Developed By: Atelier Mimina Published By: Nippon Ichi Software America Categories: Adventure, Rhythm, Indie Release Date: 08.25.20
Consider me shallow, but I’m drawn to games that have a cute artstyle. Not to the point where it gets into a generic state, but if a game looks charming, I’ll be inclined to pay attention. This and the fact that NISA’s publishing efforts as of late have been quite exquisite were the main draws for me to play Giraffe and Annika.
First things first, there’s no getting around this. Giraffe and Annika looks and feels very cheap. Cheap in the game you’d find being sold at a Comiket or game jam kind of way, but that has it’s own charm. It’s not a very good looking game and it is really quite janky, but that is it’s own charm in itself. It has that Sega Dreamcast or early PS2 game feel. This isn’t to say the game doesn’t have nice presentation though. Cutscenes are cute comics, though voice acting would be appreciated, the game doesn’t really have long enough cutscenes or enough dialogue to make it seem like a necessity. The story is a bit generic in premise, with a young girl missing memories on an adventure slowly earning them back by gaining new powers and collecting these crystals, but how the story plays out kept me wanting to see more, even if I could see a few things in the story coming.
You’re gonna do a lot of walking around. Walking, talking, picking up veggies, which can be used to heal ones self, or for a few particular riddles. You’ll occasionally go into dungeons, which involve more walking, with the also occasional monster. You don’t really attack, so you’re better off just running away, but if you do get hit and lose health, there’s almost always crystals that will heal you if you stand near them. At the end of this, you’ll get to the boss fight, which is a simple, but fun rhythm game. I would have an issue with how simple the rhythm game bosses were if not for the catchy music each has, I love the boss music. Infact, I’d be willing to say I like all of the music in the game and struggled to find a song I didn’t find pleasant to listen to. The fact that for each boss fight they let you pick the difficulty before the fight even starts is great for accessibility, especially since having skill in the main gameplay may not transfer well for all players. After you win, you’ll get a new ability from jumping, swimming further distances, and running fast. You’ll probably notice every now and then treasure chests that carry artpieces called Meowsterpieces. While getting random art for going out of your way and using abilities is great in it’s own, if you collect enough of them you can even get rewards like new outfits. You’re not going to find every Meowsterpiece the first time in a dungeon, and I know I didn’t, so this is a good way to get people to keep playing the game.
My biggest issue with the game is that you will often just get dropped and told what to do, but then no other explanation. There were multiple occasions where I’d just be lost on what to do, who to talk to, even where to go. I’m not alone either, as I resorted to using a video online to help me out and the person in the video ALSO getting lost and just wandering around wondering where to go. That’s an issue with communication and if someone has to stop playing the game for any reason only to come back later, they are definitely going to be lost. This isn’t a gamebreaking issue, but I feel it’d be better if the game could communicate with you a little better or even put small hints in the menu.
Giraffe and Annika is a cute, at times relaxing game that gives me nostalgia for older platformers, but I do feel the janky feel and lack of things nudging you along the way hinders the game. Not enough for me to enjoy the game, but enough for me to not love the game like I think I would otherwise. However, a game like this getting a release in the west, let alone a physically published one is nothing short of a miracle in my eyes, so there is merit to this release.