Strange Japanese Game Whose Name WordPress Won’t Let Me Put in the Title

Today’s game is called 一>◇.  No seriously, that’s the name.  一>◇.  It’s a name that search engines and headers will not put up with, so for the purposes of today’s review, I’ll be calling this game the Strange Japanese Game.  Not that anyone would actually want to Google it or see it on YouTube.  It kind of sucks.  Which is a shame because the concept is original and quirky, but a horrible control scheme fails the vision.

Strange Japanese Game is a God Game where you play a giant green hand.  There’s little sentient beans walking around, reminiscent of Pikmin.  They even grow little spouts on their head.  When they have a sprout, you can poke them into the ground.  Then, you grab a handful of water from the lake that is the main focal point of the game’s challenge and dump it on the sprout.  The sprout then grows into a tree.  You can flick the tree with your finger to knock more Pikmin-like-things out of it, but ultimately you want to masturbate the tree (I’m not joking) to shape it into a spaceship.  Once you’ve beaten your bush into the shape of a shuttle, you have to load it with the Pikmin-like-things.  Doing this will make the ship blast off, scoring points.  The object of the game is to score as many points as you can.

After beating your bush, the tree becomes a rocket that blasts off in a shaft of fire and two black balls of smoke.  Sickening thought: someone, somewhere is getting horny thinking about this.

After beating your bush, the tree becomes a rocket that blasts off in a shaft of fire and two black balls of smoke. Sickening thought: someone, somewhere is getting horny thinking about this.

First off, props to the developers for taking the God genre and trying to make a quick actiony arcade game out of it.  That took a creative spark and balls, and I appreciate that.  Having said that: why on Green Skinned God’s blue Earth did they map every action to the X button?  The Xbox controller has four face buttons (six if count the clickable analog sticks) and four shoulder buttons.  Strange Japanese Game only uses ten percent of the total available buttons, but the actions performed are very different from one another and possibly consequential.  For example, flicking.  You have to move the hand and press X to flick.  If you stop moving and press X, it becomes grab instead.  Except there’s a problem: there’s a slight delay in the game recognizing that you’ve stopped moving, even if you release the stick.  Thus, there were times when I let go up the stick and pressed X in an attempt to grab a not-a-Pikmin and instead flicked it into the water, killing it.  This isn’t the fucking Atari 2600.  Why couldn’t grab had been one of the different available buttons?

There’s also no way to separate the little not-a-Pikmins from each-other.  When they bunch up, even an action as simple as planting one in the ground can likely result in killing ones next to it.  This gets really frustrating when the creatures turn evil if you let them sit around too long (perhaps they ate something after midnight when I wasn’t looking) and start to attack the good ones.  If you let THOSE linger too long, they become tentacles (it’s Japanese, OF COURSE they become tentacles).  In order to prevent that, you need to flick the critters into the water.  Of course, that typically will result in killing a bunch of innocents.  Really, imprecision is Strange Japanese Game’s biggest sin.  If you grab a handful of not-a-Pikmins to drop them in the spaceship, it’s hard to line it up in such a way where all of them fall into the ship.  Any that don’t die upon hitting the ground, even though they fall the same distance and land safely when you knock them out of the trees you grow.

For all I know, there's more mechanics to the game that I didn't find out. 一>◇ has NO instructions in-game.

For all I know, there’s more mechanics to the game that I didn’t find out. 一>◇ has NO instructions in-game.

There’s a really cool and quirky concept at play here.  Again, an arcadey God game?  Madness!  But the slow pace, awful play control, and imprecision of the action kills all potential it had.  I truly do feel that the groundwork for something fun and addictive has been laid with this strange Japanese game.  With fine-tuning to the controls and something added to the gameplay that would speed up the pace, I think this could be a sleeper hit.  Maybe.  I should probably note that all the gameplay mechanics above are left up to the player to figure out on their own.  There are no instructions in the game, and no on-screen indicators of what to do or how to do it.  The only instructions are found on the game’s marketplace page, and in Japanese.  I’m a fan of quirk, but being quirky doesn’t have to mean leaving a player to figure out stuff on their own.  Then again, this is a game that involves jerking off trees.  I imagine writing instructions for such things is a crime in many countries.

xboxboxart一>◇ was developed by Hitmark Brothers

$1 was warned by their father that if they kept doing that, their hand would turn green in the making of this review.

Seriously: horrible name for a game.  Horrible.  If the game had been good, the name would have doomed it.  It’s a game whose title cannot be spread by word of mouth.  Sigh. 

 

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