Japanese Wii games offer gamers not only more choices in the amount of software available stateside, but also a closer look at the weird, wacky – and extremely fun games released only in Japan. I say weird and wacky, and Japanese games often are weird or wacky, but more importantly they are also loads of fun to play, often very unique and offer gamers a bigger sampling of games than just your run of the mill first person shooters.
In this 12 part series, I'll cover some of the more unique and weird Japanese games that are now released for the Japanese market. I'll be covering 3 or 4 soon to be released games as well, as they have full details online. The difference being that with these pre-release articles, I will not be able to go into too much detail as far as the gameplay is concerned.
For American and Canadian readers, and European and UK readers as well. I feel it is very important to point out that in order to be able to play these games, you will need to install a Nintendo Wii Mod Chip into your Wii console. Once installed, you'll be able to play all of the latest Japanese games (and European gamers can play all the latest USA releases, too). There are several options for Nintendo Wii Mod chips, and while I will not make any recommendation, I will tell you that the one that is installed in my Nintendo Wii is the WiiKey chip. It has never failed and and works with all of the Japanese and European games on the market to date, as well of course as allowing me to play my USA released games just as I did before.
On to the first game in my series of Japanese game reviews. It's a dog's life on Dog Island. This cute and wacky game immediately brought thoughts of Nintendo's NintenDogs Series for the Nintendo DS. However, the fact these titles share the theme on dogs is about the only thing that is similar about the two games. It's also important to note that NintenDogs was exclusively for the hand held Nintendo DS console, while Yuke's The Dog Island is available for the Nintendo Wii (sometimes with an NDS version to follow).
Now, instead of just raising and taking care of your Dogs on Dog island, much like you would have done with NintenDogs, there are many more things to consider and do. The story begins in a small town somewhere, we do not know where this small town is, but do know that it's a small town nonetheless. And as is common in small towns, it's the day of the great festival and you've won the official festival treasure hunt. Being the kind hearted kid you are, you decide to give away your prize to your little brother, who just happens to have snuck out of the house against your mother's wishes and instructions. Problems start when your brother collapses. As it turns out, he has an illness and the only way you can cure him is to take him to a place called Dog Insland and get some medicine. This of course involes a journey across the dangerous seas in a pirate's boat, but you decide to take up the challenge.
The trouble does not start OR end here. There are lots of enemies that get in your way as you make your way around exploring the world that is Dog Island. If you even get close to snakes, wild boar, or gorillas and they growl (or in case of the snake, hiss) at you and give you menacing looks, your life meter will be depeleted. They do not actually attack you in any way at all, but it appears that just looking at you in a menacing way is enough to get your life down.
You do not actually have any attack options per se. And enemies you walk by may be sleep, in which case they can not harm your life level. They may also be awake, aware that you are there, but just peacefully going about their business as usual. You do actually have on mode of, well, sort of an attack. You can sneak up behind your enemies and bark at them. Depending on the strength of your bark, you can actually put an enemy in a daze of sorts.
While this may seem a little silly – I did mention that it was a weird and wacky game – all of the enemies and life meters are not really what the main purpose of this game is. The main role of your dog in Dog Island is collection things. Actually, rather than saying the focus of this game is on collecting things, it would be more accurate to say that the focus is on collecting smells, new smells.
All in all, it is a much different game than the Nintendo DS game of a similar theme, where you only feed and care for the dogs, as opposed to actually controlling one of 48 available pets. While all of this mean seem silly and not very engaging as far as video games go. Dog Island kept me playing for about and hour and a half in one sitting. I more than likely would have played longer, but I had to move on to the next game. If you're interested in this type of Japanese game, I recommend it highly.