As summer nears its end, I figured it would be a good time to take a look at Boku no Natsuyasumi, a game for the original PlayStation that highlights what it would be like to be a 10-year old boy in Japan during summer vacation.
If that’s not exactly triggering your gaming senses, just bear with me.
The Natsuyasumi series had a pretty good run in Japan, with 4 games released across the PS1, 2, 3, and the PSP.
The story is simple, you play as a boy named Boku (the Japanese masculine form of “I,” typically used by young boys). At the start of summer vacation, you’re shipped off to spend a month in the countryside with relatives. Each day, you explore the surrounding area, catch bugs, go swimming, meet friends, and fill your summer diary with adventures. You basically have one month to have as much fun as possible.
Dang, this kid takes journaling seriously
As you explore the neighborhood and surrounding countryside, time moves from morning to afternoon to evening. Certain events happen at certain times, and you’ll need to plan your adventures to get the most out of each day. There are also lots of collectibles to find and little side stories to uncover.
What the game lacks in action and flash, it makes up with its summer ambiance and relaxing vibe. I spent a year living in rural Japan, and the game nails the feeling of lazy summer days. Although I was in my mid-20s at that time and not 10 years old, I could easily imagine being a kid like Boku exploring the summer surroundings.
Ah, the times before smartphones…
Even without that first-hand cultural account in my head, childhood summers are a pretty universal memory, so you’re bound to get a pang of nostalgia no matter where you grew up. It’s a game you’ll definitely want to check out if you’re at all interested in Japanese culture and rural lifestyles.
The graphics are that typical mix of early polygonal models for characters and pre-rendered hand-drawn backgrounds that can be found in so many games of the era (Final Fantasy VII-IX, Resident Evil, just to name a few).
One of these things is not like the other…
Unfortunately, none of the games in the Boku no Natsuyasumi series have ever been released in the West, and there are no fan translations. The 3rd game is on PS3. A port of the 1st along with the 4th game in the series are available for PSP. Those are the easiest for Western audiences to find and play, since the PS3 and PSP have no region lock. Both are out of print, but used copies can be had on Ebay for fairly cheap. Break out your Japanese apps and enjoy.