PostPet DS Momo and the Magical Pen (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 20.01.2010 5

Review for PostPet DS Momo and the Magical Pen on Nintendo DS

PostPet is an emailing service with a difference. Starting as PostPet Beta back in 1997, the property, owned by Sony Communication Network (So-Net), caught on quickly in the Far Eastern PC community since it mixed the popular daily act of contacting friends and family in an online environment with the Tamagotchi craze of caring for pets. Fast-forward to more than a decade later and Marvelous Entertainment has picked up the rights to create a Nintendo DS version of the PostPet brand. On 24th December, 2009 'PostPet DS: Momo and the Magical Pen' arrived in Japan and now Cubed3 takes a look to see whether this could become the next craze to sweep Western shores.

With the initial idea for a videogame version of PostPet coming back in 2007 from So-Net, it was actually thanks to Marvelous Entertainment that the project came to fruition and the DS was the perfect choice because it seemed ideal to use the stylus for animal caring after the success seen with the nintendogs series. The team at AlphaDream had somewhat of a carte blanche in terms of what visual style could be used since there has been no game made previously, and the same goes for voices, as none of the characters have spoken before, with the exception of Momo, who once made a few utterances during an animation production.

The game's design was led by Kenichi Nishi at Route24 (the main behind Chibi-robo and GiFTPiA whilst at Skip Ltd., as well as Bakushow on DS), whilst working alongside So-Net in the Producer's role was AlphaDream (working on its first 3D project after numerous 2D successes in the form of the three Mario & Luigi RPGs, Tomato Adventure, Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue and Ham-Ham Games) and Vanpool took control on the audio side (the same team that made both Tingle DS games for Nintendo), with Marvelous Entertainment overseeing the entire project from the publishing side and bringing everyone together.

Screenshot for PostPet DS Momo and the Magical Pen on Nintendo DS

The game begins with someone sat in front of their laptop watching the PostPet email programme, presumably waiting for one of their friends to message them. Players are then asked to provide their name, and create an image of themselves from the basic face shapes, hair styles and clothing on offer. The world becomes all blurry and magically this creation is transposed into the world of PostPet. Cue some peaceful, melodic music as the game's intro begins, showing off a 3D visual game engine that easily looks as good as Animal Crossing. As the automated part of the introduction phases out, a collection of unusual looking creatures are found standing in an open square, stood around the character you just created, talking in random noises (akin to other Kenichi Nishi games, such as Chibi-robo and GiFTPiA).

Once control is handed over to the player, strangely enough movement is carried out using only the control pad, rather than stylus. However, interacting with the surrounding creatures is indeed done by tapping on them with the touch-pen, instead of using the DS face buttons. Not long into the game, you are bestowed with what appears to be a brown-handled, blue-ended broomstick that emits rainbow colours. But what exactly does this powerful pink thing do when held in your hands? Well, using the stylus on the touch-screen, you can wave it around! Yes, you are physically able to sweep the brush end of the 'Magical Pen' along the ground in the hope of uncovering money or special items for use later on, as well as draw circles around objects you wish to photograph. Walking with the control pad and interacting with the world using the stylus does work well enough, but it would have been far simpler to make everything stylus-based.

Screenshot for PostPet DS Momo and the Magical Pen on Nintendo DS

In addition to the mysterious Magical Pen, a character called Navi (a brown paper bag with feet and glasses!) gives you special accommodation (where your current appearance can be changed, music can be played, your game can be saved, and so on) and introduces you to Momo, the mascot of PostPet brand - a cute pink teddy bear that wants to be looked after, cared for and cherished as your favourite pet. Momo will follow your every footstep, and even climb atop your head to help reach presents hidden in trees. The photography aspect plays an integral part as well, since taking the right snaps will result in Momo’s happiness levels increasing and your bond growing ever-stronger. It is important, though, to ensure that even when having fun wandering around the surrounding areas, the needs of Momo are attended to on a regular basis. It is essential to keep a close eye on the in-game happiness monitor to see how hungry or disgruntled your pet is, taking him back home to wash and feed him when deemed necessary, plus letting him rest for short periods, petting him where appropriate. Thankfully there are other locations around the island where these tasks can be done, rather than always having to trek back to your home.

The beauty of PostPet Island is that rather than remaining static forever, it really is a fluid environment. There is an in-game timer that allows for the passage of time to bring about morning, afternoon and night-time periods, as well as changes in the weather conditions and even seasons. Another positive feature is that whilst appearing small and claustrophobic at first, other areas of the PostPet Island do open up as progress is made with the storyline and more of the PostPet's dreams are recovered. On top of this, each of the pets can develop into adult form, plus there is a super secret pet to uncover and eventually live with. There is so much to see and do, and the world around is simply lovely to look at and explore. As well as being extremely visually impressive, PostPet DS truly has an amazing soundtrack. You can play through so many games where the music is more than passable, but as soon as the system is turned off, the tunes are lost from your mind. Yet in this case there are funky little looping ditties that get firmly lodged in your head and refuse to be shaken free. Even the character customisation screen's music is amazingly addictive. Is there an official soundtrack available for the game? I have no idea, but if there is, someone needs to tell me as soon as possible!

Screenshot for PostPet DS Momo and the Magical Pen on Nintendo DS

All of the popular characters return from the PostPet email programme, with the main one being Momo, the cute, little pink bear that wanders around on its own and loves to remain clean. Then there are others such as John the dog who likes to please, Mippi the curious little rabbit, Sumiko the gentle tortoise, and tiny Jinpachi who surprisingly has a big mouth! You also come across some non-animal friends along the way, with Shingo R the mysterious computer on wheels and, Takechiyo a hard-working robot postman. There are also new characters introduced, such as Pagu, a large creature floating in the air, busily dreaming away in the land of nod. It used to be a normal-sized pet, but in its long-term slumber it has actually ended up absorbing everyone else's dreams, leaving them to wander around in their little world, never growing up and developing as they should do. This 'Dream Eater' is found in the Mysterious Forest of PostPet Island and nobody knows where he came from or how long he has been sucking up everyone's dreams. It is imperative to locate dream fragments around the island, feed them to pets and then use the hints from their newly recovered dreams to track down more.

As each person gets their dream back, Pagu begins to slowly return to normal size. There is no worry of the island succumbing to Pagu's vast size and weight, fortunately, so players can progress through the story at leisure, choosing their own pace and having fun with the various activities on offer. You can also take photographs around the island simply for fun, playing around with them thanks to the editing tools included (hand draw, add pre-set shapes, change the frame, place letters to make fun words, and so on), finally sticking your favourite ones in certain locations (such as inside your house and even outside near the front path to your residence!), or even sending them to friends using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. To further the story, though, sending the correct sort of photo to another animal on PostPet Island will help them develop and move ever closer to achieving their dreams of growing into a fully-fledged adult pet. The location or contents of a picture will sometimes be a key trigger, whilst times of day sometimes also play a factor. The trick is to talk to everyone around to uncover all the required clues.

Screenshot for PostPet DS Momo and the Magical Pen on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

As soon as you start a new session in PostPet DS it is abundantly clear that this is not the cheap, throwaway piece of Third Party drivel that many DS owners have sadly had to endure during the portable's lifetime. Instead, the wealth of talent involved shines brightly throughout, transforming what was initially a basic premise into a very intriguing end product indeed. PostPet DS definitely warrants much more attention, and hopefully it will receive its deserved Western release long before the 15th Anniversary of the PostPet franchise in 2012!

Developer

Route24

Publisher

Marvelous

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date TBA   North America release date TBA   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date TBA   

Comments

bon (guest) 21.01.2010#1

Hi! I play postpet ds. Can you give me a hint on what to do in the beach scene where the penguin won't let me pass... please thanks. I don't know what to do next. And I can't read japanese.. so please help.Smilie

Unfortunately I neither own the game, nor speak any Japanese. It is definitely not the sort of game to try and play through without any knowledge of the language, exactly for the reason you've pointed out - understanding the clues is impossible!

What are your thoughts on your time with the game so far?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
bon (guest) 22.01.2010#3

oh okay. thanks anyway. the game is cute but i would like it more if the camera view is like that of animal crossing. the characters are cute but so tiny. the gameplay is okay. if only i could read japanese... Smilie

AdamC3 (guest) 22.01.2010#4

If Rising Star Games does't bring this over later this year, I'd be very surprised.

I wasn't the biggest fan of Animal Crossing, to be honest, but this definitely appeals to me more.

Since it's a Japanese-only release there is no guide on GameFAQs, so unless you find a link to a Japanese guide online and use Google Translator with it, you might well be stuck.

Actually, do you have a DSi? If so, you could try the 6-in-1 Dictionary on DSiWare to take photos of the key words in the game and translate them to figure out what to do...Just a thought :-Smilie

Anyone else intrigued by this project, especially considering the wealth of talent that worked on it?

Anyone else taken the time to read through this and have changed their minds about it?

Mixing adventure, with aspects of Animal Crossing and nintendogs. Sounds appealing, surely?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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