Plants vs Zombies 2, Monument Valley, Clash of Clans and Farm Heroes Saga are only a few of the most popular mobile games in the West, but that doesn’t mean that everyone in the world is playing them. Places like Japan have a distinct culture, and with it, some pretty unique games.
I asked our fellow editors at Softonic Japan to see what games they– and the rest of the country– can’t get enough of in Volume 2 of ‘The best Japanese mobile games you’ve probably never played‘.
Yoko (@YokoSoftonic): Neo Mushroom Garden
Lately, I’ve been playing NEO Mushroom Garden starring a little character called Funghi. There isn’t only one Funghi though: some are white, some look like a strawberry, and others are muscular. The purpose of the game is to collect a few of these Funghi and make them grow and multiply.
I think the game’s biggest appeal is that you can play very short games of only 10 seconds where you pick up some Funghi and feed it, so even the busiest person can play.
The main character has an extremely simple and surreal design, and it’s become a very popular character in Japan. It’s sold as keychains, dolls, t-shirts– even I have to admit that I have one Funghi teddybear and several pieces of stationary at home. I think it’s a really fun game that everyone should try, and its available in English, so there’s no excuse for not giving it a shot.
Junko (@junkosoftonic): Awesome Pixel Granny
In Japan, Flappy Bird and its alternatives are very popular, but not as popular as they are in the U.S. I personally love the simple mechanics of this game, and although I couldn’t download the original, I can play some of its clones.
Above all, I prefer the Japanese version called Awesome Pixel Granny. It’s very similar to the original, except that the flappy bird is replaced by a little girl on a flying broom.
The girl with the big red bow in her hair and a black cat on her broom is Kiki, the main character of the animated film “Kiki’s Delivery Service” by Hayao Miyazaki. In a scene of the film, Young Kiki gets on the broom and tries flying it until she hits a wall; this game is based solely on that scene.
If you haven’t seen the movie, or tried the game, I suggest you do both!
- Download Awesome Pixel Granny for: iOS
Chris (@softoniCT): AKB48 Tsuini Koushiki Otoge Demashita
I normally like playing puzzle games– anything that forces me to think a little bit– but for this article, I thought I’d introduce you to a music game that’s a great representation of the kawaii side of Japanese culture.
The game is called AKB48 Tsuini Koushiki Otoge Demashita (translation: “The AKB48 rhythm game has finally arrived”), and it’s the first official game from the popular Japanese pop group AKB48. In it, you have to choose 5 singers from the 77 members in the girl group to create your dream pop group and make it to stardom.
The game works as follows: in each level, you get a popular song from the group, and you have to press different buttons to complete a live performance. The mechanics aren’t really complicated, but you have to have a good sense of rhythm to play.
In addition to listening to AKB48’s most famous songs as you play, you’ll see an animated version of the girls in the band dancing to real choreography, singing, and talking with dialogue that varies according to how well you’re playing.
AKB48 are very popular in Japan: everyone in their teens and twenties known their songs. If you’re thinking about traveling to Japan in the near future, it’d be good to get an idea of some of their music, and what better way than with the game? It could be a great way to break the ice and build a strong friendship with Japanese youth.
Midori: Kuchisaki Banchou
Although I’m not a gaming expert, I do enjoy puzzle and intelligence games, so I thought I’d introduce one of my favorite brain training games.
If you’re familiar with the Shiritori game, it’s a play on words that in Japanese means “first and last”. In this traditional game (very popular among children), the player has to say a word that begins with the last letter of the word said by the previous player.
The app version of Shiritori is called Kuchisaki Banchou. I find it very nostalgic, but it also adds interesting elements to the traditional game.
In this case, the hero of the game is a young gangster. In less than 40 seconds, each player must say the correct word. This time limit makes the game a lot more fun and competitive, and the only thing you can trust is your own knowledge. Winning is all about fast reflexes, and it’s not unlikely that more than once you’ll get frustrated and ask yourself, “why couldn’t I think of this word before?”
If you’re still having trouble trying to picture what Kuchisaki Banchou is like, think of a yakuza film mixed with Scrabble.
Sayaka (@sajakasoftonic): Onigiri shooter
Sushi, sashimi, tempura– Japan has many traditional dishes, and one of them is onigiri (also called omusubi or rice ball), white rice in a triangular or oval shape usually wrapped in nori (seaweed).
Onigiri Shooter, the game I’m playing now, is inspired by this popular dish. It may sound weird, but if you play once, you’ll soon understand the concept. The main shooter of the game is not the classic mothership, but instead a huge onigiri, and rather than bombs, this “ship” throws rice grains. And no, Martians will not be your enemies. Instead, you’ll fight scampi, grilled salmon, giant ramen, or sashimi.
The gameplay of Onigiri Shooter is the same you’d find in any traditional shooter. You can freely move the onigiri ship and fire rice grains through three levels of difficulty.
Yes, I know it sounds weird, but it’s extremely fun.
- Download Onigiri Shooter for: Android
Similar genres, Japanese style
The games that our Japanese colleagues are playing aren’t all that different than what we play in the US and Europe. While the genre is typically similar, the main differences are the icons and themes, which are much closer to Japanese culture with things like anime, music, and local cuisine. If you’re looking to spice up some of your favorite mobile games, it might be worth trying some of these out.
Keep tuning in for more of The best Japanese mobile games you’ve probably never played.