Among many secrets from the nostalgic summer of 1975, a recently purchased EnterBrain! Guidebook for Boku No Natsuyasumi has satisfied my craving curiosity regarding one of the most solemn moments of each passing day inside the game: family meals. As vital as sleep, eating is a part of the game which is obligatory and supersedes exploration or childish affairs like bug collection or flying kites. When the time comes, no matter how distanced from the house the boy might be, the loving uncle always appears to remind the young soul that the rest of the family is sitting by the table. Expressing their gratitude before and after the meal, these table gatherings also mark the passages of the day; breakfast introducing the morning; lunch nearing to the afternoon; and dinner revealing the starry skies of the quiet evening.
The following is a brief two-page explanation of the delicacies that can be found over that dinning table; the delightful Aunty recipes that seem to make the young boy so contented, as well as renew the player’s own appetite. My thanks to the great Sorrel Tilley for his exceptional translation.
There are numerous reasons why the Boku no Natsuyasumi series (on its way to a sixth release, in a total of four original installments created so far) could hardly be distributed in international markets: of all these, the cultural barrier is merely the first of several hindrances. Together with the difficulty implied by the translation of the dialogues, filled with nuances that are unique to the Japanese language, there is also a sharp distinction between the conception of videogame as seen from the western player’s viewpoint and the unusual hindsight that Millenium Kitchen has employed in each of their creations - deprived of all the superfluous devices and artifacts that are already considered essential by a wide majority of international gamers. Even in Japan, the company subsists only with the aid of a zealous niche of dedicated players who elevated their products to the status of true commercial triumphs - often earning the right to “Best Of” editions and the merry prospect that a new project is economically feasible.
Following the example of their first PSP conversion, consisting of the series’ initial dating back from 1999, Kaz Ayabe and his remarkable studio are now bringing the second episode - originally released on the PlayStation 2 - to a renewed hand-held version announced for this summer. Despite the eventual difficulties that may have prevented many from importing the original PS2 version, the lack of region protections on the PSP will certainly open the road for all those who wish to experience, first-hand, the delightful minutiae presented in this first of Boku no Natsuyasumi sequels. According to information sources, the studio will increase the number of insects available to catch (the bug collection being an essential part of the My Summer Holiday experience); as well as other moderate improvements that might provide new reasons to revisit this timeless tale of nostalgia, childhood innocence and the purity of the country life in the heart of rural Japan.
The video above was recorded from the original PS2 version and reflects the first half hour of the game: here, the boy becomes acquainted with the family house and surrounding region where he will spend the next and most memorable summer month of his entire life. Seldom have I felt such passion for a videogame: in fact, these titles are worthy of many more compliments than those I’ll ever be able to pay.
Route 24, the young studio founded by Kenichi Nishi (of Squaresoft, Love.de.Lic and Skip game studio fame) has recently announced a new project under the suggestive title “Followars”, designed solely for the iPad. As described on the brief press release made available by the studio earlier this week, the idea behind the game is based entirely on Internet social networks - namely Twitter - and its user stats. Working as a battle Role Playing Game, users are allowed to play a local 2-player match - for which purpose the screen is divided into two portions - go on line in solo mode or together with friends, battling their way to the top. However, instead of the acquired attributes that are usually associated with MMORPG player-versus-player entertainment, it is the number of friends and followers that will become crucial in determining the outcome of these confrontations - as hinted by the simple yet brilliant “Follower” and “Wars” portmanteau. Members from the friends list can also be summoned into battle at any moment if the player opts to call for help.
As mentioned by the time when Newtonica was first presented, Nishi has a great admiration for Apple products (a passion he shares with one of his best friends, Kenji Eno). Given the great success of these new platforms in today’s market, the designer and his studio sought to create a simple application that can be easily accessed by any iPad owner around the world. In fact, user-friendly and functional have become the staples of Route 24 products, as opposed to the sort advanced videogame culture prerequisites found in his previous cult titles Moon RPG Remix, Lack of Love or Tondemo Crisis. The small press kit also included a few illustrative images where an allusion to medieval RPG-style battles - a reference that is very powerful to this Dragon Quest-loving author - is shown together with the actual interface of the game.
A few months ago, Nishi published an enigmatic post on his Route 24 tumblelog where he shared a picture with the current Tumblr stats - very poor from what could be seen: aside for the self-commiseration exercise, it seems, he was already unveiling his latest work. As will be clear to anyone who has been following him on Twitter and Tumblr, the decision to bestow Followars this unique structure makes perfect sense in light of its creators behaviour the last few months. Often has Kenichi Nishi manifested his utter interest for the emerging phenomenon of social and information sharing networks in which he has been participating actively for the last years, more intensely than ever in the last few months. Bearing this in mind, it is already possible to discern a small hint of critique in this new application since it is solely based on those numeric values that, many theorize, now consist of a substitute for a person’s reputation beyond the frontiers of reality and in the domains of our digital existence. Followars stands as truly bold concept that is willing to take that step further in relation to all other existing games and applications on portable devices. More information to come soon.