Mineko’s Night Market Review
It’s certainly been a long wait for the market shoppers. Almost eight years ago the indie studio Meowsa (very on-brand) announced their game debut with Mineko’s Night Market. The fans eagerly keeping up with updates for the Japanese-inspired social simulation game had to wait longer than they expected, but it sure amped up the excitement.
Now the Market is here, will the game live up to the high expectations? Will it allow us to immerse ourselves in our Ghibli Studio fantasies through this narrative-driven adventure? Well, like most things in life, it fulfills certain expectations and falls short in other aspects.
What is Mineko’s Night Market?
If you’re just hearing about it, Mineko’s Night Market tells the story of Mineko, a young girl who moves to a small Japanese island named Mt.Fugu with her dad. The Nikko legend says this tiny island used to be a thriving farming paradise. Back when Nikko, previously known as Abe if you played last year’s demo, showed up as the mythical creature that brought good luck to the farmers. Some folks tell stories of him tragically vanishing from the island, while others say he got chased away. The legend changes depending on who’s telling it.
Nonetheless, you will meet this Japanese-inspired folk deity. You’re actually responsible for ensuring its safe return to the island. This involves numerous tasks within the townsfolk and even facing the town’s mysterious “agents”, the Japanese Men in Black.
Mineko’s Night Market pays homage to Japanese culture through a heartwarming tale that intertwines folkloric lore and contemporary social issues. The art, resembling the Emakimono style, combines traditional Japanese elements with a modern digital approach, creating a unique approach to the genre.
What You Can Expect
Your adventure begins as soon as you arrive on the island. Within a day you’ll meet quite a few oddballs and even some hairballs. If you were wondering when you get to see some kitties, do not fret, you will come across more than one around the island. You can also expect genuinely humorous responses from every interaction in the game, which will help you slowly forge relationships with these small-town characters. And when I say slowly, I mean it.
Unfortunately, in this story-driven game, you have to do certain tasks in a specific order to unlock cool stuff and new places. Mess up, like forgetting to buy something at the market when you’re a newbie entrepreneur, and you’re stuck doing the same old arts and crafts. Picking up flowers and hairballs for three days can tire you out, although petting those wild kitties makes up for some of it.
If the repetitiveness of small tasks doesn’t bother you, maybe the limited access to different areas will. Despite the map expanding as you complete tasks, you only get a few bus rides each day to explore. You’ll burn through your whole day in just two bus trips, so make sure to plan ahead.
An Arduous Journey
You’ll mostly find easy tasks, though the instructions for getting the most wood or rocks with your tools can be a bit confusing. But don’t worry, a little practice will help you figure it out in no time. Whether you’re picking flowers or chopping trees, gathering materials for your shop should be your top priority when you start your small business.
Eventually, you will collect enough of these to craft some artisanal goodies that can be either gifted or sold at, you guessed it, the Night Market. The mini-games for crafting will vary depending on your materials; making bouquets will be relatively easier than sewing a J-Pop idol body pillow. All that hard work will be worth it once you continue to grow your little business and help restore the prosperity of Mt. Fugu Island.
Mineko’s Night Market has finally arrived. It lives up to everyone’s expectations, despite its limitations. It serves as a visually stunning tribute to Japanese folklore and culture, while also providing a humorous social simulation. And it’s a dream for those who have longed for a healthy and heartwarming relationship with your dad.
***A Steam key was provided by the publisher***
- Original art style
- Entertaining dialogue
- Creative story
- Limited mobility
- Repetitive tasks