle also comes with Steam Keys. This review is based on the bundle version as supplied by MangaGamer for the purposes for review.