Shin chan: Me and the professor on summer vacation -The Endless Seven-Day Journey- Review (Switch)

Captured on Nintendo Switch (portable / off-hook)

If “Kureshin × Bokunatsu” a) makes sense and b) sounds interesting to you, and if c) you haven’t already bought this game in the year it was released in Japan, then we can keep this nice and rigorous review – buy this game! For those not residing in that modest core of the Venn diagram, let’s see if you moved there by the end of the page.

So let’s start with the “making sense” part. “Kureshin” is the Japanese abbreviated name for Pastel Shin-chan, a manga series and an anime sitcom about a Japanese family of two children and a dog, centered on Shinnossuke (Shin-chan), their five-year-old naughty. It’s been running since 1990 and uses a distinctly flaky art style, a long way from the wet-eyed haircuts that grimace against the strobing parallax that some exported anime bring to mind. Shin-chan spends her time infuriating her parents, provoking arguments, throwing herself into insane pretenses, repenting and making peace, in an orderly cycle of boisterous hyperactivity and happy sentimentality.

“Bokunatsu”, meanwhile, is short for Boku no Natsuyasumi – My summer vacation – a series of games that started on PlayStation in 2000 about a boy who spends a month of summer days in the Japanese countryside, exploring, chasing bugs, fishing, dining and taking a bath, and generally letting his imagination find adventure in a place with nothing too exciting to do. Although Shin chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation -The Endless Seven-Day Journey- is not a Bokunatsu game, it is developed by Millenium Kitchen, the creators of the original.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (docked)

Here’s what’s going on here: Shin-chan and her slightly crazy world have exploded onto the scene in a small farming village in Kumamoto. Shinnosuke finds errands to run for pocket money and has unlimited free time between meals to explore the dusty streets and verdant river banks as cicadas’ songs roll around him.

When the Nohara family first arrives at Kumamoto Station, they are approached by a quirky professor, who gives them a special camera that Shinnosuke uses to keep a scrapbook of his living room. You don’t use the camera as a player, but all of your key adventures and discoveries, including new fish and insects you’ve caught, are automatically snapped and added to your journal. This journal becomes the central structural element of Shin-chan’s holiday story. Every day he shows his latest entries to a newspaper publisher, who evaluates them for the press. Providing the content of these articles becomes the game’s main advancement point, as increasing paper subscriptions enough will win five-year-old Shin-chan a date with Yoshiko, the beautiful college student who is doing an internship at the paper (a Shin-chan – characteristic romantic aspiration).

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (portable / off-hook)

The action of the game is to have your little boy run around beautiful hand-painted scenes, presented as puzzling vistas, intimate family rooms, dirty tracks and so on, all connected by enticing paths that lead to imagined wonders right behind the door. next corner. Simple button presses will harvest vegetables and herbs for the restaurant you are in, fish, water crops, battle figurines, swing your butterfly net against creatures and so on. The feel is generally good, but with a couple of minor drawbacks. It can be nearly impossible to discern, for example, whether an insect is in front of or behind Shin-chan from the camera’s perspective. This leads to a lot of unsuccessful network hiss. If this were a time attack, it would be maddening, but as it’s a relaxing vacation for a preschooler, we just did a few more hisses and thought it was fine.

Another small sore point is that switching between a fixed camera angle as you move between scenes can cause you to run in the wrong direction – it’s the same problem Resident Evil faced a long time ago. The Endless Seven-Day Vacation provides “tank” controls on the D-pad to solve this, but also maintains free analog movement on the left stick. In practice, we appreciated having both on hand, even if it doesn’t seem like a clear and orderly solution to the matter.

There is also a trade-off between playability in favor of atmosphere when Shinnosuke is reduced to a dot the size of an ant in the scenery, seen from afar in the air, where the lights of the village create beautiful constellations and the streets and tracks intertwined and bridges and rivers, dissolving into the night, host the sounds of the lapping of water and the chirping of insect life. It’s a little tricky to get around and locating plants, insects and especially fish is a bit tricky to say the least. But, again, we are not under pressure here, so it is justified to prioritize the charming rural atmosphere.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (docked)

What we still have to mention, however, is that there is a surprise up the sleeve of The Endless Seven-Day Journey. After getting you ready for this perfect fantasy vacation with nothing to do, the game throws a curveball. Being Crayon Shin-chan, the “bizarre” is absolutely on the table, and that is how things go with the bizarre professor returning a few days later. Without revealing much, Boku no Natsuyasumi’s ordinary escapism becomes the backdrop for whimsical children’s fantasies. The peaceful pace and low pressure gameplay are absolutely intact, but we just found ourselves with a much more concrete and focused storyline than before.

This is a smart twist on the Bokunatsu concept, and Millenium Kitchen did it exceptionally well. There’s a big difference between Bokunatsu’s typical disposition of not doing much for a month but your life has changed unforgettably and the sitcom’s rules of rocking out as much as you want, provided that eventually everything gets back to normal. One could argue that the ending here makes a bit of a loophole to square that circle, but somehow it all clicks. The days are peaceful, the sun shines and sets gloriously, and there is no worry in the world, but there is also a mad scientist trying to take over the Earth. It shouldn’t be possible, but it is.

From a presentation standpoint, The Endless Seven-Day Journey is first class. The painted backdrops speak for themselves, but the cel-shaded 3D models deserve a mention. Shin-chan is drawn in a style that seems impossible to do in 3D, but was made using multiple character models and flipping through them as the position changes relative to the camera. The result is perfectly convincing and seems like another small miracle. Music and sound design generally meet the same high standards: much of the music tends more to the extravagance of the anime than to the cold of the countryside, the latter better covered by the evocative sounds of nature. The voice acting is great, it sounds just like the cartoon. It is not voiced in everything, but there is a lot of it, all in Japanese. (However, there is no Japanese text option in this version if you want to read together.)

Conclusion

In addition to merging two classic Japanese IPs together, Shin chan: The Endless Seven-Day Journey brings together some rather contradictory concepts and offers something special. You have the simple, directionless adventures of a child’s curiosity on a country vacation, but they are suddenly interrupted by a strictly direct (and completely absurd) storyline. The sitcom’s wacky energy quickly becomes the thrust and purpose in a game that could have been just a healthy meander-em-up. So there is the relaxing magic of endless days running around the fields and seeing only what captures the imagination, but also a heavy beef to interpret a story from end to end, packing the endless summer into intense and dynamic 15-20 hours . Knowing now what Kureshin and Bokunatsu are, if you think you like the idea of ​​mixing the two, this game is very easy to recommend.

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