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by Bakudan Yoshinoya - August 17, 2003, 10:33 am EDT

This game about growing up is still planned for an English release, but it may be a long way off. Here's what you should know about the final Japanese version.

Giftpia, labeled as an alternative RPG, is an attempt from Skip and Nintendo

to develop a different kind of RPG. You can order it from our import partner, Play-Asia, who provided our copy. The game is indeed unique, and bizarre as well. However, after a few hours into the game, unwillingly I must say that the fun factor has not fully kicked in, and I am questioning if it will

have enough appeal to keep gamers interested.

The objective of the game is to become an adult. Unlike other RPGs where

characters earn experience points, in Giftpia you grow up. The game progresses

in days, and within each day you are given a number of hours that you can

stay up. If you do not return to your house by bedtime, you lose half your

money and the majority of your items. By growing up, you can stay up later as

well as gain access to new areas.

The story also centers around growing up. Nanashi Island, where the game takes

place, has a tradition that one can only become an adult by attending a

Coming of Age Ceremony. Unfortunately, our main character, Pockle,

oversleeps and misses the ceremony. Pockle, therefore, has to earn enough

money to hold another Coming of Age Ceremony, so he can grow up. However,

in the beginning of the game, Pockle encounters an outcast, who got tired of

Nanashi Island’s rules, and left the town. The outcast tells Pockle that

one can truly grow up by helping others and fulfilling their wishes.

The idea of earning money and doing tasks resembles Animal Crossing, and the

game does indeed have elements similar to Animal Crossing. If the game was

designed to also sport some of the Animal Crossing gameplay, Skip did not

execute it too well. Pockle can pick up items such as fruits and mushrooms

to sell in the store, and he can also fish. Unfortunately, there does not seem to

be as much depth as in games like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon. For

example, when it comes to fishing at the fountain in the town, you seat

Pockle on a bench, and press the A button to swing your bait into the

fountain. Once the bait sinks, you press the A button to pull up the fish.

Fishing gets repetitive quite fast. The exploration factor is also lowered

since the game is dependent on growing up, which means if you do not

complete certain events and advance, you are locked out from a ton of


However, there are also some problems, at least in the beginning of the

game, when trying to play Giftpia as a normal RPG. First, initially the day is

rather short, about seven minutes, which means that you will need to start

heading back for home after six minutes of playing. Sometimes this gets a

bit annoying when you are exploring an area.

Though the controls are responsive and simple, I wished Skip implemented a

button for running. In the first few hours, the progress of the game is a

bit on the slow side. Unlike the typical RPGs where combat, bosses, special

items and magic help drive the game, in Giftpia a storyline based on

fulfilling wishes of other island inhabitants has to push the story on its own. Currently it looks doubtful that the game has enough appeal to keep most

gamers interested till the very end.

Lastly, just a few quick comments on the visuals and sound. The camera is

fixed, and you can zoom in and out by toggling the Z button. The graphics

and artwork are colorful and vivid. The background music is a selection of

real tracks produced by actual amateur bands in Japan. The music is played

through speakers in the town by the local radio station, Nanashi FM. The

volume of the music depends on your distance relative to the speakers in the

town, producing a rather cool effect.

The game’s take on the theme of growing up is very refreshing, and the

presentation of the game is unique. The initial pace is slow,

and may even be frustrating to some, but it seems things will pick up as

areas get unlocked and mysteries get unsolved. I will reserve my final

judgment and recommendations in the review. As for importers, like most RPGs

where the story is the heart of the game, I would recommend waiting for the

English version.

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Genre RPG
Developer Skip Ltd.

Worldwide Releases

jpn: Giftpia
Release Apr 25, 2003

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