Here's a fun fact about the Japanese language - the word "Emoji" combines the Japanese for "picture" and "character". What's more, the word "Chikara" means power. What do you get when you combine the two? Emojikara, the name of a game that is anything but powerful (or clever, as the title would lead you to believe). While the brainless, luck-based gameplay and extremely barebones presentation might fly if this were a free-to-play mobile game, it certainly doesn't work too well as an eShop title.
The gameplay of Emojikara sounds good in concept, but the reality is far less exciting. Typical matching games require you to procedurally work through the tiles and find two of a kind, but Emojikara takes a different route. You'll be given a two word phrase, like "Blood Moon" or "Liberty Bell", and are tasked with finding two emojis on a 3x5 grid that match the description of the words. After finding the pair, a new phrase is given and the grid is randomized. There are two and a half game modes on offer. One that sees you trying to get five matches in as few tries as possible and one that sees you trying to get as many matches as you can in ninety seconds. Any symbols that you successfully match in either of these modes are then unlocked in a weird "Emoji Sentence" mode where you can stick emojis together in strings that can be shared on Miiverse.
While it's kind of cool at first to match things together and slowly unlock new emojis, it takes maybe an hour to unlock everything and actually "beat" the game. Beyond that, the main draw is trying to get higher scores, but the fact is this is almost entirely decided by luck. For example, the first game mode adds a point every time you fail to successfully pair the two symbols; the lower your score, the better. But, you have no idea where the two symbols are, meaning that trial and error is the only way to succeed. You might hit them on your first try or you might go through every other tile first. Seeing as there aren't enough tiles in the grid for this to really be very taxing on one's memory, it ultimately becomes a guessing game where you're graded based on how lucky you were.
To add insult to injury, the presentation here is absolutely horrendous. The gently rotating, two colour psychedelic backgrounds are ugly and distracting; the music is forgettable chaff that sounds like it was churned out in a few minutes on the last day of development. A bizarre, omnipresent "OK" button acts as the pause menu. But, the best part by far is the broken English phrases that occasionally pop up, with gems such as "Hope for the death, but prepare for the house" or "Keep your mail close and your bell closer" permeating the experience. We're not sure what exactly the developer really meant to achieve with these phrases, but they lead to many inadvertently humorous moments that do the game no favours.
All in all, Emojikara: A Clever Emoji Match Game is anything but clever. Featuring shallow, luck based gameplay, shoddy presentation and poor English, one really must wonder if this went through any sort of quality assurance before being dragged out the door. We would strongly suggest that you pass on this one; there are few, if any redeeming qualities to this, and you'll probably be more entertained looking through the collection of emojis on your smartphone.