Month: January 2020

Escaping Tokyo, round three

Here’s a third post on Japanese-only games in Tokyo, following on from the previous two. I thought of creating a proper Escaping Tokyo page on which to reorganise my previously-posted thoughts, but that’s too much work for a very niche potential audience. 😐

Nazotomo Cafe Shinjuku

想い出列車となくした切符 [Japanese only]
765 seconds | no booking required | individual/team room 

This room felt similar to the first one I’d attempted a while back: a charming premise involving a disillusioned adult entering a child-like, dream-world sort of setting; an initial round of mini puzzles feeding into a meta; more complex puzzles later on. While I didn’t get particularly stuck for puzzle-reasons, I did run out of time at the second metapuzzle, out of four stages. I played this solo; perhaps a team of three or four people, reasonably fluent in Japanese, might be able to complete it. The success rate stood at around 25% when I visited.

takarush BLACK LABEL

Still by far my favourite provider of narrative-driven puzzle-type events in Japan. Possibly in the world, seeing how such events (very different from puzzle hunts!) don’t seem common outside Japan and Singapore.

MISSION RALLY Q No.3 宇宙からのタイムカプセル [Japanese only]
(as well as the prequel, MISSION RALLY Q No. 2)
no time limit (within game hours) | no booking required | play-at-your-own-pace puzzle kit

These were the first and only takarush outings that I haven’t enjoyed, due to tedious first-round info-collection, somewhat simple kit components (to be fair, these were also the cheapest takarush games I’ve played), and a relative lack of narrative or dramatic frills. The TeNQ gallery at Tokyo Dome City is fairly cute in its own right, but unless you’re particularly interested in space or have time to kill in the area, it might not be worth going out of your way for this.

謎解き花小町~時をつなぐ不思議な電話~ [Japanese only]
no time limit (within game hours) | no booking required | play-at-your-own-pace puzzle kit

This complex game really leans into its setting within Japan’s first and oldest amusement park, Hanayashiki, with a central time-travelling conceit enabled by smartphone messaging and an exciting surfeit of puzzle kit components. It’s perhaps the most narratively-dense nazotoki game I’ve played, down to an endgame that runs on pure in-game narrative logic rather than puzzle-logic. An engrossing and unique experience, but not to be attempted unless you’re very comfortable with written Japanese (and/or have a lot of time to spare to wade through text).

銀座木挽町 謎掛心中噺 [Japanese only]
no time limit (within game hours) | no booking required | play-at-your-own-pace puzzle kit

I enjoy games that serve as an introduction into some new area of knowledge. This kabuki-themed outing certainly delivers on that front, with early stages that require exploration of Kabukiza Theatre’s Kabukiza Gallery (which is well worth a visit anyway, with lots of cute hands-on exhibits), and a story that leans thoroughly and satisfyingly into the world of kabuki. I can’t say much about the endgame without spoiling it, except to say that it’s a shining example of the takarush style: clever, narratively-motivated, and able to send a real thrill of realisation down your spine. Strongly recommended!