Game: Mineko’s Night Market
Genre: Adventure, Casual, Indie, Simulation
System: Steam (Windows)
Developer|Publisher: Meowza Games | Humble Games
Controller Support: Yes
Price: US $19.99 | UK £15.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: September 26th, 2023
Review code used with many thanks to Forty Seven Communications.
Mineko’s Night Market is a 2023 Adventure game developed by Meowza Games and published by Humble Games.
Mineko’s Night Market is a cute Japanese-themed adventure and life sim game, announced to be in development some five years ago, which was released last month after a myriad of delays.
We play as Mineko, a little girl moving with her dad to a new place. With its closed-up shops and abandoned houses, it’s evident that the little village has seen better days. Still, it has one undeniable attraction- the night market, which happens every Saturday evening. With help from some friendly neighbors, Mineko sets up a stall in the market in the hopes of helping her dad. This is the life sim part of the game.
The adventure comes in the form of the local legend of the Sun Cat Nikko, a helpful cat that has been banished. At first glance, it all seems like a fairy tale, but Mineko quickly realizes that there is more to the story than it meets the eye. It’s too big of a coincidence, what with all the secret agents keeping cats in captivity.
In Mineko’s Night Market, our primary goal is to restore the night market and the town and free all the cats. We can play with the keyboard/ mouse or with a gamepad. Usually, I reach for the gamepad as a last resort, but for Mineko’s Night Market, I found the game is easier with the gamepad, and the controls are very intuitive.
The game feels big enough to be almost open world, but not entirely; you can leave the village by bus and visit two other locations, but when you return to the village, the day is over. You can still collect flowers, though.
You have limited stamina (hearts in the upper portion of the screen); once Mineko is too tired, she’ll tell you, “I am too tired even to pick flowers.” Then you know, it’s time to go home and to sleep. In new locations, you have to release any captured cats you find. It’s the travel by bus or the map itself, but in terms of places and travel, Mineko’s Night Market reminds me heavily of Bear and Breakfast, and in a good way, too.
Visit the Night Market
The Night Market, from the title, is on Saturdays. You can sell resources and crafted items by setting up prices, and the customers pay if they can afford it. You can also haggle a bit. Each time you earn more, the market upgrades itself with new stalls.
One tip: don’t sell resources, but keep hoarding them because as seasons change in the game, the availability of specific resources also varies. After trading at the Market, you can walk around, spend some of your hard-earned money, or participate in races on cats, plays, and even parades. During the week, you can sell and buy items at the General store at a lower price and with no haggling option.
You can also donate items to the local museums and crafts and collect things for the villagers. Your payment is usually for new crafting recipes. By fulfilling tasks for them, you also strengthen your relationship with them.
Buy Tools and Craft
As you progress in the game, you can buy tools and crafting benches from the General Store and the Tools store, which you use to get resources and craft items to sell and gift. Buying tools also grants you access to new locations and, in turn, helps you progress in the story.
As mentioned above, seasons in Mineko’s Night Market change. A helpful calendar shows us the year, week, and season. We also have different climates and colour palettes for each season- rain in spring, snow in winter, etc. You will find that some resources are difficult or impossible to find in different seasons. The game saves automatically each time we let Mineko go to sleep.
I’ve mentioned several times that Mineko has to release cats captured by the agents in new locations. She must avoid being illuminated in their flashlights, but she has various options as the game progresses: cause distraction or even bribe an agent. Once all cats on a location have been released, the agents leave the area, and you, as Mineko, have free and unlimited access to the location’s resources.
Undeniably, Mineko’s Night Market has a unique art style. It’s colourful, almost like drawn with crayons or gouache, but incredibly detailed. The aesthetic reminds me of a pop-up children’s book – you can walk around the buildings and trees, but the camera cannot be rotated or moved with you. The music matches the visuals. It’s perky and quirky during the day and calm and relaxing at night. A touch I really liked was the fireflies during the night.
The game is marketed around Japanese culture, and true to its promise, you can see little touches of traditional Japanese culture all through the game. The design of the buildings and the crafting Mineko enjoys paper crafts like origami or flower arrangement. And then, there are all the cats, with cat-themed figurines, furniture, and clothes.
Some Side Notes
Mineko’s Night Market has Steam Achievements on Steam but no trading cards yet. Some players have complained of bugs and the game freezing, but the developers are releasing consistent patches, improving the quality of the game. For what it’s worth, I have yet to experience any problems with the game.
There are also some complaints that the gameplay gets repetitive and “grinding” regarding collecting resources. As a rule, I play games like Mineko’s Night Market only a few game hours a day, so while I am progressing slowly, I can’t say the game has gotten repetitive for me.
I’ve been waiting for Mineko’s Night Market for quite a while. I can’t say I am disappointed by the result. It is a cozy little game with charming characters and locations, and it’s come just in time for the cold rainy days of Autumn.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up: