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Tabikaeru is a new game from Hit-Point Co.,Ltd., the makers of 2014’s historic looking-at-cats simulator Neko Atsume. It’s cute like Neko Atsume was, and it’s that same sort of “check once every few hours for a couple minutes at a time” deal, but Tabikaeru is a really a whole different animal.
It’s a frog instead of cats, to be a bit literal, and instead of convincing critters to hang around, like in Neko Atsume, Tabikaeru is about helping them leave. “Journey frog is sent out on a journey,” as Google Translate puts it. “It is an application to wait for a leisurely return.”
You name the frog, give them something to eat and a little four-leaf clover for good luck, and send them off on their first journey. After you close the app, they’ll send you a postcard from their trip and return home. There are some non-lucky clovers growing in the garden, which can be picked and traded for more travel provisions, more potent good luck charms, etc, and after resting a bit, the little frog doffs his leafy hat and gets back on the road.
After that first trip, the rest of the frog’s adventures take hours of real-world time to progress. You can still pick clovers for when they eventually return, and sometimes there is a snail in the yard, but really it’s a game about waiting, about anticipation. It’s legitimately exciting when the postcard notification pops up, to see what kind of brave new adventures your little friend is up to this time. Even if I’m staying here to tend the garden, even if I can’t travel, I can live vicariously through the frog’s big experiences.
It’s the time that the frog spends at home that I treasure most, though. They do a lot of journaling; a lot of reading; a meal or two here and there. You can tell that they’re anxious to get back out into the world, that this humble tree stump is more waystation than home, and it’s not like I don’t want them to have these adventures. It’s just so nice to have them around, especially since all I have to occupy my time otherwise is the garden. But, there’ll be time for that later, right? There’s always time.