GamingReview: Karakuri-kun: A Japanese Tale

Review: Karakuri-kun: A Japanese Tale

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Karakuri-kun: A Japanese Tale is an educational RPG where the player can learn an overview of Japanese history during the Edo period.

Gameplay:

Karakuri-kun was created with RPG Maker, so the controls are pretty self-explanatory. With that said, you are thrown into the game with no tutorial or explanation. At first, you play an old man who is a dollmaker, and then you control one of his creations that was mysteriously brought to life. With the lack of character name boxes and just a lack of information at the beginning of the game, I didn’t realize that the doll’s name was Karakuri-kun until after a random battle happened.

For one thing, battles happen too frequently, and I almost died walking 2 feet from the doll maker’s house. In addition to this, there was no explanation on how to battle and no understanding as to why you’re even fighting. I did manage to find a player manual during one battle, but if selected, it counts as an attack, so I died before I could even finish reading it. I think the battle system is decent, but I wish it was more polished and had a proper tutorial.

Outside the random battle system, Karakuri-kun is tasked with talking to everyone to learn more about Japanese culture and history so she can prove that she’s not just a doll. While the purpose of the game is to learn Japanese history, it feels unnatural and forced in the space of the game.

For one thing, there was no natural dialogue or interactions in this game. I would have imagined Karakuri-kun had to ask people if they could provide some history because she needs to learn more about their culture. But instead, everyone starts randomly rehashing history as you talk to them. Also, the history lessons from the characters felt like reading a Wikipedia page rather than someone talking.

Overall, for a game that relies on storytelling, it’s not very well written. For example, the characters refer to Japan as Nihon but then later they just say Japan. The random use of Japanese words, sometimes in parentheses and sometimes not, just felt sloppy. On top of this, there were countless spelling mistakes, and overall the writing was inconsistent.

Pros:

  • Nice graphics and looks pretty.
  • I can tell the developers were passionate about wanting to make an educational experience for players.
  • It’s only $3 which is pretty fair.

Cons:

  • For a story-heavy game, it’s not well written. There are countless spelling mistakes, inconsistencies, and stunted English.
  • Overall the game felt incomplete without any game tutorial/guide, no name boxes, moments with no music, characters without dialogue, and glitches.
  • There were too many pop quizzes! If I wanted to experience finals week again, I’d just go back to school.

I never knew I would ever have to dread the words “pop quiz” ever again, but thanks to Karakuri-kun, I got to relive the horrors of quizzes all over again. There were way too many quizzes, and they weren’t well-paced either. At one point, there were three pop quizzes one after another, with about ten questions each. I don’t know how anyone would find that fun.

Conclusion:

To be honest, Karakuri-kun: A Japanese Tale felt like a Game Jam game; because of the glitches and bad writing, it just didn’t feel like a polished game. The fighting felt random, the history lessons felt forced, and the quizzes were excessively boring. I wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone, but if you feel inclined to try it – it’s only $3. 

Entertainment: 2/10

Replay value: 1/10

Graphics: 6/10

Sound: 3/10

Kid Friendly: Yes

Platform:PC (Available on Steam)
Developer:JBO Media, Angel Star Studios
Publisher:Angel Star Studios
Released:March 19, 2021
MSRP:$2.99
ESRB:N/A

SUMMARY

+ Nice graphics
+ Cheap
- Feels incomplete
- Bad writing

(Reviewed on PC)
Krissy
Hi, I’m Krissy! I’m just your average nerd living & gaining XP in Tokyo, Japan. Former QA and game production intern at Cartoon Network. When I’m not trying to save the world, you can find me whipping up some cute illustrations on my tablet!

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