So, yeah on first glance you might be thinking, why is Finger Guns previewing an original Gameboy cart that looks uncannily like Pokemon Blue or Red? Well, put your worries aside, the year is still 2020, which is not great news, but I do have other good news. They still make games that look like sweet nostalgia only they come in pale green, not rose-tinted. Who knew?
Melon Journey 2 is a story and exploration RPG that’s very much on the short and sweet side, and full of a colourful cast of anthro animal characters. But all is not right in this Pokemon-looking land.
Fresh off the train, and arriving in the big city, Hog Town, Honeydew is an anthro rabbit looking for her friend Cantaloupe (yes, they are both named after melons, just go with it alright, you knew this was about melons when you clicked it) but before she’s even stepped off the train station platform, a cat thief steals the suitcase she was bringing to her friend. After chasing him through the seedy run-down town, the Cat runs into the Pigs (as in the cops – but literal pigs) and the suitcase falls open, splurging melon seeds all over the street. Melons are illegal in Hog Town. I wasn’t able to determine this for certain during the short demo, but one can assume the seedy nature of the place is due to its rife drug problems. Melon is the drug of choice and it’s clearly having a bad effect on Hog Town.
The cat is arrested and thrown in the clink overnight, and Honeydew is down by one suitcase and a lot of cash, because those Melon seeds were expensive contraband. Honeydew is a naïve country rabbit though, so there’s no way she knew about the seeds. But now she really needs to find Cantaloupe, and her friend is missing.
It doesn’t sound like Pokemon, does it?
So begins Melon Journey 2, a strange dystopian tale of anthro animals with more human to them than maybe anyone wants. I’ll take my cute furry animals without a debilitating addiction to Melon, thanks. Hog Town seems to have seen better days; there’s political unrest due to an election where the legalising of Melons is a political football. Gangs patrol the streets causing problems to residents and the council hasn’t spent money on the place in years.
I said that’s an exploration game, and you will find there’s little to nothing of normal video game tropes here. There’s no shooting, platforming, or competition, although there is a lot of crime. Melon Journey 2’s gameplay involves moving around the different screens of the town (and in the full game, further afield) interacting with the locals and then, next time you come back around, events will have triggered, there’ll be a new conversations to be had or dialogue choice to make. I solved a problem between some neighbours with a young mouse girl’s violin practice, and managed to find the gang the cat belonged to in the sewers and set them on a path to busting her out of jail. It wasn’t her fault the suitcase was full of melon. That was Cantaloupe and when I get my hands on her…
Melon Journey 2 is close to a visual novel in that you are walking around exploring and going through the motions of dialogue and investigating to advance the story, but you rarely need to do much beyond interact and walk about. The writing is self-referential and funny in places.
The graphics are obviously 8bit in style, but they are nicely drawn, expressive and plenty cute. The world is a nice one to explore which didn’t get old during the demo. If the same care and attention to writing and world design continues into the full game, it may well be one to put on your radar.
I like the design choice where, as you can see in the screenshots, each area is shaped like an outie jigsaw piece. They don’t fit together or anything, but those little outie bits tell you where the openings are to that area. With the retro 8bit graphics, its sometimes a little tricky to identify exactly what everything is, so it’s a welcome addition to make all doors and exits so clear.
Considering Melon Journey 2 has been made in RPGMaker 2003, which is an old but versatile pixelart game engine which only costs devs £20, it looks remarkably good. We will be looking out for more later in the year.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this preview, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full policy, please go here.