macholucha's Go! Go! Nippon! ~My First Trip to Japan~ (PC) review

Learn About Japan, Life, Love... And Creepy Otaku...

Ever felt like watching anime isn’t enough insight to what it’s actually like to visit Japan? Well enter your name, step into the shoes of the ultimate otaku stereotype and experience what it’s like to trick two young girls into letting you stay with them while you take in the sights of Japan.

The story revolves around spending a week in Japan and selecting one of several areas available to go visit. One of the girls you stay with will escort you to the area to narrate information about the location and sometimes get up to “wacky” escapades while there. While I can concede I didn’t know a lot of the stuff that was brought up, for me personally It was met with an “oh~” or “huh…”. Maybe the writers thought this was all way more interesting that I did or I’m just emotionally repressed (I am English afterall), but the protagonist takes any small piece of information and exclaims that it’s the most amazing thing he’s ever heard… Usually followed by a variation on “Only in Japan…”. This and the awkward dating sim parts really let the game down, because while funny the first few times, it permeates every day of the game and just becomes tiresome. Whether the writers honestly thought all tourists are like this, either through imagination or personal experience (fanboys *can* be creepy), I got really bored of reading it.

One of the neat touches in the game is that the dialogue prints out in japanese as well as english, so if you're learning the language you can follow along without having to manually switch between languages, or use a translation program. If aimed at people actually interested in learning the language or after ideas for places to visit during a trip, then the game actually does a pretty good job at achieving its goal. Sadly, the seedy, awkward dating sim side story going on that really detracts from that and seems to overtake the guide aspect as the focal point.

At first I didn't even actually believe this was going to have a dating aspect to it. Aside from the protagonist being creepy enough to send any sane girl fleeing in terror, it just doesn't really feel like the romance takes a natural progression. The whole premise of the game is that he's there just to take in the sights and be a humble little tourist, but after a few days he starts inner monologues about which sister he prefers and "choosing" between them (because that's how true love works). This gives the game a really sinister vibe to it; that he’s there under false pretences to try and get together with one of the girls.

Visual novels pretty much live and die by the quality of their story and/or characters, and on this front Go! Go! Nippon! is either going to bring mirth or migraines. The protagonist is established at the typical otaku right from the get go, completely at awe at everything Japan has to offer, including its toilets. The two girls have a few instances that make them tolerable, but their fawning over this abomination of a person cancels any of that out. Why they don’t throw him out onto the streets when he “accidentally” walks in on them in various states of undress really irked me.

Yes, the game goes there, complete with fan service.

The game doesn’t really push any boundaries in the world of visual novels; it’s a standard character portraits and text boxes affair, and the background images aren’t exactly awe inspiring. It does keep track of the amount of money spent during the trip, though I never worked out why, money isn’t a finite resource in the game and doesn’t seem to influence any of the activities. Each day you get to choose which location you visit, and depending on where it is will influence which of the girls accompanies you. This in turn seems to affect the dating sim aspect; in that the girl you spent the most time with is the girl that’d like you. Outside of that, while you do get dialogue options you have very little influence on the story.

Maybe the game is intended to be tongue-in-cheek, certainly at times it seems that way, but similarly at other times it felt like it was to be taken deadly seriously. It's a goofy little game that doesn't really tell the most fascinating story (you can pretty much guess what the entire game's going to be after the opening scene), and in terms of player interaction, it's pretty limited. I did have some fun with it, even if it was just seeing what holes the main character would dig himself into and how completely dumbfounded he seemed to be by the world at large.

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