How do I write a review about a game that was developed in the name of charity and stay objective. It's difficult to say the least, yet I find it difficult to recommend this to anyone unless you want to donate and it's on sale.
First of all, if I had to describe what this was, I would be more likely to call it an interactive art exhibit. The graphics and color choices are gorgeous of course, but all you do is walk on a beach, follow butterflies to items, spin the item until you locate another butterfly, then click on said butterfly, rinse, repeat.
It was designed to be experienced, not played or beaten, and the subject matter is supposed to illicit an emotional response from the user. Unfortunately, I don't think that subject matter was conveyed properly for it's intended results.
Honestly, if it wasn't for the discription on the store page, it would be hard for me discern the message this game is trying to convey. The idea is that each item you locate belonged to a victim of the Japanese Tsunami, however the game gives you no indication of this. After each item is located, the tide goes out a bit to uncover the next, maybe this was an artistic decision on the devloper's part to convey something deep. Locating the lost artifacts pushes the Tsunami back, acknowledging the victim's loss undoes the damage of the Tsunami, something like that? Maybe it's up to the player to discern for themselves how to interpert this. The focus of the game doesn't become clear until you locate the butterfly on the last item, which takes about 10 minutes from starting the game, if that. After which some text appears on the screen explaining the damage the Tsunami had done in Japan, then the credits roll.
I feel terrible about not recommending this game due to the nature of the title. How can you say no when a percentage of the profits go to the Tsunami Relief Fund? I want to make it perfectly clear that I in no way disagree with the game's message, and support the developers for donating to the charity through this title, I just disagree with it's design. The message could have been conveyed in a more understandable and focused way. As I played I knew what this title was trying to do, I just never felt that it accomplished it's task, and that's the only reason I couldn't recommend it.
Let this be a lesson to developers everywhere. Wanting to create a game to help educate the world of a foreign cataclysmic natural disaster, and to donate to a charity, is not enough. That game must be worth the time of the people donating, and more importantly, the game must make it's message clear. Otherwise people who wish to donate can just do it manually through the charity's website.
Thank you Space Budgie for developing this title and choosing to help out of the kindness of your hearts. I'm sure families all over Japan praise your work and thank you for your time. I wish more developers would put their talents to good use by creating things like this in the name of charity. Please don't take the fact that I'm not recommending this game as a personal attack in anyway, or a stance against your message. Don't ever stop creating and helping humanity the best way developers can. Your work is appreciated, maybe even more than you know. However, as a reviewer, I have to be honest, even though in cases like this one, I wish I didn't.
If you wish to donate to the Japanese Tsunami Relief Fund and other charities that the proceeds of this game are going towards without purchasing this game, here are some links.Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief FundAid For JapanPeople and Skills for Disaster Relief