Monday, August 2, 2010

Boku no natsuyasumi – the final entries

Not actual entries, but pictures which I achieved in-game, and an explanation of why this is one of the most groundbreaking games I’ve played.

Apart from one day (#18), I did enough interesting things to warrant a special picture for every entry. I apologise about not having an image for day 21, I forgot to photograph it and, sitting here typing, I don’t feel like hauling my stuff out for one shot (if memory serves, it was of the aunty giving Boku a bottle-cap for answering the dinner quiz correctly).
I clocked just over 20 hours and it was a great experience – one which has satiated my need to play the series, probably forever.

There were happy times, sad times, and a lot of fun. I also missed out on things, like watering grandpa’s garden and shearing the sheep. But I did find every bottle cap littering the countryside, and I caught every insect. I also caught the biggest fish in the river, which we had for dinner on the first birthday of my little cousin. Boku also showed remorse at releasing the bear cub after others commented on its mysterious disappearance.

A lot of people also moved away from the area, including Michi and the old grandmother near the lake. So too did the birds eventually leave, all five of them, after I’d spent the month diligently looking after them.

The ending was particularly poignant, since it has Boku speaking as an adult on the farm in the future, with his father (or maybe uncle) beside him, and his own son enjoying a holiday there.

As a whole Boku no Natsuyasumi is a tremendous almost-coming-of-age tale, recounting a period in one’s life before the innocence was lost. I also like the fact that this instalment is set prior to the big videogame boom in Japan – I can only assume that Boku in 1985 would have spent a lot of time playing on his Famicom.

To summarise, this is another game which makes me glad I bought a PS3. It’s an example of diversity in a medium stagnant with recycled action games. Some might feel a need to justify their playing of this, and I was a little saddened when reading Playongo’s review that he had to re-affirm that he played action games such as Halo just like the rest of us. He does state he likes it because it's refreshing, but liking Boku no Natsuyasumi shouldn't come with justification of who you are or what you like.

I’d like to think that anyone who reads this blog is comfortable enough with themselves to admit that hey, a game where I’m on a summer holiday is cool. For all the posturing that the industry does about trying to convey deep stories, and breaking away from the action game mentality (I’m thinking of David Cage’s verbiage and Heavy Rain), most games still fall into the realm of protagonist VERSUS antagonist, and Heavy Rain is no different from Gear Wars in that respect. In almost every game I see today there are the (sometimes ambiguously) defined good and bad, and there’s conflict between them. It’s such an overused archetype.

Boku no Natsuyasumi I would argue is a landmark, breakthrough game, in that it moves away from conventional ideas of game design to create something genuinely new. It stands alongside games such as Aquanaut’s Holiday, Harvest Moon, The Sims and Flower. It also has a touching, sweet little story which is subtly put across and is something everyone can relate to. It transcends the cultural boundaries of its setting.


  1. Love more than levels, eh?

  2. That dude wasn't using Halo and Resident Evil to justify his "gamerness", he was just making a statement that it's good to broaden your gaming horizons once in a while, and play something that isn't so intense.

    His message goes both ways, Sketcz. Y'know I used to be like you and I used to play ONLY Japanese-developed games (I would go through MobyGames and check credits just to be safe) and only watch anime.

    But you know what? It's kinda like if I was forced to eat Ramen noodles for a year. Don't get me wrong, Ramen noodles rule but you're going to get sick of it eventually. Yeah you can get different flavors and yeah you can add different things, but there's only so many ways to skin a cat and after being a Japan-exclusive for so long there were no more ways to skin Hello Kitty.

    So then I went into this mode where I HATED Japan and avoided anime and JP games, but the same thing happened.

    So now I don't care where things come from, and I base my opinions on whether I like the individual game. Do I like Halo? Multiplayer yes, story mode no. Does this Boku no natsuyasumi 3 game look awesome? Hell yeah it does!

    But you know what? Different strokes for different folks. If you hate everything non-Japanese, well fine then. All I'm saying is that when you fail to be open-minded, don't be surprised when other people cease to be open-minded towards you.

  3. Zack, you seem to have missed my point.

    Playongo is a cool guy, he does fan-translations and I've interviewed him for articles.

    My gripe was that he was basically admitting that he felt people would "get him wrong", or misunderstand him regarding BnN, unless he added a counter-point.

    I would have hoped that anyone willing to read such a piece by him, would be open-minded enough to realise it doesn't matter whether he likes Halo or not. In a way I couldn't see who he was aiming that sentence at. Hardcore Halo fans? They probably wouldn't like BnN. People who like both? Well, they wouldn't need to be told it's OK to like both. It sounded more like the sentence was for his benefit, to bolster his courage with the entire piece.

    His justifying his liking of BnN shouldn't have been needed, because people shouldn't "get him wrong" and he shouldn't need to tell them "hey, don't get me wrong".

    Such counter claims weaken your argument, because it says to me: I believe what I'm saying, but I don't have any confidence that others will believe it.

    Let me give you an analogy: a guy goes to the ballet, and he's culturally open minded enough to enjoy it. Maybe he goes with his wife, maybe not. But when he tells his male friends he says: "Yeah, DON'T GET ME WRONG, it had hot women in it, so I'm totally not gay for going to the ballet. "

    I wouldn't assume anything whether someone went to ballet, opera, or a Mad Capsule Markets gig. Why does there need to be the statement of: "hey, it's cool, OK? It's cool and totally nothing to be ashamed of!"

    I just wish more writers had the courage of their convictions, and not have a fear that people would misunderstand them...

    Then again, you have the misunderstanding that I don't play western games, purely because I don't talk about this fact, so maybe all my posts on Japanese games should end with: but I'm totally playing a western game right now too!

    My collection is around 60/40 despite leaning towards Japanese preferences. I could write for hours on why I love so many different western games. I mean, I absolutely adore the FPS genre, and games like System Shock 2, Deus Ex and Stalker have defined my tastes in games - counteracting that I would describe Halo and Bioshock as both travesties of game design, and are absolute garbage compared to technical genius of something like Stalker. But I don't, because western discussion on the FPS genre is long and well versed by many experts.

    Currently I'm juggling Alone in the Dark on PS3 (amazing game) with Nier by Cavia. Nier is awesome, BUT DON'T GET ME WRONG, I LOVE ALONE IN THE DARK TOO.

    I'm just razzing you Zack, please try to look beyond the basic face of what I say. ;-)

  4. Really glad to see you enjoyed it! It's such a shame that this blog entry is about the best this wonderful series has got in what, ten years or so?

    To anyone sitting on the fence - buy it. Buy any of them, in fact. The original PS1 release is easy to find on eBay and inexpensive (about $10), and the PSP no has remakes of 1 & 2, as well as it's own exlusive BnN4 too. All of them are equally wonderful, you really can't go wrong.

  5. For starters let me congratulate you on this series of posts. I don't think either of us can say enough good things about this game. Your play through has shown me even more of what this game has to offer. I love how unique our individual experiences of this game were. Thank you for making the time and taking the effort to share this with us.

    As for that comment I made, I really appreciate your point. I hope that people can enjoy this game without having to justify it. It's a cool game, you should play it, period.

    I have a bad habit of worrying about what others think of me, but I don't know if that's exactly why I said what I did. I think my primary worry was that when I say "it doesn't have guns or feature war" that I will alienate an audience that could, and should, enjoy this game. I think my "hey, I play Halo" comment was intended more to help folks understand that I don't hate violent video games and therefore like BnNY, but that I like good games in general and that BnNY is one of them. I may have communicated this poorly.

    At any rate, I'm glad to see some discussion on here and a lot of new BnNY fans! I hope you all give the game a try and have a lot of fun.