Ihatovo Monogatari

The story of the Milky Way’s Railroad is one of the most well known tales in Japan. There, it’s usually considered a children’s tale, although or its content, it usually wouldn’t be even considered for teenagers.

The tale’s creator, the popular writer Kenji Miyazawa, passed away at a very young age, when he was 37 years old. But in spite of this, he had enough time to leave behind him a rich legacy of stories and plenty of moral teachings; and inspired several generations of authors that came after him with his work.

ihatovoOne of those inspired authors were the gamemakers at a small studio called Hector. They decided to create an adventure game , with an RPG flavour, that covered the most representative characters and stories of Miyazawa’s work. They divided the title into 7 chapters, each of them based in a different story. And of course, as the most renowned of them, Milky Way Railroad is the one for the last chapter.

The player asumes the role of a traveler that by chance has just arrived to a place called Ihatovo, an utopic place that is in truth a representation of Miyazawa’s native village, Koiwa, heavily transformed by his imagination. The place is surrounded by several different scenarios, but the player will only be able to visit each of them in the correspondent chapter. The rest of the time will be spent in the village, exploring Ihatovo and knowing better its people, always departing from the hotel the traveller is staying at.

Originally the game was sold as an RPG, but unlike one, it completely lacks any battle mechanics. To complete it, the player only has to follow the scripted plot, talking to the key characters or finding the necessary items to advance.

So what does it make such a simple game to become something still remembered? Precisely, that simplicity. Without tryingihatovo3 too hard, the games flow introduces the players, little by little, into the fantastic world of Miyazawa’s imagination, enlightening them with the teachings of the popular author. It could seem that nothing too special is happening on screen, but the game keeps the users engaged and curious about what will they discover next.

The graphic style follows The Legend of Zelda’s almost top-down view,  with characters represented by charming sprites. It has a remarkable music: its main theme has been played in several game-related musical events, including Press Start or Symphony of the Games. Overall, it’s a short (around 6 hours) but highly recommendable title for those who speak Japanese.

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