This life sim game perfectly captures the sunny nostalgia of a childhood summer vacation

Technically speaking, Shin-chan: Me and the Professor on Summer Vacation (opens in new tab) is about a ’90s anime and manga star spending a very strange week on holiday. There’s an imperfect time loop, far more dinosaurs than any modern location should have, a curry-cooking ninja, and an ancient legend thrown into the mix—plenty to keep anyone occupied. But all of that’s really just an excuse to give players a precious chance to tear around a small rural village in the carefree way only a five-year-old child could.

It’s a simple idea—and one that could be easily misunderstood when viewed through gaming’s overwhelmingly achievement-focused lens. When so many games tend to be designed to be exhausted just in time for the next wave of #contentsomething as gentle and unfussy as Shin-chan can feel wrong, as though the developer missed the global game design meeting. A playable summer holiday may sound like a great idea, but what are you actually supposed to to the? There are extensive lists of fish to reel in and bugs to catch, and lots of errands Shin-chan can run for the local businesses. Those are all tasks to be completed, aren’t they?

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