Mineko's Night Market Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
Mineko’s Night Market is a flawed yet heartwarming and visually enchanting adventure that offers a unique blend of simulation and crafting.
- Developer: Meowza Games
- Publisher: Humble Games
- Release Date: September 26, 2023
- Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
- Tested On: PC
- Beautiful Art Style
- Engaging Gameplay Loop
- Underdeveloped Story
- Lack of Character Interactions
Mineko’s Night Market is a simulation title developed by Canadian indie developer Meowza Games. The game wears its inspiration of Japanese culture and folklore on its sleeve, being based on a fictional version of the small island of Tashirojima, also known as the Cat Island.
First teased all the way back in 2018, it suffered from several years of delays and silence. However, it now finally sees the light of day on PC and the Nintendo Switch. So let’s dive into the review, and see if the wait was worth it.
Story And Setting
Mineko’s Night Market weaves a playful narrative set in a charming and slightly mystical world. The game’s narrative revolves around Mineko, a young girl who, along with her father, relocates to a small neglected island.
The story kicks off with an air of whimsy, introducing a cast of quirky characters and intriguing mysteries involving suspicious agents in suits and a giant mythical cat named Nikko. While the plot may not be overly intricate, it maintains a lighthearted and humorous tone that complements the overall feel of the game.
It’s not a pulse-pounding mystery but rather an engaging, feel-good journey. The game’s approach to storytelling is praiseworthy, especially with its light-hearted and humorous tone. And the plot, while not overly complex or dramatic, maintains a sense of humor that complements the overall tone of the experience.
The humorous and quirky dialogue provided plenty of chuckles, and the overall narrative was tailored to be family-friendly.
The humorous and quirky dialogue provided plenty of chuckles, and the overall narrative was tailored to be family-friendly, making it suitable for a broad audience. However, the story does have its shortcomings, mainly regarding its lack of depth.
The elements involving the agents and Nikko are somewhat simplistic and never really explored in detail. The game’s comedy also might come off as a bit too self-aware for certain players, but it generally seemed to fit the cozy atmosphere that the game is going for.
Character interactions and dialogue are also points of both appreciation and critique. The island’s inhabitants, each with their unique quirks and requests, further add to the game’s charm.
Bobo, the first islander you meet and who becomes Mineko’s first friend, stood out for providing some of the most engaging and witty dialogue, often featuring some rather unexpected meta-humor that got quite a few laughs. His interactions with Bobo’s Mom (yes, that’s her real name) in particular left a very good first impression.
Unfortunately, the lack of narrative depth shows up in the game’s dialogue as well as the story progresses, as there is a severe lack of substantial dialogue interactions with the townspeople. Quests mostly revolved around fetching items for villagers, leaving minimal room for in-depth conversations.
Outside of some key story moments, most of the characters often felt more like cardboard cutouts rather than actual people. The lack of character development, especially with regard to secondary characters, is a noticeable missed opportunity.
With all of that being said, some might see the simplistic narrative and characters as a positive rather than a negative. Cozy games like this tend to have characters with very detailed and fleshed-out personalities that can often feel overwhelming to some players.
In Mineko’s Night Market, that issue just doesn’t exist. It’s a simple and straightforward as it seems on the surface, which makes it much easier to get into and digest than your usual life sim. It’s a diet life sim for lack of a better descriptor.
The simplistic nature of the story also carries over to the gameplay in Mineko’s Night Market, which centers around collecting materials, completing quests for the island’s inhabitants, and crafting items to sell at the weekly Night Market.
Players begin with a workbench for flower arranging but can acquire additional workbenches for other activities such as paper crafting, woodworking, sculpting, etc., as they progress. Each crafting type features its own unique minigame, adding a touch of variety to the crafting process.
Each crafting mini-game also represents real-world crafting methods, like cutting flower stems while making a flower arrangement, which is a pretty neat touch to an otherwise mundane activity. It’s straightforward yet enjoyable, and the gradual unlocking of new workbenches and recipes adds a satisfying sense of progression.
Crafting of course, requires materials, which can be gathered by exploring the different locations on the island. The game encourages exploration of the island to gather materials necessary for crafting different types of items. Various locations, such as forests, caves, and gardens, offer different types of resources.
A day’s activities are limited to two gathering locations, which requires strategic planning to optimize resource collection.
While exploration is definitely a vital and enjoyable aspect of the game, there is a lack of diversity in the gathering locations. The game is also fairly linear, locking most new locations behind story progression. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but it does limit the player’s own choice and removes any sense of discovery.
The gameplay enters around collecting materials, completing quests for the island’s inhabitants, and crafting items to sell at the weekly Night Market.
The main crux of the game lies in the weekly Night Market, which presents the culmination of the player’s efforts over the rest of the week. Players present their crafted items to villagers and engage in haggling to determine prices, and successful sales contribute to the overall growth of the market, unlocking new features and events.
The whole concept of the Night Market is pretty interesting. Watching new stalls open up as you continue to make sales to raise the market’s popularity makes you feel like an active member of the island’s community that’s contributing to its growth.
It’s a very enjoyable and rewarding process, and the various special events at the end of each market in particular add excitement and variety to the overall gameplay experience. Speaking of being part of the community, Mineko’s Night Market also includes quests from villagers that involve gathering specific items.
Completing these not only deepens the player’s relationships with the townspeople but also unlocks crafting recipes. While the quests themselves are generally enjoyable, some of the quest objectives were not always clear and thus required a degree of guesswork.
Visuals and Performance
The art style of Mineko’s Night Market is definitely one of the biggest selling points of the game. It is a visual treat, reminiscent of a children’s storybook come to life. The soft palette and attention to detail create a cozy atmosphere that is very pleasing to the eye.
Character designs also bear the same storybook feel that almost feels nostalgic, and the abundance of adorable cats roaming the island further adds to its undeniable charm. Coupled with the fittingly soothing and tranquil music, the game’s presentation is top-notch, making every moment spent in this world a delight.
Mineko’s Night Market is a visual treat, reminiscent of a children’s storybook come to life.
The performance was also excellent on PC, with minimal system requirements and near-instant load times even on an HDD. The controls for the controller were a bit odd though, as different menus required different inputs to back out of them.
Although this is something you could eventually get used to, it still made navigating through menus feel a little awkward. There have however been reports of the Nintendo Switch version experiencing performance issues and long load times.
Mineko’s Night Market is the video game equivalent of drinking a mug of hot cocoa under a warm blanket next to a fireplace on a cold winter night. It is a heartwarming and visually enchanting adventure that offers a unique blend of life simulation and crafting.
While it lacks narrative depth and could benefit from more meaningful character interactions, its cozy charm, simple and easy crafting system, and whimsical storytelling make it a worthwhile addition to the genre.
If you’re a fan of pleasant, non-violent games and are looking for a simpler experience than your typical farming sim, you’re likely to find the game a delightful and endearing experience worth exploring.
This has been our Mineko’s Night Market Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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Why You Should Play This Game
You should play this game if you have a fondness for short cozy games with unique visual art styles. If you’re looking for a game for younger children, this is perfect for them.
Why You Shouldn’t Play This Game
You shouldn’t play this game if you’re looking for freedom of choice when it comes to the gameplay systems. While this title shares many traits with other similar games, it does not have nearly the depth of games like Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing.
Who Is This Game For?
This title is mostly aimed at families and people looking to experience a short and sweet adventure.
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