Yesterday's news that Bandai Namco is bringing Appliss' Android and iOS title Finding Ojipockle! to the 3DS was something of a surprise, mainly because the game had completely passed under the radar of a great many people, despite already being freely available on the Google Play store.
Featuring plump fairies that come in a wide range of amusing outfits, Finding Ojipockle! Little Bitty Man Collecting Game (that's the full title, in case you were wondering) is one of those games that usually triggers "those crazy Japanese gamers!" comments from western players, but after spending a sizeable amount of time with the Android version we came away more impressed that we expected.
Finding Ojipockle! isn't a deep game by any means. You assume the role of a Japanese student who discovers that tiny fairies are present in her apartment. These dainty beings are normally invisible to the naked eye but their magic has inexplicably been weakened. Using a special spray given to you by a fairy elder, you must track down as many Ojipockles as possible and douse them in order to reactivate their invisibility; doing so will cause a series of love hearts to appear on-screen, and these are used as currency in the game.
Obtain a certain number of hearts and you will reach the next level, meaning that more varieties of Ojipockles will appear. However, hearts can also be used to purchase items which make finding Ojipockles easier. A magic wand increases their size for a short period of time and also amplifies the number of hearts they drop, while a compass will show you where each Ojipockle is as soon as they appear in the room. Spending hearts means that it takes longer to reach the next level and gain the next set of Ojipockles, but the items enable you to acquire hearts faster, so there's a neat balance in play.
The ultimate aim is to find every single type of Ojipockle, and these unusual characters are a huge part of the title's appeal. While they all have the same basic body shape, they come dressed in many different outfits. There are businessmen Ojipockles, cat-suit Ojipockles and even one clad in a Frankenstein Halloween costume. Each one has its own little bio to read, and the game keeps track of how many you've found. Ojipockles also leave food lying around the room as a reward for your efforts, and collecting each one gives you - you've guessed it - more hearts.
The control system in the Android version of the game is simple but largely effective. Tapping a finger on the screen allows you to move forwards and backwards, and swiping to the sides allows you to turn. You can effectively "float" around the entire room, and holding and swiping up and down offers vertical movement. It's also possible to "reset" the view to a predetermined selection of camera angles which give you a good overall look at the room, making it easier to locate the tiny Ojipockles.
The mobile version allows you to purchase hearts using real money and thereby speed up the process of finding every single Ojipockle, and it remains to be seen how this mechanic will manifest itself in the paid-for 3DS version - if indeed there is any way of "buying" hearts in that edition at all. The Nintendo outing will feature some kind of character sharing via QR code, which presumably justifies the "+" at the end of the title.
With its modest 600 Yen price point (about $5), Finding Ojipockle! certainly doesn't have AAA aspirations, but we hope it finds enough success in its homeland to justify a release in the west. The Android version we tested is in English, so localising the 3DS version would presumably be quite straightforward. Despite its simplistic setup, the game has plenty of charm and appeal; we arguably don't see enough of these leftfield Japanese releases in this part of the world, so our fingers are crossed that Bandai Namco decides to give the endearing Ojipockles the chance to run riot outside of Japan.