For most geeks a pilgrimage to the video game/anime Mecca that is Japan would be a dream come true. If you are anything like myself though leaving the house is a big enough ordeal – let alone venturing out to another country. If said anti-social tendencies apply to yourself fear not because visual novel specialists Overdrive have you covered with Go! Go! Nippon! This snazzy game, for all intents and purposes, simulates a trip to Tokyo. Anyone intending to pack their virtual suitcase for this vacation can presently buy the game from Mangagamer or Steam for around seven pounds.
Your lovely tour guides for this digital holiday are Makoto and Akira, two sisters whose place you’ll be staying at during your weeklong break abroad. Akira is the bashful tsundere whilst Makoto is blessed with some great melons, but sadly cannot cook to save her life. Over the course of a single playthrough budding tourists can visit three of the game’s six available locations. Each daily trip will have you accompanied by one of the sisters who will regale you with titbits of historical information pertaining to the sites you are checking out. The sister you spend the most time with will ultimately determine which of Nippon’s two romantic endings you get.
In terms of providing a holidaying experience I was pleasantly surprised by Go! Go! Nippon. The game’s artwork does a commendable job of depicting the touristy sites you visit and the nation’s customs are well explained by both sisters. All of the title’s dialogue is presented both in English and Japanese, which should serve as an invaluable teaching tool for any players who have purchased the game as their love of Japan has motivated them to study the language. One feature that I especially dug was how throughout the story you get frequent pop-ups displaying your on-going expenses. These are calculated in your native currency using the exchange rate you enter when the game first boots up. If playing Go! Go! Nippon ever inspires you to actually visit Japan you’ll have a good idea of the costs associated with travel, dining and attraction admission fees.
My rating for Go! Go! Nippon is four stars out of five. As far as visual novels go both the soundtrack and graphics are of a good standard. I have however heard that some of the featured backgrounds are lifted from other Overdrive releases, which is a little lazy. The game’s script gets a thumbs up from me for being educational and entertaining at the same time. Once the end credits rolled I was more knowledgeable about Japan, but unlike reading a textbook I was never bored as the story is peppered with funny moments (such as an incident were the main character loses their anal virginity to a jet of water in one of Japan’s infamous automated loos.)
Players who watch anime should enjoy the story that is bundled along with the narrative’s sightseeing exploits. The romance angle is rather sweet and thankfully devoid of the pornography associated with other Japanese visual novels. The raunchiest things get are a couple of scenes were the player inadvertently walks in on the gals in various states of undress. Makoto is rather diplomatic about the incident whilst Akira takes a less pacifist approach when reacting to your ogling of her panties.
My only real gripe with Go! Go! Nippon is its length. Your seven-day stint in Japan can be finished in around three hours, which is rather short. That said you’ll probably want to complete the game twice to visit all the locations on offer, as well as unlocking the two available endings. With that in mind the game isn’t bad value for money. Two playthroughs work out as being a pound per hour of entertainment and it is worth noting that the asking price is cheaper than most titles available from the Mangagamer store. Has playing Go! Go! Nippon made me want to abandon my hermit ways and visit Japan? Perhaps, but I am now terrified of using the country’s toilets!